Casual Corner: Fluff and Stuff by Jordon Hodges is the first article in FoWHub’s new column featuring pieces about the casual side of playing Force of Will. Not everyone is in the game to be competitive. Some players just like to have fun. So, we will be focusing on interesting and outside the box deck builds and approaches here in the Casual Corner.
The heart of any card game is it’s competitive scene-and yes, there’s so much more, but tournaments drive the sale and price of cards all by itself. But the rest of the body has to be known as casual or plain collectors. Most of these categories intersect, as most competitive players have a large expansive collection. I think sometimes when an area or group gets too competitive a lot of the essence of the card game is lost. Yes, we play for the bragging rights. Yes, we play for the promos. Yes, we play to get better for a shot at going to a National tournament or even Worlds. But I feel like a lot of players, no matter the game, lose the part of the game that kept them entertained for so long. They lose the fun they had, the sense of wonder when they open a pack of the new set and seeing cards that they haven’t seen before. We get so wrapped up in knowing the current and future Meta that we play just to win sometimes, that not even the look of a bratty 12 year-old, crying from a humiliating loss, could snap you out of it.
Sometimes I fade in and out. I’m not competitive, and honestly winning is no fun for me. I learn almost nothing from it. Losing is a sort of life blood for me. It’s just a card game after all, but when I know the weaknesses of my deck and know how to improve it, it makes every future victory so much more worth it than a string of wins from a top tier net deck.
A frequent thought of mine is how people come up with these crazy combos, like Reflect/Refrain before the errata. “Oh if I have two triggers of untapping at endstep, then I can spawn 3 will to quick cast my six sage” It took me the better part of an hour to fully comprehend the logic. I like to think I’m pretty smart, but I’m no lawyer, I can’t nit pick every stipulation in a less-than-solid step by step ruling. That was too much for me, I never quite liked Refrain, I had no issue with playing against him, but I certainly am not a man of patience, and that would always kill me inside, waiting for my opponent to finish sifting through the sandbox of their deck to find just the right answers to my board’s pressing question. I’ve been silenced (law of silence) four turns in the row. It was probably the worst experience. If I were new at this game when it happened, I’d give up right away. I wasn’t salty, I was a high concentration of American grade soy sauce.
My entire goal with force of will is to have fun, joke with my friends, and avoid the stress and nigh unbearable pain of existence. I don’t play tier one decks because they’re super consistent (which is good for them, but bad for my play style). My silly decks often consist of the main combo, which I use 2-5 cards and all four ofs, the lubrication, that slides my deck along and helps in tight spots (2-3 of each) and finally a handful of those “spicy one-ofs.” They have a consistent theme, but every game will be different and keep you on your toes as the pilot. They’re fun and keep you excited to actually play them.
The downsides as they aren’t super competitive. I’m sure you can swap some of the cards and ratios around to provide a more steady offensive, but most often my will base is so hurtful that my deck functions like a well oiled rock. But, if I can get my opponent to use a “What on earth is going on” at least once per game, my deck fulfilled it’s role.
So, I guess the best way to start a series of articles like this is list the basics, since I’ve already ranted about the comparisons and how I prefer to play. Like I said before, will is the broken ankle of my deck, I don’t go very fast on an average draw. That’s one reason I was in love with Machina when he was announced. An all void deck? Who cares about my stones? Slowly he just became way too predictable, so I’ve set him on the sidelines until I get a better stratagem for my clockwork general.
I have three really good favorites to help any bad will situation: “Deep Blue, the Phantom Board,” “Rewriting Laws,” and “House of the Old man.” There are plenty of others, Like mana dorks and Schrodinger that give you a bit of boost, but the ramp isn’t as important and I like harder to remove fixtures. Granted Phantom Board is much easier to remove than Schrodinger is, simply because Hera is almost always used in blue decks specifically for Valentina, but I have yet to see a deck prepared for every other deck.
Deep Blue is just wonderful. If you’re using the SKL Alice ruler, you can tap to find one right off the bat. Bam, next turn when you tap for your first stone you won’t miss that Ruler’s Memoria. You can discard your extras for an extra blue, red, or green will, it’s super good when you want to surprise your opponent by staying tapped out, but discarding a deep blue for the one green to cast rapid growth and overwhelm that one annoying resonator they have. Then you have it’s two cost and rest ability that lets you find a one cost soldier. Oh, that’s simply a great thing as is! With Alice it comes right into play, flashing in a blocker or a way to quickly wreck a wind sprite. Finally it’s ability to turn any blue will into a green or red. Blue and green are some of the most popular colors, especially before the whole Refrain errata, but they’re still used a lot in control and turbo turn decks. If you don’t use any other colors, then you’re in the best place to run all blue stones and avoid those splits! (or use them yourself, [insert evil laughter]). But here are the negatives. Barrier of shadows will ultimately hurt the soldier tutor ability, so it’s a bit of a hit, but not bad. Hera will crush your will fixing dreams, and more often than not it won’t fully cover the colors you want to run. I usually end up splashing 4-5 colors, which always bites me in the back.
Rewriting laws is a great green card. Untap two stones, draw a card, and a will party for the turn. It pays for itself and replaces itself. That on it’s own is pretty sweet, then it lets you use any will for the turn. You could run all green and just hold them until you have a non-green card you want to play, plus if you run Fiethsing, you’ll be able to sprinkle more color in your deck without sacrificing too much flexibility. It’s also a good way to filter out your deck when you draw three in a row, although it’s not great if you need to hold them until you have enough to pay for a non-green spell. They’re good, but probably not super reliable. I’d definitely use it if you’re just splashing in green and are having early difficulty with your stones.
Now my personal favorite: House of the Old Man. He may be an elderly gentleman, but he’s the mother of that will-fixing. It’s a cheap way to keep your stones as colorful as possible and it’s a little difficult to deal with. And if you give your stones a push, then hopefully your deck won’t fall apart when they destroy your addition! Plus the art work is very scenic, a handy card for sure.
Of course, every deck is going to need it’s own approach to mana fixing and making sure that you’ve got the right will in case of a specific combo. Blazer is definitely useful in making any deck worthwhile with any amount of red. If you run quite a bit of regalia, then Ruler’s Memoria would be an excellent choice at having every color available. Multiple Little Red Stones are a rough choice, but it would be potentially useful if you were running different colors, giving you the option to switch the color in case plans change or you’re in a tight spot. It’s probably not useful if you have to utilize every stone you flip.
The best thing you can do it analyze the different ways you could project the will you need and look at possible counters your opponent may have. If your deck becomes heavily crippled without the proper stones then like at anti-counter measures or safer ways to keep your fix. I personally don’t think about color until I have my rough deck ready (generally 40-70 cards) then work out the best ways to work your rough draft around the stones you think would be best. I typically have four colors before I finally cut it down to three. I keep them convoluted just to have fun, and I think it’s the best way to play.