Your Invitation to New Valhalla - Part. 1
Hello everyone, the Design team here. To prepare for the New Valhalla Cluster that will be released in September, we have decided to discuss some of our motivation for the set’s design in the form of these articles. Our focus this time around will be the design behind J-Rulers.
As I’m sure everyone is already aware of, Force of Will employs a cluster system to keep the game fresh. Up until now, we’ve had Reiya, Lapis, Alice, Grimm, and Valhalla Cluster. Amongst these five, the most unique cluster is Valhalla. Back then, judgmenting with your ruler was a high risk, low return venture, much different from how it is today. Back then, if your J-Ruler died you would immediately lose half your life and your ruler would lose all ruler abilities. For the most part, judgmenting was never a good option and was used as a last resort.
With that in mind, we decided to employ different methods to strengthen J-Rulers. First, as we moved to Grimm Cluster we removed the ‘Lose half your life when your J-Ruler is destroyed’ rule and introduced a new keyword called (Imperishable) that was unique to some J-Rulers. This was well received with players, but we still had the rule that caused destroyed J-Rulers to lose all ruler abilities. We later fixed this as we moved to Lapis cluster, revising the rule so that the ruler would only lose the ability to do judgment.
Thanks to these revisions, the amount of games where we saw players actively use the judgment ability, as well as fight with J-Rulers, rapidly increased.
We began to see many different J-Ruler centric deck archetypes come to light such as “Bahamut, the Dragon King” for aggro, “Charlotte, the Mage of Sacred Spirit” for control, and “Arla, Guardian of the Skies” for combo. Eventually the rise of J-ruler power got to the point where a J-ruler named “Pricia, True Beastmaster//Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia” was made and later banned. It became apparent that the game had shifting too much focus onto J-rulers then we would have preferred.
To mitigate this increase of J-Ruler strength we introduced sealed items in Reiya Cluster. These sealed items would be released in subsequent expansions as the story advanced, evolving the art of the cards as well. At first, the concept of having a simple ability that got upgraded seemed nice, but in reality, remembering the new abilities of the cards or even physically printing and sticking the new sealed item effects on the unsealed cards proved to be challenging. Nonetheless, the idea of upgrading abilities remained a very amusing one.
Which leads us to our discussion of the New Valhalla Cluster. First off, a brief outline of the starter decks. There will be one deck for each of the five attributes. Each deck will contain two different rulers, two 20 card half-decks (totaling 40 cards), 12 basic magic stones, and 10 runes. Something different this time around is that each starter deck will contain two rulers.
While starting with 10 rulers from only the starter decks alone may seem shocking, take note that the booster packs themselves will not contain any rulers for this cluster. As for why we have made this decision will be explained in part 2 of Invitation to Valhalla! At any rate, this means the cluster will feature these 10 rulers for the entire year, with the runes these rulers use updating throughout each expansion.
These “Runes” will be taking the role of last clusters sealed items. These runes will start the game in a zone called the rune area, kind of similar to Scheherazade’s grimoire ability, albeit with major difference. As all the rulers can potentially access current and future runes, the rulers themselves have very simple design. (We thought of the rulers as more of a supreme-commander this time around, giving out commands and supporting their armies until the time is necessary for them to enter the battle.)
As mentioned beforehand, rulers will not be in the booster packs. Instead a variety of different ability holding runes that directly strengthen the set’s ten rulers will be included. Of course, the entire set isn’t comprised of runes, you will see cards supporting different decks and synergys included as well!
The problem with starting with only 10 rulers however, is that the power disparity between the rulers will be found relatively quickly causing many to go unused… or so one might think. To counteract this is exactly why we have created the rune system! We will continue to observe the power balance between rulers and maintain an equilibrium between them. For clarity, we have included the sample table below.
To explain what this model means, if ‘Ruler A’ had good standing from tournament data then the next expansion’s support for ‘Ruler A’ would be limited. Likewise, if ‘Rulers B~E’ had low standings, they would receive stronger/more support in the form of runes and other cards, keeping the power balance between rulers even. This is a first for us, but we hope to use our experience with sealed abilities to create a better product moving forward.
For further details on how to use runes and further product details, stay tuned for “Your Invitation to Valhalla Part 2” coming July 18th!