Beyond the Cards ~ Interview with Aaron and Ryan Miles

Greetings Rulers! DM073 here bringing you the first entry in my new monthly article series titled “Behind the Cards.” Often times in card games it becomes very easy to only associate players with their competitive successes or identities, but this can be a little dangerous. If we only see players as opponents or things that stand in our way, the atmosphere of tournaments and our experience of the game can shift and possibly even become toxic. It is my hope to use this article series to take a peek at the lives and personalities of the players playing the game, from big name competitive players all the way down to people who are just trying the game out. By doing so I believe that we can all gain a better perspective and realization that when we sit down to play a match in a tournament, the person on the other side of the table has a name, face, and a story that should be respected, rather than just a faceless mass we have to beat in order to make ourselves feel better.

What a better way to kick this series off by interviewing the two players who have probably had the most successful careers on the competitive side of the game. With one of them winning this past years worlds while the other won the secondary event at worlds, earning them both paid trips back to this upcoming world championship, these two are a force to be reckoned with. Top that off with the fact that they have their own competitive team, On Tilt Gaming, that has been performing excellently at tournaments all season long and its no wonder these two are almost a household name in the Force of Will Community. Give it up for the Miles Brothers!

Thanks so much for sitting down with me today guys, why don’t we get things started by having you give your names and ages?

Aaron: I’m Aaron Miles, world champion 2016, and I am 23 years old.


Ryan: I’m Ryan Miles, I won the secondary event at the world championship in 2016, and I am 24 years old.


Thanks for the brief introduction, outside of Force of Will and your work on the On Tilt Gaming website, what do the two of you do as a profession? Do you have a professional degree?

Aaron: Currently I work at a local movie theatre, and I recently graduated from Stockland University with a degree in communications.       

Ryan: I actually just started working at a local gas station a couple weeks ago, but have been unemployed for the past year. I also graduated from Stockland University with a degree in mathematics.

While it is clear that you both have strong professional careers in Force of Will, do either of you have professional aspirations career wise outside of card games?

Aaron: I would really like to start working with an advertising agency and then work there until I’m dead.  

Ryan: For me it is a little bit different. I got into mathematics because it was easy for me, like I didn’t have to go to class and was still really successful, so its not necessarily what I want to do professionally. My hope is to stay in gaming as long as possible, and maybe move to doing analysis in either an E-sport setting or game development.

Sounds like the two of you know where you want to end up! Best wishes for you both on reaching those goals. Before we move on to some of the more in depth card game related questions, I have a couple of obvious and almost silly questions for the two of you. First off, what would you say is your favorite Force of Will card of all time.

Aaron: The original “Fiethsing” the Magus of Holy Wind, is my favorite card purely because of all the abilities it has. Not to mention the fact that I love resonators that have quick cast. Unfortunately though, every time I try to play it in a Wanderer deck, it is simply outclassed by Melfee from Curse of the Frozen Casket. So I haven’t been able to use it very much.

Ryan: Hands down my favorite card is “Nyarlathotep, the Usurper” from Millenia of Ages. This is a card that puts an 800/800 resonator on the board for 0 will and lets you just steal any card from your opponents hand. Not only that, but it synergizes with Pumpkin Witch, which is absolutely insane. If I ever make it to a Wanderer event, I am going to prove that this card is amazing and there is nothing anyone can do to stop me.

Interesting choices boys. What about favorite force of will deck?

Aaron: Honestly I am torn between either Fox or any Charlotte deck. Charlotte herself is insanely powerful, with an amazing flip ability, and with a ramp package can just be brutal. I really would like to play it in New Frontiers again, and even during the Lumia Hook format I wanted to play her over Lumia.           

Ryan: I built this 5 attribute Reflect/Refrain control for the pre-Alice cluster tournaments. It was super greedy with its stone base, like 4 Ruler’s Memoria, 3 Moon Shades, etc, and all it did was play tons of removal spells with 2 Celestial Wing Seraphs and 2 Lucifers. I didn’t even run any Space Time Anomalies because I thought it was too slow. I just wanted to say NO to my opponent all game long and then just beat them over the head with my fliers. Valentina 3.0 is a Ruler I think might be able to do something similar, but nowadays that kind of deck is just not nearly as good.           

With those fluff questions out of the way, lets dig into the topics that people may not have thought about. First up, what exactly brought you into the world of playing card games?

Aaron: Playing card games has actually been something we have been doing all of our lives. Ryan and I started when we were 6 years old, then as we grew up we followed our friends into other card games at the time and got our taste for competitive play. Since then it has been an integral part of our lives, and is really just a super fun thing to do!

Ryan: My card game experience actually goes all the way back to the GameBoy Pocket. There was a game that was all about deck building, playing against computer opponents, and exploiting all of the crazy glitches. It really got me hooked on playing card games and building decks, and then in high school I really got into a TCG competitively and just never stopped playing card games.           

Okay then, so what attracted you to Force of Will specifically?

Aaron: I got into Force of Will right as the third set of Grimm cluster, was released. It had become super popular with players of other card games, and they showed me the game to try and get me into it. I sat down with a friend to try out a Bahamut deck and just proceeded to beat every other player in the store. All of them kept telling me that they had “never seen it be played that way before,” and so that convinced me to keep trying the game to see if either I was just that good of a player or was just getting lucky. So far it has just been me riding the wave since then, but my love for the game, its mechanics, and the magic stone structure of things has grown massively since then. This game just took everything I loved about other games and put them together, while removing all of the things that I hated about those games.

Ryan: Force of Will for me was initially kind of an accident. I had been living with my dad in Louisiana at the time, and had just gotten out of playing on my most recent e-sports team because the game had been cancelled. I was looking for SOMETHING to do when Aaron told me about the game. I decided to give it a shot because of Grand Prix Houston that year, and I loved that it solved every problem I had with other card games . I ended taking 9th place in the event, which inspired me to keep playing the game and eventually brought me to where I am now.

Speaking of Grand Prix’s, How do you each approach the game from a competitive standpoint? I’m talking more about your thought process for testing, building decks, and playing the known competitive decks or decks to counter the competitive decks?

Aaron: Whenever I am getting ready for an event, I just ask to be given the best deck of the format and play that. I try and make a few special tech choices, such as Blazer in Turbo Fiethsing, but all in all I just want to play the best deck all the time. When playing counter decks, there is no guarantee that it will beat the deck it is designed to beat all the time, so I would rather not take the risk. A good example of this was back in Alice World format, where I tried to play the first Kaguya ruler but I just wasn’t winning enough in testing to feel confident with it. I think it is better to just outplay your opponent and use the strength of the best deck, rather than put yourself at risk by playing a counter deck. 

Ryan: I highly values theory crafting and deck ideas. Most of the success I have had come from scrolling through the database for a few hours and then finding the important card the night before an event. I will find a card and say “this, this is the card we are going to play and win with.” While most of the time that card ends up being played in what would be considered to be the best deck of the format, I absolutely love playing decks designed to counter the known strong decks. 

Outside of competitive accomplishments or playing the game itself, what is the most enjoyable part of playing Force of Will or being part of the Community to you?

Aaron: I love traveling. Traveling for other games wasn't a lot of fun, because I was broke all the time and the car rides took forever. Now that I've driven to enough of them, the drives fly by and are way more fun. I get to hang out with friends, eat local food (always avoid the chain restaurants in new places), and even getting to play in day 2 events to feel better about myself if I don’t do well is a lot of fun. 

Ryan: I really enjoy deck building. Having a wide array of cards and putting together what I think is the best is a ton of fun. Force of Will is a game where people can feel free to experiment, so I like comparing my ideas to what other people are doing. Sometimes things that I have written off do super well, such as Ascended Alisaris with Serah at Collinsville. My first reaction was “Why DID I NOT EVEN LOOK AT IT. Everyone is a deck builder in some capacity in Force by comparison to other games. I just love being in a community where everyone has their own ideas that they can contribute to and affect the game.

Grand Prix and other big competitive events can take hours or even days. When you are at a competitive event, what do you spend your time doing between matches?

Aaron: I will mostly spend my time just walking around, because I don’t want to be sitting down as much as possible. Trying to find friends who might still be playing is also important to me, because I can watch them and then give them feedback after the match so that they can improve as the day goes on.

Ryan: I am the same way. I just want to stand up, walk around, get the mental juices and my blood flowing. I am almost constantly drinking water, which means that I am also constantly going to the bathroom, but i think it is super important to stay hydrated. I will also usually watch my friends matches, as well as see what decks are being played at the top tables so I can have a heads up for what I might be playing against later in the day. This is especially true after the breakdowns of how much of each Ruler is being played at the event gets posted. If I know the odds of playing a specific ruler, or not seeing a specific ruler, it can affect my opening decisions and thought processes in a way that can give me an edge. 

My last question is a two-parter. Part one: What would you say to a new player who is just getting into the game?

Aaron: I would tell them to go buy the best deck of the current format and use that to learn how to play the game. Starting off that way will help you learn what is good in the game, and as such give you a baseline to compare to as you experiment with other decks. That was how I learned how to play the game. Don’t be afraid to approach the top players if you have questions. 

Ryan: I would echo exactly what Aaron said, because the time when you are first learning the game is pivotal, especially if you ever want to be able to build competitive decks or do well competitively

Part two: What would you say to that same player, if they made the decision to try and become more competitive?

Aaron: Never be afraid to approach the top players if you have questions. Most of the time we are pretty free and willing to help you understand why something is good, or what kind of cards you should be on the lookout for, or even how a mechanic works/why it works. Learning from people who have competitive success is one of the ways to grow, so reach out to us if you feel you need the help.

Ryan: Once again I’m going to echo Aaron. I know that I try to be as approachable as possible and try to help them understand the game or answer their questions. Not only that, but if I can’t help you then I will definitely point you to the resources that I used to learn or that could answer your questions. Aside from that, I think it is really important to just go find the best deck or what is being used by the best players and play that. It can help you find out more about what competitive decks try and do and why they are successful, which can translate into skill and understanding for building your own competitive lists. It is foolish to believe that you will be able to build a top tier deck right off the bat, so looking at tournament lists and copying them can help give you a place to get started.

Well thank you both for your awesome answers, and best of luck to you the rest of this competitive season!

Aaron: Thanks!

Ryan: Yeah, Thank you!

So there you have it guys, straight from the mouths of the Miles brothers themselves. If you are interested in seeing more of the content their team, On Tilt Gaming, produces go check out these following links and let them know that DM073 sent ya! They are excellent resources for players trying to get competitive, and they often have the deck lists from competitive events ready and available so you can start trying them out!

On Tilt Gaming website: http://otgaming.com

On Tilt Gaming Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ontiltgg/?fref=ts

This series is going to be a monthly read, with next month's article being about the co-captains of Team Ogre, Tyler Norris and myself! Keep on the lookout for it in June, and if you have anyone who you would like to see interviewed/learn more about, whether they be competitive or casual, feel free to email me at dragonmaster073@gmail.com.

Until next time Rulers!

DM073