Beyond the Cards ~ Interview with Jeremy Franklin and Tyler Norris
Greetings Rulers! DM073 here bringing you the the next entry of 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.
Today I am going to be interviewing the co-captains of Team Ogre, myself (Jeremy Franklin) and Tyler Norris! Frequently named the “ghost team” of FOW, we have many strong players both in the United States and overseas and have been slowly but surely putting up numbers at GP’s all season long. With 4 US players already qualified for worlds, and many international members also locked in, we are a force to be reckoned with, but also want to show people that an important part of this game is camaraderie and friendship. If your team doesn’t work together and treat each other like family, can it really be called a team? Beyond our work on Team Ogre, Tyler and I have also been around since essentially the beginning of FOW here in the US, me with the YouTube channel DM073 and Tyler with his work on the staff team for the first competitive season.
So partner, why don’t we get things started by letting people know who we are and how old we are?
Tyler: My name is Tyler Norris, I’ve done work as a member of the staff team for FOW competitive season 1 as well as work as an admin for the Force of Will TCG - US FB page, and I’m 27 years old.
Jeremy: I’m Jeremy Franklin, I have also done work as an admin for the FB page, qualified for Worlds both last season and this season, and I’m 25 years old.
Outside of Force of Will and your work on Team Ogre/YouTube/FB
group, what professions do you hold? Do you have a professional degree?
Tyler: I’m a professional locksmith. I am actually coming up on my 10 year anniversary on doing it. I do not have a professional degree as school is expensive and I get too bored to study one profession.
Jeremy: I am a full time Outpatient Therapist, I have a Masters in counseling Psychology, with a focus on Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy. I am also about to have my full license as a Professional Counselor.
What are some of your professional aspirations career wise outside of card games?
Tyler: To be honest, I really wanna design my own card game. I have been in them all of my life and I think that it would be a ton of fun to do. That and locksmith some more because I’m pretty okay at it now.
Jeremy: I actually really enjoy what I do, but would love to eventually become a supervisor for other therapists so that I can coach them and help them help others effectively. If I could have any job in the world though it would probably be to own a gaming/comic shop or to be a voice actor for video games/anime.
Sounds like you know where you want to end up! Best wishes 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. First off, what would you say is your favorite Force of Will card of all time.
Tyler: My favorite card of all time is Alucard. He was one of the first decks that I played way back when the first 2 sets came out. That murderous blood sucker will always hold a special place in my heart.
Jeremy: My favorite card will always be Grimm, the original Ruler. I have always been obsessed with the Grimm fairy tales, and that’s why I got into FOW in the first place. Not to mention the fact that telling a Grimm fairy tale in Forensics competitions in high school is how I met my wife.
Interesting choices boys. What about favorite force of will deck?
Tyler: My favorite Force of Will deck has to be Grimm Burn (aka Bloody Grimm). Mainly because, it was the first deck that I got to take to a “real” tournament for the game. It was actually the first time that I got to meet Jeremy too haha. We both managed to top 8 that event. Oh the nostalgia.
Jeremy: When I first started on Team Ogre, Michael Song shipped me an Alisaris list that I loved to call “Say no.deck,” The whole point was just to play draw power and stalling in order to get Deathscythe the Life Reaper to the graveyard while killing all your opponent’s cards. Once you had enough Verdandi in your hand, you simply activated the Deathscythe effect to bring it back to your hand multiple times, thus flooding the Remove from Game zone, and allowing Alisaris to flip for an insanely low cost, and beating your opponent to death with Verdandi in one turn. The reactions my opponents have when I activate Deathscythe 6 times all at once have been priceless every single time.
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?
Tyler: Well…. I was 12 years old and I was walking through the local Kohl’s with my mom. She was buying clothes or some junk and I specifically remembered seeing the original structure decks for another card game. I asked for them and I got my first trading cards for Christmas and the rest is history.
Jeremy: My experience is very similar to Tyler’s. My pal Matt Wagner played a card game and introduced it to me when I first moved to Michigan in middle school. After learning a little bit more about the game, my dad started to buy me packs and things, and eventually I started attending tournaments. From that moment on I was hooked on card games and that brings us to today!
Ok then, so what attracted you to Force of Will specifically?
Tyler: I had a long time friend named Joshua Heeter. He and I played card games back before our favorite game was killed. We continued to chat back and forth and one day he randomly brought up this strange game called Force of Will that was coming to the US. He was like, dude, you gotta try this. So, the first 2 weeks of playing was on OG Lackey of all things. There were no cards out currently and that was our only option. Then he created the Force of Will US Page and I was his honorary first invite to the page. I guess it kinda makes me an Ancient One in the game and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Jeremy: Well before Force of Will I had actually made a decision to not play any more card games, but we can see how that didn’t pan out. I had stopped playing my first game in order to play a different one that I found way more fun, but it was discontinued shortly after I started playing competitively. Later on down the road a friend of mine told me about Force of Will and how it was based on Fairy Tales. I was immediately hooked to the concept and the structure of the game and started playing it relentlessly, eventually making my YouTube channel to help give the game more coverage and attention.
Moving on to 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?
Tyler: Well for me, I usually try and go through what the top decks are and try to come up with new ideas to make the decks better or something to fight against them in an upcoming event. Usually, 90% of my ideas are completely trash, but luckily I have a really strong core of teammates for deck building and bouncing ideas off of. (woohoo Team Ogre XD). I’d say that I and my team are known for playing a lot of anti-meta control. Usually it centers around having a really strong matchup against the top 2 decks. Then utilizing our sideboards effectively to grind out those fringe match ups. At least for me, playing the meta deck mirrors, I get extremely bored and stop caring because the games aren’t interesting anymore. When it comes to playtesting, I have to admit, it is one of my weaker points in the game. I usually end up hip shooting a deck that I brew the night before with a teammate and make it happen in the event the next day. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes my dreams die in round 6. I think that if I improved in that aspect, you’d probably see me in more top 8s for the events that I participate in.
Jeremy: I am essentially exactly like Tyler except for 2 big differences. 1. I actually really enjoy mirror matches, and in fact find that my best competitive play is when I am working to build a “mirror breaker” list. This is how I won my invite to worlds last season, and up to this point with Pricia I have only lost 1 mirror. I think mirrors are the places where really understanding the deck and playing as smoothly as possible get rewarded, so I am all about it. The other difference is that I tend to be pretty heavy tester, up tot he point where I come up with really random card choices and techs that the rest of the Ogres usually shut down. Sometimes however those choices really pay off and so I’m just gonna keep doing it until it stops working!
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?
Tyler: To be 100% honest, It is the people. My entire life force is driven by interactions from people and learning how they are and function. I have met some of the best people of my life in this game. Without all the friends, relationships, rivals, and lovable characters, Force of Will would have died for me long ago. The ties that I have made with them and the rest of the community are what make it all worth it.
Jeremy: I absolutely love the interactions I get with other players, and the friendships that I have made playing this game. Not to mention all of the people that I get to meet who are fans of the channel. It is insanely humbling to have someone approach me at a GP and shake my hand while thanking me for the videos I make. I am just a dude who wears silly gloves, so knowing that I am inspiring others and helping them to enjoy the game/improve at players is like a dream come true.
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?
Tyler: Between rounds, I usually do the thing that I’m best at…. Talking to people! Most of you know me as the guy walking around telling everyone “Good Luck” before the beginning of rounds. That or the dude bouncing between groups of either “pros” or your everyday card player. It usually distracts me enough that I can clear my mind and reset my focus for the next round. Mental endurance and stability are half the fight in card games and you gotta stay sharp!
Jeremy: I find myself on average talking to between 15-20 different people between every round. Whether its hearing how they did, sharing stories of big moments in the past match, talking about records or chances for topping, or even just catching up on life outside of card games. I try and approach the down time with the same focus that I do this interview series, get to know and interact with the players behind the cards. Building a community of players that take the time to value one another and acknowledge each other’s humanity I think is the most important thing we can do as card gamers if we want this game to continue to grow.
My last question has two parts. Part one: What would you say to a new player who is just getting into the game?
Tyler: If you are walking into your local and looking at picking up the game, try and ask the other players what are the top decks in the game. Don’t worry about deck construction or anything like that. Just get those games in. Grind as many games as you can and never be afraid to ask a question. It is the way to learn!
Jeremy: Find a content producer that you like, and just start engorging yourself on as much as possible. Watching how other people play the game, finding deck lists to start with (especially ones that have been shown to be successful), keeping up to date with news about the game, etc., is all super important in my mind. Getting the game in your brain so that you are able to think about it/watch it and keep up with games without needing to pause or get confused will be a massive asset to you moving forward.
Part two: What would you say to that same player, if they made the decision to try and become more competitive?
Tyler: Try and surround yourself with other like minded players. Ones that drive you to want to be better and if you can make a team! Nothing is like playing with a bunch of friends and play testing together. Also, if you have any questions from “top players” walk right up to them and introduce yourself! Usually, they are more than happy to help you out. No matter how much they like winning, they totally want it to be challenging so that the wins are that much more rewarding. So, they have a vested interest in helping make you a better player. The last piece of advice that I would add is to work on your “mental game”. I see many new players struggle with this and they get down when they make mistakes and it affects them in high level events across any game. Just remember, even the best players mess up from time to time. The best thing you can do is move on, review it at the end of your match and learn from your mistake. Worrying about messing up is just going to make it worse! You can be just as great as our current World Champ (Aaron Miles) or you can be as creative and innovated as Jeremiah Polk (teammate who put the powerhouse “Mythia” or Pricia Myths on the map). All you have to do is put in the time and you can do anything in this game. Besides, most of them are just lucky scrubs anyway.
Jeremy: Find someone who is better than you and play games until you can’t anymore. Even more important than this is to actually do true play testing, where you communicate with your partner, take moves back, test moves or different cards and record results, and all that good stuff. Always trying to win every single testing game doesn’t really provide great information, because you might be missing something, or get caught unaware in a tournament because you haven’t been beaten or struggled in a certain match up during testing and thus don’t know how to handle it. Remember, testing isn’t a tournament, and it is okay to lose because it helps give you information on how to not lose the same way again!
Well thanks for the awesome answers, and best of luck to you the rest of this competitive season!
Tyler: You are the man Jeremy. Thanks for the opportunity!
Jeremy: Yeah, thanks me!
So there you have it guys, the game according to Team Ogre. What do you think? Any massive realizations or thoughts? Have you guys played against either of them or talked with them in a tournament before? Do you think the “Ghost Team” moniker is appropriate? Even if it is, Team Ogre is a name to make sure you watch out
Team ogre website:
Team Ogre Facebook page:
DM073 youtube channel:
For next month’s episode, I am wondering who YOU all would want to see interviewed. A known pro? A player from a local scene? Someone who produces content? Anyone is fair game, so send your suggestions to!
Until next time, Rulers!
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