Force of Will Boot Camp ~ Return of the Dragon Emperor ~ Part 1
Greetings, rulers! Welcome to the Force of Will Beginner’s Boot Camp! In these articles we’ll be looking at the game from the perspective of a brand new player, learn how to design and build decks, get involved with our local Force of Will community, and ultimately compete in tournaments!
Before we begin today’s discussion, keep in mind that these articles assume that you are a beginner, but have a basic understanding of the game’s core concepts and rules. If you have yet to learn the rules, check out the How to Play section under the the first tab of the main website. You don’t need to be a rules expert just yet, but knowing the basics will help you understand and utilize the information in these articles more effectively, as they will make use of terminology in the Force of Will trading card game.
So, you’ve just started playing the game after the release of Return of the Dragon Emperor last weekend. Perhaps you participated in a pre-release event, or you simply bought some booster packs. But where do you go from here? How can you use the limited collection of cards you’ve amassed thus far to work towards creating the ultimate deck? Today, let’s start by taking a look at each of the new rulers in Return of the Dragon Emperor and their basic stratagems.
We'll be starting off looking at the hero himself, Millium, Successor of the Dragon Crest. Millium's been a ruler before and some of his older cards can provide support for this new ruler as well, but for today we'll just be focusing on the cards he can utilize in Return of the Dragon Emperor. Firstly, let's take a look at the ruler itself. Millium's got a costly Judgment with a total cost seven. However, you can reduce the cost by one void for every four dragon power counters on him. Paying this Judgment in full is not only difficult, it's incredibly ill advised as the J-ruler side needs those dragon power counters in order to do anything. So how do we go about gettin gthem? With Millium's automatic ability of course! Every time you roll one or more dice using a Force ability you can put a dragon power counter on Millium. Not that even if you roll two dice for a single Force ability, it only grants Millium one dragon power counter. So to make the most of this you want to play as many different instances of Force abilities as possible. Beyond charging up counters to reduce his Judgment cost, Millium's ruler side doesn't provide much. He's got an Energize ability, but so do all rulers in the Lapis cluster, so if you're planning on using Millium be prepared to use Force as often as possible.
Once you've gotten enough counters to reduce Millium's cost he enters the fray as Millium, the Sacred Dragon. Don't let his 0 ATK and DEF fool you, he gains a +100/+100 counter for each dragon power counter that's on him, so he has the potential to enter with some very high stats. Additionally if you manage to have the J-ruler enter the field with at least forty +100/+100 counters on it, it'll wipe your opponent's field for you. You've already got a 4000/4000 dragon on the field, but board wipe is nice too for a little extra security. Don't let that limit you though. Getting forty counters is not easy so don't be afraid to Judgment at a lower power if you think it will help you win faster. As one would expect from a winged dragon Millium, the Sacred Dragon also has Flying so he'll be able to get past most of your opponent's defenses and guarantee he'll be able to deal some hefty damage.
And of course it'd be foolish to employ Millium without four copies of his signature magic stone. This card normally forces you to pay 300 life or put the card into your field rested, but since Millium is our J/ruler, we don't have to worry about that! This stone can produce both light and water will, Millium's two key attributes. Additionally when this special magic stone enters your field you'll be able to put a free dragon power counter on your ruler as long as you've got Millium, Successor of the Dragon Crest as your ruler!
Even with those Stone of the Dragonoid cards helping you out, you're still going to want a to build as many dragon power counters as possible, so you'll need plenty of cards that utilize Force. Tiny Alabaster Drake and Unleashed Dragonoid are similar resonators that will let you Force one and increase their ATK for the turn by the result of the roll whenever they attack. Tiny Alabaster Drake is a bit more fragile though, with only 300 DEF, but it's also a cheaper card to play as it only has a total cost of one. You'll want to drop this little guy as early as possible so your opponent doesn't have the resources to destroy it before it can get an attack or two off. What's nice about the drake is that it comes with Flying, which not many commonly played early game resonators have, so you'll be able to attack without fear of being blocked. Unleashed Dragonoid doesn't have flying, but he does have substantially higher defense. 800 DEF is usually what total cost three resonators have, so he's fairly durable and can survive most troublesome damage dealing effects, forcing your opponent to expend more cards to remove him. Keep these guys on the field and attacking as often as possible to Force as much as you can and build up counters!
We've also got some other attribute resonators that come equipped with Force abilities that Millium can take advantage of. Dragonoid Jailor is another total cost two Dragonoid with 500 ATK and 700 DEF. Unlike Unleashed Dragonoid who Forces every time he attacks, Dragonoid Jailor comes with an activate ability that can sap a J/resonator of X00 ATK by using Force. Unfortunately draining the enemy's J/resonator's ATK can't destroy it like sapping its DEF can, but it can be a useful stall tactic to defend against your opponent. Weaken their attacker so that your blocker can survive while also charging up Millium. Alabaster Dragon Knight is a dual attribute resonator and another total cost two Dragonoid. Unlike both Unleashed Dragonoid and Dragonoid Jailor, his Force ability triggers the moment he enters the field, giving him that many +100/+100 counters. As long as you roll a three or higher on your Force check the resonator will enter with above average stats for a total cost two card, so you've got a fairly good chance to playing something fairly strong. The only trouble is that Alabaster Dragon Knight's ability only triggers upon entering the field, so under most circumstances it can only be used once. But in the same way, since it triggers immediately upon entry, it gives your opponent little chance to try and stop it, unlike Tiny Alabaster Drake or Unleashed Dragonoid.
While she doesn't have a Force ability Ryula can be a great asset to Millium. This super rare resonator grants all of your other Ancients and Dragonoids an extra 200 ATK and DEF, beefing up your other resonators can be a great boon pushing their power even higher as both Alabaster Dragon Knight and Unleashed Dragonoid can already reach levels of ATK higher than normal for their costs and this continuous ability only helps you take it higher! That's not all though, when Ryula enters the field you can choose between reviving a total cost two or lower Dragonoid from your graveyard right back to the field, which is perfect for bringing back Alabaster Dragon Knight and triggering his ability again, or healing your ruler if it has been destroyed as a J-ruler and gained the astral status! Ryula is great for helping you maintain a good number of resonators on the field and can help you recover after Millium, the Sacred Dragon has suffered an untimely demise at the hands of your opponent!
Resonators aren't the only cards that support Millium with Force effects. We've got some chants to help out too! Dragon Power is a total cost two chant with Quickcast, allowing you to play it outside of your main phase. When you do, you'll Force for one, gaining dragon power counter on Millium and you'll be able to boost up a J/resonator by +X00/+X00 until end of turn. To make it even better Dragon Power will also recover that target card if its a Dragonoid, so you'll be able to attack twice! This is made especially useful with Unleashed Dragonoid who triggers his Force ability every time he attacks. Millium's Roar is a similar chant card that can power up two of your resonators by putting +100/+100 counters on them. As you've likely noticed the chant also determines how many counters are put on these two resonators is determined by Force so you'll get another dragon power counter with Millium. The benefit of this chant is that unlike Dragon Power, it's a lasting power increase thanks to the +100/+100 counters. This can be great for the resonators you'll want to attack as often as possible with, like Tiny Alabaster Drake and Unleashed Dragonoid. Tiny Alabaster Drake especially, as the counters can help deal with the dragon's low DEF and with a higher attack you can take access of the low cost resonator's access to Flying!
Kaguya is a very unique type of J/ruler requiring a very dedicated type of deck set up, but because of that its relatively easy to make a deck around her. She's a a dedicated control card for the must part abusing the many Treasury Item cards we'll be looking at for various effects, in addition to their own effects. Kaguya's ruler side only comes with one unique ability, but its an incredibly useful one. You'll be able to reveal the top card of your deck and add it to your hand if its a Treasury Item card. WHile the ability is only playable once per turn during your turn, the effect has a fairly high probability of being a second draw (depending on how many Treasury Items are in your deck of course) helping you maintain a large hand full of resources. She's got Energize of course, helping to keep advantage if you're the player going second. Kaguya's got the unusual Judgment cost of zero, however you can only play the ability if a Treasury Item was put into your field that turn. That shouldn't bee too difficult though, and you'll likely want to do this as early as you are able because Kaguya, Millennium Princess is how you're going to maximize your Treasury Items.
Kaguya, Millennium Princess gains Barrier as long as you control three or more Treasury Items, preventing your opponent from destroying her. Maintaining this Barrier ability is crucial to Kaguya's survival and by extension, your victory. So make sure to play your Judgment only if you've got three or more Treasury Items in your field. That's hardly all Kaguya offers though. She's got five other activate abilities that can be played by resting one, two, three, four, or five treasury items. You can weaken the ATK of J/resonators, produce water or wind will, draw a card, bounce a resonator, or turn Kaguya a 1500/1500 with Flying for the turn. All of these can be useful, but you'll likely to be using the resource generating effects the most to build up your field and maintain your edge over your opponent. Kaguya's final ability can also turn her into a win condition for you as a 1500/1500 J-ruler with both Flying and Barrier is going to be difficult, if not impossible for your opponent to answer, especially when Kaguya can also remove any resonator your opponent tries to block with via her bounce ability. Despite this it's highly unlikely you'll be cranking out high amounts of damage particularly quickly. You're still going to need to prepare for the long-game control play as you slowly take control of the field and your opponent.
Since we're using Kaguya, it would be, of course, prudent of us to include her magic stone. Since we'll be using Kaguya, Tears of the Moon/Kaguya, Millennium Princess as our J/ruler we don't have to worry about the "pay 300 life or this card enters rested stipulation" which is nice. The special magic stone counts as both a water and a wind magic stone which is handy for any Resonance abilities you may have that trigger off of those. The stone can be rested to produce either water or wind will, the two attributes Kaguya uses the most. However, what's really great about this stone is that when it enters your field, you'll be able to look at the top two cards of your deck and put them back in any order. It doesn't sound like much, but imagine how much this can help the consistency of Kaguya, Tears of the Moon's once per turn activate ability! It doubles your chances of being able to take a Treasury Item revealed by that effect into your hand. Just be sure to call a stone first before using the ability so you can resolve Kaguya's Stone of Sorrow's ability first!
While Treasury Items have traditionally been addition cards Return of the Dragon Emperor introduces a few resonators that are also Treasury Items as well. The one you'll absolutely want to be using as much as you can is Glistening Chick. This total cost two Flying resonator allows you to rest a target resonator whenever it becomes rested. This includes when you rest the resonator to attack your opponent or block them, and it also includes whenever you rest Glistening Chick to pay for one of Kaguya, Millennium Princess' abilities! This card provides some early damage with Flying, can be used for the Kaguya engine and helps control the field by locking down one of your opponent's resonators. You'll want to make use of this effect as often as you can as you stall and build up your resources. Nightmoon Blossom is also a total cost two resonator that doubles as a Treasury Item however, it can't be relied on to deal damage as much as Glistening Chick can. Sporting 300 ATK 700 DEF and Barrier the card is much better used as simply another Treasury Item on the field. The fact that it has Barrier helps you keep it alive in the face of your opponent's bouncing and destruction effects allowing you to keep abusing the card for Kaguya, Millennium Princess' effects. Moonlit Treasury Tree is a total cost three resonator that counts as a Treasury Item. While you probably weren't incentivized to attack with Nightmoon Blossom you still had the option. With Moonlit Treasury Tree however, you can't. But that's fine because we'll be using this card for Kaguya's abilities as much as we can. The resonator's high DEF also helps you defend against your opponent's attacks as you build up your field. Upon entering the field, Moonlit Treasury Tree lets you draw a card which is a nice little boon to help keep your hand plentiful.
We've got even more treasury items to play though. The First Moon is an Addition card that counts as both a Moon and a Treasury Item. It's got a continuous effect that prevents other additions you control from being destroyed. On its own that isn't going to be much help, as the effect does not protect the card itself. However we'll see in a moment that there are plenty of other additions you'll want to protect. The card's second effect is an automatic one that will trigger whenever it becomes rested. So basically, whenever you use it for one of Kaguya, Millennium Princess' abilities. The second card works somewhat in tandem to The First Moon. Moon View Rabbit is a total cost two 500/500. On the field its not much of a presence, however it too counts as a Treasury Item and it has the unique property of being played by resting a Moon card rather than pay its cost. Seeing the connection? You can play The First Moon, then rest it to play Moon View Rabbit, and sap a resonator of 200 ATK all at once!
And here's where The First Moon really comes in handy. We've got three other addition Treasury Item cards that you'll likely want to keep safe. Miracle Millennia Medicine is probably the most disposable. It's a total cost one card that can be banished from the field to return up to three cards in a single graveyard to their owner's deck. While you'll want to keep this on the field for Kaguya, the effect is more useful than you might realize. Preventing an opponent from resurrecting a high-cost resonator by returning the resurrection target to the opponent's deck can be a life saver. Preventing your opponent from pulling the pesky regalia Deathscythe into their hand can help you out too. So don't be afraid to use this card if you really need to. Just be sure to rest it before you banish it first to get a Kaguya effect before it heads to your graveyard! Next is Kaguya's Pictorial Scroll. This card is a bit interesting. When it enters the field, you'll remove the top three cards from your deck from the game. You can then play those three cards as though they were in your hand (yes you still have to pay their costs). The issue is that the addition needs to stay on the field or you lose access to those three cards. Thankfully that can be done with The First Moon and while on the field, Kaguya's Pictorial Scroll itself is a Treasury Item. Kaguya herself has a draw effect so your mileage may vary on this card but it can certainly help you recover from a bad hand by extending your resources with three more playable cards. The last Treasury Item we'll be looking at is arguably the most interesting. Water Kimono of Twelve Parts. This is another total cost one addition, but it can be bestowed to a resonator. Once bestowed the card grants the resonator +100/+100 for each Water Kimono of Twelve Parts bestowed to it. And yes, before you ask, the effect stacks. It might be a little confusing so here's how it works; Two kimonos bestowed to a single resonator will grant that resonator a total of two instances of +200/+200 for a total of +400/+400. To take it further, a total of six copies of this card bestowed to a resonator would grant six instances of +600/+600 for a total of +3600/+3600! Now, you might be saying to yourself, "Self, how can I have six copies of this card?". Water Kimono of Twelve Parts has the unique ability of letting you run up to twelve copies of it in your deck! And besides beign able to pump up a resonator to ludicrous power levels, if you manage to have all twelve kimonos bestowed to a single resonatoryou automatically win the game! Most times you won't be able to do that, but that's okay. The card is a cheap Treasury Item, and even a few of them can turn any resonator into a monster of incredible attacking power.
Alright, we've seen plenty of Treasury Items, now lets see some supporting cards. Mystia, Manager of the Treasury is a total cost three Wererabbit card. Sadly she's not much of a powerhouse on the field. However when she hits the field you'll be able to search out any Treasury Item you like and add it to your hand. Then, once Mystia leaves the field for a non-field zone you'll be able to put a Treasury Item from your hand with total cost three or less right into your field for free! Basically Mystia is a delayed search and play of a Treasury Item with the added benefit of a body on the field to block or perhaps even attack for some damage until she's destroyed. Gilgamesh is your other powerhouse in addition to Kaguya or whatever you empower with Water Kimono of Twelve Parts. It's a total cost four resonator, which should be fairly easy to play with Kaguya's will generating ability. He becomes indestructible once you control three or more Treasury Items, making him far more troublesome to deal with for your opponent. Even better, the card gains an extra 100 ATK for each Treasury Item you control, so you can easily see how this card can deal out some massive hits on your opponent, especially since Kaguya can bounce any resonator that might try to block him. Lastly the resonator actually helps you ramp up your will with his Resonance ability. Whenever a wind magic stone enters your field, Gilgamesh produces one will of any attribute!
Lastly, we've got two chant cards to help support your deck. Kaguya's decision will let you reveal the top four cards of your deck and put a revealed Treasury Item with total cost three or less into your field! Essentially, its an upgraded version of Kaguya, Tears of the Moon's own ability. The trouble is, of course, that the card is a bit of a gamble. There's always a possibility you won't be able to reveal a Treasury Item. However, considering the sheer number of Treasury Items you'll likely be running in your deck, there's a pretty good chance you will. Remember, this spell can even help you get resonators into the field! The other chant is Millennia Bond, an incredibly useful spell. This total cost two chant has Quickcast, allowing you to play it outside your main phase and use it to respond to your opponent's plays. When you play this card you can choose between two options, but if you've got a water J/resonator and another wind J/resonator you'll be able to choose both. The first option is to cancel a chant spell and to draw a card. On its own, that's already worth the card's cost. Stopping an opponent's card and drawing a card is incredibly useful. The other option is to put a Treasury Item from your hand into your field as long as the Treasury Item has a total cost of three or less. Likely you won't want to choose this option on its own unless you've got a total cost three Treasury Item in your hand and no other way to play it. Really the better option is the cancel. Putting a Treasury Item into your field is just icing on the cake when you've got the two resonators to enable you to choose both options.
Ready to mess around with magic stones? I sure hope so! Pricia is all about triggering effects off of wind and fire magic stones. Which in one sense is great because it opens her up to being a ruler for pretty much any deck that primarily uses those attributes, but it also means that she can be a bit tricky to utilize when you're just starting out compared to a ruler like Kaguya who finds most of what she needs in Return of the Dragon Emperor. Still, Pricia is absolutely a powerful J/ruler and we're going to have a look at her! The ruler side sports a Judgment with a total cost of two. Quite low and no special requirements like Millium or Kaguya makes this ability playable as early as the second turn. She's got Engergize of course, helping you out if you're the second turn player. But Pricia's real points are her two Resonance keyword abilities. One triggers from Fire Magic Stones, while the other triggers from Wind Magic Stones. Since these two abilities are separate, if you were to call a stone that counts as both fire and wind, it would trigger both of these abilities! When a fire stone hits your field you can grant a resonator Swiftness until the end of the turn. When a wind stone hits your field you can give a resonator Flying until the end of the turn. These abilities are clearly geared towards an aggressive style of deck that enables resonators to attack quickly (Swiftness) and with impunity from blockers (Flying). As such our deck is going to want to take advantage of that in two ways. Firstly, we'll want powerful resonators of course, but we'll also want cards with effects that let us put as many stones into our field as possible to trigger these abilities as often as we can.
Once you play Pricia, True Beastmaster's Judgment ability, she enters the field as the J-ruler, Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia! She enters with 1000 ATK and DEF, quite good when you remember her Judgment only costs two will. She's got a lengthy automatic ability that triggers when she hits the field or whenever she attacks. You get two options. You can choose between putting a resonator you control on the bottom of its owner's deck to put the top card of your deck into your field if its a resonator. Or you may choose to do the same with a magic stone and the owner's magic stone deck. Doing this with a resonator can help you get a much powerful one into your field very easily. However, under normal circumstances you won't know what the top card of your deck is so it's a pretty big gamble. Fear not, there are ways to influence the top card of your deck, but for now let's focus on cards in Return of the Dragon Emperor. The other option, cycling a magic stone is much more consistent, since there's no chance for failure. You be wondering, however, what the point of cycling a magic stone is. After all, once on her J-ruler side Pricia loses access to her Resonance abilities she had on her ruler side. Here's the trick, you can return a rested magic stone to the bottom of your magic stone deck to call up a brand new recovered (and therefor, usable) magic stone from the top of your deck. Essentially this ability can give you access to an extra will every turn! Pricia's second ability is a special kind of activate ability called a God's Art. God's Art abilities can only be played once per game (even if they're cancelled), but they're very powerful. Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia's God's Art is called Second Wind. It costs one fire and one wind will. However, you may also only play this ability if both a wind stone and a fire stone entered your field this turn (again stones that count as both will clear this requirement). Normally this would mean that you have to call a stone with Pricia and hope it's a double stone to use this ability. However, thanks to Reincarnated Maiden of Flame Pricia's first ability, you can attack with Pricia, then cycle a stone to hopefully put a stone that counts as both a wind and fire magic stone into play to clear the requirement for the God's Art! When you actually play the ability, you'll be able to recover Pricia and then grant all J/resonators you control Swiftness and Flying for the rest of the turn! Timing this right means you can attack with all of your J/resonators twice, including Pricia! This ability can easily win you the game allowing you to overwhelm your opponent in a single turn!
So remember when we talked about how it'd be nice if there was a magic stone that counted as both a fire and wind magic stone? Well there happens to be one such stone in Return of the Dragon Emperor! There's actually another one too, but we'll talk about it next time since its from another set. Memoria of Reincarnation can produce both fire and wind will, making it perfect for the attributes you'll be running with Pricia. Normally the card forces you to pay 300 life or put the card into your field rested, but since we have Pricia, True Beastmaster and "Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia" as our J/ruler we don't need to worry about that. As a great bonus this magic stone has an automatic ability that lets you draw a card whenever it leaves your field for a non-field zone and we've already seen how Pricia can set this ability off by cycling magic stones with her own ability. This only gives us more reason to cycle your stones. Now you get a fresh recovered magic stone and get to draw a card, keeping your resources plentiful!
Pricia's not the only one with helpful resonance abilities as we can see from Dragon of Fire and Wind. This card gains an extra 500 ATK and Swiftness whenever a fire magic stone enters your field and gains 500 DEF and Flying whenever a wind magic stone enters your field. The card on its own is fairly weak, 500 ATK and DEF for a total cost three resonator is quite subpar. However, getting a Memoria of Reincarnation into your field with this resonator out turns it into a 1000/1000 with Swiftness and Flying, which is great value for a total cost three, so you'll only want to play this resonator to your field when you know that's possible. Fiery Bird of Reincarnation is another total cost three resonator, but has some better stats as well as natural access to Flying which is always nice, helping you get around your opponent's blockers. While this card is on your field it's little more than a vanilla card with Flying. However, once it leaves your field for a non-field zone (either by normal methods or by Pricia's cycling abilities) an automatic ability triggers allowing you to reveal the top cards of your deck until you reveal a resonator and then add it to your hand. Be sure to attack with this resonator before you cycle it with Pricia though. That way you can get in 800 damage, cycle the card for a new resonator and then put that resonator into your field ready to block or even attack (if its got Swiftness)! Our other reincarnation resonator is Fiery Fox of Reincarnation. This is a total cost two resonator with some low ATK, only 400, but fairly a fairly high DEF of 700 making it a good defensive option for the first couple of turns. Additionally, the card can somewhat replicate Pricia's stone cycling ability. By resting the beast resonator and banishing a stone you'll be able to put a magic stone from the top of your magic stone deck into your field. The trouble is that you'll have to actually banish a stone, meaning it'll go to the graveyard. One or two stones like this isn't really an issue, just be careful not to get banish happy your you might run yourself out of resources! Take note though that this ability does indeed trigger Memoria of Reincarnation and can be used to set off Dragon of Fire and Wind and other resonance abilities when you're unable to use Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia's ability for whatever reason.
Divine Bird of Attoractia, similar to Fiery Bird of Reincarnation, has an automatic ability that works well with Pricia's resonator cycling capabilities. Whenever the card leaves your field for a non-field zone, you get to draw a card. If, for any reason, you don't want to play the card to the field but still want the "draw a card" effect, you can also opt to pay one wind will and discard Divine Bird of Attoractia from your hand (only from the hand, this is how Inheritance works) using the resonator's Inheritance ability to draw a card as well. As an actual field presence the card is quite weak, can't go much lower than 100/100. However the card does have Flying so if you manage to beef it up a bit the resonator can be a good source of damage in the early game. However the resonator is likely best used for the automatic ability, getting you an extra card, a 100 damage attack on your opponent they likely won't be able to block because of Flying, and the possibility of a stronger resonator if you're fortunate with Pricia's cycling ability. Mariabella, the Machine Hearted is a total cost four resonator with an impressive 1000 ATK and DEF. The card even lets you nab a non-special magic stone from your magic stone deck! Like Pricia, True Beastmaster, she's got two Resonance abilities. One for fire stones and the other for wind stones. The fire stone Resonance ability gives her a blast counter and the wind one, a breeze counter. On their own, these two Resonance abilities aren't two exciting. However Mariabella has two activate abilities that utilize these counters. By removing a blast counter you can deal 500 damage to a J/resonator. By removing a breeze counter you can counter a chant spell unless its controller pays an additional  will. Mariabella is a very powerful resonator, allowing for two types of control, either destroying your opponent's card or preventing your opponent from playing chants. She's even a good attacker in her own right. The trick is getting counters on her quickly, which is where Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia and Fiery Fox of Reincarnation come in, as you'll likely want breeze counters as soon as possible to protect Mariabella from your opponent's removal cards.
In Return of the Dragon Emperor, we've only got Memoria of Reincarnation that counts as both a fire and wind magic stone, so we've got to find a way to help the consistency of calling stones that count as both to set off our Resonance abilities and unlock Pricia's God's Art requirement. That's where Sissei, Pricia's Barrier comes in. This addition gives all magic stones you control the card types of light, fire, water, wind, and darkness magic stones, so now any stone you call will trigger your Resonance abilities! Additionally it grants the magic stones you control the ability to rest and produce any attribute of will, though if you're having trouble producing the right attributes of will it'd be better to revise your magic stone deck rather than rely solely on this card. As stacking multiple copies of this addition on the field doesn't do anything for you, it is likely ill advised to run four copies of it as extra copies in your hand are just dead weight. Instead you'll want to run a few copies to up your stone consistency if you find that to be a recurring problem. Rapid Shot is a total cost two chant card that deals direct damage to resonators. However, unlike other such similar cards, it's damage is not fixed exactly. It does 200 damage for each fire magic stone you control and you can divide this damage how you wish (in multiples of 100 as defined by the core rules of the game) among any number of resonators as long as that number is equal to or less than the number of wind magic stones you control. This is a very versatile card that can be very handy at taking back control of the field in mid and late game when you've got a good number of magic stones on the field. You can divide the damage up to knock out a good number of low DEF resonators if you're opponent is swarming, or you can focus all the damage on a single target to take out your opponent's big baddie. Early game, the card falls a bit flat as you won't be able to dish out much damage. Even so, when played early it can be handy for getting rid of your opponent's early game field, as most resonators that help set up a player's strategy have fairly low DEF.
Last for Pricia, we've got two more chant cards. The first is Reincarnation, a card that works as a sort of upgraded version of Pricia's own ability. By paying three will and banishing any number of resonators you reveal that many cards from the top of your deck and put all revealed resonators into your field for free!. Again, there's no guarantee you'll reveal any resonators, but with enough of them in the deck the odds should be in your favor, and obviously the probability increases as you banish more resonators. While banishing your cards is always a risky move, we're lucky enough to have access to a few resonators that have abilities that trigger when they leave the field. As such Divine Bird of Attoractia and Fiery Bird of Reincarnation are going to want to be your main fodder for this chant card. Especially since Fiery Bird of Reincarnation helps you get yet another resonator! Note that this card does not have Quickcast, so you'll only be able to play it on your turn. Be sure to attack with your resonators first before banishing them to get the most out of their last moments on the field! The other card is Pricia's Leap. This is a card that costs one fire, one wind, and X, which is a number you choose as you play it. It grants the target J/resonator the ability to attack up to X times that turn without having to rest to attack! This is a finisher card and is best used targeting your powerhouse cards like Pricia herself, especially after she's been granted Flying by her God's Art ability. Not having to rest to attack means you can keep the target card active for blocking if such a situation arises, which is certainly handy. However in most situations, playing this card likely means you'll be finishing off your opponent. Just make sure you have enough will to pay the X cost so you can attack the proper amount of times you need!
Lapis acts as an interesting foil to Millium in the sense that they both have high costing Judgment abilities that can be produced by playing their respective decks well. Lapis starts off the game with a Judgment that has a total cost of eight, quite costly. However the ability will drop in cost by  for each card in your opponent's removed area. Take note that it only works for your opponent's removed area, not your own. So you're going to want to remove as many of your opponent's cards from the game as possible. And not only for Lapis' Judgment cost, Lapis' abilities and the abilities of his supporting cards make use of your opponent's removed cards as well. Thankfully Lapis himself gives us a way to start removing cards with an ability that removes a target card your opponent controls instead of letting it go to the graveyard .Keep in mind though, that this ability does not remove cards on its own and it can only be played once per turn during your turn. You'll want to combine this ability with removal effects that can help set it off. Additionally you could use the effect on any resonator you intend to destroy via attacking with your own resonators.
Once your Judgment process resolves, Gill Lapis, Rebel of Darkest Fires takes to the field. This J-ruler hits the scene with 1000 ATK and DEF. He doesn't have any natural symbol skill abilities which seems a bit disappointing at first. However, let's take a look at his very first ability. This activate ability costs no will, you'll need to start putting your opponent's removed cards to use by putting one of them on the bottom of your opponent's deck. Once you do, Lapis can gain either Swiftness, Precision, Flying, or First Strike for the rest of the turn. Swiftness and Flying are likely going to be your main choices, and you can forgo swiftness after the first turn this card hits the field. Swiftness will let you strike with the card as soon as it hits the field and Flying will make it a lot harder for your opponent to block. First Strike and Precision are good options to have as well in certain situations. First Strike can help save Lapis in a situation where he's blocked by another resonator with ATK high enough to destroy your J-ruler and DEF low enough to lost to Gill Lapis, Rebel of Darkest Fires. Precision is handy for picking off J/resonators your opponent is trying to protect from you, so don't be afraid to use this ability to gain those symbol skills if you think its necessary. That's not all that Lapis is packing though. By paying X you can play a card from your opponent's removed area as long as it has total cost X or less! Essentially this allows you to turn your opponent's removed area into an extra hand of cards for you to utilize. Nothing is more satisfying than turning your opponent's own cards against them! Gill Lapis, Rebel of Darkest Fires' final ability is another activate one. By paying two will and putting two non-magic stone cards from your opponent's removed area on the bottom of their deck you can destroy a target resonator. A built in destruction ability is very useful, allowing you to stop near any resonator your opponent plays. You can destroy their ace resonator, or use the ability to remove a blocker so you can get your high power attackers through to your opponent!
Magic Stone of Ebon Home is, of course, Lapis' signature stone and you're going to want to run four copies of it. Normally the stone would enter rested unless we chose to pay 300 life, but since Gill Lapis, Conqueror of Attoractia and Gill Lapis, Rebel of Darkest Fires is our J/ruler we manage to avoid that. The stone produces either fire or darkness will, Lapis' key attributes, which gives you even more reason to run four of these. But the real kicker is the card's unique ability. It's an automatic effect that triggers when the card enters your field. When it resolves it lets you remove the top card of your opponent's deck from the game. As you can imagine this is immensely valuable for Lapis, reducing his Judgment cost on his ruler side for free while building up usable fodder for his J-ruler side once you actually use the Judgment. Plus, denying your opponent a card from their deck can be unexpectedly useful as well. You never know when you might just remove the key card they've been hoping to draw.
A true world ruling tyrant wouldn't be much without some flunkies to help him with his dirty work, so let's have a look at his supporting cards! Valentina, the Twilight Passion is a total cost four resonator with 900 ATK and DEF. She's somewhat like a resonator version of the Lapis J/ruler in that she can both remove your opponent's cards as well as utilize said removed cards for her own benefit. Any resonator that would be destroyed by her (and not just via battle) is removed from the game instead of being put in the graveyard, so you'll want to put her to work attacking and removing your opponent's cards. Still, that leaves her immobile on her first turn right? Not exactly. When Valentina enters the field her automatic ability triggers, letting you remove a resonator your opponent controls with total cost two or less from the game. So just by playing this card you already get another card removed from your opponent's field. And if you like, you can put it to use immediately! Valentina has two activate abilities. Using the first, you return an opponent's removed card to the bottom of their deck and choose between gaining either Swiftness or Precision. Combined with her own removal ability, this allows Valentina to attack right away, and the potential of gaining Precision helps Valentina target any of your opponent's resonators so you may attack and remove them as you please. The second activate ability will require you to put three removed cards on the bottom of your opponent's deck, but will power up Valentina by +500/+500. Quite costly, so most times you'll want to avoid using this one if you can, but it can be handy in a pinch. Blazer is also a total cost four resonator, but less technical. He's much more of a traditional aggessive type. He enters with 1000 ATK and DEF as well as natural Swiftness and Flying, quite powerful for his cost. However, at the end of your turn you have to put a card from your opponent's removed area on the bottom of their deck, if you don't then Blazer is banished and sent to the graveyard. In this way, Blazer is more of an ace in the hole. A surprise attacker to be dropped, attacked with and then banished unless you can really afford the cost to keep him in play. EVen if he's banished though, he can come back. He's got an activate ability with a hefty cost of six that allows him to be put back into the field from the graveyard. See what I mean about being a surprise attacker?
It's not just resonators like Valentina that can help the cause of removing your opponent's cards of course, we've got chant cards that directly support our strategy of removing our opponent's cards as well! Swirling Demon Dimension is quite simple. It's a Quickcast card that simply lets you remove a resonator from the game. It's got a total cost of three, which is a little pricey for a card you'd want to be playable on your opponent's turn, but the fact that its direct removal is invaluable to Lapis. The card gets around effects that prevent destruction and even stops resonators that have abilities that activate when they're put into a graveyard from triggering. Plus, easily accessible removal is always handy and its much harder for an opponent to recover from removing from the game than regular destruction, as normal salvage effects won't work. Unending Hatred is a total cost two chant that offers you two options, but if you control both a fire J/resonator and another darkness J/resonator, you'll be able to choose both. You can choose between destroying all resonators your opponent controls with total cost one or less, good for handling token based decks or for the early game when your opponent is building up resource generating resonators. You can even target one of the resonators with Gill Lapis, Conqueror of Attoractia's ability to get a removal out of it. The second option allows you to look at your opponent's hand and force them to remove a card from the game. Both options are useful, though when you have to choose, most times it will be better to choose the second option. Hand control is invaluable in a deck that tends to move a bit slower like Lapis does. Additionally it's guaranteed removal of a card as opposed to the destruction option which is somewhat situational. There's no guarantee your opponent will have total cost one resonators for you to target with Gill Lapis, Conqueror of Attoractia's ability, but it can still be a good option to have against certain decks.
Speaking of removing some low cost cards, check out Memory to Memoria. This total cost one chant also gives you two options, though there's sadly no trick to being able to choose both. You can choose between either dealing 400 damage to an opponent and producing one fire will or just dealing 500 damage to a player. Sadly the card doesn't have Quickcast, so you'll only be able to use it during your main phase, but the card still has its uses. The first option is great for picking off first or second turn resonator plays for free, as the first option produces the same amount of will that it costs. The second option is certainly useful too, but mores o in the mid to late game when you can use it to help you push for lethal damage against your opponent. Secret Messenger of the Mikage is somewhat like a weaker version of Valentina. The total cost three resonator removes any resonator it would destroy from the game instead of putting it in the graveyard. Unfortuantely it doesn't have a way of gaining Precision, so you'll need to settle for attacking rested resonators or just attacking your opponent. However, when Secret Messenger of the Mikage enters your field, the card deals 400 damage times the number of Vampires you control (yes it counts itself too!) to a resonator your opponent controls! If a resonator is destroyed by this damage ability its removed from the game via the card's first ability so be sure to target something you can easily destroy!
Gill Alhama'at is a very unique kind of ruler, and not only because he's got three sides! Most of what can make him truly great is not found in Return of the Dragon Emperor, specifically all of the Ancient Magic cards from previous Lapis Cluster booster sets and starter decks. As such, when first starting out with only your cards from Return of the Dragon Emperor, you'll likely find him fairly difficult to use as many of the cards that provide him with the best support are not in this set. However, we're still going to look at some of the cards from the set that do help him out and we'll fully flesh out his strategies in our follow up article! Enough of that, though, let's have a look at the man himself. Alhama'at has a Judgment cost of zero, but like both Millium and Kaguya, he's got an extra stipulation. You've got to have at least seven mana counters on him in order to play his Judgment process. Thankfully, he already starts the game with one mana counter thanks to his Mana 1 ability. He's also got a built in way to generate more counters in the form of a Resonance ability. It will grant him a mana counter whenever a light or darkness magic stone enters your field. Note that since this is one ability, and not two separate ones like Pricia, when a stone enters your field that is both a light and darkness magic stone, he still only gains one counter. These counters can be used for more than just reaching the Judgment requirement though. By removing a counter you can produce one will of any attribute. However that produced will can only be used to play Ancient Magic cards. Thankfully there's a great wealth of Ancient Magic cards in the game, though not too many in Return of the Dragon Emperor. That said, you may not want to use this ability too much as you are losing a counters to use it and you definitely want to reach seven counters. Because when you do...
Ebon Dragon Emperor, Gill Alhama'at takes to the field! This J-ruler enters with 1000 ATK and DEF as well as the ability to do a second Judgment! This time you'll need to remove twenty mana counters and every other card you control from the game, a very hefty cost, but rest assured, it's worth it. Ebon Dragon Emperor, Gill Alhama'at also has a Mana 1 ability so you'll gain another mana counter when he enters the field, automatically putting you at eight counters. He retains the same will producing ability of the ruler side and gains an upgraded version of the Resonance ability. It still triggers every time a light or darkness stone hits the field, but now it'll grant you two mana counters instead of one, which is why you'll want to get this form out as soon as possible. As a body on the field Alhama'at isn't terrible, but he's not spectacular either. A 1000/1000 with Flying is certainly useful, but often you may find it better to just call a stone with him to gain more mana counters. The trick with Alhama'at is that, well, reaching twenty mana counters is actually pretty difficult. You'll have to gauge the situation and see whether its better to push for the twenty counters or to beat your opponent in a more balanced style, jabbing at your opponent with a combination of Ebon Dragon Emperor and other cards.
Ebon Dragon Emperor, Gill Alhama'at's Judgment cost may seem incredibly expensive, and it most assuredly is. However, there's a reason why. Getting Gill Alhama'at, He Who Grasps All on the field pretty much guarantees you the win. The J-ruler has 2000 ATK and DEF, the highest in the game. Plus the card enters the field with natural Barrier, Swiftness, Precision, Flying, and First Strike. So basically its a nearly unstoppable 2000 damage to your opponent's face. If that wasn't enough, all chant cards in your hand gain the sub-type Ancient Magic and all Ancient Magic cards in your hand become free to play. So essentially, all chant cards become free to play. So even though in the course of playing this card you lose all your magic stones, it doesn't matter too much.
And of course Gill Alhama'at has his signature magic stone. Since we're using Gill Alhama'at we don't have to worry about putting the card into our field rested or being forced to pay 300 life. The card counts as both a light and darkness magic stone, which will set off Alhama'at's Resonance ability, nabbing you an extra mana counter. The card can produce both light and darkness will, which can be Alhama'at's main attributes, but what makes him a somewhat tricky ruler is that he uses cards from pretty much every attribute, as Ancient Magic cards are primarily water and fire attribute. While that can be rectified with a combination of other magic stones in your magic stone deck that can produce other attributes and Gill Alhama'at's own will producing ability for Ancient Magic cards, Ancient Magic Stone takes it a step further. By resting the magic stone and removing a mana counter from your J/ruler you can produce on will of any attribute, and it doesn't have the "only for Ancient Magic" caveat! The trouble is that you can't do it as many times as you'd like because you have to rest the stone to use this ability, and of course there's the issue of burning through your mana counters. But the effect is still incredibly useful and opens up deck construction for splicing in cards from any attribute to support Alhama'at.
While typically not extremely focused on regular combat with resonators Alhama'at decks can make good use of certain resonators. Demon Orderly is a total cost one resonator with 300 ATK and DEF. The card only has one ability. Namely, it has a continuous ability that treats the card as a darkness magic stone. Note that this does not allow it to produce will, however what it does do is trigger Alhama'at's Resonance ability, nabbing you another magic counter, or two if you've got Ebon Dragon Emperor on the field. Beyond that the card itself is not particularly useful, though it can come in handy as an emergency blocker as you stall your opponent and build up your resources. However, Demon Orderly's strength extends beyond just the resonator itself. Rachel, Nephilim Commander is a total cost three resonator with Flying and 700 ATK and DEF. That's admittedly a little low for her cost, but she's got some fantastic abilities. She, like Alhama'at, has a Resonance ability that triggers off of darkness magic stones. When it resolves, you can destroy a resonator with total cost two or less and if you do you get to put a mana counter on your J/ruler! So every time you call a stone you can destroy something and charge up Alhama'at. What's neat is that the ability isn't necessarily limited to your opponent. So if they don't have any targets for the ability, you can choose to destroy one of your own total cost two or lower resonators. Now, ideally you wouldn't want to do that obviously, but it's important to be aware the option is available to you. Rachel has another ability as well. When she enters the field you'll be able to put a Demon resonator from your graveyard into your field, as long as it has a total cost of 1 or less. So basically you can drop Rachel, Nephilim Commander, resurrect Demon Orderly, gain another counter or two because a "Darkness Magic Stone" (Demon Orderly) entered your field, and destroy a resonator with Rachel's Resonance ability!
While there aren't too many Ancient Magic cards in Return of the Dragon Emperor the ones in the set are very helpful for advancing Alhama'at's strategy. Alhama'at's Purge is a chant card where you choose to banish any number of resonators. Remember, you can only banish resonators you control! Then you gain a number of mana counters on your J/ruler equal to the combined total cost of all the resonators you banished. This card is key for making that push towards twenty mana counters to summon Gill Alhama'at, He Who Grasps All. While banishing your resonators seems counter intuitive, remember that in order to play Gill Alhama'at, He Who Grasps All you need to banish all cards you control, so you'd be losing those resonators anyway. As such its best to put them to good use, gaining extra mana counters. Since the card is an Ancient Magic it can be played using two mana counters from Alhama'at, and as long as you're gaining more mana counters than you're losing with this spell, that may be the optimal option as it allows you to save your stones for other chants. Chants like Viola's Machinations. This total cost one chant forces your opponent to discard a card at their own discretion, which is admittedly a little weaker than other total cost one discard cards on its own. However, this chant also grants your J/ruler a mana counter as long as the J/ruler has the mana ability. So this card not only provides support by controlling your opponent's hand, it also helps Alhama'at gain strength for his upcoming Judgment! Since the card is an Ancient Magic card, you could play the chant using a mana counter and essentially break even, but if you find yourself doing that often, it's likely better to just use other discard cards. The most optimal way to play this chant is to cast it normally with a magic stone.
Viola's an interesting resonator. She's a total cost two with 500 ATK and DEF. However she has the ability to gain +100/+100 and Flying for the turn if you pay one darkness will. What's interesting though, is that the ability can be paid for like Ancient Magic. That means you can use mana counters to play this ability. While you won't want to do that most times, in a pinch you can spend several mana counters at once to pump up Viola to help you push for lethal damage on your opponent. However what is arguably more useful is Viola's second ability. It's a total cost two Inheritance ability that grants your J-ruler Imperishable until the end of the turn. However, if you're targeting Ebon Dragon Emperor, Gill Alhama'at with the ability, you don't have to pay the two darkness will! (Though you'd still have to discard Viola from your hand.) This ability is tailored to protect Ebon Dragon Emperor, Gill Alhama'at as you prepare to unleash the final form J-ruler!
That's all for today, but we've only just scratched the surface. These are some basic synergies for the cards of Return of the Dragon Emperor to help you begin your foray into the world of Force of Will. In the next article, we'll explore more advanced strategies with cards from beyond just Return of the Dragon Emperor. In the meantime, experiment on your own! Try out different cards and see what works for you! Remember, the only way to get the perfect deck is to keep testing and practicing!