Force of Will Boot Camp ~ Return of the Dragon Emperor ~ Part 2

Welcome back rulers! This week we're continuing the Force of Will Boot Camp series of articles! In the time since our first article, we hope you've had a little time to get a better feel for the game and perhaps even experiment a little bit more with your Return of the Dragon Emperor cards! Hopefully you've grown a bit as a player and are feeling more comfortable, because this time we're going to move beyond Return of the Dragon Emperor and explore what the cards from other sets in the New Frontiers format have to offer our deck!

Before we go into the specifics of each of the J/rulers from Return of the Dragon Emperor, let's take a look at some cards that provide a general benefit in common situations you'll likely face across a myriad of decks. Keep in mind that while we recommend these cards, you should not feel obligated to include them or sacrifice your deck integrity just because we, or anyone else, says these cards are good. Experiment both with and without these effects. Take note on what does and doesn't work for you, and adjust accordingly. Our goal with these articles is to suggest builds to you, to point you to a path you can choose to follow. But how you walk that path, what kind of deck you play, is ultimately up to you!

First let's talk about the three most useful regalia in order of usefulness. First up is Laevateinn the Demon Sword. If you intend to use any sort of aggressive J-ruler in your deck and that J-ruler does not innately have Swiftness, you're going to want a few copies of this card. It gives your J-ruler Swiftness, which is undoubtedly its most useful quality. However it has a few other abilities that make it such that if you happen to draw multiple copies of the card, they aren't useless, since something like Swiftness doesn't stack. The card can be rested to boost up your J-ruler's damage by +200 and extra copies of Laevateinn can be discarded as part of the card's cost to play an activate ability that generates fire will, and extra will is always useful. In dire situations the card can be banished to grant your J-ruler Imperishable as well, very hand for when your opponent threatens to destroy your J-ruler and make it astral. Laevateinn, the Demon Sword is the ultimate weapon for aggressive J-ruler decks. Both Pricia and Millium can benefit greatly from this card.

Deathscythe is the reactionary counterpart to Laevateinn's proactive aggression. The main benefit of this card is that as long as its on the field, it permanently robs your opponent's J-ruler of both Imperishable and Swiftness. This card is a great two copy inclusion in most any deck. Unless your opponent is playing The Nine-Tailed Fox, it's quite likely they're going to try attacking you using a J-ruler (whether its their main source of damage or not), and that likely means they'll be using Laevateinn as well. Deathscythe is how you put a stop to that. Getting it on the field in the early game means your opponent's going to have to get rid of it or any natural swiftness or granted Swiftness from Laevateinn is worthless. The removal of Imperishable is great too, preventing your opponent from saving their ruler. While destroying a J-ruler is not a guaranteed victory against every deck, it certainly nearly is against J-ruler focused decks like Overlord Valentina. Additionally the card can be rested to beef up your J-ruler by +200/+200, which is a nice bonus. Deathscythe's final ability is a very unique one. By removing three cards in your graveyard from the game, you can return Deathscythe from your graveyard to your hand! That means that if you're ever forced to discard a card, just toss Deathscythe since you can easily recover it later!

Horn of Sacred Beasts is far more situational than Deathscythe, and as such is usually only included as a one of in decks that make use of it. It's got an ability that produces will that is only usable for Sacred Beasts, but likely you aren't using Sacred Beasts so we can ignore that ability. The card can boost up your J-ruler by +200/+200 like Deathscythe which can be useful if you really need a little extra oomph behind your J-ruler attack. The real use behind this card is its final ability. By banishing Horn of Sacred Beasts you can force a player to shuffle their graveyard back into their deck and magic stone deck. While you can target yourself with this ability, more often this ability is used against  your opponent. It may seem strange to shuffle cards back into your opponent's deck at first, but consider this; Since this is an activate ability, you can use it at Quickcast speed. Should your opponent ever try to grab a key card from their graveyard or resurrect some powerful resonator from the graveyard, just chase that effect with this card and shuffle it back into their deck. Then that effect will fail and you've prevented them from gaining advantage!

Black Moonbeam is the ultimate answer to any troublesome J-ruler. For a total cost of two darkness will, this card destroys it at Quickcast speed. What's more, the card can't be chased to, so your opponent can't even react to it (with one exception). That means, in most cases, your opponent can't do anything but accept destruction of their J-ruler. Of course, if they have Imperishable that player can just play their ruler's Judgment process again next turn, but staving off their J-ruler for a turn and forcing them to expend will to play their Judgment again, is already a pretty big detriment for your opponent! Despite this card's undeniable utility, it is unwise to include more than two copies in your deck. Why? Because after you've destroyed your opponent's J-ruler, or if the opponent simply never plays a Judgment process, this card is totally useless. As such you don't want too many copies of it running in your deck.

Wind-Secluded Refuge is, essentially, how you stop Black Moonbeam. This card is a must include in any deck that's going to rely primarily on a J-ruler to deal out most of the damage to your opponent. This addition card costs two will to play to your field. A nice little bonus is that when this addition enters your field, you'll get to draw a card, replacing the loss that playing this card made in your hand when you played it to the field. Now, on to the main feature. This card's second effect let's you banish the addition when a spell or ability targets a J/resonator you control. If you do, you cancel that spell or ability. Due to the way this card works, it is the only card (currently) that can cancel Black Moonbeam. This is because this effect isn't technically chasing to Black Moonbeam, rather it is a automatic object that adds itself to the chase automatically regardless of what is happening. It's a bit tricky to grasp, but that's the general idea. it doesn't technically chase Black Moonbeam, but since it can trigger in response to it and enter the chase because of said trigger, it can cancel Black Moonbeam. This card, like Black Moonbeam you probably won't want to include more than two or at most three copies of this addition in your deck.

Prison in the Lunar Lake is a total cost three chant card, but we won't be playing it for three will. This card has a Trigger so we can pay two void to play it face down in our standby area and then play it for free once it's trigger condition has been met. It's trigger condition dictates you may play the card when you control a water magic stone and your opponent plays an automatic ability of a resonator they put into a field this turn from a non-field zone. Play playing this card in response to that automatic ability you can cancel that ability and destroy that resonator! If that was a bit hard to follow, here's the general idea. This card lets you cancel automatic abilities of resonators that entered your opponent's field this turn, like "When this card enters your field ->" type effects and destroy that resonator. This is primarily useful because, well, "When this card enters your field ->" type effects are very common and some of the strongest resonators in the game at the moment have said abilities. Namely, cards like Captain Hook, the Pirate, and Griphon, Racing Across Darkness. If you're running water magic stones, or dual stones that count as water magic stones this is a great two or three card inclusion in your main deck that can really muck up your opponent's plans!

Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness is essentially a different means to the same end as Prison in the Lunar Lake. This total cost two darkness resonator enters the field with 600 ATK and DEF, whcih is quite good, especially when we consider how useful his effect is. While on the field, Alhazred prevents your opponent's resonators from triggering their own abilities. Again, this prevents "When this card enters your field ->" type effects from triggering. Note that this only prevents self triggers from triggering. So, for example, an effect that states "Whenever another resonator enters your field ->" would still trigger as normal. Abdul is how you stop cards like Captain Hook or Griphon when you aren't running water magic stones and therefor can't use Prison in the Lunar Lake. Odds are you'll be able to include one of these two cards in your deck or side deck so pick which works best for you!

As mentioned last week, Alhama'at is rather tricky to pull off if we're limiting ourselves to just cards from Return of the Dragon Emperor. His main gimmick is, of course, his Mana ability. With access to only Return of the Dragon Emperor, it sees as though his only real strategy is to amass twenty mana counters to use Alhama'at's second Judgment to gain a nearly unstoppable 2000/2000 that can easily attack for lethal damage. However, that's actually not the case. In fact, even reaching the twenty counters is considerably more feasible and easy when you've opened up your deck to cards from other sets. However, it is important to understand that you are also not limited to just achieving Gill Alhama'at, He Who Grasps All. We can also put our mana counters to use as a win condition in and of themselves! Let's have a look, shall we?

One of the most important things we get when we move beyond just the set you started with, is the resource generating cards. Ancient Heartfelt Fire, is essential for Gill Alhama'at. The chant is a total cost one with Quickcast. You can choose between either dealing 400 damage to a J/resonator or putting three mana counters on your J/ruler. While the option to deal 400 damage to something is certainly handy, you'll likely be using the second option more often. Alhama'at, obviously, needs mana counters and this is an exceptional way to gain them. Now you might be wondering how we're going to be using this card when we're likely not going to be running any magic stones that produce fire, but have a look at that little sub type next to the word 'chant'. That's right, this chant card is an Ancient Magic card! That means we can pay it with Alhama'at's Mana abilities! Using a counter to pay for this card and deal 400 damage is a negative to your total number of mana counters, which may be counter productive to your victory. You'll have to gauge the situation wisely. However, the second option is essentially a net two of mana counters. It'd be a net three if you were using fire stones of course, but a net two while not having to hurt our resources by running an attribute we don't particularly need is arguably far more helpful. This spell is a fantastic way to ramp up your mana counters.

Ancient Knowledge, on the other hand, is a spell that'll help you keep up your hand. The chant lets you look at the top five cards of your deck and take two of them into your hand. It's got Quickcast too, which is always nice. Useful for an emergency draw on your opponent's turn if you need to dig for something to save you from losing. The chant has a total cost of four, but is also an Ancient Magic so we can pay some or all of the cost with mana counters. This card, unlike Ancient Heartfelt Fire, will always be a negative to your mana counter pool. As such you'll likely want to consider paying some or all of this card's cost with your actual magic stones. That should not mean, however, that you should be afraid to play this card. Maintaining a strong hand is always a good idea in any deck type. Plus there's always a chance you could end up drawing Ancient Heartfelt Fire which would just get you some mana counters back anyway!