Shaela Quickcast Control
In most games of Force of Will, the most typical way to win is via battle damage from J/resonators. There certainly are other methods to winning, such as damaging a play via chants but far and away the easiest option for winning is by smashing in with J/resonators. There is also a card in the game that stops J/resonators from dealing damage for a turn, it’s called Amaterasu’s Foresight. If we’re working off the assumption that most opponents will try to win via J/resonator battle damage, that means that card can stop most decks for a turn, which is merely alright.
However, what if we could stop that incoming damage every turn? With a mere four maximum copies in the deck, that could be argued to be difficult to impossible. However, we can bring that up to a virtual eight copies using a new card, Spinning Aquasol. To rephrase that then, that’s eight turns of getting to do whatever you want while your opponent gets to stare you down. That’s our goal today, to make a deck that can simply stop our opponents dead in their tracks for a long, long time while we set up our win in leisure.
Main Deck x 42
Faerur's Spell x 3
Cleansing Rain x 4
Spinning Aquasol x 4
Keez's Call x 2
Severing Winds x 3
Millennia Bond x 2
Stone Deck x 10
Side Deck x 15
Keez's Call x 2
Millennia Bond x 2
Heavenly Gust x 2
Vitality Drain x 2
The Final Battle x 2
The Goal of the Deck
We’re looking to win the game by being a continual roadblock. While stopping J/resonator damage for essentially forever is our basic means of doing that, we also want to pack enough cancel spells to outright end whatever our opponent is up to. In order to do this, we’re looking to pack our deck to the brim with a variety of answers and enough card draw to take advantage of that. When we’re ready to win the game, we’ll want an efficient threat that will end it quickly and ignore most of what our opponent is doing. Eia, God of Water is our choice card for doing that.
Playing On Your Opponent’s Turn
One of the first things you might notice about the deck is that of the forty two cards in the main deck, thirty two of them are quickcast. In most decks, you’re generally looking to build your side of the field on your turn and often have to give up using certain stones for a turn if you’re looking to directly respond to your opponent on his or her turn. Not so for this deck, we’re free to leisurely hold up cards each turn and respond to our opponent’s actions as we please. That essentially takes the stress off of dealing with aggressive decks since we can dedicate our entire early game to dealing with them while also letting choose to get ahead of the game if our opponent is doing nothing of particular importance, such as playing Melfee.
This also enables us to better play around Severing Winds. By having most of our cards be quickcast, we’ve got greater flexibility on what turn we’re playing cards and when we’re holding up will. With careful consideration, that means that we can dodge letting our opponent play Severing Winds for free and hold up the proper response for when we’re ready for that to happen. Faerur’s Spell is also not as large of a threat to our deck as one might immediately think since there’s simply too many quickcast cards. In the worst case scenario, we can often respond with our own Faerur’s Spell or another cancel spell, in the best case scenario, it hits a redundant card and we keep on trucking anyway. And in either case, with the amount of card draw the deck is packing, we’re at an advantage for having responses.
Putting The Cherry On Top
If you’re wondering why we’re running Shaela, that’s largely in part due to two particularly unique cards in the deck, Shaela’s Foresight and Cleansing Rain. Unlike most cards that remove a resonator from the field, these two cards put them back on top of the deck. This has a few advantages and disadvantages but the first and largest thing to realize is that unlike returning a card to your opponent’s hand, this is a one for one card trade. Since your opponent has to draw that card next turn, that means they aren’t drawing whatever was under it, putting them at exactly the same number of cards they had a turn earlier. On top of that, you know exactly what your opponent just drew too.
This essentially lets you take advantage of the fact that some of your opponent’s resonators will be lower impact than other threats in their deck. For example, using Cleansing Rain on an opponent’s Sacred Elf lets you put them back a will and also means that next turn, they’ll draw a non-threatening Sacred Elf as opposed to, say, a Sylvia, Blade of the Supreme King. That said, there’s also downsides. The two cards are less effective against resonators with swiftness or with automatic abilities that trigger whenever they enter or leave the field since they’ll be getting multiple uses out of those. Despite that, it can surprisingly easy to keep your opponent in check during the early game while you bide your time build and stones.
Never Stop Drawing
So another thing you should notice about Shaela besides the fact that she enables Shaela’s Foresight and Cleansing Rain, is the fact that she’s a mermaid. This is important since if we’re using a card that checks if we have a mermaid on the field, your ruler will automatically fill out that requirement, thus letting us get bonuses without having to work for it at all. In this case, it lets us use Seabed Investigation to its fullest extent by grabbing two cards instead of one out of the top four cards of our deck. Remember, this is important since we always want to be working towards more card advantage and the key pieces of our deck that we need to deal with the specific threat our opponent has.
That’s not the only way to draw cards in the deck either. Shaela’s Foresight, Millennial Bond, Keez’s Call, Eia, and Weather Change: Rain all have the ability to draw as well, meaning we’re never going to be hard pressed to hold card advantage. Weather Change: Rain is particularly important in the late game since once Shaela runs out of stones to call, she can instead search up a copy of this card. That essentially gives us a free draw every turn for the low cost of one will. And thanks to Shaela’s Foresight, we can use its ability to shuffle our graveyard back into our deck, letting us keep searching out for more of those Weather Change: Rain. And all of that draw enables us to not just grab the cards like Amaterasu’s Foresight and Spinning Aquasol to keep our opponent from ever doing damage, it also lets us grab the various one off cards we use to answer specific threats our opponents play.
The Single Card Answers
No matter what deck you run, chances are there’s a handful of cards that will mess you up. Part of the skill of deck building is learning to deal with those cards and planning accordingly. However, for us and our Kaguya’s Moonbeam Butterfly, we can grab those one off cards at our leisure. This is partly why we run darkness, there’s a handful of fantastic cards to deal with all sorts of threats our opponents might be running, such as Neo Barrier of Shadows and Alice’s World of Madness. Neo Barrier of Shadows has applications all over the place in Force of Will due to the sheer number of resonators with activated abilities. It can stop cards like Sacred Elf and Melfee from producing extra will, keep Mariabella, the Machine Heart in check, and make Arla, Demonic Flying Ace far more expensive to use. Mariabella in particular is very important against our deck since we run a lot of chants and very few resonators. That means that in a typical deck running her, she’s going to get together enough counters to cancel a lot of cards we play and kill any resonator on our field, all for free. Alice’s World of Madness, meanwhile, kills off a large number of small resonators, such as Tama, Familiar of Holy Wind and Divine Bird of Attoractia, both of which are common banish fodder for Lilias Petal, and can single handedly rip apart decks like elves.
Zero, the King’s Blade and Alice, Girl of the Blue Planet also serve important roles. Zero doesn’t just help with opposing decks that like to draw a lot, it can also help when we’re using Shaela’s Foresight and Cleansing Rain, by constantly putting cards back on top of the deck keeping our opponents from drawing out the situation with draw cards, such as Wind-Secluded Refuge and Charlotte, Wielder of the Sacred Spirit. Alice, as I’ve mentioned before, is an incredibly versatile card that should be included as a single copy in every deck that runs water. By keeping track of what your opponent is doing, you can often name a key card they use and eliminate a major threat in the deck. For example, if you’re up against a Will of Hope deck, naming Ryula’s Volition means they no longer have access to a cheap attack boost and anti-removal card, bunting a lot of what the deck can do.
The last card is Eia, God of Water. Even though he’s our primary way of winning the game, we only ever need one copy thanks to our ability to grab him at later points of the game. Thanks to this deck’s plan to go into the long game, by the time you play him, he’s going to be a difficult to remove 1500/1500 with cancel spell back up. Additionally, he cannot be blocked by opposing J/resonators, meaning that all it takes is three turns with him on the field and the game is over, making him a suitably efficient finisher. As icing on the cake, if we don’t have all ten of our stones yet for whatever reason, each one we call draws another card.
Back to Spinning Aquasol For a Moment
So I said at the start of the article that Spinning Aquasol can get us back Amaterasu’s Foresight. That’s pretty useful for the obvious reason of getting rid of that entire battle damage issue. However, it can grab back any chant, which results in an incredibly versatile card. Any chant card in your graveyard is now available to you at the additional cost of one water will. All cancel spells can be grabbed, Shaela’s Foresight and Cleansing Rain can be used to clear out opposing resonators, and Seabed Investigation can be used to grab more cards, and Kaguya’s Moonbeam Butterfly can help grab whatever resonator or addition we need multiple times over.
It essentially adds on a whole new layer of redundancy to the deck that simply lets it be as flexible as it’d like in finding whatever tools it needs now rather than later. Much like Kaguya’s Moonbeam Butterfly can be whatever resonator or addition we need, Spinning Aquasol can often be whatever chant we need at the moment.
So part of the issue with playing a control deck is that you need to know what are the “correct” answers for the decks you’ll be facing. As a result, take this section with a grain of salt and maybe move some cards from here into the main deck. For example, Dawn of the Earth is that useful in most cases for us. It would serve to primary purposes: An extra hit from Eia via recovering him, which is minor, and way to mess up Lilias Petal, Book of Light, and Book of Dark decks by removing resonators they try to put into the field without playing. With regalia having left New Frontier, its third ability to get rid of zero cost cards on the field is now pretty irrelevant. That said, the card is absolutely golden against Lilias Petal and the book rulers, meaning that if you see a lot of them, you should perhaps consider sliding this in the main deck. Otherwise, it’ll sit neatly in the sideboard until you’re looking Lilias Petal in the face. Charlotte goes in the opposite direction. Some decks are almost nothing but removal spells, making it particularly difficult to keep Eia alive. These same decks tend to have very little in the way of resonators, making his ability to avoid being blocked useless. However, Charlotte, with our large hand size, naturally protects herself and is a sizable threat too.
Vitality Drain is a third win condition that also provides an excellent way to gain life against decks that are fond of hitting us directly via chants like Lightning Strike. It’s definitely slower than our other two options but makes up for that by being quickcast, a potential target for Spinning Aquasol, and netting us a comfortable amount of life each time we use it. Final Battle is a neat way to clear out massive boards and get rid of J-Rulers in case Amaterasu’s Foresight is not enough. If nothing else, it can take a surprising amount of pressure off on the board and let you focus on building towards your end game for the low price of one darkness will and a chunk of life.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Shaela’s very good at doing what her attribute does the best: drawing cards. The power of drawing cards should never be underestimated. Each card you have more than your opponent means that many more threats and answers you have. Even if your opponent is drawing one good card a turn, you can beat that out with your three or four cards a turn. It’s just a matter of making the correction selection of tools in your deck that you want to draw and as it turns out, she’s got a lot of them. We’ll have to wait and see if Shaela slides into a different direction with future sets but I think she’s already off to a very good start.
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