Who Is Barust? ~ A Decklist Article

Who is Barust?

Hello and welcome to a deck article centering around one of my favorite reveals from Vingolf 3: Ruler All Stars, Barust.  When I had first set eyes upon Barust in the Vingolf 3 spoiler, I immediately decided two things about him: one, he was the most metal card ever, two, we were probably never going to see another card quite like him in Force of Will.  Barust has quite a few qualities that, as of this writing, no other card can claim to replicate.  He’s the only card that can, on his own, repeatedly destroy special magic stones and is able to do so without any will cost and at quickcast speed.  Additionally, he also only costs one fire will and gains attack and defense for each stone both you and your opponent have in the graveyard.  To top things off, he even has an ability to damage resonators for 500 damage.

This makes Barust a swiss army knife of fire strategies.  He’s able to interrupt the opponent’s game by ruining how many stones they have, grower larger as a result, and quickly push into the realm of closing out the game.  To enforce how brutally large he can grow, one activation off of his destroy stone ability puts him at 600/700, immediately larger than most two cost resonators despite only costing one will himself, all while still letting you use your own two stones that turn due to the lack of a will cost on the ability.  And if that isn’t enough, he’s able to get rid of common early game targets, like Guinevere.

There are, of course, a few major drawbacks to all of this, most notably that you have to get rid of two of your own stones in exchange for just one of your opponent’s.  This makes Barust’s attrition strategy something of an odd ball one since the attrition is hitting you harder than your opponent, at least if you’re running Barust in a normal deck.  Luckily, thanks to the power of deck building, we’re able to mitigate that drawback.  Your opponent, however, is probably thinking more about big, costly plays like Captain Hook.

So then, are people playing greedy decks with lots of special stones?  Congrats, this is your opportunity to mess with them.

Ruler x 1

Guardian of Wind Magic Stones x 1

Main Deck x 40

Sacred Elf x 4

Tama, Familiar of Holy Wind x 4

Rukh Egg x 4

Cloning Magic x 4

Barust, Machine Deity of Purgatory x 4

Guinevere, the Jealous Queen x 4

Mariabella, the Machine Hearted x 3

Wall of Wind x 4

Red Riding Hood x 4

Horn of Sacred Beasts x 1

Barrier of Shadows x 3

Deathscythe, the Life Reaper x 1

Stone Deck x 10

Memoria of Reincarnation x 4

Magic Stone of Blasting Waves x 4

Wind Magic Stone x 2

Sideboard x 16

Shackles of Ice x 2

Deathscythe, the Life Reaper x 2

Gale Force x 3

Heavenly Gust x 2

Wind-Secluded Refuge x 3

Secluded Elven Village, Amonsulle x 1

Horn of Sacred Beasts x 1

Gleipnir, the Red Binding of Fate x1


A Big Pile of Rocks

In Force of Will, you’re typically limited to calling a single stone per turn.  This gives a predictable amount of will each turn and lets you build a deck around knowing how many stones you’ll have access to each turn.  Barust takes this concept and throws it out the window.  As a result, we need to ensure we have access to a reasonable amount of will each turn.

For non-stone resources of will, the deck runs Sacred Elf and Guardian of Wind Magic Stones.  Sacred Elf is an all around solid resonator that just gives you an extra will each turn, she’s essentially a rock you pay one wind will for.  Guardian of Wind Magic Stones also allows us to turn any resonator into a will producer for the turn and when you run all wind stones, that guarantees that you get ahead of the game (for example, on turn two, you’ll have three will with one resonator and two stones).  This way, so long as we’re working on building a board, we’re able to use Barust’s stone destroy ability without falling behind.

Not to mention, we have sources for more stones.  Both Red Riding Hood and Mariabella can grab an extra stone out of your stone deck for you while still managing to be efficient and powerful resonators in case our primary plan doesn’t work out.  As a result, despite Barust’s two for one drawback, we’re able to keep up or even get ahead of most opponents on resources.

Two for Two

So a bunch of readers by now have probably noticed the Cloning Magic in the list.  Cloning Magic, in a nut shell, lets you take any resonator with an activate ability and double that activation.  Activate abilities are typically denoted on a card with a cost followed by a colon and then an effect.  In this case, we’re looking at Guinevere, Mariabella, and, of course, Barust.  Mostly notably, this lets us destroy two stones with Barust in exchange for two of our own, putting Barust up +800/+800 in stats in the process.  Cloning Magic also has quickcast, making the most optimal time to use it on the opponent’s turn before they recover everything.  Suddenly and painfully, he or she is down two more stones than expected that turn and probably down a lot of options.

However, there’s a large bit of flexibility offered by the card as well for our other two options.  Using it with Guinevere allows us to double down on her draw two and discard ability.  As a result, if you’re ever hurting for cards and need dig deep into your deck to find what you’re looking for, using this on Guinevere is a fast way out of that pinch.  Similarly, Mariabella is suddenly able to double down on her her damage and cancel abilities.  I’ve often found that that an extra boost for her blast counters does an incredible job of closing out the game by slamming out a flexible 2000 damage instead of just 1000.  Speaking of Mariabella…

Annoying Interruptions

This deck is filled with cheap, not quite hard cancels to just about everything you can think of.  A hard cancel is a card like Millennia Bond, it will cancel a chant spell no matter what.  However, Millennia Bond also costs two and that’s way too pricey for the low cost nonsense we’re running.  As a result, we typically want to use lower cost soft cancels that only require our opponent pay one more will to do whatever he or she wants to do while banking on Barust to do his job.

For example, Wall of Wind can cancel any spell our opponent plays.  When an opponent is down a few stones and trying to squeeze out plays, playing a Jack, Climbing the Beanstalk suddenly becomes impossible if you only have three will open.  This is another reason everything in the deck is a wind stone, giving Mariabella breeze counters lets us stone wall out any chants our opponents are playing at virtually no opportunity cost to us.

This is also why Barrier of Shadows is in the list.  Thanks to Guardian of Wind Stones, we can make any of our resonators produce dark will for a turn, giving us access to a way to turn off J-Ruler oriented strategies.  Between smashing stones and Barrier of Shadows holding off Judgment, we’re suddenly able to shrug off typically fast decks.

Pushing to Victory

Ideally, we want Barust out and early doing his job while everything is else is pulling out extra sources of will for us.  Hopefully you managed to pull him in your opening hand but turn one isn’t required.  In fact, it’s often better to put out a Sacred Elf instead.  Thanks to Guinevere and Rukh Egg, you’re typically able to grab him at some point early in the game and start getting to work.  Due to his low cost, you can generally fit him in somewhere while still making other important plays for the turn.

From there, you get to work.  Resolving even a single Cloning Magic with Barust is incredibly detrimental to your opponent and after that, landing turn after turn of stone destroy will get you to the end game.  And keep in mind, every Barust grows with each activation.  My games typically end up with three total, once with cloning magic, for a total of ten stones in all graveyards, making for 2000/2100 Barusts.  Most decks cannot keep up with threats of that sort of size alongside the additional flow of resources from the Memoria of Reincarnations that you’re banishing.  Mariabella’s also a good closer as she removes blockers and snowballs with her resonance abilities.  Either way, big resonators swinging in for big damage.

Sideboarding for Game Two and Three

A sideboard is always something of a suggestion since what you need will depend on what you’re expecting to run into.  So take my sideboard with a grain of salt for what you might want to consider depending on what you usually run into.

Much like Barrier of Shadows, Shackles of Ice is a key card that stops several essential strategies without hurting our own at all.  It lets us make life difficult for rulers such as Alhama’at by making it impossible for him to produce will from mana.  Mikage is normally a difficult match up as he’s able to kill our Barusts with a single darkness will but is out right neutered with shackles on the field.  Dark Alice and Charlotte also have a rough time due to it.

Gale Force is necessary in a world of 1200/1200 sized fliers running around all the time.  While Barust does get big fast, he’s not Gwiber or Griphon large until later in the game.  As such, Gale Force is a big life saver against those decks.

While there are a lot of possible choices for Heavenly Gust to hit for us, the biggest concern is probably Alice’s World of Madness, which will make it impossible to throw out Barust if it hits the field before he does.  Secluded Elven Village, Amonsulle serves a similar purpose but also lets us block said fliers above as well as threats like Pricia. Wind-Secluded Refuge also helps to protect Barust against removal, especially if you run into the odd deck that has Down the Drain in the sideboard.

Gleipnir is an all around effective card, letting us turn Mariabella and Barust into target removal against threats to big to removal with one of their other effects.  For example, Melfee.  Deathscythe is just once again good against J-Ruler strategies and Horn of Sacred Beasts is both good if we need to start shuffling our graveyard or interrupt something like an opponent grabbing useful tools out of his or her graveyard.

Potential Changes

Like every good deck list, there’s probably a better version out there waiting to be properly tested.  I always recommend taking a deck you like and putting your own spin on it to better fit your tastes.  Here’s a few starting suggestions;

Originally, when making the list, it ran Fiery Fox of Reincarnation. This allowed for both temporary additional will as well as getting more stones in the graveyard.  However, in a deck that is very hungry for stones, I found it ran through the stone deck too quickly without dedicating more main deck space to Horn of Sacred Beasts.  It would likely function better for a Sylvia or Blazer deck that can afford to run all twenty basic stones.

I also tried the list with Fiethsing in a more aggressive build.  It used elf tokens and Rukh Eggs to feed Abombralis, which pushed out more early will and damage.  Despite that, I found that it often ate through my hand too quickly or it required too precise of a mulligan to get what I needed.  The deck also ran Draig, but I was finding it difficult to fit him in the forty cards.  Maybe if there was a stone that made a 100/100 resonator token upon hitting the graveyard, Fiethsing with Barust would work better.

Enraged Knight was originally in the list, but it was cut due to the fact that the deck was not aggressive enough to warrant her inclusion.  On the other hand, Flame Trap is a powerful card that can help you fight against wide boards, especially since this deck does not run any wide removal.

Zeri is a good consideration in case you don’t have Red Riding Hood or can’t seem to trigger her dying as often as you’d like.  Since you’re typically going to be behind on stones at some point during the game, you’ll probably find a place to play him, especially since his stone comes in recovered.  Not to mention, he’s a free stone if you go second.

Concord of Saints and Beasts can also fall squarely into this deck since you’re running nothing but fire and wind resonators and efficient ones at that.  However, I found that it usually came in too late to be useful, as by the time Mariabella or Barust are on the field and large enough to be useful with this card, it wasn’t doing much.  That could easily change in a more aggressive build that runs stuff like Sylph, Envoy of Wind and Rapid Growth.  That build could also run Sprinting Flame Horse, which lets Barust act immediately.

Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing are both also possible inclusions for their cost increasing abilities, though I didn’t really see much of a reason to run either over Mariabella, who, despite costing one more, gets you a stone anyway and does largely the same job, but better.

Final Thoughts

Barust is still something of an uncanny strategy in Force of Will due to being far faster than the next closest card to him, Captain Hook.  As a result, you’re not working long term to completely remove all ability for your opponent to play the game, just enough that you can suddenly end the game with an over sized resonator you played on turn two.  The deck does have some pronounced weaknesses, especially in the form of low cost efficient removal, like Unseen Pressure and Lightning Strike.  Despite that, it’s often very easy for Barust to sneak through and start putting immediate pressure on the opponent to stop their nonsense or get buried along with their stones.  So he’s an enabler for a weird rogue strategy that I think can work with some consideration and refinement.  Nevertheless, I hope those of you that decide  to try this deck out enjoy it.  Thank you for reading.