Building Your Own Deck
Before you can go about truly putting together your own deck and begin your foray into the world of Force of Will, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the rules for deck construction that Force of Will players need to abide by if you haven’t done so already. Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple;
Simply put, your deck needs to consist of at least forty cards. You can go above forty of course, but it is very unlikely you will want to. You usually want your deck to be a small as possible so that your strategy remains focused, and the probability of drawing the cards you need remains the highest it can possibly be. That’s not to say that you can’t make a deck with an extra card or two if you truly believe it to be necessary, but if your deck is sitting at fifty cards, you might want to reevaluate your strategy and see if you truly need everything in your deck.
You can’t put J/ruler or magic stone cards in your deck. This one’s pretty simple. These two types of cards are used in other zones, so don’t put them in your deck.
You may not have more than four copies of any card of the same name in your deck. With very rare exceptions, this is true of every card in the game. Unlike always aiming for the minimum total deck size, just because you can have up to four copies, doesn’t mean you always need four copies. Asses the value of each card strategy wise and prioritise the ones most essential to what you are trying to achieve.
Your magic stone deck, as the name implies, may only contain magic stones and must be between ten to twenty cards. Like with your deck, in most cases you’ll want to aim for the minimum required magic stone deck size; ten. The difference is that you can include as many copies of non-special magic stones as you like (so long as the magic stone deck’s total doesn’t go above twenty). Be careful though, as you can only have four copies of any given special magic stone cards with the same name, and you’ll likely want to use a good number of special magic stones as they have many helpful abilities.
Lastly, make sure you have one J/ruler card. As you only have one of these, and they are often what defines your strategy, it is advisable to pick your J/ruler first and then design your deck and magic stone deck around that J/ruler, though this is not always necessary.
Deck building itself is somewhat a constant process as the landscape of the game is constantly changing, both due to the new cards being released and due to other players constantly changing their own decks.
Deckbuilding is best learned by hands on experience, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind;
Part of building a deck is testing it. You can come up with the greatest hypothetical ever, but until you know how consistent it is in reality, you can’t be certain. Always question how your deck can be better, and keep testing.
Even when you’ve finalized a deck list, that doesn’t mean it should never ever change. So you’ve completed your dream deck, but after playing with it, it seems like it isn’t doing that well. That means it’s time to revisit your deck. Always assess your deck’s strengths and weaknesses and experiment to see if you can improve upon your design.
Looking at online decklists is fine, but you shouldn’t make a habit of copying another’s deck simply because someone else says that its good. Building, questioning, and experimenting on your own is one of the best ways to build your skills at the game. Knowing what kinds of decks other people are using can be helpful to you in a myriad of ways, but it’s to your detriment not to build your own.
The Side Deck
Once you’ve got a basic outline for a deck, you’ll likely want to consider a side deck as well. A side deck is an extra pool of fifteen cards (note that it must be exactly fifteen or else it is illegal in tournaments) that you can exchange with cards in your deck, magic stone deck, or ruler area in between games. You’ll also want to be wary that regulation stipulates you must exchange cards between your side deck and gameplay areas, not add to them. That means that even after you swap out cards in your side deck, your side deck should still be exactly fifteen cards.
So what’s so important about a side deck? You’ve already got a deck planned out, why do you need more? Simply put, your side deck should be a resource for handling matchups against decks your deck is not the best at handling. Now of course no matter what you do, there are going to be unfavorable matchups. However, when building a side deck we want to reduce the probability of that by as much as we can. Including a few copies of a card that is a specific counter to something that exploits a weakness in your deck would be wise. Consider a different ruler or two as well, to change up your play style and keep your opponent on their toes. If you think a certain deck type you don’t handle well might show up at a tournament, but don’t think it warrants putting in counter cards in your deck, the side deck is the perfect place to put them.
Building a side deck can be even more challenging than building a regular one, especially for new players, so don’t stress about it too much. Like any other aspect of deck building, experience is really the best teacher. So try to build what you can, or even play some games without a side deck, and go from there. Take notes on the shortcomings of your deck and see how the side deck can help deal with those weaknesses.
While certainly not necessary, accessories can improve the quality and enjoyment of your games, and even if you choose not to use any, its likely your opponents will, so let’s go over some of the most common ones.
A deck box is pretty self explanatory. Its a box meant to, well, hold a deck. You can pick one up for fairly cheap at your local hobby shop. While it’s not required you keep your deck in a box like this, it’s certainly helpful. It makes sure your cards not only stay safe, but also neatly organized, so you’re ready to play as soon as you sit down.
Card sleeves are another popular item among players. Each sleeve is meant to hold and protect a single cards. Note that if you’re using any double sided cards in your deck, you’ll be required to use sleeves so that you do not gain an unfair advantage. Card sleeves too, can be picked up on the cheap so long as you aren’t too picky about their design. Unless required due to double sided cards, sleeves, unlike deck boxes aren’t going to necessarily add any quality of life value to your games, though they will protect your cards from fraying after long repeated usage of them.
Dice are an accessory that’s quickly becoming a staple of the game. Especially since they are included in Lapis Cluster starter decks, so you may already have a few! Most near any deck has need of some kind of marker to represent counters or the like, especially since rulers in this cluster all have the Energize ability. Dice are also handy to have around when needing to determine random elements, like who will go first in a game. If you haven’t received some dice from one of the Lapis Cluster starter decks, you should be able to find some for hardly any money at all.
Whether an official peripheral or not, you’re likely going to want some method of keeping track of life besides your own memory if you’re playing in a competitive scene. There are various life counter accessories one could buy, there’s also life tracking apps available on the Android and iOS app stores, but you could also use a pen and notepad. While it seems somewhat barbaric in this modern age to be using a pen and paper, it does provide a benefit that other life tracking methods do not; it allows you to take other kinds of notes. Mark down what happened during a turn, write down play mistakes during the game so you can work on them later, write down weaknesses of your deck as you realize them.
Playmats are the last common accessory you’ll encounter. Playmats are neoprene mats people lay over their game area when playing the game. Functionally they’re kind of like card sleeves, in that they protect your cards. They provide a safe, even, and clean surface for you to play on. But the big appeal is that they very often have high quality images on them, so people will try to get a playmat of their favorite character or the like. Playmats can be a bit more expensive than other accessories, so you may not want to invest in one right away, you certainly don’t need to after all. Playmats are very often prizes for tournaments, so if you’re feeling lucky you could try and win one rather than buy it outright.
It’s perfectly fine to enjoy the game solely with your friends in a casual setting, but for those who are ready to take things into the competitive scene, let’s talk briefly about finding a tournament location near you.
Firstly, there’s two types of supported tournaments Wanderer and New Frontiers. New Frontiers is the flagship format of Force of Will. In this format only cards from the two most recent clusters, currently the Alice Cluster and Lapis Cluster are legal for play in tournaments with these regulations. The other, Wanderer, allows usage of any cards from the Grimm Cluster onwards, which currently allows for cards from the Grimm, Alice, and Lapis Clusters.
Next there’s essentially two ‘levels’ of competitive play, what we’ll call the ‘local level’ and the ‘circuit level’. The local level comprises of smaller events, usually weekly tournaments held ad various hobby stores and other such retailers across the world. If your local hobby store sells Force of Will products, its very likely they also hold a tournament every week or so. These local events are the best way to get into the competitive scene as you’ll have the chance to play against new opponents at a location that is relatively closer than a large scale event, and you’ll be able to quickly make some new friends who’re also interested in the game! The circuit level is all the large official events hosted by Force of Will. These events, referred to as Area Grand Prix (or AGP) garner players from all over the country, competing at high levels for unique prizes, not the least of which are invites to the World Championship which is held in Japan every year. Since AGPs are few and far between compared to the plethora of local events, you’ll want to make a good habit of attending local tournaments as often as you can to build up your skill in preparation for higher level events.
So after all that, how do you go about finding a store that has weekly tournaments besides hearing about it from a friend? Well, the Force of Will website has a handy store locator that can point you towards your nearest tournament location, so that’s likely the best place to start!
As for information about AGPs, you can check the main page of the Force of Will website for a direct link to all of the 2017 AGP events, their locations, start times, prizes and any other information you’d want to know.
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