March 2nd Ban List Update
Here is the big day! I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for it since our initial post back on Christmas day. A lot of things have happened since then, and we have had a great deal of internal debate. We do understand that players want to have a fun and entertaining experience every time they play Force of Will. The tricky part in all of this is that not everyone finds the same aspects fun. We shouldn’t all be forced to play a certain way, and gameplay should have different experiences and outcomes throughout to prevent stale and boring metagames, while still rewarding skilled decisions and good deck-building. With that said, we are watching the game more than ever before as it is being played, and as we use a great deal of data collection from across the globe, we can see a clear picture of the meta and what decks or archetypes are or are not viable.
In addition, we recognize that there are concerns from some players that particular, yet-to-be-released cards may be too powerful. It is our belief that the combination of player feedback, worldwide quantitative data collection, and understanding of future meta games allows us to make the best decision at any given time. However, we do occasionally miss things, and it is reasonable to think our tens of thousands of players will find things we miss occasionally. That’s just statistically probable. Going forward, we will be watching for what we call “Potential Threats.” Our hope is that we have presented players with the tools to address these concerns, even if these tools are not immediately apparent, and that this arrangement will prevent a single strong deck from remaining unchallenged for its title of king for an absurd amount of time in the future.
Without further delay, we present the March 3rd Ban list announcement:
The Game Environment at a Glance
All Data was taken from high level events from December 9th to March 2nd.
The top 3 card usages across the field were as follows:
1. Otherworld Dreams (97%)
- An aggressively-costed cancel spell that trades one-for-one with an opponent's spell with the drawback of the second-played spell being more dangerous than the first. This card was expected to be an interesting card to challenge low-cost spells, while having potential drawbacks vs. larger will and “X” will-related cards.
2. Severing Winds (96%)
- A incredibly popular card from Echoes of the New World. This card was intended to slow the game down. Costed at (Wind)(Wind)(2) we expected that this would be too slow to cause any big problems with the early game, but would prevent players from only running multiple low-cost spells. In addition, this card promotes sequencing decisions that make it a fun card to play with and against.
3. Sacred Elf (64%)
- A simple one-will-for-one-resource resonator, a similar version of this card has existed since the Grimm Cluster days of New Frontiers. However, its ability to enable turn 1 access to the aforementioned Otherworld Dreams/Severing Winds combo, while also putting oneself ahead on resources has shown that it can be exceptionally strong.
After reviewing this data, and looking at the lifetime availability of the cards on this list in New Frontiers, we have decided the following:
Otherworld Dreams - Banned in New Frontiers
In the future, if we feel like the environment is safe, this change can be retracted to promote a fun and interesting meta game, as the card was originally intended to do. For now, the card has proven to be too much of an “answer” for one will, negating every threat in the game in combination with Severing Winds. While Severing can be played around at low will counts, the overpriced nature of the card by itself keeps players from loading up on the card. We also believe that removing this card from the current meta may impact the playability of Sacred Elf as well. Even with a -33% usage compared to both cancel spells, we expect some dip in usage, however slight, due to the lack of this combination in the meta game.
One final note regarding New Frontiers: while we do expect to see certain rulers rise to power, we are also expecting some decks to become answers to deal with the rising “threat” that many players perceive. We will be monitoring global tournaments, even at the local level, in addition to the large-scale events. If we do find a problem or it comes to our attention a move must be made, when we have the appropriate data to make such a movement, we will adjust as necessary.
Alright, now let us move on to what you have all been waiting for! Our Wanderer Ban List Update.
As many of you know, Wanderer was created due to player request to have an opportunity for players to continue using their old cards, after they had rotated out of New Frontiers. At the formats inception there was a “wild west” feeling to it, and we would simply take care of the most egregious offenders. Since then however the format has gotten a bit too powerful and so it is our goal to make Wanderer an enjoyable experience where past and present players alike can enjoy our game.
We know there are still some decks we expect to be very strong, and we have our eye on the format going forward. However, we strongly believe this list will give players a chance to experience Wanderer in a much more enjoyable light than ever before. In combination with our GP scheduled for later this year in the US, we hope players from around the world will take note of this new Wanderer banlist and begin testing what cool deck lists they can come up with.
With that being said, the following changes will be made to the Wanderer format:
Cheshire Cat’s Assistance - Banned in Wanderer
A key component of the famous Gill Alhama’at One-Turn-Kill. This deck uses “The Cheshire Cat’s Assistance” to start the combo, before playing a deck almost entirely composed of cards that can be played for zero cost, including “Ancient Heartfelt Fire,” “Viola’s Machinations,” and an amalgam of zero-cost regalia to discard their opponent’s hand (Viola’s Machinations), gain enough mana counters to be able to Judgment (Ancient Heartfelt Fire), and set up a field of regalia so that Alhama’at can kill them the turn after he flips and/or end the game on the spot with direct burn damage.
Horn of Sacred Beasts - Banned in Wanderer
Horn is playable in any deck, and it single-handedly makes one of the game’s win conditions (not being able to draw in one’s draw phase) impossible to achieve for one’s opponent. Unlike similar cards such as “Xeex, the Ancient Magic” or “Shaela’s Foresight,” an activation of “Horn of Sacred Beasts’” final activate ability shuffles the card itself back into the deck, meaning multiple copies are not needed to loop one’s graveyard into their deck continuously.
In addition, a combo with this card and “Yggdrasil, Malefic Verdant Tree” exists where, if they draw this card, a player can never lose the game unless their opponent has a Quickcast-speed damage-dealing spell or ability that can hit a player, runs significant counts of cards that make the Tree player lose life, or has a “Scarlet, the Crimson Beast” on the field.
Change the World, Orb of Illusion - Banned in Wanderer
When Reflect was unbanned from the Wanderer format in June 2017, the aim was to test the ruler’s relative strength in the current Wanderer meta. However, the J/ruler is still too strong compared to the rest of the field. To avoid a repeat banning of Reflect // Refrain so quickly after the unban, other cards were looked at that might significantly lower the J/ruler’s power level. In totality, “Change the World, Orb of Illusion” is the only card that meets this bill. On its own, this ban can mostly eliminate the issue of unmatchable consistency that Reflect/Refrain provides, but it also significantly aids the power of “Shackles of Ice,” which weakens the J/Ruler when Change the World is not legal.
Pricia, True Beastmaster // Reincarnated Maiden of Flame, Pricia - Banned in Wanderer
As seen in New Frontiers, the absence of “Laevateinn, the Demon Sword” was not able to dampen her strength enough, as her presence in a format drives out most possible decks due to an inability to keep up with her speed. Her God’s Art combined with any Swiftness-granting ability/card effect effectively starts the opponent at 1600 life, and it is fairly easy for a deck built around an aggro package to do that much damage to their opponent. In addition, she allows cards that were not designed to have Swiftness to gain it, whether through her God’s Art or Ruler-side ability, further increasing the deck’s damage potential and speed. While we do think having aggressive-style decks in the meta is important and healthy, Pricia’s iteration pushes that envelope a little bit too far for us currently.
Griphon, Racing Across Darkness - Banned in Wanderer
Like in New Frontiers, Lilias Petal in his fully powered-up form is too strong for the Wanderer format. His ability to combine ramp, resonator destruction, life gain, hand destruction, and aggro into one deck through cheap, replaceable wind/darkness resonators is too difficult to compete with for other decks. Banning “Griphon, Racing Across Darkness” to remove Lilias’ innate ramp and “Killing Stone” recovery is a good start, but, unlike New Frontiers, does not sufficiently lower his power level by itself. This is because, unlike New Frontiers, Wanderer has a cheap wind resonator that ramps stones as it enters the field, namely “Gretel.” While a Griphon ban undoubtedly hurts the deck, Gretel still digs for Killing Stones while also providing a banish material for Ammit or Manticore, helping minimize the impact of its loss on the deck.
Demonic Dead - Banned in Wanderer
Thus, a secondary ban must be made between “Demonic Dead” and “Gretel.” Both cards have overly strong power levels for different reasons. Demonic Dead is a near-infinitely recurrable resonator/banish material for Lilias Petal, and its ban would make the deck weak to hand and field control. Gretel, on the other hand, provides much-wanted consistency to the deck in terms of digging into Killing Stones; its ban would increase the relative inconsistency of the deck and slow it down.
As a ban of either could feasibly be sufficient in conjunction with a Griphon ban, it is preferable to ban the card with the least cross-appeal amongst other Wanderer decks. Since Gretel sees play in various green decks, whereas Demonic Dead sees no play outside Lilias Petal, “Demonic Dead” is the secondary ban in addition to the banning of “Griphon, Racing Across Darkness” in order to properly balance Lilas Petal as a threat and leave the format with proper interaction for this incredibly powerful J-ruler’s abilities.
Severing Winds - Banned in Wanderer
As in New Frontiers, the combination of Otherworld Dreams/Severing Winds is just as oppressive in Wanderer. However, the impact each card has on the format is wildly different between the two formats. Whereas Dreams is the correct ban in New Frontiers, Wanderer has other cheap, hard cancels to complement Severing, and Wanderer decks also more frequently are designed to play multiple cards in the same turn. With Severing legal and Dreams banned, it is possible that a player could not resolve a spell in an entire game of Force of Will, an undesirable outcome.
Because of this, Severing Winds gets the ban in Wanderer, forcing cancel-based decks to continuously have enough will to follow up their cancel spells with other cancel spells, instead of allowing for free cancel spells to accelerate their tempo.
Guinevere, the Jealous Queen - Banned in Wanderer
Over the last 3 years, we have seen how powerful self-banish effects are in the game of Force of Will. Whether it be to prevent someone from gaining control of a resonator, or simply causing a spell to have little-to-no effect on resolution, this effect has come to our attention to be incredibly powerful. In conjunction with that ability, the opportunity for tokens to be banished for massive card advantage is a powerful engine in and of itself. To then include a discard outlet, as well as a damage boost, all-in-one for a single will, this Jealous Queen finds herself outside the format for the time being. In the future, if we feel it is appropriate, she may be re-introduced to the format.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: your new Wanderer ban list. We know that these changes will likely affect nearly every traditional deck. In addition, we have a watchlist of some cards we believe have potential to require bannings in the future. One final point we would like to make regarding this ban list, especially with the amount of cards added to the Wanderer List is the following; We are flexible and while some cards are likely on the list to stay, we are not against removing cards from the list when we feel they will no longer be a threat to game balance. As we go forward, more data will provide us an even clearer picture of the meta to come. We look forward to many players enjoying Wanderer in the future! :)
Origins - Bifrost / Valhalla
Created as Force of Will’s “crazy” anything-goes format. As it stands, the format is naturally very powerful. Cards dating back to Valhalla were made with much different design philosophies, and while it is not realistic that we can police those formats perfectly, we would like to throw our hat into the ring in the form of a “restricted list.” Our philosophy regarding Origins is simply that, if something is a problem, set it to one copy allowed per deck.
The first question that might immediately come to your mind is: why can’t we limit or restrict cards in New Frontiers and Wanderer? Simply put, the answer is randomness. We want players to enjoy their wins and understand their losses in New Frontiers and Wanderer. It is our hope going forward to monitor those formats to the best of our technological ability and ensure they are super fun and healthy formats capable of being played at the highest level of competition. On the other hand, Origins is a place where silly things can happen, you can lose the game in one turn, and many of the Valhalla cards don’t necessarily interact in normal ways!
With that being said, our restriction list is the following:
(A Limited card has a maximum number of 1 between the Main, Side, and Extra deck.)
Cheshire Cat’s Assistance - Limited in Origins
Pumpkin Witch - Limited in Origins
Whisper from the Abyss - Limited in Origins
Horn of Sacred Beasts - Limited in Origins
This list essentially still allows for strong one turn kills and even first turn kill combos to exist within the game. However, the existence of cards like Severing Winds allows those decks to be weak to key aspects of their loops. Our goal is that, should players want to, they may enjoy this format casually with some semblance of fairness. As much as can be achieved with all cards in print, anyways!
Naturally, we intend for all rulers to be legal forever in this format.
That wraps up this March update. Please remember that the effective date for cards posted in this article will be March 9th, 2018. As always, we will be watching and ensuring the brightest possible future for our game.