Why I Love and Hate Force of Will (The best and worst card game I’ve played)

In my earlier decks post I realized that I had been sucked back into the card game train-wreck that is Force of Will. I have this rant in my head over the game that I really want to get off my chest since after Yugioh and Magic it’s one of the games that I’ve both played and invested in the most (much to my own regret). In a nutshell here are my current feelings on FoW.

Ripping off Magic: Homage or Lack of Ideas?

I really like many aspects of Force of Will. It mixes up the time-tested rules of Magic the Gathering with the art style of Yugioh. The first issue I have though is the recurring unoriginal card design. Sure they have a few unique mechanics (like rolling a die to get +100/+100 counters), but for every unique card there’s at least 2 blatant Magic clones. The fact that Force of Will is un-ironically copying Magic became every clear to me when I saw this card from one of the recent sets.

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Notice anything glaringly wrong in this picture? In case you can’t read the flavor text you can get a closer look here. If it’s not clear to you, let’s take a look at this Magic the Gathering card

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So let’s look at this objectively. Not only does this Force of Will card have the same effect (admittedly power adjusted to its own game) and the exact mana cost as the older magic card, but it literally references the card’s name in its flavor text.

This can’t be accidental (though with FoW I can’t completely rule this out). Their card literally references the magic card that it’s blatantly ripping off. Part of me can see this as a quaint homage to Magic, honoring one of their most iconic burn spells with their own rendition of it. That’s the kind me thinking that. The more sinister me sees this as Force of Will making it clear that their design team has few original ideas and instead simply rehashes old Magic cards one at a time.

The mechanic of Torrent is just a weaker version of Storm. All of their basic abilities like Flying, Pierce and Swiftness are all lifted verbatim from old Magic keywords. Heck even the new mechanic they literally just announced is a  clear ripoff of Landfall.

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Now with all that said I still really like playing Force of Will. After my buddy sold me the starter decks we played quite frequently. My roommate had dozens of decks sleeved up and we played with those for hours too. With the exception of playing against the Captain Hook Gwiber combo (which I could make a whole post on why Gwiber is the worst designed card in this game) I had fun even playing against the new meta decks. I think the game serves as a pleasant break from the turn 1 stun boards of Yugioh or the unforgiving turn 4 Emrakuls of Magic’s Standard.

The thing I absolutely hate about Force of Will though is the company that runs it. This company on more than one occasion has betrayed its players, fans and investors with glaring marketing and design failures that all could have been easily avoided. And now I’ll discuss some of those mistakes.

The Worst Printed Set Ever: Millennia of Ages 

The entire set of Millennia of Ages is worthless. Why does this matter? Well this was the set my roommate and I joked about for months. They released a 60 card set with no J-Rulers and nothing but story-inspired underpowered cards. The box was worth $40 for the majority of our playing the game. It’s value has not aged well either.

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and the most valuable cards in the set were at their height $5…

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MOA was the turning point in which FoW started to decline. I learned this from the Alpha Investments YouTube channel. His video leads me to believe that this was the set which started the downward spiral of the whole game (at least for investors).

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Now this was just a mistake in set design. Force of Will had far more errors in card design that led to many awful formats.

Baha-Blast Format 

First of all, they released Leviathan, the Demon Sword in the Faris vs Melgis Starter deck while Bahamut the Dragon King was still in the format. This led to the creation of an aggro deck which on turn 1 FOR 0 MANA you could:

  1. Play 1 Demon Sword
  2. Discard another Demon Sword to produce 1 Red will
  3. Play a Rukh Egg (Value Creature)
  4. Sacrifice Rukh Egg to J-Activate into Bahamut (searching your deck for any red creature in the process)
  5. Swing for 1200 damage turn 1

And if you think that was bad, that was a SUB-OPTIMAL opening! You’re supposed to sacrifice the Egg to summon Cthugha a 500 attack creature with haste and then use the Egg to search a 2nd Cthuga. This allows you to deal an additional 1000 damage turn 1 by sacrificing 1 Cthugha for the other after attacking and then dropping Bahamut.

So ideally you were dealing 2200 damage on turn 1…

Yes, this was the perfect hand of Baha Blast. And yes this did not happen that often, but it did happen. I did this to people, alot of times in fact. It dominated a whole format before they made Blazer literally to counter Bahamut.

Blazer Format 

Blazer however, was a problem by himself. Why play any of the other Seven J-Rulers released in the set when you could be safe and play the one ruler whose only purpose was to kill other J-Rulers, while at the same time providing great color fixing? Simple answer people didn’t. Blazer was the dominant ruler after Bahamut and soon everyone was playing mirror matches wherein Blazer could never actually flip. Without the J-Ruler aspect of the game FoW is really just janky Magic and again in my opinion loses a lot of its appeal. Now obviously Blazer was not the only ruler to see play, but he was the dominant ruler merely for being the safest pick.

Reflect/Refrain Dominance 

However, Blazer format was a beautiful dream compared to living nightmare that was Reflect/Refrain. You might know already that I hate this card.. like alot. I think it ruined this game and it single-handedly made me quit the game all together. It power-crept every other J-Rule, dominated the meta and became a catalyst for the most brutal of aggro decks and the most degenerate of combo decks.

Now this is where Force of Will manages to make Konami look competent in comparison. Now I can fully see Konami printing a card(s) as bad as Reflect (See Zoodiac lol). There is a key difference between how both games handle their broken cards though. Both Konami and Force of Will don’t want to admit to having made a broken card (For a real example of this, see Magic apologizing for SkullClamp). However, Konami will eventually ban any card that dominates their game after some amount of time. Whereas Force of Will watched its community complain about Reflect for months before errating the darn thing. And even after the errata Reflect was still the best card in the game. It was at this point that people started to quit because one major appeal of the game (playing your favorite ruler) was almost impossible to do competitively.

So only after I quit, did FoW make the correct decision to ban Reflect. Then after the Fourth Alice cluster set they basically did an overhaul of the entire game. They altered the card designs (moving the attack/defense stats to the side), changed target attack to precision, and turned all the instants into sorcery chants with quickcast. Now I gotta be fair. The game is much better than before. There is a somewhat diverse meta and no one ruler dominates it. Though the newly released Lilias Petal which can summon creatures from your SIDE DECK/BOARD might change that soon enough…

I made this post because I’m very conflicted. I love playing Force of Will (sometimes more so than Magic and Yugioh). However, it’s hard to justify buying cards, or focusing on a card game run by a company this inept. Now to be fair with the exception of Lilias, the game seems healthy and alot better than before. Perhaps the game can recover its player base. Or more likely they’ll just make another terrible decision and destroy the game all over again. I would hope for the former, but I definitely expect the later.

Lack of a Modern Knockoff 

One last gripe I have about Force of Will is that they don’t care at all about their eternal formats. Like imagine if Wizards of the Coast made a banlist for Modern and then never spoke about it again. That’s essentially what Force of Will did. They created a format call Wanderer with its own banlist, but it has done nothing to protect the value of the Grimm block cards. All of the cards that are no longer legal in their standard are completely worthless (which to be fair is one reason why the Millenia of Ages stuff is so cheap). This is the greatest weakness of Force of Will. Modern provides a format for players that want to use their cards long after they rotate. By failing to have a similar format, Force of Will can only lose more and more players after each rotation. But hay that’s just my fevered delusion at 3 AM. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

I’m not sure why I wanted to do this now, but those are my feelings on Force of Will. I do still plan to play it and own the cards. I’ve bought many cards from the newest sets and made a couple of decks. Though I do always think in the back of my mind that this game is essentially like burning money to amuse myself watching the fire it makes. What can I say though. Sometimes that fire is pretty to look at.

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Thanks for reading as usual.

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