Is Anyone Having A Blast? My perspective of the current competitive format in Force of Will

Bahamut, the Dragon KingTake a minute to scroll through the posts on your favorite Facebook group or page dedicated to Force of Will. How many were specifically in reference to “Regalia” or “Bahamut, the Dragon King”? It’s no secret that one color has a grip on our community in a way that we surely didn’t expect before the release of the new Alice Cluster starter decks. Whether it’s about a 2500 damage swing on turn 1, or a very recent price spike, we can’t seem to avoid them. Many players are advocating against this new format, while others are pushing back hard with the idea that this is an acceptable trend with no room for complaint. I wanted to write this article to help provide some background on why players (including myself) are incredibly frustrated right now. Please bear in mind that this article is 100% my opinion. While no one should treat my words as fact, I believe they bear weight.

Laevateinn, the Demon Sword“Laevateinn, the Demon Sword” is a new Regalia that grants your J-Ruler the skills Swiftness and Imperishable. In addition, it has the ability to discard another copy to float a Red Will. Players are using it in combination with Bahamut to J-Activate and swing in for big damage as early as their first turn. The best possible hand on turn 1 would include a copy of “Hunter in Black Forest”, 1 copy of “Cthugha, the Living Flame”, and 2 copies of “Laevateinn the Demon Sword”, but an above average turn can be achieved with multiple copies of any Regalia card and a 1-drop resonator. Even without a second Laevateinn, the Bahamut player is most certainly getting in for a minimum of 1000 damage by their second turn. Other J-Rulers can take advantage of what this card offers, but not quite like Bahamut. 1000 damage in the air on turn 1, as well as 1000 more multiple times over the course of the next few turns can add up very quickly, and there’s little your opponent can do to stop it.

So...what can we do to stop it? Not a whole lot, to be completely honest. First we have to assume we’re on the play against an opponent with the ideal Bahamut hand. Our best case scenario is that we go first and call a stone that can produce Red will, and also open with a “Demonflame” or “Thunder” in hand. They might play “Apostle of Cain”, a 1-drop resonator with an enter ability, but doesn’t that seem like a really long list of unlikelihoods? It’s far more likely that they see you have a Red stone up and play a different resonator, then retain priority before J-Activating for Bahamut. Some options that can serve you well a bit later in the game include “Crime and Punishment” and “Bullet of Envy”, but Crime suffers from needing Red early and assumes they can’t simply make Bahamut Imperishable, while Bullet assumes they’ll leave anything worthwhile on the board for Bullet to pump before Bahamut has ended your game. This whole paragraph has been just that, assumptions. Assumptions that your opponent isn’t good, and that you have an incredibly lucky opening. Regardless, none of these cards are hugely relevant when they’ve played first. I don’t mean to imply that a Bahamut player is going to always draw into an incredible turn 1 play, but I certainly think we need to be prepared.

I want to be very clear about where I think the issue lies, and that’s with the new Regalia cards. Giving Bahamut Swiftness isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened in a card game, and giving him another option for having Imperishable isn’t absolutely terrible either. Being able to J-Activate before your opponent has even played a card is blatantly overpowered, and combined with Swiftness and a second chance at Imperishable this gives you the chance to get leaps and bounds ahead of your opponent in tempo and life. I’d like you to ask yourself if you think that’s healthy for the game. Some have compared this situation to past decks such as Abdul, but there are outs to Abdul. Abdul doesn’t have the ability to swing in on turn 1, and he certainly can’t be J-Activated before a very lucky turn 2. Even to that end, he can’t fly over your opponent’s resonators and get in for big damage every turn. Abdul had real solid outs, and was an extremely balanced control deck that was fairly paced in the last format. Sheer volume made him look overpowered. Volume isn’t what’s making Bahamut overpowered.

I’d like to believe that by this point you may be convinced that the Regalia cards have created a color imbalance in the current format, but maybe you’re still in disbelief. Please consider then that the US is a cluster behind, and countries like Italy will not be allowing these Alice cluster decks until the release of the first Alice set in September. It seems likely that they were simply excluded directly in relation to the cluster they were printed for, but it’s just as likely that Italy’s officials in Organized Play recognized how powerful they were in our current format, and regardless of FoW Inc.’s decision to print them early, prevented the Italian players from suffering through this degenerate format. I believe FoW Inc. might’ve seen a cash cow in the Alice decks and chose to print them, regardless of the fact that we won’t have real answers until September. When everyone needs 4 copies of a $30 product to compete, everyone buys 4 copies of said product. Please don’t get me wrong. I love this game, and I love the direction it’s headed in. Hopefully come September we’ll have a non-Red answer to these degenerate cards. I don’t blame FoW Inc. for taking an opportunity to hype a product as highly as possible, and honestly prefer it as long as it’ll help fund and make this great game last. We just need some balance, and it’s going to be a LONG month and a half.

Discussion

comments

  • Sky shadow

    I have a quesiton, I have convinced a local game store to start tournaments but sadly since they were late to the game they are way behind on the player base. That being said we are getting one or two players who are refusing to play under a format that allows the alice cluster regalia b/c they were sick of losing to it at other stores. I can’t find a format on the FoW offical page that supports playing the regalia with the grim block as a ruling? Or is this a format that ARG made up?

  • Joshua Yerka

    I agree with everything you have said but would also like to bring up my
    own opinion that Cthugha, the Living Flame is also a large part of the
    problem
    yes an active Bahamut on turn 1 is a problem but the 1500 (2 regalia, ruhk
    egg, and 2 Cthugha, the Living Flame) that happens before hand is the
    issue that I see
    having a 2700 hit on turn 1 and being down to 1300 mean you only have 1 turn
    to really make a comeback but this is facilitated by the Cthugha, the
    Living Flame that bring on more pain in one turn than Bahamut can is
    what I feel is a major issue also I don’t think that Cthugha, the Living Flame is broken but it is
    definetly the strongest incarnate imo and can land slide any red deck
    that opens with a hand of multiple and a 1 drop

    • Daniel Langlois

      I agree that Cthugha is powerful, but he can be super awkward and cloggy too. If your opponent has Thunder they’ll likely kill the first one when it swings in. I wouldnt ever really want to open more than one, especially if I have a Rukh Egg. He’s a nice extra bit of damage, and a fantastic card to banish for Imperishable, but I’d likely rather have something a bit more defensive in the mirror. Crime and Punishment would be a far better card to open with then a second Cthugha. Cthugha’s a card you really have to play effectively to get the most out of him.

      • Joshua Yerka

        Fair I was more assuming on the play when Bahamut is at its worst problem wise and also having the hand that lets when deal the most damage.
        But this is a fair point on the draw the Cthugha is much easier to deal with as there are any number of ways to deal with it (thunder, demon flame, crime and punishment, etc)

  • PetrifiedXeno

    Im having a blast but is that because i play baha blasto

    • Daniel Langlois

      I’m playing it too, as pretty much everyone who wants to do well should be. That said, I wouldn’t say I’m having a blast lol. I much prefer control. Pandora Dark is my fave.