Force of Will: A Lapis Cluster Competitive Primer!

Force of Will Lapis Cluster only tournaments have been under-way in Italy since the release of Echoes of the New World. The two current meta decks of the format are Pricia and Fox. Pricia is the fastest deck in the format, with chants often aiming at life points to close the game out. Fox is focused on jamming big flying resonators early and having more resources than the opponent. If you’re looking at building a control archetype, you will need to figure out how to leash these two decks. If you’re looking at building an aggressive archetype, you will need to play faster than an Aggro Pricia, while not losing to the mid-range variations. In this article, I’ll be breaking down the decks and then compiling ideas on which direction to head to beat the meta.

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Aggro Pricia

This list above is the most balanced “Aggro Pricia” in the meta. Leading with Little Red, or a Sacred Elf, asks the opponent for removal. It should be considered a good trade if the opponent spends their Lightning Strike on the Sacred Elf, and a neutral trade on the Turn 1 Little Red. You will look to tempo out a Sylvia on turn 2 if you’re playing the aggressor, or a Melfee if your Sacred Elf was not pinged off. Alternatively, you can play an early Fiery Fox but that is a sub-optimal play which does not go well when facing hard control or the aggressive mirror.

One stand out card in this line up is Soul Debt. This card is Lapis Clusters’ alternative to a “counter summon”. This is played because you want to land a Soul Debt on Fox’s first Griphon. This play will open up a free judgement opportunity for you as you can start pushing high unanswerable damage in the Fox match up. If you’re up against Fox, it may be worth playing down tempo in favour of lining up the Soul Debt. Games can be won or lost on the resolution of the first Griphon.

Four Severing Winds are featured due to control archetypes having to chain removal, and this can help stick a resonator on board. This is played in favour of main board Wind-Secluded Refuge as it has a chance to be free early on. Free costed cards have proven to be valued highly since Regalia was printed in Alice Cluster.

This particular list still boasts 4 Mariabella, the Machine Hearted, to shift into a mid-range variant while still having the tools to close out the game quickly. The opponent will often burn resources on the Swiftness resonators early, leaving Mariabella to come down and finish the job generally uncontested. Mariabella and Severing Winds are the best cards suited to countering a control archetype, and should be maintained at high volume.

The purpose of this sideboard is to burst an opponent, clean up the board, and to protect what you’ve played. This sideboard is geared towards beating the mirror, and beating the Fox match-up. This is evident in the Christie resonators run at 4 copies and 4 Gale Force, as the key cards in both match-ups.

At first glance, Fox currently runs Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness and the Christie’s play into that. The Fox player should generally side out the Abdul’s against Pricia, as it is their worst card in the match-up. It is the slowest, and lowest impact, and should be sided out in favour of Gale Force. To counter this strategy the Pricia player will side in Christie to swing tempo back into their favour. This is a clever sideboard strategy that should be replicated when building decks that target particular archetypes.

If you compare this list to the following, you should notice a speed difference.

Mid-Range Pricia

This list plays a turn slower and creates space in the main board for the “Jack and Giant” play. Jack and Giant has been popular since Alice Cluster New Frontiers. With the popularity of Yggdrasil 2.0 in that format, it fell out of favour due to Jack not being able to deal damage, therefore being unable to trigger his automatic ability to cheat out Giant. In the Lapis Cluster format, Yggdrasil 2.0 is a lot weaker and has not currently seen competitive play which gives Jack and Giant a fair chance.

The purpose of this sideboard is to create favourable trades, to refuel resources and to include the Christie strategy. Two-Fold Chant is a new addition to the sideboard, and offers a punish to players wanting to spend all of their Will. This is aimed particularly at a Pricia player who will summon a non-swiftness resonator and then will call a stone, giving it swiftness and flying via the rulers automatic ability. I think the sideboard could be improved with the addition of Gale Force, provided a predictable meta. The Beast Queen’s Counter Attack currently fills the same idea, but at Chant speed and assumes board presence.

This is a great “triple-threat” list. A deck that can threaten Mariabella’s, Jacks into a Giant, and then Pricia J-ruler behind it all. This list may be pushed out of the meta if Yggdrasil finds a base build capable of control and becomes popular.

Those are the two key Pricia lists you can play, or expect to play against. The next deck we’ll look at briefly is Fox. Fox takes up a smaller place in the meta compared to Pricia, but it remains a deck that will win given the right circumstances and pace.

Lilias “Fox” Petal

Playing Planting Beans and dropping a Demonic Dead into your Graveyard has proven to be an incredible resource, at the cost of life. This deck plays 12 one-drops in addition to the 4 Planting Beans, and looks to “turbo” out the first Griphon from the sideboard. This is a high tempo play and can combat a Pricia J-ruler and other high priority swiftness threats in the meta.

The main board choice of control is important to note. Running 2 copies of Heteroclite Excalibur shows that it is not an appropriate control tool against an aggressive deck. Taking 500 life against an aggressive deck to remove a resonator, who has most likely already done damage to you, at chant speed is not that impressive. This card is mostly for mid-range match-ups and aimed at higher cost resonators, and weaved in after you’ve accelerated your stones.

This list also runs 3 Shades. These are aimed at mostly an opponent’s Abdul. These are occasionally aimed at an opponent’s 600 Def resonator too. Unfortunately, this plays into Rapid Growth or even a Lightning Strike at the End Step of the turn it was summoned. I think this deck lacks Soul Debt, and may be a consideration moving forward.

Fox initially ran Red Riding Hoods, and then evolved into the Avatar engine, providing itself more cards over the course of the game. Here we see Red Riding Hood back as the premium two drop. I think this could be interchangeable with Messenger of Lilias Petal, and we will see some variation in the future.

One card that many labeled as “too slow for Fox” was Lilias Petal, Kitsune King resonator. Cheating out two Fox Spirits as fuel proved to be an incredible resource when you were low on life. Previous iterations have run one to two copies, and here we see three copies to pair with 4 Fox Spirits.

With the rise of aggro Pricia, Abdul has been left stranded and cut down to three copies. This is an important meta card that may be cut further or raised back up to four depending on the popularity of Pricia. I think there will always be a place for Abdul in Fox if only for the mirror.

We can see a few tech resonator choices too, namely Valentina and Rezzard. Valentina threatens to come down after Foxes usual opener to threaten the opponent next to larger resonators. Valentina in this case is ideal but a greedy idea; we see it at one copy and do not expect that to raise. Rezzard can counter an opponent’s’ Demonic Dead, and provide a big finisher for Fox. Rezzard is an excellent meta choice run at two copies to close out a game.

I think moving forward you’ll want to find space for Soul Debt and another copy of Gale Force. These are two underutilised tools in this deck, only off-set by 1 The Final Battle in the main board.

Where do we go from here?

While it may appear grim trying to control both of these great decks, there is still space for some rogue decks to come up. Running things like Detachment, Soul Debt, and Dark Purge as your control spells gives a good base to work from. Yggdrasil 2.0 lost the access to Seal and other important tools from Alice Cluster, but it may be an option to run a blue base (meaning every stone rests for a Water will). Blue-Green-Black Yggdrasil 2.0 means you can run all three of the above control sources and Flute’s Water Dragon. Yggdrasil may be good against Pricia if you can resolve an Arla, and then you can gear it towards beating Fox with The Final Battle, Abdul and Refuge.

Alhama’at may end up running Fire and Light stones in favour of Crimson Ray, which may also prove effective against these decks too. Black White Red Alhama’at could mean Death at Midnight, Crimson Ray, and Dark Purge as the control shell, and then running World Flame Summoning as your Ancient Magic “spender”.

These are some control options to think about as otherwise you’re looking at playing faster than Pricia. I don’t think there is a faster ruler than Pricia at this time, but some decks may contend to some degree. We have Book of Dark who can have access to Lars, Sylvia, and Melgis, and then judgement into Viola, or Rezzard. This deck can play pretty quick, and may race Pricia, but ultimately cannot “triple threat” like Pricia can. The best option appears to be running mono wind stones and playing Little Red to give it better pacing.

Some other spells that may be good in the meta include Dawn of the New Earth, and The Scorn of Dark Alice. Dawn is great against Fox, but terrible against Pricia. It also has a difficult attribute combination that does not fit well in the Lapis Cluster meta. Scorn on the other hand, is decent against Fox and Pricia. Being able to pluck a Wind resonator against Fox means less food to pair with Demonic Dead for their activate ability. Against Pricia, being able to pluck a Mariabella will shut down their “triple threat” and then direct you to an appropriate line of play. Scorn may be the direction against both popular decks.

Just remember, while the competitive meta for Lapis-only is tough, it is not unbeatable! This wraps up the competitive primer, stay tuned for the Reiya Cluster set review just before its release date!

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