Typically it would be Lin writing Force of Will reviews all by himself for ATGN (You can read his Battle for Attoractia review here), however I’ve recently picked up the game myself and was keen to talk about Return of the Dragon Emperor.
As a seasoned card game player and not one that is partial to anime it’s easy to dismiss Force of Will. I wont lie, I did for quite a while. I thought it was ‘just another’ of those crazy trading card games coming out of Japan and not something I could ever understand or relate to. What a fool I was. Force of Will plays very much like Magic: The Gathering with elements of Hearthstone and Yu-Gi-Oh! thrown in for good measure. Clearly the developers took the best parts of those games and left the trash, as such I regret my reluctance to get into the game earlier.
Enough lamenting though. Return of the Dragon Emperor is the latest expansion for Force of Will and the third part of the Lapis Cluster. It was released Friday, March 10th worldwide. The release brings with it some exceptionally good cards and a few interesting firsts for the game. Initially we were going to do an unboxing video but with the foil on the cards and our need for better studio lighting being apparent we’ve had to settle for still images in this review. Apologies, and hopefully we’ll have those issues sorted before the next release.
So with booster box in hand it was agreed that Lin and I would split the box. I gave the boosters a good shuffle first to keep things random.
All boxes of Return of the Dragon Emperor include two Rulers. Ours were Gill Alhama’at and Millium, Successor of the Dragon Crest. As I was already building a Light and Darkness deck Lin let me take Gill while he took Millium.
Here are the rest of our rares from the box –
Eia, God of Water (Foil)
Eia, God of Water
Gilgamesh, Immortal Hunter
Ryula, Alabaster Dragon Princess (Foil)
Valentina, The Twilight Passion
Milest, The First Flame
Azathoth, Hunter of Reality (Foil Full Art)
2 x Fiery Bird of Reincarnation
Pricia’s Leap (Foil)
2 x Rain of Light
Magic Stone of the Ebon Home
2 x Kaguya’s Decision
Blazer, Prisoner of Flame
Undine, the Spirit of Water (Foil)
2 x Undine, the Spirit of Water
Schrodinger, the Cat in Flux
Door of Time (Foil Full Art)
Door of Time
Memoria of Reincarnation
Will o’ the Wisp
Will o’ the Wisp (Foil)
Rachel, Nephilim Commander
Ancient Magic Stone
Kaguya’s Stone of Sorrow
End of Days (Foil)
2 x End of Days
Salamander, the Spirit of Fire (Foil Full Art)
2 x Salamander, the Spirit of Fire
Mariabella, the Machine Hearted (Foil)
Mariabella, the Machine Hearted
Black Heart Alice
Ryula, Alabaster Dragon Princess (Foil Full Art)
Almerius, Summoner of Spirits (Foil Full Art)
Almerius, Summoner of Spirits (Foil)
Almerius, Summoner of Spirits
Viola, Obsidian Dragon Princess
2 x Demon Captain, Eligos
2 x Reincarnation
2 x Fury of the Obsidian Dragon
Moon View Rabbit (Foil)
2 x Moon View Rabbit
Schrodinger, the Cat in Flux (Foil Full Art)
Schrodinger, the Cat in Flux
2 x Spinning Myths
Silph, the Spirit of Wind (Foil Full Art)
2 x Silph, the Spirit of Wind
Kaguya’s Decision (Foil)
Memoria of Reincarnation (Foil Full Art)
Door of Time (Foil)
2 x Dragon Power
Rachel, Nephilim Commander
Stone of the Dragonoids
You can easily see that while I got a greater variety of rares Lin pulled more multiples or even playsets. Between us though it’s a pretty good box and we were both very happy with our cards. If you haven’t picked up your box of Return of the Dragon Emperor yet, make sure you also snag the ‘Buy-A-Box’ promotional card for this release as well – Captain Hook, the Pirate. The new full art looks absolutely fantastic, on top of being a pretty powerful card.
Comments from Toby
One of the most exciting cards in this release is of course the new Ruler Gill Alhama’at. With the ability to evolve with Judgement TWICE. The first time the card flips as per usual, the second sees the card unfold to a third, larger side with some pretty amazing abilities. After playing a few games with him though I quickly learnt that it can be a trap. With so much attention on the ruler you can quickly lose focus of the broader game. While his two upgraded forms are nice, I think his strongest use is actually just the acquisition of Mana and using it to cast Ancient spells. Bare in mind I’m only new to the game and more experienced players may very well disagree with me but I think you want to get over the excitement of getting that ultimate upgrade and get on with the game.
Having said that there are a number of cards that can help accelerate that Mana accrual, Ancient Heartfelt Fire definitely being one of them (and it’s Ancient too), and Demon Orderly and Viola’s Machinations are cheap and effective methods as well.
A neat little combo that I picked up on early was the use of Schrodinger, the Cat in Flux with Black Hole of the Spirit World. When used in conjunction with something like Buer, Great President of Hell (as an example) you can pretty much end the game then and there.
Banish a resonator you control, other than Shrodinger or Buer (ideally a Shadow Token) to Buer. Black Hole of the Spirit World now triggers, this causes your opponent to banish a resonator, bypassing Barrier or damage immune resonators. This then triggers Shrodinger, putting a Shadow Token into play. You then banish the token to Buer, and repeat the process. Your opponent will now banish every single resonator they control and you can swing in with an enormous Buer, hopefully for lethal damage.
I’m currently working on a deck involving this combination and a few other nasty little surprises. I’ll save that though for a future deck tech article.
Comments from Lin
As someone who plays a lot of card games, both for this website and because I lack self control, I go through waves of focusing on different games while other take a back seat. So while I was focused on the Living Card Game organised play season, Force of Will took a back seat for a bit and I didn’t chase much of Legacy Lost, the previous set. Still one of my favourite collectible games, I was excited to jump back into Force of Will with Return of the Dragon Emperor. And man, what a set to jump back in with!
The biggest high impact cards of every new set are of course new rulers, so I will go over the other four in this set besides Toby’s triple sided dragon man. Let’s start with the one I got, the new Millium, Successor of the Dragon Crest
. Like his older counterpart, the prince is still up to his dice rolling tricks with the ‘Force’ mechanic. This is a divisive mechanic, with some players understandably turned off by rolling dice in a competitive CCG. I find Force of Will’s version to be fun though and in my opinion, not too oppressive. That being said, I see little room for any Force deck to be top tier and I fear the new Millium might be the same. Mostly, I am concerned that his judgement cost being too high, even with the discount. Force being a risk/reward mechanic, it seems weird to me that Millium discourages the gamble of early flips with eight or so dragon tokens on it by having to pay five Will for the flip. Since Millium don’t lose the dragon counters when you flip, it’s an option to use High Speed Dash
to flip him back and use judgement again, but once again the judgement cost is pretty prohibitive. If you are someone who’d like to play it safe though, you’d wait until 12 or even 16 dragon counters and hope to land that field wipe, preferably for the win. But there’s the rub. Millium’s dragon side is not imperishable and Force of Will has plenty of cards in the meta to ruin a J-Ruler’s day. Even if you are getting yourself 3+ dragon tokens a turn, it gives the opponent plenty of time to set up an answer to your judgment in a competitive environment while you are too busy spending all your resources on triggering force cards.
The other force cards in the set are also the reason I am a bit torn on this rule. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great force cards in this set. Almerius, Summer of Spirits for example will have you salivating at the idea of gaining 1200 life and grabbing three spirits which add up to six total cost, maybe even 12 with a Pandora out. But of course, it seems obvious that if you want to use that trick, you should be running a spirit deck and on closer inspection, none of the spirit cards have the force keyword. So the best force cards in this set kind of don’t interact well with this ruler. Another surprise is that most new Force cards in this set are Dragonoids which Millium doesn’t seem to have any affinity for. If you recall, all the Force support for the old Millium were fairy tales and humans that buff fairy tales. So it also seems a bit hard to combine the older Force cards with the newer ones. It will need time to confirm, of course, but my first impression is that Millium will be a fun ruler that probably won’t break into tier one. That being said, I don’t think Millium is bad by any means. Even if you don’t land the forty token trigger, flipping into a massive flying J-ruler still has its advantages. Just make sure you have means to give your new shiny dragon imperishable or have a Wind Secluded Refuge ready for when he emerges, covered in tokens.
Now I want to quickly cover the other three rulers in this set. Poor little Gill Lapis here is over shadowed by the triple changing daddy Gill. He is an interesting one with his early game being quite oppressive with its removal but when he flips he will be giving back the removed cards as cost for his abilities. Those abilities seem worth it of course, but I feel there will be situations where a card you put back in your opponent’s deck will be used to crush you into sadness. His ability to play their removed cards might also be situational depending on what you end up removing. All in all, I feel I am currently not in a position to make a value judgement on Lapis here as his worth will mostly be dependent on how vulnerable decks in the meta are to his tricks.
Little Kaguya is also back in this set and she brought treasury items with her. As long as she can keep pumping out treasury items, this Princess packs quite a plethora of tricks. Giving herself barrier with just three treasury items out gives her a lot of value on the table and her other tricks give her quite a toolbox. With treasury items that straight up win you the game if you have enough of them, I can see a lot of people will be trying to make her work. While there is a lot of removal in meta that can get rid of the treasury items, how this one fares will be interesting. However, I can see the pressure this ruler puts on the opponent to keep your treasury items low could be oppressive enough to win the old fashioned way.
And of course I left the best for last, our favourite wild child, Pricia. This is no doubt a card that will shake up the meta, even ignoring that disgusting second turn win combo with Laevateinn, Sacred Elf and any J-Ruler buffing regalia. Only costing two to judgement lends her early pressure and two different resonances that give swiftness or flying help you get some early damage in while you set up for her massive combos. What combos, you ask? Well, glance at her J-ruler side and prepare to start laughing manically. As soon as she flips and whenever she attacks, you have the option to cycle a resonator and hope to get a big one for free (or stack the card you want on top with tricks to make it a sure one) or put away some used stones for new ones. Her God’s Art is the real MVP here and is likely to send anyone who was happy to see Pumpkin Witch rotating out into a deep dark depression. Not only does it recover her to attack again, therefore allowing you to trigger her ‘when attacking’ ability again, it gives all your attackers swiftness and flying. By the way, that’s an aura, meaning even resonators that enter play that turn after you God’s Art will get the benefits, opening the way for a lot more shenanigans – the type that can one turn kill. So needless to say, this ruler is strong even before you consider any of the support cards like Pricia’s leap. If your god’s art turn is somehow a whiff, this card will still allow you to put some late game pressure on by allowing you to attack and trigger her abilities multiple times. If you have enough will you can even combine it with her god’s art and anything that allows you to stack your deck to keep cycling out new attackers with flying and swiftness. I should mention that it’s been ruled that if a card that is both a wind and fire magic stone enters play it would trigger both of her resonances on the ruler side and meet her God’s Art requirement on the J-ruler side. So her stones that come in this set would trigger both and give you a little bonus when you cycle it with her ability. The new Mariabella, the Machine Hearted is also perfect for a Pricia deck, with her bringing two resonance of her own and tutoring a magic stone. All in all, Pricia is definitely the ruler I am most excited to play around with in this set.
That’s it from us on this new and exciting set. As we play around with cards from this set more, keep an eye out here for more Force of Will coverage.
We’d like to personally thank OzAnimart for supplying us with the box for review. Kiddo and the team do a fantastic job of distributing the game to stores here in Australia. You can follow them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ozanimart/) and we’d also strongly urge you to follow the Force of Will Australia page (https://www.facebook.com/ForceOfWillAU/) so you can stay up-to-date with releases, news and events.