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Tabletop Game / Force of Will

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"Prince Grimm never needed to read fairy tales; the spirits within told him of their own stories."

Force of Will is a Collectible Card Game whose first official set released in Japan on December 1st, 2012 but did not have an official English release until February of 2014. It is very much like Magic: The Gathering but also borrows from Yu-Gi-Oh! and other games. Specifically, the Color Pie and resource system are reminiscent of Magic: The Gathering and its use of Rulers is not unlike the usage of Commanders. There is enough variance in the mechanics, rules, and card types to keep the game relatively fresh for newcomers. Force of Will, Inc. avoided losing a crippling lawsuit against Wizards of the Coast based on the similarities between said games.

Gameplay goes as followers: players start with main decks of 40+ cards consisting of resonators (minions), spells, and regalia (equipment), with a limit of up to 4 copies of each card per deck. Unlike Magic, however, ''Force of Will's” version of Lands, Magic Stones, occupy their own deck altogether called a "magic stone deck". Each player may have a minimum of 10 Magic Stones but no more than 20 within his or her magic stone deck. You can have any amount of Basic Stones (within the 10-20 limit of the deck itself) but Special Magic Stones may not number more than 4. Each player also has a 15-card side deck in which to swap out cards between games of a match.

Each player holds command of a card called a Ruler, a double-sided card which is similar in function to the Commander from Magic: The Gathering or the Deck Master system from the Virtual World Arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!. It sits in its own zone from the start of the game and has its own abilities, and you can use it each turn to call a Magic Stone from your magic stone deck. However, almost every Ruler also has a special ability called Judgment, which flips the Ruler over to its J-Rulernote  side, where it becomes an active combatant on the board with the ability to battle like a resolnator. However, if the J-Ruler falls, it will return to being a normal Ruler, and loses all its abilities except for the ability to call magic stones.

As of the start of Lapis Cluster, Victory conditions are the same as in most games: either drop the opponent's Life Points (in this game they start at 4000) to 0, or survive until the opponent runs out of cards in his or her main deck.

This game has a Metaplot within each cluster of sets, detailing the trials and tribulations of the Rulers and resonators that inhabit each world and the sets follow said metaplot for their card design. There are as of this writingnote  three clusters of Sets, namely Valhalla Cluster, Grimm Cluster, Alice Cluster and Lapis Cluster.

Note that North America did not see the release of Force of Will until February of 2015 and thus skipped the entire first cluster called the Valhalla Cluster. However, due to a blitz of releases in the forthcoming year, by the set The Millennia of Ages all Force of Will sets release worldwide at the same exact time.

A six-part anthology anime film called Force of Will the Movie has been announced as in the works for a 2018 release. More info here.

Not to be confused with the card of the same name from Magic: The Gathering.

This game provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • Brute: Fire. Very aggressive and use resonator with high stat during the late game.
    • Elitist: Darkness. Their card cost more than normal with their additional cost like paying life or banishing your own resonator.
    • Spammer/Generalist: Wind. Jack of all trades with the ability to do every role of other attribute but they also have the ability to generate token more than other attribute.
    • Turtle: Light. Have a lot of defensive spell and healing.
    • Technical/Gimmick: Water. Use trickery and bouncing to harass or confuse the enemy. Doesn't have high stat resonator like Fire and Darkness.
    • Balanced: Void. Void usually serve as the support for the other attribute.
  • Action Girl: Many characters within the game, but special notice goes to miss Alice in Wonderland who eventually gets her own cluster and story based around her and has not one but four J-Ruler formsnote .
  • Another Dimension: The setting of each Set Cluster. Any doubts were put to rest when we see Alice travel from the Grimm Cluster dimension into the Alice Cluster Dimension at the end of the Millennia of Ages in order to chase down Blazer.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: What the Pierce Keyword specifies. Any excess damage to a resonator dealt by a resonator with Pierce will be dealt to whatever the original attack target was.
  • The Artifact: The Life Break mechanic from the Valhalla Cluster was done away with by the time of the Grimm Cluster. To those in North America it's like it never existed. On top of that, they completely redid the way Standby Spells worked halfway through the Grimm Cluster, so cards earlier on that explain how they work have out-of-date explanations.
    • A lot of keywords are now becoming this due to the Force of Will company deciding to do an overhaul of how many things are named.
  • Badass Adorable: Tinker Bell, like her namesake, is an incredibly cute docile pixie—at least, until you get a few Fairy Tale resonators on the board, and then she becomes a MONSTER. Quite a few other examples exist.
  • Big Bad: We finally get to meet the one that has been pulling the strings as far back as the Grimm Cluster in The Moonlit Savior. The Primogenitor himself, Gill Lapis.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kaguya gets the honor of doing this not only in two different clusters, but first as an adult and then as a child!
  • Black Knight: Quite a few of the corrupted Knights of the Round Table are this.
  • Boring, but Practical: Thunder is not the flashiest card (outside of the obvious card art). Simple 500 Damage to a J/Resonator or a player. But it's the Spiritual Successor of Lightning Bolt in Magic: The Gathering: extremely versatile, can take out tons of early resonators or help add on damage against higher ones or even burn for game. Many decks using Fire will be using at least three Thunders if not the full suite of four.
  • Brought Down to Normal: What essentially happens to J-Rulers after getting destroyed. They turn into Astral Rulers and lose all abilities.
    • No longer the case as of the Lapis Cluster. Now when a J-Ruler dies without Imperishable it just simply flips back to its Ruler side, unable to J-Activate but still able to use its Ruler abilities. Now if said Ruler happens to NOT have Ruler abilities...
  • Cast from Hit Points: Quite a few cards in the game, usually from the Fire and Darkness colors, require a cost from your life points to be used.
  • Cherry Tapping: A notable way to take down bigger J/Resonators or even clinch the game. The aforementioned Thunder is good for doing this. Every bit of chip damage matters.
  • Collectible Card Game: Each player brings his or her own deck to the game, and cards can be collected from starter decks and randomized booster packs.
  • Color-Coded Stones: The entire basis of the Will System.
  • The Corruption: Remember all your favorite fairy tales from your youth? There are quite a few of them in this game that have taken a turn towards The Dark Side. Cinderella, the Ashen Maiden is a good example: she desired to keep the Fairy Godmother's absorbing the life force of every prince she could get her hands on. In The Twilight Wanderer, Dark Alice corrupts most of the Seven Kings of the Land into Shadow resonators.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Toolbox strategies are just as prevalent in this game as others, but the reigning king is Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince. His ability allows him to trade any Fairy Tale resonator in his hand for another one in the deck at the cost of 1 will. This makes it quite easy for Grimm players to prepare a counter-attack based on the opponent's plays.
    • The Twilight Wanderer set brings us a new Ruler of this type, Reflect and Refrain, a pair of twin mages who control similarly to a Planeswalker from Magic: The Gathering, and can, for free, cycle cards, untap creatures to defend with, and buff up creatures, or flip over to, for a small cost of counters that their Ruler side builds up, counter spells, return creatures to hand, or search the deck for cards. And they can flip back to their Ruler side for free (as long as its your opponent's turn) to hide from danger.
      • The Force of Will Company decided Reflect/Refrain was TOO Crazy-Prepared and it was banned from New Frontiers play for this reason.
  • Creepy Child: The Big Bad himself, Gill Lapis.
  • Cute Is Evil: Little Red, the Wolf Girl is a cute werewolf girl who accompanies Grimm for the first set of the Grimm Cluster. She ends up becoming a Big Bad of the entire cluster.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The “fake” Little Red. Her true name is actually Nyarlathotep, one of the leaders of the Cthulhu. That doesn't take away much of her cuteness, though...until you see her Ruler forms.
  • Dark Is Evil: Up through the Alice Cluster, Darkness is your typical evil color signifying corruption and death.
  • Deader than Dead: As with most Collectible Card Games, there is a Remove From Play pile that very few cards can return from.
  • Death World: Niflheim, the Realm of the Dead is one.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: There's a race in the game called Cthulhu, so you'll be able to. In the story, Kaguya and Pandora lead a final assault to drive back the Cthulhu once and for all.
  • Disability Superpower: Necronomicon forces you to discard all of the cards in your hand and any card that would hit the discard pile is removed from the game instead. The reward for such a hefty cost? The ability to play any card from the discard pile. When played at the right time you can clinch the game outright.
  • Discard and Draw: Quite a few cards, but most lean towards Draw and Discard rather than the other way around.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The Valhalla Cluster in general. The Life Break mechanic, the lack of emphasis on the Metaplot and no release in North America. Also, the early version of the Standby Spells along with the different release dates for sets between regions.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Cthulhu resonators in general and some individual others.
  • Elemental Powers: The basis of the resource system is the ability to draw mana/"will" from magic stones with elemental attributes. The attributes are Light, Fire, Water, Wind, and Darkness. There's also non-attribute will with a "characteristic" called Moon that some stones can create, as well as Void.
  • End of the World as We Know It: The ultimate goal of the Cthulhus.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Not a card game with zombies around and they introduce more by the day.
  • Evil Twin:
    • In a sense, Little Dread/Nyarlathotep to Little Red, the True Fairy Tale.
    • Dark Alice, the Maiden of Slaughter to Alice with Various Card Names.
  • Evil Weapon: Laevateinn, the Demon Sword is a cursed sword full of malice.
  • Expansion Pack: Booster packs are sold for each set.
  • Fallen Angel: Who better than THE Fallen Angel himself, Lucifer.
  • Fanservice: There's quite a bit of it. The best example is perhaps Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant. She has her normal art...and a "misprint" Full Art version with a sudden lack of bottoms to her leggings.
  • Floating Continent: Refarth, the Castle in Heaven and the Heavenly Garden of Armalla.
  • Fusion Dance: Pandora combined the wills of Grimm and Lumia to create Grimmia, the Savior of Myth.
  • Gender Flip: A lot of male historical figures and fictional characters are made female in this game.
  • Glass Cannon: Little Red, the Wolf Girl has high attack (for a J-Ruler), Swiftness, and immediately hits a resonator for 800 damage by hitting the board while also safely flipping back during the End Phase. Sounds great, right? One little problem...only 200 defense points. Not only in Thunder range but even the tiniest of resonators could potentially kill her on the block. If you flip her, you'd better make it count.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Queen of Hearts is in this game. She's...about as much of a problem as she is in her home story.
  • Guide Dang It!: They completely changed the way Standby Spells work half way through the Grimm Cluster, most likely due to them being quite underpowered. However until the recent structure came out, there was no way to know unless you happened to look at the updated rules online and even now you'd need the Structure for the updated rules. What also doesn't help is the fact that certain older Standby Spells explained how they their old capacity. Enjoy explaining the change to newer players.
  • Heroic Red Ring of Death: There are a few, but a great example is Poison Apple: it gives a resonator +1000 attack points for the turn, but it dies by the end of the turn.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Four Sacred Beasts sacrifice themselves to save Pricia from Valentina's betrayal and coup.
    • Faria gives Alice her Excalibur and casts her off to save her from Dark Alice, in the process getting transformed into Dark Alice's leading Shadow warrior.
  • Homage/Shout-Out: The Valhalla cluster is a sort of homage to Norse mythology. In general, there's a ton of references and straight porting of characters, locales, and items from fairy tale lore, history, and various mythologies.
  • Humongous Mecha: A lot of the Void resonators are machines, but Marybell, the Steel Doll is the first thing that people will think of. It completely dwarfs Machina in its art and in Machina's J-Ruler art.
  • Ice Magic Is Water: Any cards dealing with ice fall under the Water attribute.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Played straight with resonators with the First Strike keyword skill. It allows you to get your damage in before the opponent's resonator does. Averted with most other resonator combat; you usually will not come out unscathed if the opponent's resonator has any attack points.
  • Kid Hero: The reincarnated Kaguya gets to perform this role as the nominal Moonlit Savior.
  • La Résistance: Shion, Valentina's own songstress is leading the rebellion of Shangri-La against her.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Quite a few resonators in the game are forced to attack every turn if they are able; e.g., Seven Dwarfs.
  • Light Is Good: The Heroes in the three sets of the Grimm Cluster are all Light Rulers.
  • Loophole Abuse: There are neat tricks to get around harmful effects. For example, Kai, the Frozen Heart has a monstrous stat line of 1200/1200 for three will. Unfortunately, he has an Enter effect that basically forces him to be nothing but a statue until three resonators are sent from your field to the discard pile. However, if you can cheat him onto the field (e.g., by using Book of Eibon to revive him from the grave), you can ignore that pesky Enter effect and have a huge beater on the board with little cost.
  • Lunacy: There are plenty of Moon cards and synergy within the game. Little Red, the Wolf Girl can only J-Activate when a Moon is played that turn.
  • Metagame: Players are constantly developing new strategies to combat what's popular and/or most powerful at the time.
  • Metaplot: A bit more involved than other games when it comes to this, especially during the Grimm Cluster and beyond. Alice in Wonderland certainly seems to be the overarching lynchpin to it, as she is a major player during the Grimm Cluster and is The Hero of her namesake, Alice Cluster.
  • Mighty Glacier: What control decks tend to do. They'll use a lot of removal and counter spells to halt the opponent's advance and then come over the top late game with huge resonators and mana-draining tactics.
  • Mind Control: Water is particularly adept at this, especially the J-Ruler side of Valentina.
  • Monster Clown: Blazer, the Awakener/Blazer Gill Rabus is one.
  • Nerf: Reflect, Child of Potential/Refrain, Child of Convergence marks the first time that Force of Will has performed an errata to outright harm the playability of a card (previous instances were due to slight translation errors). Mainly, to make it so Reflect's abilities can only be performed on the user's turn rather than on both.
    • And even that didn't work, as Reflect/Refain's usage was still absolutely extreme for months afterwards, while dominating tournament after tournament. Eventually after massive outcry, the Force of Will Company had enough and outright banned the twins for New Frontiers format.
  • Not Quite Dead: Darkness, being based on death, likes abusing this, either with straight revival or returning cards to the player's hand. Light has a J-Ruler that lets the player play cards from the Removed From Game zone.
  • Power at a Price: If a resonator has huge stats for a low will amount, chances are it comes with a debilitating effect. Murderous Snowman is a monsterous 900/900 for 2 Will...but costs you a precious Magic Stone when he comes out.
  • Power Equals Rarity: Not nearly as much as in other card games. You'll find just as many niche-in-use Rares and Super Rares as you'll find powerful cards, which is why the price ranges rarely go very high outside of alternate art cards.
  • Power Up Letdown: Imagine it: it's late in the game. You're fighting for your life. You finally get the opportunity to J-Activate your Ruler, you can hear the background music swell in your mind and you're ready to go to work! All is good and get sniped by something simple as Thunder and Flame of Outer World and your Ruler is Astraled just as quickly as you flipped it. Moral of the story: protect your J-Ruler when you plan on bringing it out, or else it's no better than an expensive paperweight.
  • Put on a Bus: Force of Will goes by Set rotation, and thus by design you'll see cards and decks take a vacation until possible reprints.
  • Regenerating Health: If a resonator gets damaged during a turn but does not get killed all of its "toughness"/health gets renewed at the beginning of the next turn.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: There are a bunch in this game, but perhaps the best example is Familiar of Holy Wind. It's a cute cat with a quill!
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Pricia and Marybell are coming hard and fast for Valentina, the one who betrayed them and ended the lives of the rest of the Seven Kings and the Four Sacred Beasts.
  • Sacred Bow and Arrows: Artemis, the God's Bow.
  • Sequence Breaking: There are a few ways to get high-cost resonators out very early. For example, Yamata-no-Orochi, the Eight Disasters costs a monsterous 10 will to drop on the board, which for most players is all the Magic Stones they will carry. Even for a devastating body and effect it's far too pricey to put on the field normally, especially since it doesn't carry any self-protection. However, combos with cards like Humpty Dumpty, Book of Eibon, or Genesis Creation can cheat him onto the field as early as the player's third turn, and if you don't have an out he will annihilate you.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: What the Alice Cluster was, especially for Alice and Pricia. Alice spent so much time coming to Attoractia to save it, only for it to fall and for her to struggle with control of her own body. Pricia, after losing her comrades in the Seven Kings, and her friends in the Sacred Beasts, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Valentina and wins...only for Valentina to take her body over in the process.
  • Steampunk: Void is full of machines with Steampunkish design.
  • Super Mode / Time to Unlock More True Potential: Essentially what Judgment is to the Rulers: unlocking their strongest, hidden form in order to achieve victory for their troops.
  • Taking the Bullet: Your resonators can block any attacks by the opponent's resonators as long as they're in "recovered" position, saving either precious life points or an ally.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sadly, the fate of the Alice Cluster. While Alice, Kaguya and Charlotte were able to escape, while also stealing away the Earth from Gill Lapis, Attoractia has fallen in the process and Gill Lapis victorious. On top of that Alice is struggling with merging with Dark Alice, and somewhere Pricia's body is lost to Valentina.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: What's depicted in the card Duel of Truth. It's the battle between Little Red, the True Fairy Tale and Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon.
  • Weak, but Skilled: There are plenty of weenie resonators that have very helpful effects, usually along the lines of drawing cards or searching them out which helps stabilize your game later on.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: In the Alice Cluster, many J-Rulers have their own specialty weapon or item called a regalia.
    • Faria, the Ruler of God Sword – Excalibur, the God's Sword
    • Melgis, the One Charmed by the Demon Sword - Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
    • Alice, the Saint of Healing/Alice, the Valkyrie of Fairy Tales – Deep Blue, the Phantom Board
    • Arla, the Hegemon of the Sky – Artemis, the God's Bow
    • Pricia, the Commander of Sacred Beasts – Horn of Sacred Beasts
    • Valentina, the Ruler of Paradise – Gleipnir, the Red Binding of Fate
    • Rezzard, the Desecrating Vampire – Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
    • Machina, the Mechanical Emperor – Marybell, the Steel Doll
    • Alice, the Fairy Queen – Excalibur, the Spirit God's Sword
    • Reflect, Child of Potential/Refrain, Child of Convergence – Change the World, Orb of Illusion
    • Dark Alice, the Maiden of Slaughter – Schrödinger, the Fallen Black Cat
    • Coup d'Etat Mastermind, Shion - Heavenly Instrument, Hydromonica
    • Timeline Arsonist, Allsaris - Orb of Disaster, Ifrit Glass
    • Kaguya, the Moonlit Savior - Interdimensional Vessel, Apollo
    • Gill Lapis, the Primogenitor - Illusory Demonic Globe, The Earth
    • Avatar of the Seven Lands, Alice - Blade of the Seven Lands, Excalibur X
  • Winged Humanoid: There are two races of these: Angel and Wingman, most likely gender-ordered.