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Force of Will – Deck Archetypes

Traditionally there are 5 different deck archetypes: Aggro, Control, Midrange, Tempo and Combo decks.
However, I would like to discuss the 5 main archetypes and 2 sub-archetypes Lock and Lock-Down decks, most often sub archetypes of the Control deck.

Let us start with the most streamline Archetype:

The Aggro deck

Aggro decks play proactive and try to establish early board presence to pressurize the opponent. The pressure is built up by Resonators with good stat lines and suited keywords (such as Flying, First Strike, and most importantly Swiftness), but also burn spells. Aggro most likely implements Resonators and spells with low costs, marking the ambush-style approach in the early game to overwhelm the opponent. Reactive plays are mainly limited to removal spells.

Burn spells are likely multimodal and let players opt to target J/Resonators instead of players making the spells a pseudo-removal. Aggro decks start fulminant but run out of gas in the late game. Aggro players try to win the game by shooting blockers via removal, or the reach via burn spells (and burn abilities), as well as correct sequencing of attacks and subsequently the lack of the opponent’s blockers or the opponents incorrect sequencing of blockers.

A decent example of an Aggro deck might be Michael Müller’s top8 Kirik list from GP Berlin 2019.  The list contains many Resonators with Swiftness or Flying (and Piggy, Hoelle’s Great Hero Pig (TSW-049) with the Ability to give the Keywords) and burn spells. The costs are limited to 1 and 2 Will with exception of Welser, the Archmage of Fire (WOM-042), which is only in the deck to abuse its Gods-Art.

5th-8th PlaceMichael MüllerKirik

Kirik Rerik (TSW-045) //
Kirik Rerik, the Draconic Warrior (TSW-045J)

Magic Stone Deck: (10)
4x Dragon Ore (SDR2-012)
2x Magic Stone of the Hermit (NDR-108)
4x Null Magic Stone (TSW-149)

Resonators: (24 of 41)
3x Dragonoid Doctor (ADK-035)
3x Flying Dragon of Mt. Hoelle (TSW-039)
4x Hoelle Pig (ACN-050)
4x Majin Dark Elf (ADK-051)
4x Pialle Eille, the Flaming Fist (TSW-048)
4x Piggy, Hoelle’s Great Hero Pig (TSW-049)
2x Welser, the Archmage of Fire (WOM-042)

Chants: (17 of 41)
2x Burnt Cooking (WOM-022)
4x Ground and Air Supremacy (WOM-029)
4x Heaven Sundering Dragon Palm (TSW-040)
3x High Speed (ACN-049)
4x The Path We Part (WOM-118)

Side Deck: (15)
3x White Leaf (WOM-019)
2x Cross Counter (ADK-033)
2x Hero’s Bracelet (TSW-041)
3x Hoelle’s Martial Arts Tournament (TSW-042)
2x Play Dead (ADK-055)
3x Ultra Dragon, Shooting Star (TSW-057)

The Control deck

Diametral to the Aggro deck, the Control deck wants to play reactive and harvest card advantage. Control tries to regulate the board presence and limit the opponent’s options. Patience is the key to victory for any Control player with the overall aim to drag the match into the late game. Especially green decks obtain their control from counterspells.

Control decks try to correct adverse boardstates with mass removal. In the late game the Control deck seeks to end the game using a finisher, which may be bombs like Karura, the Crow Tengu (NDR-069), or spells generating damage like Schrödinger’s Observation (RDE-081), or even extreme card advantage generation via Valentina’s Reach (LEL-093).

A standard bomb should stand out with good abilities and keywords like Flying and Barrier. Under any circumstances bombs should be hard to answer for the opponent. Suited keywords for Control Resonators are Drain (to stabilize against Aggro), Barrier (making Resonators hard to answer) and Target-Attack (to regulate the Board-State).

You might want to look into my Gill Alhama’at Control list from GP Kassel 2017:

9th-16th PlaceHeiko JacobGill Alhama’at Control

Gill Alhama’at (RDE-060) //
Ebon Dragon Emperor, Gill Alhama’at (RDE-060J) //
Gill Alhama’at, He Who Grasps All (RDE-060JR)

Magic Stone Deck: (10)
4x Ancient Magic Stone (RDE-096)
4x Magic Stone of Dark Depth (CFC-088)
2x Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift (CFC-093)

Resonators: (16 of 40)
3x Rachel, Nephilim Commander (RDE-003)
3x Captain Hook, the Pirate (CFC-037)
3x Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness (VIN003-061)
4x Demon Orderly (RDE-036)
3x Shade, Envoy of Darkness (VIN003-072)

Chants: (22 of 40)
4x World Flame Summoning (LEL-016)
4x Ancient Knowledge (SDL3-002)
2x Charlotte’s Water Transformation Magic (CFC-040)
1x Alhama’at’s Black Lightning (LEL-033)
2x Black Moonbeam (BFA-061)
2x The Nameless Mist (CFC-083)
1x Lumia’s Judgment (LEL-072)
2x Rune of Sol (LEL-083)
4x Space-Time Anomaly (TMS-090)

Regalia: (2 of 40)
2x Deathscythe, the Life Reaper (SKL-096)

Side Deck: (15)
2x Amaterasu’s Foresight (LEL-002)
3x Arla, the Light Wing (VIN003-001)
1x Alhama’at’s Black Lightning (LEL-033)
2x Barrier of Shadows (TTW-073)
3x Alice’s World of Madness (RDE-042)
2x Barrier Seal (LEL-045)
1x Lumia’s Judgment (LEL-072)
1x Valentina’s Reach (LEL-093)

Let us take a closer look and start with the Mana-Curve:

Figure 1 – Mana-Curve Alhama’at

The Curve looks conventional like a bell and peaks a 2 Mana. The irregularities at the end originate from the Ancient Magic Mechanic supported by Alhama’at. The Deck aims for an early World Flame Summoning (LEL-016), disturbing the opponents flow by Stone destruction. The match plan is setting up for a late game with an opponent left with few options and inaction due to Mana-Screw. If you’re interested more, you might want to watch my Featured Match below as a showcase:

The Midrange deck

Midrange positions right between Control and Aggro. Midrange has a good progression along the Mana-Curve (plays “on curve”) and switches between Aggro and Control playstyles, depending on the ideal strategy considering the Game-State.

Midrange is an adaptive Deck archetype. Skilful sideboarding by setting a focus between Aggro or Control suited for the matchup is the real strength of the Midrange. As an example, I provide a Chamimi Midrange list with a linear progression on curve and options for pro- and reactive gameplay:

Chamimi Midrange

Chamimi (SDV4-001) //
Chamimi, Guardian of the Sacred Bow (SDV4-001J)

Magic Stone Deck: (10)
3x Speaking Stone (TSW-150)
7x Wind Magic Stone (SDV4-023)

Rune Deck: (10 Divinity)
1x Sand Awakening (SNV-031)
1x Elephant Rush!! (SDV4-003)
1x Fuhma Shuriken (SDV4-006)
1x Whirlwind Technique (SDV4-022)
1x Youkai Festival (NDR-080)

Resonators: (31 of 40)
3x Ciel, Sorcerous Priestess (ADK-088)
4x Fairy of the Lost Isles (SDV4-004)
2x Karura, the Crow Tengu (NDR-069)
4x Kotaro, Ninja of the Wind (NDR-070)
3x Laurite, Seven Luminaries Astrologian (TSW-094)
2x Laurite’s Seven Disciples (WOM-070)
3x Magellanica, the Ball Warrior (SNV-070)
3x The Six Jizo Statues (SNV-078)
3x Tsunade, Brawny Cat Ninja (SNV-080)
4x Viola, Treacherous Maiden (SDR6-007)

Chants: (9 of 40)
4x Faerur’s Spell (ACN-096)
3x Winds of Vitality (SDR4-011)
2x Ruined Story (TSW-146)

The Tempo deck

Tempo is the most important concept in FoW. As mentioned in my Advanced Basics article: FoW is very Tempo-focused. Tempo decks are defined by cost-efficient, quite cheap and flexible cards. Tempo cards are always relevant to the Board-State. One might say the cards are way too good for the cost they are assigned (their ‘position in the Curve’). 

Enter the Lucifer Aggro list I played at GP Paris 2019. Do not be misled by the word Aggro! A close look at the Mana-Curve and at the cards overall, define the deck as a Tempo deck (with a highly oppressive early game):

4th PlaceHeiko JacobLucifer Aggro

Lucifer (SDV5-011) //
Lucifer, Fallen Angel of Sorrow (SDV5-011J)

Magic Stone Deck: (10)
2x Magic Stone of the Undead (NDR-109)
4x Null Magic Stone (TSW-149)
4x Stone from the Dark Castle (SDR5-012)

Rune Deck: (10 Divinity)
1x Sand Awakening (SNV-031)
1x Black Rosario (SDV5-002)
1x Jet-Black Wings (SDV5-008)
1x Power of Immortality (SNV-095)
1x Scythe of the Reaper (SDV5-014)

Resonators: (28 of 40)
4x Majin Dark Elf (ADK-051)
4x Astema, the Returnee of Hatred (SNV-082)
3x Belial, the Evil from the Scriptures (NDR-083)
4x Contract Demon (SNV-087)
2x Dark Riding Hood (ACN-123)
4x Jeanne d’Arc, Mad Maiden (ADK-135)
4x Rei, the Black Owl (WOM-100) // Zero (WOM-100$)
3x Skeleton Horde (SDV5-016)

Chants: (12 of 40)
4x Look of Corruption (NDR-093)
4x March of the Dead (SNV-092)
4x Sword of the New Moon (ACN-135)

Side Deck: (15)
1x Lich (SDV5-009) // Lich, the Saint of Death (SDV5-009J)
1x Belial, the Evil from the Scriptures (NDR-083)
3x Black Tears (TSW-118)
2x Ceaseless Devotion (ADK-122)
2x Evil Elemental Uprising (TSW-128)
3x Glint of Insight (WOM-094)
3x Grimm of the Crimson Moon (TSW-130) // Grimm, Hope from the Future (TSW-130$)

What about the Mana-Curve?

Ein Bild, das Zeichnung enthält.

Automatisch generierte Beschreibung

Figure 2 – Mana-Curve Lucifer

The curve starts high with many 1 cost cards (nearly 50% of the deck!) and decreases almost exponentially. The deck tries to play many cheap, cost-efficient cards with high impact on the Board-State, pressuring the opponent and leaving no opportunities to answer the plays cost-efficient, while answering opponent’s plays very cost-efficient.

Figure 3 – Comparison Alhama’at vs. Lucifer

The categorisation as Tempo deck is highlighted by its comparison with the Alhama’at Control, considering the Mana-Curve. The Lucifer curve starts high and flattens fast with progressing cost, contrasted by the more conventional Bell curve of the Alhama’at deck (Note that the deformation in the later curve is cause by the Ruler’s support mechanic for ‘Ancient Magic’).

The Combo deck

The Combo Deck tries to win the game with the combination of two or more cards. A very infamous example is the Umr Combo in Wanderer:

Combo decks tend to play much hand disruption, because the only thing important to the match plan is to protect the Combo.
Discard spells fit well to ensure the opponent cannot interact with the Combo. Also, Combo decks may ensure the opponent won’t answer the Combo by protecting it with cheap counterspells. Furthermore cantrip cards replacing themselves and digging into the Combo material are well suited for the deck archetype.

The Lock deck

The Lock deck pursuits the strategy to reach a certain game state, namely one where the opponent cannot win or is rendered incapable of action. GP Berlin 2018 was won by a Lock deck. The winner Stefan Frankowski played an Yggdrasil Control list, implementing the Lock with Miracle Millennia Medicine (RDE-028). If the Yggdrasil deck could stick a Miracle Millennia Medicine (RDE-028) to the field and maintain one in the Graveyard, the deck just could not lose because of the Ruler effect:

1st PlaceStefan FrankowskiDark Tree Control

Yggdrasil, Malefic Verdant Tree (ENW-068)

Magic Stone Deck: (10)
2x Gusting Darkness Magic Stone (VIN003-087)
4x Magic Stone of Black Silence (CFC-086)
2x Magic Stone of Gusting Skies (CFC-090)
2x Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift (CFC-093)

Resonators: (24 of 60)
2x Arla, Demonic Flying Ace (ENW-002)
1x Grimm, the Rightful King (ENW-005)
1x Melgis, King of Black Flame (ENW-024)
4x Ciel’s Familiar, Mikay (ADK-089)
4x Sha Wujing (CFC-064)
4x Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness (VIN003-061)
4x Rezzard, King of the Damned (ENW-080)
4x Gill Lapis, Usurper of Maddening Power (ENW-087)

Chants: (31 of 60)
4x Release (ENW-010)
4x Faerur’s Spell (ACN-096)
4x Otherworld Dreams (ADK-106)
4x Severing Winds (ENW-063)
4x Heteroclite Excalibur (ENW-075)
3x The Final Battle (ENW-084)
4x The Nameless Mist (CFC-083)
4x Kaguya’s Moonbeam Butterfly (LEL-068)

Additions: (5 of 60)
4x Miracle Millennia Medicine (RDE-028)
1x Neo Barrier of Shadows (ENW-077)

Side Deck: (15)
4x Amaterasu’s Foresight (LEL-002)
1x Destruction of the Portal (ADK-091)
4x Alhama’at’s Black Lightning (LEL-033)
2x Neo Barrier of Shadows (ENW-077)
4x Truth Amongst Darkness (ACN-140)

The Lock-Down deck

The concept of the Lock-Down deck is quite similar, but more temporary. Let’s look at the Lock-Down deck Lars Grams played at GP Berlin 2019. The deck aims for an early Mosasaurus (ADK-076) play.

The consequence is an opponent left with few mana to answer an oppressive Board-State in the following turn. The deck itself is a Midrange, marked by its ability to play on curve and options for proactive and reactive plays with the additional option to lock the opponent out of the game for one decisive turn. Hence the name: Lock-Down.

5th-8th PlaceLars GramsHanzo Mosasaurus

Hanzo (SDV4-008) //
Hanzo, Chief of the Kouga (SDV4-008J)

Magic Stone Deck: (10)
3x Magic Stone of Dramaturgy (NDR-104)
3x Magic Stone of Time (WOM-120)
4x Speaking Stone (TSW-150)

Rune Deck: (12 Divinity)
1x Diverse Evolution (SNV-043)
1x Massive Growth (NDR-050)
1x Sealing Scroll (SDV4-016)
1x Whirlwind Technique (SDV4-022)
1x Youkai Festival (NDR-080)

Resonators: (27 of 40)
2x Guinevere, the Mobility Queen (SNV-044)
4x Lancelot, the Glass Knight (NDR-048)
2x Misty Dragon Spirit (ADK-075)
3x Mosasaurus (ADK-076)
3x Rebellious Soul, Ayu (TSW-074)
4x Viviane, the Mechanical Fairy (NDR-060)
1x Jupiter, Warlock of the Wood Star (SDR6-006)
2x Laurite, Seven Luminaries Astrologian (TSW-094)
3x The Six Jizo Statues (SNV-078)
3x Viola, Treacherous Maiden (SDR6-007)

Chants: (13 of 40)
4x Dinosaur Surfacing (ADK-065)
4x The Dragon Lord’s Breath (WOM-054)
3x Faerur’s Spell (ACN-096)
2x Table Flip (SNV-077)

Side Deck: (15)
1x White Leaf (WOM-019)
1x Keez’s Call (ACN-069)
2x Saturneus, Enchanter of the Earth Star (SDR6-004)
1x Shaela’s Return (ADK-079)
1x Faerur’s Spell (ACN-096)
2x Karura, the Crow Tengu (NDR-069)
3x Last Days of a Powerless Dragonoid (TSW-093)
1x Laurite, Seven Luminaries Astrologian (TSW-094)
2x Scarlet’s Agony (TSW-104)
1x Black Tears (TSW-118)
User Review
5 (2 votes)

About the author


My name is Heiko. I first started playing Force of Will after the games convention 'Spiel' in Essen 2016. I really enjoy the game mechanics and the artwork is stunning. My favourite ruler is Gill Alhama'at since it was the first Ruler I played fairly competitive. I love control decks and darkness is my favourite colour to play.

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