Dear FoW Community, this article will be the start of an article series, where I will dive into topics like deck building and how to improve your gameplay. I will try to back those things up with example decks including my thought processes while building them. I also try to make the Gameplay situations as practical as possible. In addition, you as reader will have the opportunity to respond to the articles and therefore influence the course of how this series is progressing.
For those who don’t know me yet, I’m Lars Grams, 28 years old from Germany and Ive been playing FoW since Grimm Cluster in 2016. The part I enjoy the most in FoW is the deck building aspect, therefore I always try not to play the „mainstream“ decks everyone will expect at a tournament.
Earlier this week JPK wrote an article about his insights on the upcoming New Frontiers format and also provided some deck lists already. In this first Article of the series, I want to put the focus on a more detailed view of Ragnarok, Invading Dragon Lord (EDL-096), one of the new Rulers revealed in the first set of Saga cluster. Therefore this article will cover the following topics :
Have fun reading 😊
Why Ragnarok, why singleton?
My favourite deck of all time is full power Ayu, Lunar Swordswoman (ADK-060) // Ayu, Shaman Swordswoman (ADK-060J).
Ragnarok brings the same singleton mechanic to the table which directly caught my attention as I saw him in the spoilers, so I decided to give him a try.
Playing 40 different cards makes your plays much more unpredictable, allowing you to react more flexibly to certain game situations. On the other side, the chances of drawing a specific card at the right time is much less likely when you play a singleton deck. To not lack the consistency you would have by playing 4-off copies of certain cards, you need cards that achieve the same thing or have similar effects.
Singleton decks at bigger tournaments
An important aspect to be successful with a singleton deck at a bigger tournament (i.e. Grand Prix) is to know which other decks will be played. This helps you to precisely tech your deck with those cards that have a big impact vs the most played decks at a tournament. For example: Back then in 2018 (editor’s note: see GP Munich+matches and GP Berlin+matches), I played Ayu and cards like Ahriman, the Wicked Spirit Eye (ENW-035) and The Mikage Sisters (ENW-085) were key components to win the matchup against the best deck at that time, which was Speaker of Eternal Night (TSW-109) // Scheherazade of the Catastrophic Nights (TSW-109J).
Another important point for tournament play not only for singleton decks, but in general is: Understand your deck AND know how to play it vs every deck. Especially nowadays, due to the increased speed of the game, games can be decided by a single wrong decision in the first few turns, for example discarding a wrong card. Therefore it is important, that you already know like 80% of your opponents deck and how his deck works at the moment you see his ruler, to effectively play against it. This is even more important for singleton decks, because your ressources are more limited with only one copy of each card.
Now, lets take a closer look at the differences to the previous Singleton deck that existed.
Differences to Ayu
The first difference I want to mention is, that Ragnarok does not have a J-ruler side compared to Ayu. Also Ragnarok is not able to go for a 5-color build, because he is missing rainbow stones. Nevertheless he has five very powerful abilities on his ruler side, which cost x mana to activate (x = number of his abilities you already activated this game). The activation of those abilities is limited to your turn only. Those abilities are:
- Generating 2 wills of any attribute
- Drawing 3 cards
- Destroying all J-rulers
- Removing all resonators your opponent controls from the game
- Removing all additions and regalia your opponent controls and all cards in your opponent’s graveyard from the game.
- Copy a chant you control
These are some very powerful abilities, but none of them are really game winning on their own, which leads us to the biggest difference between Ayu and Ragnarok; although Ragnarok has the strongest abilities ever printed on a ruler, he is lacking a built-in win condition, which Ayu had with her J-ruler side being a huge flying beater.
This brings us to the first step of building our Ragnarok Deck. To make Ragnarok viable, we need to find a win condition.
Finding win conditions
A win condition consists of those cards, that directly win you the game or give you such a superior game position, that your opponent will not be able to come back, which makes you win the game in the next few turns. Ayu had many resonators that could put some huge pressure on the opponent, but in the end, Ayu herself + cards like Door of Time (RDE-050), Pricia’s Leap (RDE-077) or Resuscitating Will (WOM-016) were the game finisher 99% of the time.
Ragnarok though, needs to rely on his main deck cards only in combination with his abilities to achieve that.
As we build the Ragnarok Deck now, I will tell you my thought processes and how I approach deck building in general.
The first thing I always do, if I am looking for certain cards when building a deck, is visiting a card database (FoWDB, FoWsystem, Italian website, etc). This minimizes the chance that I will miss cards, which might be beneficial for the deck. Ragnarok’s mana ability enables 3 mana plays on your first turn and his chant-copy ability might give you the opportunity to copy a powerful chant to bring you a game winning advantage. So with those two abilities in mind, after looking through the database, there were 4 cards that caught my attention:
Lapis’ Dark Storm (PofA-060)
Generating 2 will, playing this card and copying it leaves your opponent with 2 cards in his hand for his turn.
The Battle Comes to an End, and Then… (EDL-091)
This card is pretty expensive for 3 will, but Ragnarok can play it with his ability on turn 1 and even copy it if you have energize. This basically lets your opponent play the game without his 4(8) most important cards in the deck, which many decks can’t come back from. For example removing all ruler specific regalia (like Deathscythe (AO3-065) for Rezzard (AO3-BaB-3) // Rezzard [J-ruler] (AO3-BaB-3J)) from the game.
Burning Rabbit Dash (EDL-021)
This card in combination with the mana ability and the copy ability generates six 300/300 rabbit tokens, which can attack for 1800 on turn 1. Also your opponent needs to remove 6 bodies from the board quickly, or he will lose the game in the next few turns.
Magna’s Guardian Beast (SDAO2-025)
Being able to tutor cards in a singleton deck is always strong, but Ragnarok also brings his own super powerful servants with him. You will often see yourself grabbing Wind Servant of Ragnarok (EDL-076) and Mikage Reiya (AO3-046), not only generating mana, but also dumping Sigurd, the Covenant King (AO3-082) to grave, for follow-up plays. Another good option is Morgiana, the Wise Servant (AO3-037) + Water Servant of Ragnarok (EDL-054), which lets you see the top 9 cards of your deck from which you can add 3 to your hand. Both plays leave you with a decent board state, while also generating value for later use (reminder: the cost of double cards in the deck is the sum of both its individual cards, so you can’t grab cards like Tsuiya, Cursed Spawn of the Star // Curse of Ragnarok (EDL-094), Chelina, Sorceress of Sending Back // Send Back (EDL-041), or Elixir, Crest Researcher // Research Results (EDL-060) with Magna’s Guardian Beast).
Variants and deck building
So after we found some nice win conditions, the question arises, how do we build the other 90% of the deck? JPK already introduced a more aggro focused way of Ragnarok in his article. That’s why I want to show you a version, that focuses more on the control aspect.
First thing to mention is, that due to the lack of a multicolor stone for Ragnarok, we will be forced to concentrate on a maximum of 3 attributes for our deck to be color consistent. This way we can guarantee to not lose games, due to hitting the wrong stone colors.
Since White has some pretty good control options with cards like Silmeria, Summoer of Spirits // Dance of Spirits (EDL-012), Exorcist Mage at the Academy (EDL-003), Defense Stance (PofA-087) and the rest of the win conditions are mostly Black, both White and Black will be 2 of our 3 colors to play. Burning Rabbit Dash and Magna’s Guardian Beast both need Red will, but Green will be our 3rd color, because Green has better control cards than Red, while also having more synergies with Black and White.
So our Ragnarok control list will be a GBW deck. Let’s now take a look at cards in those colors, which have good control aspects, generate value, have synergies and/or are flexible. We also have to consider the actual meta when making card choices for the deck. Since Rezzard was the dominating force during Cluster format and got stronger rather than weaker with the new Saga set (which JPK already pointed out), we are especially looking for cards that fight against his graveyard-centric strategy.
In the following part, I will therefore list cards to add to the deck and afterwards (or in brackets) I will explain why I chose certain cards while also pointing out potential synergies between cards and some combos.
For Black, cards to consider are:
- Dark Alice’s Smile (PofA-052)
- Tsuiya, Cursed Spawn of the Star // Curse of Ragnarok (EDL-094)
- Mikage Reiya (AO3-046)
- Sigurd, the Covenant King (AO3-082) + additions
- Curse of Caduceus (PofA-051) (lategame wincon)
- Interdimensional Graveyard (EDL-083) (grave control + board advantage)
- Darkness Servant of Ragnarok (EDL-080)
- A Part of True Power (AO3-055) + Griphon, Racing Across Darkness (AO3-070) + Mikage Seijuro (AO3-074) + Nidhogg (PofA-101)
- Dance of the Shadows (AO2-035)
- Abhorrent Revival (EDL-077)
- Gravekeeper at the Academy (EDL-082) (*floodgate card*)
- Deathscythe (AO3-065) + Unknown Mother Goose (PofA-115)
- Moan of the Dead (AO3-047)
- The Elegant Mikage Sisters // Eternal Recurrence (EDL-092)
For Green, cards to consider are:
- Elixir, Crest Researcher // Research Results (EDL-060) + Magic Crest of Wind (EDL-063) (flexible with ramp/recycling/card advantage)
- Elixir’s Love (EDL-061) (recycling + card advantage)
- Faurecia’s Journey (AO3-035) (counter + recycling)
- Awakening of the Winged Lord (AO3-059) (quickcast interaction)
- Wind Servant of Ragnarok (EDL-076)
- Altesing, Mischievous Boy // A Glimpse of the Prodigy (EDL-058)
- Morgiana, the Wise Servant (AO3-037)
For White, cards to consider are:
- Silmeria, Summoner of Spirits // Dance of Spirits (EDL-012) (lock your opponent)
- Release (AO3-016) (advantage + recycling)
- Exorcist Mage at the Academy (EDL-003) (*floodgate card*)
- Flute, Captive Dragonoid Child // Group of Comets (EDL-004) (Ramp + Boardwipe)
- Dispelling Stone (EDL-001) (addition removal+ card advantage + preventing deckout)
- Water Servant of Ragnarok (EDL-054) (huge card advantage)
- Kusanagi Motoko, the Major (GITS2045-037) (*floodgate card*)
- The Origin of the Seven Lands (PofA-112) (color fix + win condition)
- Optical Camouflage (GITS2045SD-008)
*floodgate card* : card with a continuous effect, that restricts one or both players from performing some actions
For our stone base we want a heavy Black focus, with Green and White support. We also add one Red/Black Stone, just to be able to cast The Origin of the Seven Lands. So our stone base looks like this:
- 4 Magic Stone of Black Silence (AO3-090)
- 3 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift (PofA-123)
- 2 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies (AO3-091)
- 1 Magic Stone of Scorched Bales (SDAO1-035)
All those cards either have some control/removal aspect, generate advantage, or help to bring our opponent’s life to 0. The Mikage+Sigurd+Addition package not only brings card advantage, but also lets you tutor your deck for powerful additions that remove cards from the game or attack your opponents graveyard, which are things we are looking for against decks like Rezzard. Curse of Caduceus can also act as a slow win condition. Deathscythe and Unknown Mother Goose are the only two regalias in this list, because they can pay for important cards like Sigurd, Elixir’s Love + Tsuiya (both Remnant), Release, Schrödinger, etc.
Unknown Mother Goose also generates crystals, which can be used to animate Schrödinger. With Mikage Reiya we also play a revive package with strong resonators like Mikage Seijuro, Nidhogg and Griphon.
Remember that Ragnarok can copy chants, so combos like these are possible :
1) Part of True Power, banish Reiya, target Griphon
2) Reiya trigger add her to hand
3) before Part resolves, play Reiya again to put Nidhogg in graveyard
4) copy Part with Ragnarok’s Ability
5) end with a field of Griphon, Nidhogg + two cards stolen from your opponent’s hand, and two extra stones
Due to Ragnarok’s Mana ability, a play like this is possible in your first turn if you go 2nd and have energize
Another nice combo is Elixir’s Love + Release + Dance of Spirits :
1) prevent your opponent from playing cards with Dance of Spirits during his Turn
2) get Dance of Spirits back with Elixir’s Love
3) repeat step 1) and 2)
4) use Release to get back Elixir’s love from Removed Area
5) get Dance of Spirits back with Elixir’s Love
6) prevent your opponent from playing cards with Dance of Spirits during his Turn
7) get Release back with Elixir’s Love
8) repeat step 4)-7)
Cards like Deathscythe, Flute, and Unknown Mother Goose can help with this lock by generating extra mana.
The Origin of the Seven Lands not only acts as a mana fix, but also offers you another win condition, when the game is under your control. Curse of Caduceus also acts as a win condition for the late game.
Those are only some synergies/combos, and I bet you will find even more if you try out the deck yourself.
Ending words and things to come
The Deck I introduced to you in this article is already refined. I don’t claim this to be the best possible Ragnarok (Control) Variant, but it’s a good start. Always remember that building a good deck is an iterative process, which looks something like this:
- Step 1) Build an initial List and test your Deck by playing against others
- Doesn’t matter if you test online or in real life (if COVID19 allows it of course)
- Step 2) Analyze your games
- Why did I lose
- Did a certain card not perform well
- Discussing your thoughts with friends is helpful, since everyone has different views and experiences that might help finding weak spots in your deck (I would especially like to thank Sascha Jedlicka and JPK at this point 😊)
- Step 3) Look for cards that mitigate the weaknesses you found in Step 2
- Step 4) Implement the cards you found in Step 3
- Step 5) Start at Step 1 again
Fortunately the FoW community is very kind and if you are a new player, or don’t have people to play with to discuss stuff together, you will always find someone on Discord/Facebook/Untap/Reddit who is willing to help you out.
I’d like to end this first article now without saying something on how to play the deck, what to mulligan for, or general advices on how to improve your gameplay …
But hey, this is just the start of the series and there is plenty more to come. Remember that your questions/comments can influence the topic of the next article, so don’t hesitate to ask by writing something in the comments section below!
If magically ended here, I’d like to thank you for your time and hope you had a good read 😊
(editor’s note: if you liked Lars’ article, be sure to give it a 5-star User Review rating below!)
Also thanks to Dennis for providing this platform and giving me the opportunity to write this for the community.