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Force of Will in China

Hi rulers from around the world. My name is Shucong Fu, I am from Guangzhou, China.

I would like to thank everyone for taking your time in reading this article about Force of Will scenes here in China. Special thanks to Dennis for inviting me to write about Force of Will in China. Special thanks to Marcus from Singapore and Ka Lok from Hong Kong for helping out the community here in China. Special thanks to Jeremy from Ruler School for all the wonderful advice.

Force of Will goes a long way back here in China. And it is fair to say we have had a few hiccups along the way. We never had a massive player base here from the beginning, but all communities worked closely together and helped each other out.


The Beginning

We had our first distributor when the first set of the original Valhalla cluster came out. There were not a lot of stores selling but it caught the attention of some players, and soon they became core players of the game. They did a lot of work promoting the game and the player based kept growing. We even had our first national event and even had Chinese exclusive promos, to this point where a lot of players from around the world don’t know they exist. It all looked bright until the point where when you go to a local store for a bit of fun but everyone played Sprout of Treasure Tree (1-146) and Kukunochi, the Errand of the Jewel Tree (2-073). The company realized it as well and decided the reboot the game with Grimm cluster. Some players gave up, most players remained.


The Reboot

Things didn’t change a lot when Grimm cluster came out. Most of the core players remained in the game and more new players came in to replace the ones who left because of the reboot. A lot of players joined the game because there were interactions during opponent’s turn rather than lighting a cigarette. The community continued to grow into Alice cluster. We started to have events, and we even managed to receive WPG promos in Chinese during GPs. Players were willing to spend more on products to get full foil playsets. It was all looking good, apart from Millennium of Ages, where every store ended up with a lot of boxes that couldn’t sell. There are all still available now. What an amazing set that was.

After Alice cluster, due to internal issues with the old distributor, a new distributor came in.


The Peak

Lapis cluster was the peak of Force of Will in China. A lot of new players came in. In all players’ opinion, Lapis cluster had the best artwork, the best UI, and everyone loved the introduction of textured full art, and the introduction of [Quickcast]. There were a lot more interactions involved. The new distributor also did a lot of work from the beginning, getting more stores, giving out starter decks as demo decks, and sponsoring monthly events for every store. Players got more promos, more players to play with better rewards. For the AGP during Lapis cluster, players not only receive WGP promos in Chinese, but also Chinese exclusive promos in The Scorn of Dark Alice (TTW-089), and Sorceress of Heavenly Wind, Melfee (CFC-065). Those cards were very much playable back then and remain highly valued to this date. The AGP that year had a record number of participants, while even a monthly store event would have 30+ participants.

Reiya cluster followed the good trend, it got even better because the company ditched to normal foil R/SRs/Rulers, and made C and U foils full art. The new ruler designs were also amazing (I don’t mean the sealed items). Although there were over-powered at that point, the introduction of Ayu, Lunar Swordswoman (ADK-060) and Speaker of Eternal Night (TSW-109) showed that the company did a lot of work in creating new ideas for players. The distributor kept on with the great work and although the game didn’t grow massively during Reiya cluster, the core remained. The 2018 AGP was also amazing. It was the first time I saw Eiji and Chia, and Eiji even asked me about social media platforms inside China. Other than our locals there were players from Singapore and Germany. We also had another Chinese exclusive promo in Rachel, the Ancient Library Researcher (TSW-103). Those were glory times of Force of Will in China.

I started playing the game in Reiya cluster. It took me almost 2 months to win my first game. It is the most complicated TCG I have ever played, and it is by far the best TCG I have ever played. I took part in the 2018 AGP as well. And I had a lot of fun, and on my first ever Force of Will major event I made it all the way to the Final.

I was Chia’s assistant judge.


The Decline

After Reiya cluster, here came the New Valhalla cluster. At this point I managed to get some new players in, but a lot of them didn’t play for long, while some old players decided to give up playing. I did a lot of surveys back them and here are a few key points:

  1. No rulers in boxes. Having to play the same Rulers for the entire cluster was not what they were hoping for.
  2. Terrible SR choices. A lot of the Super Rares in the cluster were not playable. In AOA, the best card is an Uncommon (Sacrificial Altar (AOA-100)).
  3. The Rune mechanic was introduced to compete with Speaker of Eternal Night (TSW-109). But the Rune system was different, making a lot of cards incompatible with Reiya cluster rulers. (All the Rune X abilities, or cost reduction for a certain ruler).
  4. The starter deck reprints in DBV. The final set of the cluster is an amazing set, but it is also a poorly promoted set. Everyone knew there would be a bunch of reprints and only 50 new cards. Everyone got scared thanks to the amazing Millennium of Ages. A lot of players quitted before the set came out, because they were unsure if it would be like MOA again. When the set finally came out, some wanted to get back in, but they couldn’t get any boxes because of the low pre-order rate.
  5. This is the most important – the distributor overspent in the last 2 clusters so he cut some of the expenses from New Valhalla clusters. Some shops with smaller player base didn’t get any sponsorships again. It is no longer profitable to some smaller stores so a lot of them gave up on Force of Will. Players were left with no places to play, so they gave up as well.

Alice Origin cluster got even worse, mainly because the first 2 sets were hugely disappointing. At this point, only 2 main group of Force of Will players remained, Guangzhou and Dalian.


The Virus

Alice Origin 3 was a game saver. It was an amazing set, my personal favourite set. It is also the most important set in Chinese Force of Will history, because without this set Force of Will would have disappeared in China. Players got back in and cracked pack after pack, looking for more Mikage Reiya (AO3-046). Everyone enjoyed building their Rezzard (AO3-BaB-3) decks, looking for a way to extend the combo longer.

Then came Covid.

At first it wasn’t that bad, as Alice Origin 4 came out on time. Shortly after the set came out, there were lockdowns. Players were forced to stay home, shops were forced to close temporarily. Some players were forced to give up due to the financial consequences. The distributor gave up because he couldn’t maintain. Things didn’t look bright at all.

At this point this game was looking for a new distributor. A lunatic who knew under the circumstances would probably lose everything he had. No one was willing to take over. The Chinese version was in danger of disappearing again.

I took over.

Upon taking over as the new distributor, I rebuilt the official website, which was no longer functional since AOA. If you can read Chinese, it is www.fowdb.com and there is a deck builder in the website. I also decided to make contents, therefore I started recording box-openings, matches and deck building. If you understand Chinese, it is https://space.bilibili.com/2968324.

Due to Covid EDL came out 4 months later than the English release. By the time Chinese version came out, players in every other county were looking for Magic Stone of Six Sages. Since then we have been way behind schedule, I managed to release a new set every 2 months. But due to Covid things didn’t work quite well, a local pre-release can get called off hours before it started because of a mini outbreak in the area. Existing players remained active, despite not being able to play all the time. The contents I made really helped, with players in smaller areas started forming small play groups and would buy a few decks / boxes and play among each other.

On December 2021 I held a China GP in Guangzhou. By the time we only have ADW so it was a AO – Saga New Frontiers event. There were only 13 attendants but those who came got their Chinese exclusive The Witch of the Fallen Kingdom (ADW-072) and Melfee, Traveling Sorceress (ROL-017), as well as the exclusive Number Thirteen, Anti-Magic (ADW-088) playmat. Those who couldn’t come managed to watch the livestream on my channel as well. Soon after the GP, TST came out, and sales increased. Things were on the up again.

In March 2022, shortly after Chinese New Year, I released Chinese version Game of Gods. The initial goal was by the end of the year I would have caught up with the English release. But it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly after the release there were massive outbreaks in different areas across the country and everyone were forced to stay at home from time to time. For our local group in Guangzhou we only managed to hold a pre-release event and a constructed event. In late May I released Game of Gods Reloaded. Just like the previous set, it was affected by another outbreak and we didn’t had our pre-release until early July. By August the majority of the country were in lockdown. Shops were forced to close permanently and players were forced to give up on the game because of financial issues. At that point we had the lowest number of players ever in China.

The lockdown ended in December.


The Present

After the lockdown was over, everyone caught Covid. After everyone recovered from Covid, Chinese New Year arrived. By the time Chinese New Year as over, everyone is looking forward to The War of the Suns while the latest set in Chinese was Game of Gods Reloaded. When I started as distributor we were 4 months behind English release. Now we were 4 sets behind. It was not ideal.

Because we were so far behind schedule and there were a really low number of players, we decided it would be better switching into English. Our local players opened their GRV boxes in early February, then we had our belated GP at the end of the month, a Wanderer event with cards up to Duel cluster. Soon after that they opened their A New World Emerges, The Underworld of Secrets and The War of Suns boxes. It is a lot to ask them to open so many sets in such a short time, especially after such a long period where everyone was seriously hit financially. But they showed great support and their love for the game. I would like to present my greatest gratitude to everyone who supported me over the years, even though most of them decided not to play Force of Will again. We walked the same path together and hopefully one day we can walk together again.

So here we are now. With a total of 10 players inside the country, 6 of us playing constructed and 4 would only play limited. We are starting from zero again, just like when we started in original Valhalla clusters. Hopefully things would pick up again.


The Future

Now that we have switched to English version, I hope it would bring us closer to Force of Will players from all over the world. Huge thanks to Marcus for creating Asian Championship and making Chinese version cards legal in all Asian countries. This is a good starting point and I hope we can see more Chinese players taking part in international events. Force of Will has an amazing global community and we want to be a part it. We want to be closer to everyone and get Laurited by players from different countries. We want to connect the world and we will do our best to achieve this goal.

Here’s to a better future of Force of Will!

Sending
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