Force of Will was released in the United States this past February, and the first thing on every new player’s mind is: how does this game stack up? Why should I invest in a new trading card game (TCG) when I already play games that are so similar? These are fair and important questions for every gamer to ask before investing in a new hobby. It is my hope that this article will give those new to the game insight as to how Force of Will compares to other games on the market.
Many people compare Force of Will (FoW) solely to Magic the Gathering (MtG), but it is my belief that FoW is an eloquent blending of rules from many card games. TCGs have been growing, developing and adjusting for the past 20+ years, and it is time that a card game combined all the elements that worked into one: the end boss of table top gaming.
Force of Will has elements of Magic the Gathering.
The beacon of light that guides gamers to Force of Will is its resource system. Magic the Gathering uses mana to regulate spells played and actions taken each turn; FoW uses will. Both MtG and FoW center their resource system around 5 different colors, and both utilize colorless resource options. The highlighted difference between the two is how players have access to the resources they need in order to play the game.
Ask any Magic player who has just lost a match, and 9 times out of 10 they will blame either “mana flood” (having too many lands) or “mana screw” (not having enough lands). In constructed Magic, the main deck is composed of a minimum 60 cards that include spells, creatures, enchantments, and mana (among other things). The player must draw lands into their hand, while also drawing spells and creatures to cast. It is very common to draw too few lands or the wrong color mana and be left with a handful of cards that the player cannot use. Many gamers feel left out of the game as they sit back and watch their opponent take control of the board, unable to interact. This can be very disheartening to skillful players that are unable to use their talents.
Force of Will stuck with the theme of colored mana. (In fact, most TCGs have adapted the 5-color archtype.) There is still a strategy to playing the right balance of colors and the correct number of stones. Force of Will takes the stress off the player needing to draw lands alongside their creatures and spells by separating the resources (magic stones) into their own deck (the stone deck). This way, the player has the option to generate resources every turn if he or she chooses, and they can stop producing stones as they see fit. In this way, FoW introduces more strategy into the game while retaining an element of chance (you still have to draw stones from the stone deck). Players feel more in control of what they are able to achieve during a game, and their skill level can shine.
Force of Will has elements of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
The turn structure of Force of Will is most similar to Hearthstone. In fact, they are almost identical. During your “main phase”, which encompasses everything after your unrest, players can cast spells and attack as they see fit. In both FoW and Hearthstone, players attack with creatures one at a time and may cast spells in between attacks if they wish.
The biggest difference however, is the lack of instant speed spells in Hearthstone. In FoW most of the action takes place during main and battle phases which a player may alternate many times, yet priorities must be passed back and forth between actions. Since Hearthstone has no instant speed interactions or abilities, there is no “chase” that needs to be considered. In this way, FoW players have many more opportunities for witty plays and sneaky maneuvers. I think a lot of gamers gravitate towards games that allow interactions on the opponents turn, as it really sets the practiced players apart from those with less experience.
Hearthstone combat interactions also do not allow for blocking (taunt is almost like a blocking placeholder). In this way, resolving combat damage is a lot more intricate in FoW than Hearthstone. There is another game that FoW combat does resemble though…
Force of Will has elements of Duel Masters/Kaijudo.
Duel Masters and Kaijudo have held the love/hate relationship spot in many gamers’ hearts. Neither game has seen much success in the United States, but Duel Masters retains a strong following in Japan. The game play is very well designed, which is why it keeps coming back for another round. In my opinion, FoW adopted the best working element in the rule set from these games by utilizing their combat interactions.
Duel Masters/Kaijudo has players attack with one creature at a time, and that creature may attack the opponent directly or one of the opposing tapped creatures. (Hmm, what does that sound like?) Some creatures have the special ability to also attack untapped creatures. (I see where this is going…) On the opposing side, blockers have to tap in order to block an incoming assault. Yet another similarity to FoW; in DM/Kaijudo only one creature can block an attacker.
The biggest difference in Force of Will involves the presence of instant speed spells and abilities. This means that priorities must be passed multiple times during a combat resolution. It opens players up to a multitude of opportunities for outplaying their opponent.
Force of Will has elements of Duel of Champions.
I’m sure many of you have never heard of this game, which is why many of you so readily compare the rulers in Force of Will to planeswalkers in Magic the Gathering. Little do you realize Might and Magic already created a game that utilizes the idea of “rulers”, only they call them “heroes”.
In Duel of Champions, players begin building their deck by selecting a hero. Heroes belong to certain factions, and players can only play cards in their main deck that belong to their hero’s faction or a neutral faction. (This is the biggest difference from FoW, as choosing your ruler does not limit what cards can be played in your main deck.) The hero’s in Duel of Champions have the ability to produce special resources each turn, or use their special printed abilities. As you know, rulers in Force of Will also have the ability to access resources or utilize special abilities.
Some more notable differences between heroes and rulers include the ability to enter into combat. Duel of Champions heroes do not have an attack or defense, and thus are available for use throughout the entire game. FoW rulers can attack and therefore can be destroyed by damage, rendering them useless outside of generating more magic stones. I think allowing the ruler to enter into combat gives FoW players yet another layer of strategy, and I believe this concept compliments the other rules in FoW well. Duel of Champions heroes are also not the only way a player can access mana regularly, where in FoW the ruler is the primary resource generator throughout the game.
There are many elements in Force of Will that are common among many TCGs. Many games utilize some sort of “stack” or “chase” to maximize player vs player interaction. Many table top card games also share mechanics such as trample (pierce), haste (swiftness), flying, etc. Across all fantasy genre games, not just card games, designers utilize similar elements such as creatures, artifacts, equipment, weapons, etc. There are many avenues to discuss, but it is clear to see that Force of Will designers have done a wonderful job analyzing games of the past, what has worked, what doesn’t work, and what players enjoy the most.
I hope this article has been insightful, especially to outside viewers who are still considering the game for the first time. I truly think Force of Will has capitalized on an opportunity to harness all the best elements of TCGs and combine them into one awesome experience that, by the way, has amazing art direction.
As always thank you for reading, and we’ll see you again soon on Void and Moon!