Bartle’s Taxonomy

Guest article written by Jared Warthen

My dear readers, welcome and thank you in advance for checking out Void and Moon where you can get quality articles on a regular basis. Not only mine, mind you, but the other writers are talented and can give a bit of insight. To start with, my name’s Jared and I’m fairly new to Force of Will, like most of the readers here in the [United States]. I started back in May of this year, and I’ve been loving the game. Ever since getting owned at Houston and placing 65th, I rebounded to take 1st [in Swiss] at the states event in Jacksonville, FL over Halloween. Now that you know who I am, I’d like to speak with you about why we each play Force of Will. We’ll be looking at some deeper philosophical stuff, so if that’s not your thing, please let me know in the comments and if Cathy is nice enough to invite me back, I’ll happily do something more actively play-centered.

RezSo, where we start today will be with an old discovery in game design known as Bartle’s Taxonomy, or the breakdown for people who play games. Traditionally, this is done for video games, but I personally see a lot of correlation that this could pertain to Force of Will, or any other card game really. In the interest of time, I’ll save the back story about Richard Bartle and cut to the meat of this. When Bartle was developing the first MUD (think World of Warcraft’s great-great grand-daddy), he was asking his first few hundred testers why they play, and he found that they fall into four distinct groups: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers.


We’ll start with Achievers. In Bartle’s initial breakdown, these are the people that play for all the extra stuff. Beating that Mythic Raid? Yup. Capped out Gamerscore? You got it. Random achievement that 1% of players have? These people have it. These are the players that strive to be the best, and do more than the average player. In Force of Will, we know who these are. These are the players you see constantly top 8’ing ARG and WGP events. These are the major names like Stephanie Shaw, Ken Robert, and Zack Tufford. These people travel for all the events and test the ever-loving crap out of everything they build, they’re the players that organized play and events exist for. The thrill of the competition drives them to kick ass and take names.


FariaNow, your Explorers are the people that want to push the limits. You know that player at your local group who’s always testing some crazy build out of left field every week and still succeeding? That’s the Explorer. Bartle’s analysis was that these people were looking for things that surely wouldn’t have been accounted for, and get a really nice surprise when they find so much as a note from the dev that they were acknowledged. These people are the rogue-decking fiends that end up establishing the meta. They take a crazy idea and modify it until it works, then tune it until it wins. These are the players I absolutely love because I know full well that I’m not one. Every once in a while I’ll have a good deck fall in my lap, but I very rarely see a card and immediately think of how to break it.


Socializers, on the other hand, are the mouthpieces for the game. These might be people that work directly with ARG or FoW central, like Jordan Blanco, Matt Kozmor, or Robert Hebert. They can’t exactly play in major events because of their position, but they still play and enjoy the game, and do everything to talk about it. While they’re doing this, new players are joining constantly, and the community only grows and shines because of it. To you, my Socializers, keep up the great work. Keep the game growing, and keep finding new players. We all appreciate it, as it brings in new players of all types.


FifeFinally, Killers, or Player-Killers as they were in Bartle’s original breakdown, exist to exhibit their will over the opponent. These are the players that find sheer joy in completing a hard-lock on the opponent, like Ipank Riphat’s Alice World deck. While the deck itself wasn’t abusive in an overpowering sense, I think Ipank feels just a nice bit of joy from the Schadenfreude when he plays the deck and absolutely locks someone out of the game for what becomes their loss. The tastiness of their salty, salty tears of the victim lingers on the lips of the Killer. These players don’t just win, but they take sheer joy in knowing that they have absolutely dominated their competition. Granted, taking joy in that doesn’t make you a bad person, and they’re absolutely an essential part of any game.

In closing, everyone has a different reason they play, and I’d like to hear from each of you. Please leave a comment below telling me why you play. Do you fall into 1, multiple, or even none of these archetypes? Thanks again for taking the time to read this to the end, and as thanks, here’s the “Good Knight Alice” list that was played to an undefeated win at Jacksonville.

Ruler: Alice in Wonderland/Alice, the Drifter in the World

Main Deck Stone Deck Side Board
3 Thunder Magic Stone of Heat Ray 1 Blazer Gill Rabus/Blazer Gill Rabus
3 Flame of Outer World Magic Stone of Scorched Bales 3 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
Stoning to Death Magic Stone of Moon Shade 2 Lumia, the Saint Lady of World Rebirth
Artemis, the God’s Bow 1 Little Red, the Pure Stone 2 Jeweled Branch of Horai
Marybell, the Steel Doll 3 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift Flame of Outer World
3 Laevateinn, the Demon Sword Thunder
3 Dream of Juliet Hastur, the Unspeakable
3 Seth, the Arbiter 3 Bloody Moon
2 Bedivere, the Restorer of Souls
Gawain, the Knight of the Sun
4 Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
4 Perceval, the Seeker of Holy Grail
4 Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon
1 Susanowo, the Ten-Fist Sword

BedevereI openly admit some of the sideboard choices are questionable. Had I done it again, I would not have run Bloody Moon, as the reason I had them sideboarded was for the Scheherazade control that uses Moojdart, the Fantasy Stone. As the deck falls apart without it, Bloody Moon is a perfect silver bullet. I didn’t see the deck all day though, so it was essentially a waste. Also, Seth is hands down ridiculous in the meta. Played a couple of incarnate decks that just couldn’t deal with his recursion, especially when he finds a twin and keeps coming back, himself.


4 thoughts on “Bartle’s Taxonomy

  1. I think im a socializer, as i know of no one that plays in my city and let my friends try the game(playing alone is lonely).

    I want to be an explorer then go on to be an achiever but i dont see my self being any anytime soon xD


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s