Hello, everyone~! Monica here. If you haven’t heard of the format, Epic Stories is a super interesting format that’s super close to the Commander/EDH format in MtG. If you’re interested I encourage you to take a look at this article written by Frank here (in this text that is also a link but also text but also a link!) and take a look at any of the super cool Epic Stories matches hosted by TCGScrubs themselves (this one’s a personal favorite). When you’ve gone ahead and done that you can go ahead on, and this information will become a lot more relevant~ Because today’s article (which also just so happens to be my first) will be building off of the fundamentals of Epic Stories. We’ll be going more into the theory of deck building. Or just read ahead anyway! I’m a witch, not a cop.
Now, when I first got into Epic Stories the idea of having two rulers was fantastic. It gave a huge amount of freedom, more so than when I had delved into the world of Commander. Choosing your general was a fantastic way of expressing myself as an individual I thought. But before long I realized that there was a massive flood of Commanders that were considered awful and suboptimal, that even if you poured thousands of dollars into a deck they’d still barely be playable at a decently focused table. However, in Force of Will, basically every Ruler is not only playable, but they can be made superbly strong. And every single color combination is available from the get go, without having to use a very very limited number of commanders. The idea of crazy insane combos came to mind too! Can you imagine making a bunch of elves with Fiethsing and sacrificing them for Kyubi’s effects? And with how cheap (most) Rulers are, I was a child in a candy store with all the money in the world. But that’s when I begun to realize something. When you’re granted this much freedom it suddenly becomes very difficult to choose. What combinations are the most optimal? What two Rulers would work best together? Do I make a deck that cares about these Rulers at all? When you’re granted this much freedom it becomes a difficult to choose who has…
The Right to Rule
So, a swift reiteration of the basics. You can choose any two Rulers to be your own for any given deck. Only one of these Rulers can be used to call for a stone, and you can only have one of them do Judgment per turn. Furthermore, and most importantly, the cards you can use in your decks are determined by which Ruler you decide to use — specifically only the colors of cards that correspond with their Color Identity. This is determined by using both the colors of the Rulers on both sides and all of the colored will symbols in their text boxes.
So — with that out of the way, when it comes to choosing Rulers it could be a very daunting task! There’s quite a few Rulers that look like they’d work very well together, and a few that just seem to make very great utility. Do you choose based off of combos alone? Or, maybe you should chose two rulers with a lot of great utility, so that way your deck is a Jack of All Trades, Master of None? Or the right choice might be to choose for the colors alone and let the other 60 cards do the talking for you? Both of these questions are simply answered as Yes or No not because they’re the right answer (because they’re both right), rather the answers to these questions are based on the player themselves.
Regardless — try and think of your strategy, what you want out of the game. It can be as simple as “I want to kill everything,” or “I want to cast really big dumb spells” to something very intricate and complicated, a fantastic puzzle that when all of the pieces are put in the right place the word Doom is spelled out for your opponents. Either way, once you have a decent picture of what you want that’s when you should start choosing which two Rulers would best represent that strategy. At this stage when choosing a Ruler(s) a good rule of thumb is thinking of one Ruler as your “Primary” Ruler, and the other Ruler as your “Secondary” Ruler. Of course, that doesn’t change the question — how exactly should I go about choosing which Ruler is which? How do I choose;
Primary Rulers are the big play-makers. They tend to present the essential strategy that your deck revolves around. Whether it be trying to rush your opponent down as quickly as possible, heavily control the board until you’re able to set up some great master plan, or revolve around a fantastical combo between the effects of one Ruler and another — the Primary Ruler is the one that facilitates these possibilities.
Need some good examples of some fine Primary Rulers? Look no further;
Pricia, True Beastmaster is a strong choice for people who enjoy trying to beat their opponents senseless, as calling for Fire stones can give your early game creatures the means of swiftly knocking someone’s teeth in.
The Dusk Girl is a card that can very easily start controlling the board by using hand advantage to keep the board clear of threats for a decently cheap cost. She’s very thoroughly effective at making sure that damage isn’t going to be pointed at you as long as you have cards in your hand — though the same can’t quite be said for your opponents.
The Observer is not only thoroughly outdated, but he’s also much slower than his $200 counterpart. Even so, during his original printing he was hardly used and often times somewhat of a laughing stock. Some people tried to make him work, and some people did find moderate success, but nothing that was ever jaw-droppingly good. How in the world can this Ruler survive in a format with 8,000 lifepoints though?
Another thing of note with Primary Rulers is that, a lot of the time in a huge format like Epic Stories, they can very quickly fall short just on their own. They tend to be far, far too slow even for a format such as this one, waste way too many resources to actually be useful in a game that typically involves 3 other players, or one that’s simply irrelevant in a game with a huge amount of life points and an inconsistent deck construction. Where 4,000 points of damage can typically kill someone in a normal game, now you’re forced to deal about 24,000 to actually win in a typical game of Epic Stories — just the same in a game where you can’t repeatedly abuse many copies of the same spells or stones for consistency certain strategies that looked all powerful and unbeatable suddenly become unreliable or just plain impossible.
Thankfully — we still have the choice of;
A Secondary Ruler has the very, very important task of filling in as many gaps of weakness in both your deck and your Primary Ruler as possible. They tend to fall under a variety of different uses, the main three of which being;
- Color Fixing — The biggest difference between Magic the Gathering and Force of Will is the stone system. While it’s awesome that we’ll always be able to hit every single one of our land drops, the problem still remains that under most circumstances we can’t quite choose what sort of stone we’ll get each turn — and that can be very devastating in Epic Stories — especially if we’re running three or more colors. Color Fixing Rulers such as Sylvia or Blazer can very much help alleviate this problem.
- Stabilizing — Whether it be stabilizing through raw card advantage ala Dragon Shrine Maiden or Christie, keeping boards clean through the use of cards such as Ebony Prophet and Alucard, or other means of supporting your deck’s overall ability to survive or pull off a particular strategy, these sorts of Rulers tend to be very strong general use cards to keep your head above water and give you an overall advantage in the resource game.
- Enabling — Some cards are just very hard to use on their own. They’re too slow or too impossible. Or, sometimes its the exact opposite. Some Rulers are immensely strong, but they’re missing a key piece to make that strength consistent, either in New Frontiers or in Epic Stories. An Enabler takes that Ruler’s ability and escalates it to the next level into the realm of absolute absurdity. Sometimes you don’t get fixed colors out of the deal. Sometimes you’re not entirely all that stable either. But when the moon doth glow and the grass doth grow, these two Rulers together can sometimes create a combination of effects powerful enough where even those things don’t quite matter, or their overabundance is made very shockingly known.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention, the Primary Rulers listed above actually work very strongly with the Secondary Rulers listed below! And for more than just filling in a few gaps as Color Fixers, Stabalizers, and Enablers. When trying to put combinations of certain Rulers together, try and make sure that they’re fulfilling as many roles as possible — never settle for just one! Ask yourself;
- Does this combination ensure that I have an Energize token?
- Does this combination give me the colors that I need to do what I want to do?
- Does this combination not only grant me advantage/fixing, but also somehow aid in my Ruler’s overall strategy as well?
For the examples listed above, each of these Ruler combinations actually fill a multitude of different Roles at once.
- In the case of Sylvia and Pricia, always having access to both Green and Red is fantastic as you can proc off either of Pricia’s abilities. But Pricia is aggro as heck. It makes it so you don’t have to run a single non-basic stone, also making it harder for certain decks to counteract you while also making your colors absolutely consistent. However, it also comes with the added benefit of making every single one of your stones Fire in some way without having to sacrifice that absolute consistency, basically making it so that Pricia’s secondary ability will always take place, ensuring that you can almost always grant something Swiftness as well.
- In the case of Scarlet and Flute, not only are we granting Black and Red access to one of the strongest colors for drawing in the game, but we’re also giving ourselves an extra draw during each of your turns. That’s fantastic under any other circumstance, but the fact that Scarlet’s biggest gimmick revolves around emptying your hand to empty the field means that you can quickly use Flute to feed into Scarlet’s strategy like feeding bullets into a gun.
- In the case of Alisaris and Malefic Yggdrasil, this is a very significant case of a very strong combo strategy. On the surface it’s nice that we can have a Red, Black, Green color combination as this gives us access to ramp and lots of removal. Giving Alisaris the chance to have Energize without having to pay 200$ is also pretty fantastic. If that’s all this did, it would be fine. However, this is taken another step further in the fact that Malefic Tree’s own big gimmick is removing cards from the game. Your cards. While that’s a grave disadvantage in a format such as Epic Stories, Alisaris can very easily thrive off of this — being able to quickly Judgment if your opponent dares to start trying to attack you, and when your deck is running thin from taking a lot of damage you can God’s Art and shuffle your remove from play back into your graveyard, creating a combination that can be very fearsome while also holding interesting plays on their own! Of course, this is at the disadvantage of not having perfect color fixing or an excess in card or board advantage, but to some, that may very well be worth it.
While the task may seem very easy at first, it can become daunting in a hurry. But that only speaks volumes of the incredible freedom that having two Rulers can give you — the only sort that can quickly take you from feeling as though you’re flying high on the winds of your own will to locked away in a cage without bars. Even so hopefully this — and the coming deck lists — can help you reach a better understanding of what you’d like.
Though, the very best way to help you find what you’d like to play is through testing! Thankfully the game is very much cheap enough — and we have many awesome tools at our disposal through the Force of Will Database and programs such as Untap. And of course there’s always the friends you have at your local card shop (or bitter rivals).
In the end, this is a very young format in a very young game. Who knows what exciting combinations that have yet to be discovered, and what combinations have yet to come!
For the viewers at home; What sort of combinations have been your most favorite so far? Are there any that you feel are too powerful? Too weak? Comment below and let me know!
This is Monica, saying something at the end of an article because I’m very bad at ending things that aren’t matches~