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FOW NEWS
If you prefer a video version of the news, click below:  

Alright this is a long one so let’s get started    

CEO IS GONE:

So we’ll start with the big news. This is something we were waiting for confirmation of (but hoping it proved wrong), which is Eiji, the Founder and CEO of Force of Will is no longer with the company.     

This was confirmed in a post on his personal page (which I won’t share here, but was shared in the US Facebook group), where he talked about his love for the game, and how sad he is to leave it. But he wishes nothing but the best for it and everyone.     

While we don’t know the specifics of why he is no longer with the company, you can hear our thoughts and Jeff Finnigan’s thoughts in the first part of our interview with him HERE, or read the article summary of the interview HERE.    

This is very sad and troubling, as Eiji was not only the creator and head of the game, but he was very personally involved it seemed in a lot of what the game did. This includes the new better direction the game took recently.  I hope the best for him, and we’ll see what impact (if any) this has going forward on the game.    

GP INVITES REVOKED:

So this is quite a few different events that happened here, so we’ll go over them in order one by one.

So the first one was in Europe. They were informed that all their remaining GP’s,  including the GP that was (at the time) 2 weeks from occurring would no longer have paid invites. This was not only unfortunate, but extremely short notice for such an announcement (still with no word from the company itself). People already are planning on attending, booking trips, etc expecting the larger prize.

The second instance of this happening came up in Australia, this time the information that there would be 1 less unpaid invite came just 2 days before the event! Here is the full post from Australia:


People were worried so naturally asked if the remaining GP’s were still happening in the comments, FOW Australia confirmed they were. However, all of them would be reduced unpaid invites. This is equally unfortunate. And another revelation that came from this comment section from Australia is that the Worlds Event Venue has been reduced in size, which is the reasoning for the sudden drop in unpaid invites as you can see below:

As you can see, FOW was going to take away the paid invite initially, but Australia’s Distributor had to negotiate and pay half just to keep it (half that they are doing simply to help players essentially). Comments like “the negotiations were not easy and did not go according to plan” do make the situation seem not that great.

Lastly we move over to Taiwan, who posted on their Force of Will page. You can check it out below, though it is harder to follow since it is shown using Google translate.

To sum up, they said most of the operating team at FOW is still at the company. The main thing said is the number of invited contestants will be reduced (as per what we mentioned earlier about a much smaller venue for Worlds). The number of spots for Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China may all see reductions (China for sure). 
 
So we are basically seeing a global reduction in invites due to the smaller Worlds event now. This is all happening, once again, with no statement, Facebook post, or anything from the company itself. We’ll keep you updated on anything else regarding this.

As a side note, but also still related, Jim from ARG posted in the Circuit Series shouting out everyone who attended Vegas ARG and letting us know he is working on the Easter ARG events and invitational for Force of Will! This is awesome, however one thing he mentioned is that Charlotte GP (the GP happening mid-March) he is waiting to discuss things with the FOW company before reposting and hosting it. Not sure exactly what that means or entails but felt it was important to include.

 

GP DATES ANNOUNCED:

So GP dates were announced! (Again..) This time it obviously does not include GP Richardson or Collinsville (and no replacements as of yet). You can see the full list of events, including prizing, HERE

All the events are New Frontiers, which is really good at least. A lot of people were hoping for a Wanderer event, but nothing this year it looks like. 

An interesting note is that all the events are $30. This is $10 more than any GP’s last year, even though these are all smaller and not one single event includes a paid invite to Japan. The reason for the price increase is unclear and we will probably never know why specifically. 

PRODUCT REVEAL:

So an interesting thing happened, Force of Will released a schedule of their entire product lineup for the rest of the year. This has never been done by the company before, so that’s really great to see. You can see this product list HERE

If you don’t want to look, the note able things are:

The first 2 sets each include starter decks. We don’t know if this is 10 starters total, reprints, some starter decks in set 1 and the rest 2 (similar to Caster Chronicles). So we’ll have to wait and see on this.

The entire lineup of product has been pushed back. Starting with the next set, every single product release has been pushed back from when they have been released for the past several years. How this will impact things like World’s format and date is yet to be seen. 

Because of this push, the pre-release for the next set in March lands on the exact same weekend as a MTG pre-release. Because of this unfortunately we are already seeing stores that won’t be hosting a FOW pre-release that usually do since MTG is what pays the bills. Why this decision was made is unknown, or if there is a way to remedy it.

But yeah it’s cool to at least see all the product and know when to look out for it!

NO STATEMENT:

The last thing I’ll mention is that we still have no statement from the company. As Jeff said in his interview, he no longer was able to make a scheduled statement, and it has been 2 weeks since the company was going to release a statement the ‘Next Day’ in response to Robert Hebert’s official statement.
 
 
I bring this up because it is starting to become quite silly that we are approaching a month since Jeff and Eiji left the company, yet we have yet to hear word back. We have almost had every single GP cancelled, paid invites in the US stripped, unpaid (and some paid) invites stripped around the globe, Worlds shrunk, US head of tournaments step down, Judge program frozen, pre releases cancelled because of poor planning, and more. 
 
 
Yet through all this, not even a 1 sentence Facebook post saying “Hey guys, don’t worry we will come up with a statement in the coming weeks”. It’s unfortunate. And I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but it’s important to be honest about what is (in my opinion) sheer lack of awareness for any players and stores outside of the bubble where the company resides. I sincerely hope they fix this, and they still have time to before more damage happens. But it’s important for everyone to be informed about these situations.
 
That about does it for today, thanks for reading and see you next week.

 
 
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All Articles, FOW NEWS
Here is the bullet point summaries of the Interview we conducted with Jeff Finnigan. I highly recommend watching the videos for the full responses, as well as fun interaction that won’t be in this summary. Links below:
HERE for Part 1
HERE for Part 2
Is Eiji going to be okay?
Yes he’ll be fine. He does have the normal royalties and stuff financially. Eiji still wants FOW to do well.
Would you (Jeff) want to still work at FOW post-management change?
He would if the philosophy of the company stayed the same. As an aside though, he was crazy busy working at the company. Not only was he Global Liaison to all the different countries, companies, and social avenues, but also did tons more internally since he was the only English speaker. Which can lead to burnout.
He loves the game but he doesn’t want to work there if he can’t do anything. Also wouldn’t if he doesn’t understand them completely, or doesn’t agree with their philosophy.
Would you recommend the game to new players at this current time?
Hopeful side says yes, the game is still fun and super cheap. As long as you enjoy it, that’s the main thing that matters regardless of financial incentives etc.
If you are looking for investments, probably not, but that isn’t (in his opinion) a really a good reason to get into a TCG to begin with.
What’s going on with Starter Deck availability?
It kills him because he told them last year, about this time, that they have to reprint those decks every set. They said that’s no problem. But problems ensued, Jeff kept telling them over and over again they have to get these decks out but it seemed they didn’t pay much heed.
Also as an aside, was told Ruler would be the Will Power rewards, but was not told it’d only be half the rulers.
With you gone, will things like pre-errata Table Flips (Overpowered cards) be more likely to surface more often?
Unfortunately, yeah. The issue is nobody besides Jeff had the power to really alter the power of the cards. Without him there to tell them what’s strong and what’s not it will happen. They don’t think too much about that, they are more focused on lore related flavor etc. and less how the power affects the game. Their belief is in the “fun”, not necessarily the balance. 
His biggest concern is without him he doesn’t know how they’ll do ban lists. He did everything and heavily pressured them to even do ban lists. Without him those may not continue.
When will the management changes take effect as far as power levels?
He left after V3 was already done, though it is very strong. He only changed a couple cards (including sprout). He was hoping sprout was going to be much weaker than what it turned out to be.
They were complaining for awhile that Jeff was making cards ‘Too Fair’. The sales team thinks people just want to buy broken cards, and the sales team blames poor sales on sets not having broken cards in them. The sales team loves cards like Sherry, R/R, etc. They only focus on the initial reaction of people buying the set in order to get cards just to not lose. And they don’t think about the future repercussions.
Jeff’s philosophy became letting them do what they want a little bit, and then just banning it afterwards. So without him there is no barriers blocking these cards. He’s hopeful though, because he still knows people behind the scenes that he can appeal to update ban lists if it’s really needed.
Will you continue your original plan for an online tournament?
He wants to, but was postponed due to the other online “GP” that took place. And now he is very busy among other things. So he still wants it to happen, just not sure when at this point.
Do you think the game is still worth collecting in the West?
Absolutely. No matter what happens, he loves the artwork. He loves collecting and it’s still worth it.
Are you going to take a break from card games?
Probably. Force of will was his baby. At this point he is just tired after all the work he’s been doing the past year and more. He was disappointed with leaving, but it does at least give him a chance to breathe and catch up on other things as well.
What happened to Casters?
Different Philosophy. Eiji and Jeff wanted to focus on FOW and the World, and Casters is more popular in Japan. Casters is a more focused game, with harder deck building etc. The companies working on it together weren’t getting along super well either. They are going to be run/owned by the same company now though as FOW.
What happened to Architects?
They still want to make Architects. The designs and artwork are all done. They just don’t have future plans. They are already short staffed and needed to prioritize FOW. There was interest, but it was a bit hollow. If it’s not going to last you should wait until it’s perfect then set it out. They wanted to make 3 card games for 3 levels of players such as casual level, normal level, and competitive level, which Jeff disagrees with how card games work on that level since these levels are represented in all card games no matter what.
What happened to ‘Bestow’ mechanic?
Jeff was trying to bring back Addition:Resonators. He likes Bestow, just thought it was boring. It was just Artifacts but in FOW. He prefers Additions to have global effects etc. Bestow is pretty low on his likes.
The cluster he was working on had ‘Milling’, ‘Self Milling’, ‘Burn’, ‘Creature Based Combos’, and he was bringing back ‘Stand by’ cards.
Did you know you were leaving ahead of time?
He knew about 3rd week of January (he did his post on leaving on Feb 1st). Eiji was in a board meeting that Jeff was unaware of. After he called and told Jeff “Something terrible has happened” and told him about him leaving. Jeff wasn’t sure if he’d be affected, but he was. It was a shock, but also expected. Analogy used was in a Civil War, usually in history you get rid of Everyone associated with the losing side, in this case that’s Eiji being the losing side and Jeff being apart of that.
What does the game need to do if it wants to continue supporting the US?
Hire him or someone like him to communicate to the Japanese company in some capacity. And not just as a face, have to have the same power as Jeff did before. He had a relationship with the CEO to make things happen. Everything Jeff did he stands behind, and is always informative and honest with everyone about what’s going on. Which is different than right now where the new company is doing things in secret. A good company that he can get behind is acknowledging mistakes (such as his Rudy video) and being honest. He hopes they recognize that in order for America market to succeed.
Thoughts on cancelled GP’s/Revoked invites?
The person running the company right now doesn’t think very highly of paid invites and that it eats up money. He doesn’t see it as PR, just as pure cost with no benefit. Jeff has experienced at stores around the world that locals sell more and see more traffic when events happen. Which is why he tried expanding to more events. Since those 2 GP’s were run by FOW directly, they were marked as pure cost and therefore cut (unlike WGPQ’s). Which is probably why Jeff and Rob were cut as well. Just financial cuts.
 
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