An Apple a Day Keeps the Losses Away (Even on a Budget)

Hi! Today marks the first of the budget deck articles that I have in mind. If you want to get into FoW but are partial on spending a lot on getting those expensive Rares/Super Rares, you may want to ease in into game first with these budget decks that, while easier on the wallet, still pack enough punches to keep foil-ridden opponents on their toes! So without further ado…

Take out your deck, and let’s sort through the cards…

How many of them can deal with something like this on turn 2?

Good luck Stoning to Death this one.

While flipping your Ruler prematurely might prove to be counterproductive strategy, I think we’re taking less of a risk if it’s Snow White. Her ATK and DEF are the highest among the Rulers available in the Grimm Cluster, and all the abilities that go with it are very useful. She can pick off anyone almost anyone thanks to her [Target Attack], control other big J-Rules with her first Activate ability (though I doubt that they’ll flip when she’s around), and turn those spare Poison Apples into effective removal (it doesn’t even require her to rest!).

This flexibility, coupled with those huge stats makes her a very interesting card to build around with. Granted, she still needs a Poison Apple to transform, so we have to consider a deck that utilizes that fully as well. Finally, we’re going for a  budget-friendly build. Ruler prices can be heavy on the pocket but luckily, Snow’s support crew doesn’t cost as much, and the sooner we can build the deck and play, the more fun we can have with it.

Here’s the list:

Ruler: Snow White / Bloody Snow White
4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Wolf Haunted in Black Forest
4 Beowulf, the Blazing Wolf
4 Seven Dwarfs
4 Murderous Snowman

4 Duel of Truth
4 Poison Apple
4 Rapid Decay
4 Kusanagi Sword
2 Basket of Little Red
2 Purifying Fire

10 Magic Stone of Flame

Beowulf is the other card that can use Poison Apple (or any spell that pumps ATK) effectively because he doubles its value. Left unchecked, it’s not uncommon to see him one-shotting people who are below 30 life.

The Amazing Wolf.

Overall, he provides another angle of attack for the deck by giving it the capability of closing games quickly (rather than having Bloody Snow White massacre the opposing team slowly). He’s not a lot of pressure by himself though, and he’s very prone to removal (being in the range of Thunder, Rapid Decay, and even Return to Stories), so we need other ways to draw out those cards.

The best 1-drop this side of the forest.
And the best 1-drop that side of the forest.

Hunter and Wolf lived together in the same forest, and probably in most aggressive Flame decks in the Grimm Cluster as well, but they have very different roles. Hunter is a fast, early clock while the slower Wolf can trade up with most 2-cost resonators. The life loss from her dying is just a minor drawback, as we’re almost always the ones applying pressure.

That’s 100ATK per dwarf.

Seven Dwarfs on turn 2 overpowers most Resonators on the field, and probably even during the turn after. A 700 puts him out of Thunder range, and I pity the player who used his Rapid Decay on your turn 1 play. His drawback of requiring to attack every turn is not a big deal because that’s what we want him to do anyway, and we have other spells to back him up.

Do you wanna build a…~

Murderous Snowman is a bigger, badder, Seven Dwarfs, but with a heavier drawback. The good thing is that being on the aggressive end doesn’t require too much stones (2 or 3 would suffice). Just like the Dwarfs, he’s well above a lot of Resonators in stats, which makes him a good target for Duel of Truth.

The other spells in the deck are included to support its aggressive strategy. Duel of Truth works well because our guys are usually bigger than theirs, and is cheap enough that we can use it and still play another resonator on the same turn.

The same goes for Rapid Decay, which hits a lot of important targets. Kusanagi Sword is both a decent removal and a damage buff, which works wonders with Beowulf (1000ATK!).

Purifying Fire is just there for specific removal and reach, but it could really be anything.

And then there’s Poison Apple, which is the deck’s backbone – either as an enabler/removal for Bloody Snow White, or as a finisher when buffed on any of the deck’s Resonators. But as always, we really, really, really want him on Beowulf.

A rather interesting addition that I’d like to try are the 2 Basket of Little Red, which acts as Poison Apple 5 and 6. With Poison Apples filling an important role in the deck, the ability to specifically search for it might prove invaluable. Plus we get some utility out of the 1-drops that we draw late in game, or Resonators that are disabled by things like Vampire’s Coffin.

The deck plays in a very straightforward manner: you simply apply pressure until the opponent breaks. There are many ways that you can open the game, depending on whether or not you’re on the play, and if you happen to get a Poison Apple early on. Here are some important pointers to remember:

  • When you’re on the play, always try to mulligan for a 1-drop. When you’re on the draw, try to gauge if you’re still the aggressor in the matchup. Against another aggressive deck, you’ll want Rapid Decay, some bigger guys, and probably additional removal. Seven Dwarfs is a good keep in both cases.
  • With Poison Apple in the opening hand, it might pay to gamble and do Judgement early. While most decks have access to cheap removal, most of those are useless against early 1300/1300 JRuler.
  • If you do the early flip though, try to gauge whether you want to go for the kill, or just kill enough of the opponent’s board before you can deploy your guys. A couple of turns calling stones can be important in certain situations than dealing 26 damage.
  • Learn to adjust against specific decks and Rulers. It’s important to keep Crimson Girl’s board Resonator-free, or Alucard from getting a kill-flip with Carmillia on turn 5.
  • Play the deck a lot to learn when to go for the throat and when to control the board. There’s not better teacher for this than good ‘ol trial and error.

And that’s it. Have fun steamrolling with Snow White and friends. Go fast, go big, and go catch them off guard.

Until then!

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Grimm’s Toolbox

Today I’d like to talk about the deck I used on the first of the weekly tournaments I’ve joined in.

It was nothing original to be honest. Rather, I’d describe it as an update to the Grimm Control decks that populated the first FoW World Grand Prix back in October.

If you’re unfamiliar with how a Grimm control deck works, it’s a deck that’s packed with the most useful and powerful of the Fairy Tale resonators available in the 3rd Set (Crimson Moon Fairy Tale). Grimm’s power allows you to cast Fairy Tale Resonators using any kind of Will, so you can even add the ones from the colors you aren’t playing (e.g. my Grimm deck is mainly Black/Green/White, but I have some Blue Resonators in my deck).

He can do it all… except fight. 😦

This strategy is further complemented by Grimm’s other ability, which is to discard a Fairy Tale card in your hand to search for another Fairy Tale card in your deck to replace it. This allows you to get by with only one copy of Resonators with very specific powers (such as The Emperor with New Clothes), knowing that you’ll be able to call upon them when needed as long as you have a spare Fairy Tale resonator in hand.

Grimm’s ability to search for “silver bullets” gives the deck space for other useful spells such as Absolute Cake Zone, and Law of Silence. All of these characteristics – being able to include the best resonators, search for specific answers, and pack numerous support cards, merge together to create a deck that is seemingly prepared no matter what deck it is up against.

The final, scary part of a Grimm deck is how it can cheat the huge Hamelin’s Pied Piper into play via the spell Tell a Fairy Tale by turn 3. For decks that are light on removal, this can be a nightmare to play against, especially when the Grimm player starts adding Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor, and protecting him with Absolute Cake Zone, or Dream of Juliet the next turn.

Games can end quickly if you let the Pied Piper play for too long.
So fair.

I can say that Set 4 (or TAT, because the full name of the set is as long as this phrase) has been very kind to Grimm control despite only having few new Fairy Tale resonators to play with. What the set lacked in new allies, it more than made up with a number of important spells which made the deck stronger by patching up some of its weaknesses and improving its strengths.

Here’s the deck that I used:

Ruler: Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

4 Tell a Fairy Tale
4 Stoning to Death
4 Xeex, the Ancient Magic
3 Law of Silence

4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor
4 Glinda, the Fairy
2 Pumpkin Witch
2 Deadman Prince
3 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 The Emperor With New Clothes

4 Magic Stone of Black Silence
4 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
1 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift
1 Feethsing, the Holy Wind Stone

Sideboard:
1 Christie, the Wind Tracker/Helsing, the Vampire Hunter
4 Silver Bullet
2 Elvish Exorcist
3 Elvish Bowman
3 Return to Stories
2 Dream of Juliet

Without a clue on what to expect, my sideboard had been lackluster – having just copied it from existing lists without knowing how it worked. All I had in my mind was if I were to play against a deck loaded with Vampires and/or Additions, I’d transform into a Helsing deck with more specialized tools in game 2.

It sounded good on paper, but in hindsight 1 or 2 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales,  1 Dream of Juliet, 1 Return to Stories would have worked better. There’s also the alluring possibility of shifting from Grimm Control to Grimm beatdown by simply siding in 3 Realm of Evolution. The takeaway here is that I probably should have built a sideboard that capitalizes on the deck’s strengths even more, rather than going out of the box with entirely different cards. Whether or not this is the right course of action, only time and testing will tell.

I’d like to go into detail on the new additions to the deck from TAT, and how I think they’re useful:

Three sweet words.

First up is Stoning to Death. We’re already playing Pumpkin Witch and Deadman Prince, so we’re not really going out of the way to add a new color to the deck. However, 2 Darkness Wills is still a demanding cost, which is why I’ve included a 5th source of Black in the Magic Stone Deck. There’s not much to say about Stoning really. The ability to outright kill a resonator at instant speed (!) without any drawbacks is really good, and solves one of Grimm Control’s biggest problems – the lack of removal. Before, we had to rely on combat and Return to Stories. Now, we had a great catch-all spell that’s relevant in all stages of the game.

I have no idea which Fairy Tale story has Xeex on it.

While not being able to utilize multiple modes in one casting, Xeex the Ancient Magic still remains as one of the best new tools in the Grimm arsenal because of its flexibility. It stops removal, prevents Carmillia from biting Aesop, gets you out of tricky combat situations, and if you’re playing Squirmer of the Dark, can get your Magic Stones back… just not all at the same time, but still…

Tied with Moodjart for the “worst name given to a Holy Stone” award.

Speaking of Magic Stones, Feethsing, the Holy Wind Stone has been the unsung hero of some of my matches. I often paired it the Aesop to create a setup that’s hard to break for decks which are reliant on target-ted removal spells, and in long, drawn-out matches, having a setup like that is usually Grimm’s key to victory. Do note however, that it only protects against Normal Spells, so it won’t protect Aesop from Carmillia.

You’d think that he’s game-winning, given his awesome artwork.

And speaking of the Vampire Queen, Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales is a perfect counter for her, or any Darkness Resonator that benefits from being resurrected from the graveyard. A searchable permanent removal that leaves a 500/500 body behind is a great addition to the deck, and I could see adding more on the sideboard (and even in the main deck) depending on the popularity of powerful Darkness Resonators like Mephistopheles, and (again) Carmillia.

Like her song in “Wicked”, you can expect her to be a popular addition in decks everywhere.

Finally, there’s Glinda, and in all honesty I’m not sure how many copies of her to include in the deck, so I started with four. Her ability to break stalemates by allowing one of your Resonators through can be game-winning at the right moments – so it’s never safe to be at 1000 or less life when playing against a deck that has her. Glinda’s Banish ability is quite annoying to play around early on, but loses its edge in the late game. Still it’s a great bonus given her cheap cost. After the tournament though, I realized that it’s possible to make do with three copies of her or less, depending on whether I’d like to bring more utility to the deck (like adding back Rapunzel).

Lastly, I’d like to share some weaknesses of this type of deck, which might help when you’re fighting against it:

1) The deck is prone to Flying Resonators, and more so against Flying JRulers.

Stoning to Death might take care of the Resonator Problem, but the deck really has to break a leg to take down the likes of Bahamut and Dracula. This is one of the reasons why I’m considering putting Rapunzel back in.

2) It’s easy to break up the deck’s setup early in the game.

Xeex, Feethsing, and Dream of Juliet all cost 2 Wills while most of the important Grimm Resonators cost 2 or more, meaning that until turn 4, we’re usually praying that you don’t kill a key Resonator (e.g. Aesop) that we’ve played. Tell a Fairy Tale on turn 3 looks good as long as Piper doesn’t get killed the next turn.

3) Getting run over early on is a big possibility, especially against decks with reach.

Cowardly Lion after one or two bites is very troublesome. We don’t have Resonators that can match with Seven Dwarfs (or Murderous Snowman) stat-wise on turn 2. Finally, we don’t any AoE to counter a swarming board. Maybe adding some Cinderellas might help, but if it gets destroyed by cheap removal like Rapid Decay, Thunder, and Duel of Truth, we’d still be at a disadvantage.

4) No healing.

So let’s say we’ve stabilized, but are low on health. What stops a couple of Thunders, Dragon King’s Flame, or even Pumpkin Witches from sealing away the game? A Resonator that heals damage would have been great, even in small amounts, just to pull away from the danger zone.

So that’s my deck report about Grimm control.  It’s a great deck to use if you’re unsure about what you’ll be facing against, given the large amount of tools at your disposal. It has proven itself at Worlds, and with TAT it only gets better.

Until then! 🙂

First Weekly Tournament! – 01-24-15 – 1st Place

After a couple of weeks of buying boxes, packs, sorting cards, researching about the comprehensive rules, looking at deck references, and playing against my friend (our official record stands 0-6 in her favor), I felt ready to step into the weekly tournaments. I would have joined last week’s, but it didn’t push through due to poor attendance; the reality of the situation is that FoW’s weekly tournaments are hit-or-miss affairs at the moment, and everybody has to make an effort to travel through a traffic-filled Saturday for it to happen.

And thankfully, this week it did! I met with four other brave souls at Neutral Grounds Glorietta 2. Unfortunately, Shane (a new player just like me) didn’t have a deck yet – he just dropped by to complete a trade, but promised to join next time. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had with four players and Mike, the store manager, generously added another pack to our prize pool. So after scrimmaging around with my Common/Uncommon Budget Red deck (more about that deck in a future article) and getting good results, we went on to the main event of the afternoon.

You can find out more about the deck I used HERE.

We played 3 rounds of Round Robin, allowing us to play against each other at least once; here’s what happened:

Game 1 vs Mc Nhel (Grimm Control)

A mirror match from the get-go! Fighting against another Grimm deck can be a long, grinding match, and I personally think that it’s better to have answers rather than threats in such a matchup. It doesn’t help that Mc Nhel’s deck has Carmillia in it rather than Stoning to Death, but at least she won’t be recruiting the Resonator she kills.

Game one ended in my favor despite Mc Nhel casting a turn 3 Tell a Fairy Tale into Pied Piper of Hamelin. I had an Aesop on my second turn, so my own turn 3 Piper managed to lock down his, and I was able to protect them with Xeex and Feethsing, and pipe my way to victory.

Out of the sideboard comes additional removal in the form of Return to Stories, and protection in Dream of Juliet. There weren’t any huge vampire threats outside of Carmillia, so I opted to keep my Elvish Exorcists and just rely on TAT Grimm.

Our second game went just like the first one, except that Mc Nhel being unable to find threats of his own despite delaying me with Law of Silence. I was able to set up again with Aesop, Piper, and a few other Fairy Tales for the win.

Result: 1-0 in games, 2-0 in matches.

Game 2 vs Mark (Crimson Girl aggro)

If there is a deck to beat (given my limited understanding and experience of the game) in CMF Block format, this is it. TAT brings out a deck that’s cheap, fast, and grows out of control really quick. Mark makes this even more threatening by splashing Darkness for Stoning to Death.

She’s also tied with Lumia and Alice for the cutest ruler category despite being 100+ years old.

In our first game, Mark established an early lead with a couple of Cowardly Lions followed by Oz, with one reaching four counters before I was able to lock it down with Piper. An attack from my Piper eventually locked the second Lion as well, but an awakened Dorothy from Mark refueled his had with more threats. Thankfully, they’re smaller compared to Piper, but sitting at a perilous 1200 life against a board that can do roughly twice that value in damage forced me to Stone even mid-sized threats like Brainless Scarecrow. A second piper locked Dorothy, but the first one almost got killed by running into a Refarth-powerd Oz. Thankfully, Xeex’s +200/+200 was there to save the day and kept the Lions in check. From there I was able to lock everything down and take away a very close game.

From the sideboard, in goes 3 Return to Stories, and 2 Dream of Juliet. I feel more comfortable now with the matchup, as having additional forms of cheap removal means that I can typically match his Resonators before she can protect them with her own Xeexs. Even if one does get through, that still reduces the damage I take by a lot, and every little bit counts in this matchup.

Our second game ended quickly due to a good call by Mark on me illegally casting Aesop while having two Black/Green stones (Hint: Aesop isn’t a Fairy Tale Resonator). Since he noticed it at a point where the game state might be considered irreparable, I just opted to take the loss. It was frustrating, but it’s better to make mistakes and learn from then now rather than later.

“I used to be a Fairy Tale just like you, then…”

Game three showed a slow start from Mark with no turn 1 Lions in sight. Aesop on turn 2 paved way to turn 3 Piper. The Prince’s Tutor got Stoned the next turn, but I was able to cast a second one with Dream of Juliet for backup. Finally, a Lion showed up on his side of the board, followed by Crucifix. Mark attached Silver Slippers to it, which prompted me to destroy the Crucifix with Dream of Juliet to allow my Piper to lock his Lion on my next attack. I kept his board Resonator-free for a couple more turns just to be on the safe side, and continuously attacked for the win.

Mark later told me that he kept a hand of answers and counters rather than an aggressive one, which worked in my favor.

Result: 2-0 in games, 3-1 in matches.

Game 3 versus Nicholai (Alhazred Necronomicon)

Nicholai has the most interesting deck that day which works like this:

1) Put cards into the graveyard naturally or via Card Soldier “Club”.

2) Cast Necronomicon and enjoy your “hand” of 30+ cards in the late game.

Step 3: Profit

The decks design means that he can spend removal spells excessively, knowing that he can recycle them later. A sub-theme of the deck features the Queen of Hearts and the other Card Soldiers as threats and board control. Alhazred himself is very difficult to deal with, since it shuts down key resonator abilities. Those things, combined with the recursion provided by Necronomicon make the deck a late-game nightmare.

Game 1 was a tough grind, as my threats kept being answered by removal, but little by little I was putting in damage. Feethsing was a beast in this matchup since most of Nicholai’s removal spells are Normal Spells, and because of it I was able to keep a number of Resonators alive and deal exactly 40 damage before he can use his Necronomicon extensively.

Sideboard time! In goes 3 Return to Stories, 2 Dream of Juliet, and 1 Elvish Archer. Out goes 3 Law of Silence, 2 Pumpkin Witch, and 1 Hunter in the Woods. In hindsight, I think I was being too scared of Necronomicon to include the additional Elvish Archer.

Game 2 saw him drawing badly with lots of early removal but no board presence while my hand was Elvish Archer, a couple of Tinker Bells, Deadman Prince, and a few other Resonators to put pressure with. While none of them managed to put in big numbers, it paved way for the bigger guys in my deck as Nicholai was running out of removal spells. Without a Necronomicon and Resonators on his side of the board, I managed to deal lethal after a couple of turns.

Final Result: 3-0 in games, 5-1 in matches.

So that’s all on my first tournament. Although I’ve won all of my games, I think it’s just a small sample size of how Grim control might stack up versus other decks. There are tons of other decks out there that have yet to be seen, some of which might be even out of reach of  Grimm’s ability to adapt.

Hopefully we get more players next week. There are lots of prizes, and we make sure that everybody goes home with Rares or SRs by draft-picking the prizes, so everyone’s a winner.  Keep spreading the word and keep playing!

Until then!

Welcome to Friend and FoW!

Hi guys, Friend and FoW (or F&F for short) is my personal blog that chronicles my experience in playing the Japanese-made Force of Will Trading Card Game (or FoWTCG) here in the Philippines (and abroad… someday… hopefully).  With just a year under its belt, the game is still in its infancy here in my country, and it’s slowly picking up the interest of the local cardslingers with its awesome art and equally immersing gameplay.

I personally started my FoW journey a couple of weeks ago, after being introduced to the game by one of the accommodating demo teams, and have liked the game a lot ever since.

And with that, another road to adventure opens before us.