Friday, August 5, 2011

The End of Force of Will

I've got a big problem with counterspells. Well, with not every counterspell but one in particular.

This guy…

Force of Will was printed as an uncommon during the Alliances set. What was I doing during the Alliances set? Pretty sure I was in my "no magic" phase, playing Warhammer 40k to my heart's content. Can you believe the kids are using laser pointers for this now? Back in my day we found our line of sight by looking over the shoulder of our miniatures then arguing about it for 15 minutes.

What did I miss out on? I just checked an the cheapest you can hope to pay for a single Force of Will is $50.00, for a heavily damaged copy in still good-enough shape to sneak into a sleeve.

Now in my world, I could probably write "Force of Will" on a post-it note and combine it with one of my other cards to make a serviceable proxy. Since I don't play any tournaments, the actual price of a tournament-legal copy is ultimately meaningless.

But the real reason my goat is getting got over this card is the near-UNIVERSAL use in any legacy or vintage magic deck featuring the color blue.

Force of Will is seen as absolutely essential in upper-tier competition because it is one of the few counterspells that can be cast for zero mana on any turn to beat the unexpected combo.

I don't play any tournaments, whatsoever. I've already established this. The closest I've come to the pro-circuit is getting my head caved-in by two separate pro-players using the same Volrath commander deck at my regional prerelease. And they aren't doing regional prereleases any more, so forget that!

But I do watch them on GoodGamesLive. And there's something I have noticed.

Sometimes, there is a first or second turn combo…all a player's cards align just right and the other player is screwed. More often than not, they don't. And then you have quite a few turns to get a least 1 blue mana untapped and ready for counters. Counters that aren't an instant 2-for-1 AGAINST you every time you whip them out.

Back in May, at the Legacy Grand Prix in Providence, Rhode Island, a guy named James Rynkiewicz played a 3 color Bant (white, blue, green) control deck to the 1st place position. His last opponent was Bryan Eleyet using…guess what…a combo deck (Hive Mind).

James won, even after losing the first game when Bryan's combo went off in the 3rd turn.

James used no Force of Wills. What counterspells does he use? Daze and Mental Misstep. He used these very-limited spells and combined them with the land-destruction and mana-denial of Wasteland to win anyway.

My hope is to see the relevance of Force slowly diminish into obscurity. Because it's obviously not a good card other than in these bizarre combo situations people keep talking about.

And with more situational counterspells…hello Flusterstorm…people will have more of what they really need instead of this 5 mana monstrosity.

Today is the U.S. Magic Nationals, of course, being televised (or internet-vised, I guess) live here. You won't see any Force of Wills, not a single one. Because it's Standard format.

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