WGP EXCLUSIVE – 2nd Place Adam Reiser


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By: Adam Reiser and Chris (Chibi) Michaelis

exclusive interview

Chris: Once you received your spoilers for Seven Kingdoms, what went through your head as what you expected to be the dominant deck for the WGP in Japan?

Adam: We saw how format warping the Alice starter decks were to the New Frontier Format prior to worlds, so I was expecting those cards to be extremely powerful at this event. I was initially skeptical that there would be anything strong enough to stand up to Regalia-based decks like Melgis or Knights of the Round Table. A format without Susanowo also meant that Gwiber was also going to be an extremely powerful card. For better or worse, we were given a good answer in the form of Bedivere that would also find its way into the Red/White Blazer deck.

The lack of color fixing in the format was also very restricting. It narrowed down my options to only consider Rulers that gave the ability to play multiple colors or a play a mono-colored deck.

 



A few days before spoilers were completely revealed, Blazer Gill Rabus had been spoiled. I was excited since the set was going to have a good answer to Regalia-focused Rulers and another source of color fixing. Red/White seemed like the most obvious pairing at first, seeing as you get to play all the best cards in the format in a single deck. The deck ended up being so good that it warped the format around it.

Chris: I’m curious as I am sure others are, what did your test playing consists of and who did you interact with in preparing for your event?



Adam: I did not have much time to playtest. The spoilers ended only a few days before I had left for Japan. I had a few days to test in person with local players Tyler Oyasato and Brandon Taira. I spoke a bit online with Zack Tufford, but mostly disregarded his opinion since he wanted me to play Pricia. I knew that he was also helping Bryan Lue, so I did not want to pressure him for help due to conflicts of interest.

Before testing even began, Red/White became our litmus test for every single deck. Nothing beat it. Seeing as this event would have some of the best Force of Will players in the entire world, there was no way that they wouldn’t come to the same conclusion. Due to having only 3 days before I left for Japan, Brandon and I quickly began focusing only on ways to beat the mirror. We tried splash green for Rapid Growth (which Bryan Lue coincidentally played), black for Necromancy, or blue for Medusa, but it was never worth it.



I had met Bryan Lue for the first time the day before the event. We quickly became friends and knew each other’s names due to how highly Tufford had spoken about us to one another. Since it was no mystery that most players in the room were going to play RW Blazer, we learned each other’s opinions on certain card choices. It turns out that we reached most of the same conclusions prior to meeting so it gave me a lot of confidence heading into day 1 of the World Championships. The one thing that we had especially agreed on what was needed to win die rolls in a field full of RW mirrors. As a token of friendship, Bryan even decided to lend me 2 of his lucky dice that he claimed to have won 8 / 9 die rolls with at WGP Houston. Naturally, I would go on to win only 2 die rolls the entire tournament.

Chris: What did you end up deciding to enter with? And after you made your decision, during the WGP did it ever cross your mind that you could’ve made better card choices?

Adam:

Ruler: Blazer Gill Rabus

Main Deck:

 

Guinevere the Jealous Queen x4

Rukh Egg x4

Perceval, the Seeker of Holy Grail x4

Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon x4

Gawain, the Knight of the Sun x4

Bedivere, the Restorer of Souls x2

Gwiber, the White Dragon x4

Flame King’s Shout x3

Demonflame x3

Protective Barrier x2

Hector De Maris, the Acolyte of Mad Demon x2

 

Magic Stone Deck:

 

Magic Stone of Light x10

 

Side Deck:

 

Flame King’s Shout x1

Protection of the Seraph x2

Hector De Maris, the Acolyte of Mad Demon x1

Bedivere, the Restorer of Souls x2

Marybell, the Steel Doll x3

Deathscythe, the Life Reaper x3

Artemis, the God’s Bow x3

 

As many of you know, I played Red/White Blazer – Knight of the Rounds Table.

Although 47/58 people played some version of Blazer this tournament, there was still some variation between the lists. A lot of people played Celestial Wing Seraph, Herald of the Winged Lord, Snow White, and Order of the Sacred Queen. During testing, a lot of these cards were just too slow and were not what you needed when behind.

If you make Top 8 of the World Championships, you are allowed to change your deck for Top 8. I felt like my list from day 1 was very good and so I only changed a couple of minor things (like adding a 4th Gareth).

They ended up taking us all out to do some “interesting” photo shoots after the Top 8 was announced so none of us ended up getting back to our hotels until around 11 PM. This gave me a lot of confidence that like me, none of the other 7 players would have time to change their deck in any meaningful way.

I wish I had tested Gleipnir, the Red Binding of Fate. The card seems very strong in a matchup where Perceval advantage can determine the outcome of a match.

Chris: During the WGP, was there any matches/players who you faced that really stood out to you that you thought – this is really testing my skills as a player?

Adam: That’s a tough one to answer. All of my opponents were very good and came prepared for the RW Blazer matchup.

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The one match that stands out to me the most would be round 6. I was paired against last year’s defending world champion, Junpei Haga. I had spoken to Junpei earlier in the day and I believe that he was the last Japanese player left in contention going into the final swiss round.



Haga’s RW deck was by far the most innovative that I played against throughout the tournament. He played Protection of the Seraph, Glepnir, the Red Binding of Fate, and even side boarded Medusa to create board states that were very difficult to interact with. I was one of the few people in the room that had 0 main deck copies of Artemis, the God’s Bow, so it was especially difficult for me to beat a resolved Protection of the Seraph.

I lost the die roll and lost game 1. I had seen him play Protection of the Seraph in an earlier round so I finally had to board in Artemis out of respect for the card. Our games presented us with a lot of interactions that I had not encountered before. He even used Glepnir in our 3rd game to kill all of my Percevals. Unfortunately, he ran out of gas on a board stall and I was able to un-tap with triple Gwiber on the last turn.

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This match was really valuable for me since I was able to see first hand how strong certain options were that I had not considered before day 1. Glepnir, the Red Binding of Fate is extremely powerful when you’re on the play since you have a reliable way to kill Perceval and Gawain. The card can also cycle additional copies of itself to get you more threats when you need them, unlike Artemis. If I were the 1st or 2nd seed going into Top 8, I would have considered main decking the card on the following day.

 

Chris: Our readers may not be aware that you are bilingual in English and Japanese – was being bilingual a huge benefit during the event?

 

Adam: Well, it certainly makes it easier to get around Japan! I was able to befriend many of Japanese worlds players and exchange contact information. I will be playing worlds again next year, so it does give me another group of people whom I could possibly prepare with. This is definitely a benefit, but not one that in any way affected my result this year. Most of my opponents spoke English, so I did not need to use Japanese during my matches.

There have been an unfortunate amount of mistranslations in this game so far. I was actually worried about mistranslations affecting matches at the World Championships, but thankfully everyone was given English sets of SKL.

I probably could have caught all of the past mistranslations if I had read the Japanese versions first. If I have the time, I may start doing that for future sets so the community can know before major tournaments happen.

 

Chris: Adam, I was wondering if you could (for our readers) please list your deck that you entered the WGP with and please break it down as to how you would adapt it to the upcoming season 2 new frontiers?

 

Adam: As shown earlier, here is the list I played to the finals of the World Championships:

Ruler: Blazer Gill Rabus

 

Main Deck:

 

Guinevere the Jealous Queen x4

Rukh Egg x4

Perceval, the Seeker of Holy Grail x4

Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon x4

Gawain, the Knight of the Sun x4

Bedivere, the Restorer of Souls x2

Gwiber, the White Dragon x4

Flame King’s Shout x3

Demonflame x3

Protective Barrier x2

Hector De Maris, the Acolyte of Mad Demon x2

 

Magic Stone Deck:

 

Magic Stone of Light x10

 

Side Deck:

 

Flame King’s Shout x1

Protection of the Seraph x2

Hector De Maris, the Acolyte of Mad Demon x1

Bedivere, the Restorer of Souls x2

Marybell, the Steel Doll x3

Deathscythe, the Life Reaper x3

Artemis, the God’s Bow x3

 

I actually do not think a deck like this has what it takes to succeed in the New Frontiers environment. We will see once SKL releases to the public. However, the shell of this deck has a lot of powerful things going for it. Guinevere might just be the best resonator in Force of Will at the moment and cards like Perceval and Lancelot are not too far behind, so I would look to include those in almost any iteration of this deck that you want to make.



Arla could be a good fit for the resonators since it’s on-color, incentivizes you to run Perceval with Artemis, and could potentially be decently positioned against Bahamut if it continues to dominate. Playing Perceval in a Melgis shell could also be a viable option moving forward.

 

Chris: With that said what would you consider the MOST optimal hand post mulligan?

Adam: On the play: Perceval, Perceval, Perceval, Gawain, Gawain

With this hand, you have enough gas with the Percevals that you should be able to find Lancelots, Bedivere, while also being able to protect Gawain. Gawain advantage is almost everything in the matchup and being on the play with triple Perceval almost ensures that they will not die this game. You could also make a case for Perceval x2, Gawain, Flame King’s Shout + Gareth being better than this depending on what type of draw your opponent has.


On the draw: Flame King’s Shout, Gareth, Perceval ,Perceval, Demonflame

I think I like Flame King’s Shout + Gareth more than Hector + Lancelot combo here in case your opponent opens with three 1-drops by turn 2. The Demonflame ensures that you can kill the Perceval that can potentially protect the turn 2 Gawain (But we know that sometimes preventing Perceval from protecting Gawain isn’t always possible). The Perceval’s here will give you more gas and let you find your Gawain’s after the board has stabilized or find Bedivere in case they have a Gwiber or a 1000-power Gareth due to Gawain.



Chris: What do you think the top decks of the coming format will be?

 

Adam: As for the upcoming New Frontiers format, I think there is some potential for diversity. However, I still think Bahamut/other Laeviateinn variants will be the strongest deck initially. There are ways to combat the deck with Blazer, but then it sort of becomes a rock-paper-scissors format if Vlad can somehow compete with the Bahamut lists. I think the red decks still hold a significant edge over the other decks seeing as how proactive and powerful their cards are. Deathscythe is still a very beatable card for red Regalia decks. In Force of Will, decks that rely on answers have almost always been worse than aggressive strategies. I do not think this will change once SKL becomes legal.

 

Chris: As you stated earlier, how much has your extensive magic the gathering background helped you throughout your FOW career during season 1 throught the World Grand Prix in Japan?

 

Adam: To be honest, I think it’s given me a significant edge over most players I’ve come across.

Force of Will is very intuitive if you have ever played Magic: The Gathering. Some cards are created almost identical to their MTG counterparts, but differ in power level due to differences in the game mechanics. Once a player with a strong MTG background understands Force of Will well enough, they will have very good card evaluation and quickly come to understand why they’re losing games.

Here’s one that is often overlooked by newer players and isn’t discussed about nearly as much as it should be: Mulligans. With Force of Will’s mulligan system, players get to choose which cards they want to keep and which ones to throw back. Most everyone already knows this. So, why is it that so many people take their decks to these big tournaments and don’t know beforehand what cards they are going to keep or mulligan? Players can really increase your win percentages if you just know ahead of time what cards you are going to keep.

For those of you, who don’t do this already, learn what cards you need to make your deck function. MTG players, your main deck are all spells. If you think that you need a Cost 1 resonator or regalia in order to win, then don’t be afraid to mulligan 4-5 cards. You don’t need to keep those three 2-3 Cost spells if your deck is full of aggressive cards and you need a 1-drop. Situations like this can put you at a high risk of being behind where you should be before the game even starts. Try making a list of cards that you will always keep or should be keeping most of the time in your opener.

The list you make for yourself is just a guideline. With so many 5-card permutations, there will also be times that you will need to violate your “rule” and keep cards that aren’t on your mental list you’ve created. Most of the time though, it is pretty black and white and mulliganing aggressively will be the correct play.

Having only a 40-card deck and Force of Will’s mulligan system, the average starting hand for any deck is likely to be very good with strong plays every turn. This is one of the several reasons that it can be extremely difficult to win a game on the draw in the current state of the game. Try to first identify how you can win a matchup on the draw and go from there. Learning how to mulligan in this game isn’t discussed nearly enough and probably deserves its own separate article. If this got you to start thinking about something that you didn’t before, then I’m happy.

 

Chris: For players looking to get into FOW in season 2, what would be your advice to them if they have aspirations to make it to the WGP next year? What does it really take to be a successful competitive player?

 

Adam: Play in as many qualifiers as you can! It’s obvious, but by giving yourself as many chances to qualify, you’ll increase your odds of getting to Japan next year.

Learn how to mulligan properly and how to win games on the draw with whatever deck you are bringing. I’m repeating myself here, but I really do believe that this is the biggest edge I have over many players. If you are already winning most of your games on the play at locals or testing, then the best way to increase your win percentages are to learn how to win on the draw. Playtest with a friend!!!! Try to play consecutive games where you are on the draw. You may just learn what cards/plays are more important and this will also lead to learning how to mulligan with certain decks as well.

Learning how to win on the draw in the matchup was pivotal towards my success at the World Championships. Out of 9 matches, I was on the draw 6 times. I went 5-1, with my only loss* being in the finals.

 

Chris: Overall during your performance at the WGP – were you satisfied with the experience?

 

Adam: For this event, I was fortunate enough to join two groups who welcomed me with open arms. The first was “Team Malaysia”. When I arrived in Akihabara, Jason Sim invited me out to lunch to meet up with him and the players from Malaysia. My only interactions with Jason prior to this were on Facebook where we talked about spoilers so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I sat down at the lunch table in an underground family restaurant, I was shocked at how sincere and curious they were about Force of Will players from around the globe. By the end of the day they considered me a part of Team Malaysia and ended up staying to watch all of my matches until the end of the tournament.

It might sound really cheesy, but one of the things I love about international tournaments is being able to meet new people from different cultures. It’s something I really miss about the times I used to spend travelling for MTG. Even if two people don’t speak the same language, it’s pretty easy for them to get along if they’re card players. If whoever is reading this manages to qualify next year, I really encourage you to reach out to other players outside the US community.

The second group was Team USA. There was a lot of hype by the community anticipating Team USA to do extremely well this year at worlds. Many competitors (including myself) believed that going in. Unfortunately, Team USA underperformed at this tournament. While half of the top 16 was filled by Team USA, only Robert Boyajian and myself were live for Top 8 going into the last round. It makes you wonder how that could have happened given the amount of talent from the around the country.

Out of all of the countries participating in the World Championships, the USA had the most competing members at 14. Unlike other countries with smaller numbers of people, creating an organized group for decklist collaboration could have major repercussions since you are essentially leaking information to 25% of the total competition. As a result, nearly none of the members of Team USA tested with one another. While all of us except for three chose to play RW Blazer, the numbers within a 40-card deck really mattered in long games and being able to win on the draw.

Despite the lack of collaboration amongst the group, Team USA got along really well. If you saw this year’s Team USA for the first time, you would think that we’ve all been friends for years. The amount of camaraderie and ridiculous joking with each other really made my trip enjoyable and I can’t wait to see them all next year.

 

Chris: What about the final results?

 

Adam: Going into the tournament, I told myself that I would be satisfied if I Top 8’d. After my match with Junpei Haga, I was in. I knew at that point I could hold my head high and be proud for all of my friends cheering me on from Hawaii and at the tournament site.

top 8

As the Top 8 went on, I was reading all of the support I had received on the Facebook forums. The experience of having an entire community behind you is something I won’t forget any time soon. It sort of changed my outlook on the tournament. Rather than having a “whatever happens, happens” mentality, I went into my matches feeling like I had something to prove. If I had won, the whole tournament would have been a victory for Team USA. I wanted that to happen.

Most people know how game 3 of the finals of the World Championships went.

The turn after the unfortunate judge ruling, I realized that it had cost me the match. For the next 2 hours or so, I was extremely disappointed in myself for thinking the opposing judge was the head judge and not appealing. I was upset that I had not only lost it for myself, but as a representative of United States.

Three months ago, I was on Facebook when I saw on the Force of Will website that players around the US had a chance to win a free trip to Japan and represent their country. One month, one Thunder and two Split’s later I was going to Japan, shown below at 8:50. And just earlier this week I was given the honor of representing the United States in the finals of the 2015 World Championships. It’s crazy how much has happened in such a short span of time.


 

Force of Will was released in the United States this past February. We have had the game for 6 months. In those 6 months, a community was created, regional qualifiers with paid travel invitations have more people than space in the rooms, and we made the finals of the World Championships.

While I still have a bit of a sour taste in my mouth because of how the finals ended, I am satisfied and proud when I think about how far we’ve come as a community. For all of you that supported myself as well as Team USA throughout the World Championships, thank you. See you all in season 2 and at the 2016 World Championships.

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Chris: I know there has been in a lapse since anything has come up on the FOWTCG.US site event content related, well now our readers know why now lol. I would just like to personally thank you Adam on conducting this interview with me. With your accomplishment at the World Grand Prix, I am absolutely positive you were bombarded with questions and requests to do interviews. I look forward to see what you accomplish in Season 2 and will see you at the World Grad Prix in 2017.

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Adam Reiser is one of the best players in Force of Will. He has a WGP win and a *2nd* place finish at the 2015 World Championships. With multiple Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour appearances, he is no stranger to high-level play across the globe competing amongst the best in the world.

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