By: Chris Chibi Michaelis
From time to time, the FOW US Team will reach out to the community and select an individual to contribute with a particular phenomenon sweeping the Force of Will trading card game. Within the past few weeks social media has been in a Buzz with names like Baha Blast, Big Red and such. To address this craze, I selected Bryan Lue who piloted Bahamut during the FOW LA Regionals at Anime Expo.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: With all the hype surrounding Regalia and Bahamut; do you think there really feel in the current card pool that this deck is just too powerful Brian?
Bryan Lue: Certainly. This deck deserves every bit of hype it’s gotten, and perhaps not enough. The deck kills consistently on turn 3 or turn 4, so if you’re playing this deck on the play, you’re almost 100% to win against most decks. Your opponent essentially has 3 Will to try and stabilize against you dumping your hand on the board. On the draw, it’s slightly harder because they get 6 Will to stabilize, but it still does very well against most decks.
I feel that the two cards that make this deck too powerful are Regalia and Cthuga, for the exact same reasons. They are both cards that break the mana system, and allow you to do multiple things in the first two turns. In a game with a resource system, you should not be able to dump your whole entire hand on turns 1 and 2, and both Regalia and Cthuga allow you to do that. Playing this deck feels a lot like playing Yugioh, where there isn’t a resource system, while your opponent is playing Magic, which has one.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: People are under the impression that if they built this deck; they will just win with early J activate. I know this not to be true. But with all the constant hype you see everywhere on social media I’m curious Bryan…what’s your opinion?
Bryan Lue: Inherently, the deck is extremely powerful. You could probably win a lot of games by just playing cards that are faster than their whole deck. However, I think that this deck is extremely skill-intensive, despite the games only lasting 3-4 turns. Any mistake that you make can be extremely punishing, so you have to play really tight to consistently win. You make a wrong mulligan decision, and you’re dead. Mess up with some sequencing? Can be the difference between having an 90% matchup against a deck vs. a 60% matchup. You really have to practice a lot with the deck to get the little stuff that gives you a big edge. The better you are with the deck, the more consistent your wins will come.
I see a lot of people on the FB group saying that they have the counter to Bahamut, and I’m pretty skeptical. Just because someone plays against the list and manages to beat them, you have to wonder how much can be chalked up to player error or deck building choice. I know that a lot of decks are playing less all-in versions of the deck, but that version is significantly less powerful. They trade a lot of their aggressiveness for a little bit of consistency, and that trade-off isn’t worth it when the main strength of the deck comes from putting immense pressure on the board that isn’t answerable.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: With all the variants running around on the Internet, what do you feel are the staple cards in the deck?
Bryan Lue: Here’s what I think the absolute core of the deck is, in order from best to worst:
4x Red Regalia
4x Rukh Egg
4x Hunter in Black Forest
8x Other Red 1-drops
You definitely want a critical mass of one-drops, because it allows you to mulligan aggressively for your power cards. I see a lot of lists cutting copies of Wolf Hunted in Black Forest and Apostle of Cain to play 2 or 3 drops, and I think that’s wrong. You want to open up between 1-3 one drops in your hand, and if you’re low on 1 drops, you can’t make plays like dropping 5 to get a more aggressive hand.
Cards you should not be running are Loup Garou and Milest. Those cards are way too slow for what this deck is trying to do, and give your opponent a tempo lead if they answer them. Much of your power comes from your threats being cheaper to play than their answers, which means they are constantly losing in tempo. If you play cards that aren’t fast enough, your opponent can efficiently remove your slow threats, stabilize and win.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: In your testing Bryan, what have you found to be the MOST problematic cards for the deck?
Bryan Lue: Playing with Bahamut, the worst cards are probably Wolf Hunted in Black Forest and Split Heaven and Earth. Wolf is playable in the sense that it’s a red one-drop, but it’s lackluster in comparison to Cthuga, Regalia and Ruhk Egg. It’s pretty bad in a lot of situations, but it’s necessary to play it to keep your one-drop count high. Split Heaven and Earth is a card that you never want to see in your opener, only good in the late game of the deck, and will most likely be dead in the upcoming mono-Bahamut format. I can definitely see cutting this card in the main for other options, but it’s mainly dependent on the upcoming metagame.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: If Regalia were not legal….do you feel Bahamut would still be tier? And do you think the meta would just shift to? Possibly dominated by Vlad? Prior to Regalia there was A LOT of hype surrounding Vlad. But after release of the Regalia, Vlad seems to have dropped off the map…for now.
Bryan Lue: I do believe that Bahamut would be tier. Hell, we even have evidence for it in WGP Providence, where Bahamut got first place without Regalia. Cthugu and Lancelot are still very powerful, and can do a lot to keep Vlad in check. The deck would be significantly less consistent, but it’s explosive enough to punish players who aren’t prepared for the aggression.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: In your opinion, what are the best counter cards for players to use vs. the Bahamut/Regalia strategy?
Bryan Lue: I’d say that currently, there isn’t one singular card that does a really good job of shutting down Bahamut. Most of the time, you’re already life support whenever you try and resolve your answer to anything in the deck. Cards like Crime and Punishment and Flames of the Outer World are simply too slow to deal with Bahamut himself, and all the answers to Cthuga and Lancelot come after you’ve been hit by them. Whole entire decks have to be devoted to beating Bahamut, so there isn’t one magical silver bullet that shuts down the deck.
But in terms of being the best answers to the deck, I think that Susanowo is probably the best counter to the deck. It punishes them incredibly hard for making their best play, and eats a guy while he’s at it. Problem with Susanowo is that you have to make it to turn 3 in order for it to work, and you can’t be in a position where you’re in range of burn spells. It requires the right kind of support for Susanowo to work, and it can be a brick if Bahamut doesn’t flip at the right time.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: Rapid Decay or Demonflame? Yay or Nay?
Bryan Lue: I’d say they’re both sideboard cards. They both come in on the draw in the mirror, and most likely only in the mirror. It’s the only matchup I can think of that you’d want to pull back and try and grind out the opponent. On the play, you have to be as aggressive as possible, so drawing something like Decay or Demonflame would be completely dead because it doesn’t do damage.
I can see an argument for playing them in the main if the meta shifts towards 80%-90% aggro, but for now, as long as the meta hasn’t been defined yet, I think they stay in the sideboard. Playing cards that don’t help the game plan of killing your opponent dilutes the strength of the deck.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: I’m sure people are wondering why I chose you to discuss this topic. Honestly I first met you at the FOW regionals in LA. And I can say that you have been playing Bahamut since the beginning. And I felt your input/opinions would be very relevant to this topic. Aside from all the questions we have discussed thus far..is there anything else you’d like to say?
Bryan Lue: First, I’d like to give a shout out to FOW Tavern. They’re also another great site for FOW content, and I write for them often. If you enjoyed reading what I wrote, come check us out at fowtavern.com
Aside from that, I think that this deck really is a problem (my personal opinion). It straight up makes 95% of the decks FOW completely unplayable, and other decks have to be completely geared to beat this deck to even stand a chance against it.
We have precedents in other card games, namely Affinity in M:tG. Affinity was a deck in MTG that’s similar to Bahamut in that it could dump it’s whole hand in a matter of a couple turns, and cards were severely under-costed, or could become under-costed by doing certain things. The only other real decks were decks that had 12+ pieces of hate against Affinity. After the Affinity format, Magic saw a record number of decreases in tournament attendance and sales.
I also think that the argument of “Adapt or Die” is a bit disingenuous. Sorry, Matt Kozmer, but I’m going to fire shots at this. Regalia-based decks literally break the Will system, and are capable of dumping their whole entire hand over the course of a couple turns. There are no other decks that do that. It is so disproportionately powerful. So when people spout “Adapt or Die”, you expect us to find a deck that’s bound by the Will system, and beat one that isn’t? Do the math. What you’re asking of us is inherently unfair.
And it’s not for lack of trying as well. Since the release of Vingolf and Alice Starter decks, my team and I have been working towards a deck that can at least go 50/50 with Bahamut on the draw besides the mirror. We’ve tried a lot of different things, but nothing gets even close. Anything that does come close is Regalia-based, but that’s not adapting. Adapting isn’t about, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, or playing a million cards of hate mainboard just to go 50/50. Those are just signs of an unhealthy metagame.
We need to be discussing this deck in a healthy and civil manner in order to address this problem. This sort of deck is extremely unhealthy for the game as whole; however, all the whining and toxicity will only make the community and the game worse. I welcome any legitimate concerns or rebuttals, or any decklists that can consistently beat Bahamut on the play.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of this, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Chris Chibi Michaelis: On behalf of the FOW US Team, I would like to thank you for your input. We are always eager to work hand in hand with the community to give players a place to speak openly. Until next time players…….test, play, innovate and keep this wonderful game of Force of Will moving forward!