Reflecting on 2017

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Writer’s note: Hey everyone. Thanks for checking out this piece I wrote. I know this is a bit lengthy, but I believe I bring up some valid arguments. We also discuss these topics in the newest episode of the FoWcast (releasing today), although not as in depth. I don’t have time to add any images to it since I’ll be going out of town shortly and ran out of time. Bummer, I know. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! Happy new year!

2017 has been an interesting year for Force of Will and all of us in the FoW community. We’ve seen cards banned, players banned, community outrage and negativity, and FoW Co blunders. At the same time, we’ve seen multiple new FoW sets, an entirely new game, our playerbase grow exponentially, a full GP season, great community content, and growth and understanding from the Mothership. While it’s easy to get caught up in the echo-chamber and see only the negative, don’t forget that for each negative development, there’s also a positive development.

I have seen cries from the community that Force of Will is dying. I can assure you this is not true. Not only has this same sentiment been expressed since 2015 (when MPR had distribution hiccups) and every couple months since, but Eiji Shishido, King of Will and CEO of Force of Will Co, recently renewed our faith in FoW Co with a wonderfully detailed “State of the Union” style address.

In Eiji’s article, he tells us about the challenges FoW Co has faced this year, the directions the company is going, and how they plan to improve both the company and the game in 2018:

GLOBALIZATION

First, Eiji mentions two things: FoW Co has difficulty keeping up with the opinions of all the different FoW communities in the different countries, and that they have tended to listen to their local community (Japan) as opposed to the daunting task of taking the global opinions into account.

This, in my humble opinion, is entirely understandable. There are so many different countries with Force of Will scenes, and each of those countries has differences in attitude, meta, and culture. Also languages. Different countries have different languages, and considering how FoW Co had (from what we can assume) a single English translator (who is gone), I can’t image how difficult it must be keeping up with the USA, let alone the rest of the world.

Eiji’s proposed solution is that they will be appointing a “Force of Will Global Liaison” to be the voice of the company. The liaison will be responsible for distributing information from FoW Co and “opening our company’s heart to the world”. The liaison will have to understand the differences between Japanese culture and the rest of the world.

Now here’s where I get worried. We’ve already seen a sort of proto global liaison from when Jordan was the FoW community manager. Not to knock on Jordan too much, but he didn’t do a fantastic job. I can’t say how much of this was due to FoW Co not sharing enough information with Jordan, but we saw far too much conflicting information from him that was damaging the reputation of Force of Will. Instead of a global liaison, FoW Co would benefit from hiring multiple liaisons, at least one for each market. I think they should create a whole PR team and work closely with them to disseminate appropriate information in a respectful manner.

TRANSPARENCY

Next, Eiji says that due to how rapidly the game has grown and expanded, FoW Co has never taken the time to really let us all know how they plan to handle the game and why they think it’s so special.

From what I can assume, he’s implying that he wants more transparency between FoW Co and the public. I like this idea. One thing I’ve always praised Wizards of the Coast for is how they don’t hide their practices and ideas. Examples of this would be Mark Rosewater’s Q&A blog (Blogatog), MaRo’s “Drive to Work” podcast, explanations for ban list changes, and a myriad of other employees’ Twitter discussions, just to name a few. It would be wonderful if we got that level of transparency from Force of Will Co.

Eiji says that he wants to share FoW Co’s heart with us in 2018. Now, I’m not asking for WotC levels of transparency, but I definitely would like to see a bit. Hopefully, Eiji’s and my ideas match.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Last, Eiji says Force of Will Co plans to be more accountable for their changes. He states that they know that parts of the community have been upset about changes and that radio silence on the matter hasn’t helped. He also reminds us that FoW Co is a new company and that they’re still learning.

This is something I agree with 100%. Force of Will Co has had issues in the past with not giving explanations for changes to the game. Be it card banning, rules changes, or something else, I’d love to start seeing the reasons behind said changes going forward.

BAN LIST EXPLANATIONS

As part of this improvement, Eiji says that ban list changes (even if there are none) will be announced when a prerelease happens. I assume that means before said prerelease. He also declared that the “EU Ban List” will take effect for everyone. That is, Griphon, Pricia, and Hook are all banned in New Frontiers. I don’t think Eiji really needed to explain why these cards were banned, but sticking to his word, he explained regardless:

  • Griphon: Eiji admits that Fox is super powerful, but that seems to be how they want Nine-Tailed Fox to be. He admits that Griphon was too strong for being able to be played so quickly, while also putting the player ahead two stone and giving them a powerful flyer. That’s why Griphon was banned. Eiji says that The Lilas Petal resonator fills in the gap left behind by this banning.
  • Pricia: Banned because she was just too powerful. Ramping plus giving powerful resos flying/swiftness. Potential to OTK early in the game. Everybody saw this coming.
  • Hook: Eiji doesn’t seem like he necessarily agrees with Hook being banned, but he did acknowledge that being “Hook Locked” (I just called it “Hooked”) by a Lumia deck isn’t fun. It seems the primary reason for this ban was that they want the whole world on the same ban list, and since the EU banned Hook, they need to keep us all on the same page.

I’m so so so happy that Eiji explained all this to us. It seems like Force of Will Co is intent on growing as a company and changing for the better. If Force of Will Co can remain on track for these changes, they will retain the trust and faith I’ve given them over the past 3 years. I’m looking forward to more articles from Eiji and team about “The Force of Will Way” and how their planning, development, and system teams function! Thank you, Eiji!

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Now I fully believe that FoW Co can make these changes for next year, and the game and our community will be strengthened as a result. But the success of these changes is not just contingent on FoW Co’s efforts. The onus is also ours. As a community are just as responsible for improving the game as FoW Co.

Just a heads up, this is going to be a bit controversial going forward, but I’m compelled to bring this up and I urge you to read the rest of this article without the pretense of subjectivity. Humor me; hear me out.

Now this is only a rumor I came across a few times recently, and I can’t guarantee the veracity of this, but from what I’ve heard, Force of Will Co is or was considering pulling support for the United States altogether this year. From what I’ve heard, this is due to the level of toxicity and negativity in our community. Again, I can’t say if this is true or not, but it’s very concerning nonetheless.

Drama, “shitposting”, harassment, and trolling adversely affects the success of Force of Will, and I’ve heard many times that players have left our game because they got tired of this BS. We’re all to blame for this. And honestly, I’m not above that blame. I’ve participated in my share of the drama. It’s hard to not get swept up in it. I understand. By either participating in it or not expressing that it’s not okay, we harm Force of Will.

Here’s a helpful step-by-step guide on how to react to news/changes/tourney results/somebody disagreeing with you/somebody saying something you disagree with:

  1. Pause, breathe, and take a chill pill. Everything will be alright, it’s just a game. Have fun with it. There’s always going to be times in our lives where things didn’t work out how we would have liked, and there’s very rarely the chance to turn that around. At least this is just a card game and not an important life situation. Trust that people have good intentions behind their actions and carry on.
  2. Be an adult. Looks like the chill pill didn’t work, and something has upset you enough where you must take action. Well, it’s time to act like an adult. If you have an issue with:
    1. Something FoW Co did: Go bring it up to FoW Co or the new global liaison. Start a petition to them, or maybe make a poll? There’s a ton of options for how to get your voice heard. Just be respectful about it. FoW Co is far more likely to listen to our opinions if we’re polite.
    2. Somebody who isn’t FoW Co: You have to remember that, at the end of the day, we’re all human beings with different opinions, and that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with having a debate, but for the sake of us all, keep it civil. Seeing a disagreement devolve into personal attacks does nothing but lower the morale of our community.
  3. If you’re this far down the list and you’ve decided that tantrums, blowing up the Facebook groups with drama, or perpetuating harassment is a-okay, just leave. Get out. There are tons of card games for children that you’re more suited for. You’re just not welcome here.
  4. Actually, on second thought, don’t ruin the game for those kids either. Have you heard of League of Legends? Perhaps that might be more up your alley. They even have bigger tournaments than Force of Will! Enticing, right?

At the end of the day, the success of Force of Will is determined by us. We are one relatively small community playing a relatively small game. Loud voices echo. Let’s make the right decisions and help make Force of Will great!

ANYWAY, HERE’S WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE IMPROVED IN 2018

  1. I want to see FOWO supported again. We really need this to be a thing. It will bring more players into the game. I don’t even mind paying for it if necessary. Personally, I almost never get a chance to play Force because of where I live. Having an officially supported and up-to-date online client would be wonderful for people like me. Maybe take a page from Magic Online’s book and do paid tournaments and phantom events.
  2. I’d like to see more GPs in the Southeast United States, but I know that wouldn’t be possible until the next GP season. A boy can dream, though, right?
  3. The return of Quest Clear. Those were fun.
  4. I’d love to see FoW Co be more in touch with and open to collaborating content sites and Youtube channels like GrinningRemnant and others. Obviously, I have personal reasons for wanting this, but I think this could mutually benefit everyone involved.
  5. I need to see the Force of Will community act more mature and responsible. I don’t want to see any more divides in the community. I don’t want to see FoW Co pull out from the US.
  6. Last but not least, I’d like to see FoW Co stay on track with the improvements Eiji listed. This will increase our trust and faith in FoW Co and the game.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for Force of Will Co and the FoW community! Just remember that Eiji and Force of Will Co need our support just as much as we need theirs.

If you want to hear more about all of this, I will be discussing it more in depth with my colleagues on the new FoWcast episode. You should check it out. It’ll be a good one!

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