Posted by: thederangedbear | August 27, 2008

W’s Day: Willpower


I was listening to the latest episode of The Ring Has Chosen, and CaptainSpud talks about how he hates Willpower. Wow, it’s like hearing my voice through another guy, and I thought I’d take some time to talk about why I dislike Willpower.

Willpower Does Nothing

Willpower 3.

One of these things is not like the other.

In the strictest sense, Willpower has no effect on gameplay. Unlike other keywords which add strategic depth or help you handle the macro level management of your deck, Willpower does nothing. Just from that perspective alone, it fails as a keyword.

Willpower is Redundant

So the whole purpose of Willpower is that there’s a whole segment of cards that refer to it right? However, there’s already a mechanic on all cards that esist for the sole purpose of being referred to.

Team affiliation.

(Cost, version, and identity are all legitimate substitutes to a lesser extent.)

Try going through all the cards you see that reference willpower, and where there is replace it with “Green Lantern or Emerald Enemies character” or “coss greater then/less then/equal to.” I think 90% of the time the general feel of the card is the same.

For example:


This lovely lady is one of my favorite Green Lanterns now. How about if we:


Are there two really that different – barring my forgetting to add “characters you control” clause?

By referencing affiliation or cost, I think the Green Lanterns would’ve interacted much better with other teams. Their abilities to gain life and recover and their usage of constructs already offers them enough design space to be uniquely identifiable, and I don’t think needed Willpower to make them stand out more.

Willpower Is Insular

The big issue here is that Willpower is a flavor based keyword and a super specific one on that, pertaining only to the Green Lantern mythos. If Willpower was instead something like “Energy 3” that could pertain to more things there would be more potential for it.

Instead, the mechanic you have because of it’s very nature has essentially become another layer of team stamp. Instead of promoting creativity, it restricts it.

This is very akin to Arcane spells from Magic, but worse.


TBS has already said that willpower will be back, which is not surprising in my opinion. I think Willpower has more or less backed UDE into a corner for design space when it comes to Green Lanterns.

As I mentioned above, the phrase “Green Lantern” and “willpower” are mostly interchangeable. The best characters of the team’s sole purpose is to function with willpower. Willpower has essentially become a “printed team affiliation” clause.

If you look at the mutants in MXM, there are a good chunk of them that are playable outside of their traits. Sure the best ones require you to commit – actually, it’s just Emma Frost – Friend or Foe, but even then Professor X – Headmaster so good that you can just play him as your only mutant and be fine in most cases – but for the most part their trait are just a little bit of random benefit, as opposed to their most defining aspect.

The Green Lanterns however who were seemingly designed and balanced with Willpower and Willpower effects in mind, and costed as a benefit.

If UDE moves Green Lanterns away from the willpower, it would be terrible. It’s so annoying to team up the Green Lanterns with another team. Now imagining how clumsy it would feel if playing a mono team deck had ‘willpower screw’ akin to a team-up deck missing it’s team-up. That would be so fail.

But But

I know a lot of you love the Green Lanterns. I do too. However, there is a difference between loving the Green Lanterns and loving Willpower.

When I ask myself why someone would like Willpower, I can never come up with an answer. What I can come up with, are examples: The Ring Has Chosen. Kyle Rayner ♦ Ion – Torch Bearer etc. Some of these aren’t actually Willpower cards per se.

I think that says a lot about the mechanic itself, or perhaps more importantly nothing about it. It’s no surprise that these cards are all super efficient cards. That isn’t a bad thing, but if the only reason you like a mechanic is because a handful of cards that play off it are really powerful – think Press – I think it should probably be re-evaluated or abandoned.

Willpower fails, but we can’t get rid of it.




  1. Sure they can get rid of it– MVL had no Mutants, so UDE’s clearly not getting too worked up over backwards compatibility.

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