An In-Depth Look at Attributes – Part 3: Willpower
Willpower – The attribute of charismatic leaders and cunning illusionists, of mighty warrior-poets and mad sorcerers, of stalwart soldiers and sworn protectors. Willpower is the attribute of unwavering resolve. Whether you are commanding legions and rallying troops, destroying (or dominating) anything in your path, coming back from the brink of death to triumph or guarding against imminent devastation – if you have a will that is stronger than steel, you will prevail.
Previously we looked at the explosive wild magic of Intelligence and the raw, uninhibited aggression of Strength. For this installment of the series, we dive deep into Willpower, an attribute that combines strength in numbers, unconditional removal, and tremendous resiliency into a package that can support many different strong archetypes in The Elder Scrolls: Legends.
Training is over! It’s time to act!
One of the things that you will find almost exclusively native to Willpower is Token Strategies. If you are unfamiliar, Token decks like to flood the board with lots of creatures in order to swarm and overwhelm their opponent. Willpower makes this playstyle possible with cards like Scouting Patrol and Marked Man that create tokens when they are played. This “wide” style of play is also rewarded in Willpower with cards like Pit Lion that, while powerful, have strict conditions to be met. These wide board, token generators are not always cheap – some come with a high cost and other conditional abilities, like Golden Saint and Kwama Queen.
Now, flooding the board with swarms of small, cheap creatures can be very aggressive early in the game, but tokens like these are only threatening in great numbers and can be shut down by large bodied guards and AoE removal. For that reason, Willpower not only provides ways to generate tokens, but ways to strengthen them and make them threatening even in small numbers. Fifth Legion Trainer can give all of your tokens additional punch when attacking, and Resolute Ally not only gives them more power, but some much needed resiliency as well. And perhaps the most common enabler of token strategies in Willpower is Divine Fervor, a card that can represent a significant amount of damage and create huge obstacles for your opponent in dealing with your board.
Another way to reward the aggressive nature of Willpower’s Token strategies is to give them little bonuses for breaking opponent’s runes. Eastmarch Crusader is a strong, aggressive creature when played on curve that rewards you for breaking an opponent’s rune early by giving card draw. And some cards like Morthal Executioner and Haafingar Marauder can easily snowball out of control if you can manage to break multiple runs in a turn while they are on the board.
You cannot hope to outrun destiny…
Willpower doesn’t only exceed at early aggression, but it also can dominate and control its foes with powerful unconditional removal spells, debuffs and steal effects. Perhaps the most ubiquitous example of removal in Willpower is Piercing Javelin, an expensive but guaranteed kill on any creature. Piercing Javelin’s cousin Cast Into Time loses the Prophecy effect, but goes one step further in not only obliterating the creature, but banishing all copies of it from your opponent’s deck. Some of Willpower’s hard removal is a little more conditional though, such as Execute and Arrow Storm only targeting weaker creatures. Then again, when you really need lots of things dead, Willpower can also provide total annihilation of a lane with Dawn’s Wrath, albeit you also destroy your own creatures as well.
In addition to the buffs mentioned earlier, Willpower also has a rather unique set of abilities that lower the strength of your opponent’s creatures. Cards like Calm and the newly introduced Harmony can render your opponent’s creatures unthreatening, leaving them ripe for the killing with no repercussive damage. These abilities also synergize with aforementioned cards like Execute and Arrow Storm to enhance their destructive capabilities.
Another very unique and powerful effect that Willpower has is the ability to steal creatures and abilities and use them as their own. The most notorious of these cards is Miraak, Dragonborn, an 11-cost creature that steals any one of your opponent’s creatures. Less explosive but more subtly powerful is the oft-forgotten Penitus Oculatus Agent, who can steal all of a creatures precious Keywords, such as Lethal, Guard or Ward.
There’s a plan. There’s always a plan.
In addition to Willpower’s powerful control and removal abilities, it also has access to a wide array of healing abilities. Some cards like Bruma Profiteer offer incremental lifegain for decks like Tokens that can summon a multitude of creatures very quickly. Others like Undying Dragon can heal in large bursts and then become powerful threats, rewarding a healthy life sum. Some of the healing in Willpower is proactive and synergizes with aggressive strategies, like Riften Lawkeeper and Dawnstar Healer. These effects can turn the tide in aggressive mirrors, putting the lethal blow for your opponent far beyond reach. Some however are more defensive in nature, such as Knight of the Hour, which offers a bit of healing and protection in one robust package.
Speaking of protection, Willpower also boasts some of the most efficient and resilient guards in the game. Hive Defender is the baseline creature by which all defensive roadblock creatures are measured. Meanwhile, Lydia goes a step further and guards both lanes at once! Other guards benefit more aggressive strategies, such as Khuul Lawkeeper, which not only protects your smaller threats, but can buff creatures in your hand as well.
We’ll hold no matter what!
While Willpower boasts some of the strongest removal capabilities in the game, this unconditional power comes at a steep price. Most of Willpower’s removal is often very singularly targeted or very expensive. Removing literally any single creature in the game with a Piercing Javelin is a strong effect, but often paying 5 Magicka can cost almost an entire turn. Also, many of Willpower’s most potent healing creatures tend to be understatted, have low board impact and are costed high. All of this culminates into an issue of tempo loss that Willpower can struggle with.
Many of Willpower’s best abilities are often conditional, especially its card draw. Requirements can include breaking runes, having more health than an opponent, having enough Willpower creatures in play, and more. Some of Willpower’s most potent plays rely heavily on an already developed board state, which means that aggressive Willpower decks can sometimes struggle to keep momentum if their creatures are removed before they are buffed to become threats in their own right. Divine Fervor is only as impactful as your board state allows it to be.
Behold my power!
Willpower has traditionally been one of the most flexible attributes in Legends. It has long been a staple color in both Control decks to offer powerful defensive capabilities, removal and healing, or aggressive decks to give resiliency, strength and rewards to pressuring your opponent. Willpower is a very complimentary color to many strategies, and we’ll take a closer look at how it meshes with other colors in upcoming articles on Classes. In the meantime, overwhelm your opponents with insurmountable odds, dominate them with powerful spells, and use Willpower to shift the tides of battle into your favor.