My name is Mike Likes and I’ve been playing games for well over 25 years. My wife, Keri, has also been playing games for quite a while (we’ve been married 17 years and I know we were playing games while we were still dating). I’m a more avid gamer, and she’s more casual. We have an 11-year-old daughter, Arianna, who has been interested off-and-on with TCG’s for a couple of years now. I’ve tried to get her interested in playing Magic: The Gathering, but the cards just didn’t interest her. So, a few months ago my local shop owner, Jon, suggested trying out Force of Will with her, as he felt that the artwork on some of the cards might appeal to her. Needless to say, it did, and we’ve been playing Force of Will as a family ever since.
Since March, we’ve played in a few local tournaments. Force of Will in our area has a small following (we usually have between 5-8 players), and everyone has been really great at helping us get our footing into Force of Will. Since our other local players had only been playing for a short while before we joined, we’ve all been helping each other learn the rules. We were all excited for the ‘Battle for Attoractia’ pre-release.
The night before the pre-release, my family all gathered around the computer to check out the cards that had been spoiled. As long-time players of Magic, Keri and I knew how to prepare for a pre-release, but since this would be Arianna’s first time, we wanted to make sure she understood how the pre-release would work so there wouldn’t be any unexpected surprises for her.
After looking at the spoiled cards, mainly paying attention to the commons and uncommons, we decided that some good archetypes to try to play would be Fairies, Machines, or Lifegain. Since there was no way to know what cards would be in our booster packs, we knew we would have to make the final decision of what to play at the tournament.
Next, I tried to thoroughly explain the new mechanic of the set – the Shift cards. I didn’t spend a lot of time on each card in particular, since they are all Rare and there’s a chance you won’t even open one, but I wanted to make sure we all knew how they worked.
We also looked at all of the new Rulers in the set to make sure we understood how they worked and what type of deck would work best with each one. I would later on print off copies of each ruler as our proxy to use in case we didn’t open any Rulers in our booster packs.
My last bit of preparation advice would be to get a good night’s sleep. This is important before any tournament you play in, but it’s especially important for a pre-release because your brain will be working overtime trying to learn all of the new cards and figure out interactions with them, and that can be difficult to do when fighting off tiredness.
We arrived at our local game store (J&J Games) about 15 minutes before the tournament. Our turnout was good, but not great. We ended up with six players, so the tournament would go for three rounds. After purchasing some new card sleeves for us to use, we finally go to open our booster packs. I’ll admit, even for a veteran TCG player like me, opening up booster packs for a sealed event is both exciting and daunting. It can be difficult to determine what cards to include, and which ones to cut from your deck.
I got to sit next to Arianna during the deck building time, and I was able to offer her some general advice on how to build her deck (although I was careful not to tell her specifically which cards to use or to build her deck for her). I explained that I like to sort my cards by Attribute, and then sort each attribute into one pile of Resonators and one pile of everything else. If my experience with Magic had taught me anything, it would be important to include a lot of resonators in my deck.
When all was said and done, Arianna actually ended up finishing her deck before I did. She determined which two colors had the most resonators and chose the best of those, and then filled in the rest with the spells and additions she wanted. She ended up with a Light/Water deck built around lifegain, and chose Faria as her Ruler. Keri also built a deck built around lifegain, but went with Light/Wind (also with Faria). The cards in my pool were spread out a little more evenly in all attributes (except Light, where I only had four Resonators), and I ended up building a Wind/Darkness/Water deck which had a slight Fairy theme. I chose Arla as my Ruler.
The other players were Zach, who was playing a Water/Light deck (with Arla); Ryan, who was playing a Wind/Light deck (with Faria); and David, who was playing Fire/Darkness deck (with Melgis).
The matches in Round One saw Keri vs. David, Arianna vs. Ryan, and Mike (me) vs. Zach. I’m not sure how their matches played out in this round, but the winners were Keri and Ryan. In my match against Zach, our first game was decided when he decked himself (drew his last card and lost when he had to draw another card). This was a lengthy, difficult game, as Zach had the Illusory Demonic Globe, Attoractia. If Zach had been able to play this earlier, I’m not so sure I would have won that game.
During our second game, Zach played the Illusory Demonic Globe, Attoractia somewhere around his second or third turn. It was a ticking clock for me, because I knew if he hit his seventh stone drop and could start exiling cards with it, the game would be over quickly. Luckily for me, game one had taken a lot of time and game two went to time and ended in a draw, so I ended up winning that round. As the round ended, something came up and David had to drop from the tournament.
In Round Two, Keri had to play against Arianna, Mike (me) played against Ryan, and Zach got the Bye.
The match between Keri and Arianna was one for the ages. While I didn’t get to see all of it, I looked over at their match and saw tons of dice all over their resonators. It turns out that Faria, Chosen Girl + Life Profiteering Priest is a crazy combo. I also heard that at one point, Arianna’s life total was at 9800. She had also discovered another crazy combo – Gathering of Fairies + Spectating Magician (she had multiple of each of these). Yet, somehow (with the help of Artificial Moon + Illusory Demonic Globe, Attoractia + other resonator destruction), Keri was able to chip away at Arianna’s life total and win that game (and eventually the round).
My match with Ryan was a long drawn-out battle. We both proceeded to play a field full of resonators and basically hit a stalemate. Finally, with the help of Midsummer’s Night King, Oberon, I was able to use a Fairy Shadow to begin to make a hole in his defenses. The only problem with that plan was that he was holding an Interdimensional Escape which effectively reset our boards. In the end, after he did the Judgment ability to flip his ruler, I was able to play Black Moonbeam to destroy it and ended up winning that game.
Our second game started out just as brutal as the first, but when time ran out it ended up in a draw. So, again, I escaped by the skin of my teeth to go to the finals.
Round Three would pit Zach vs. Ryan, and Keri vs. Mike (me), with Arianna getting the Bye. I was so focused on my match that I’m not sure of the results between Zach and Ryan, but I believe Ryan may have won.
I am certain, though, of the results of the match between myself and Keri. I was able to get off to a quick start before Keri finally stabilized by getting out an Artificial Moon and a Life Profiteering Priest. I knew I needed to somehow get those Resonators off the board if I wanted to win. Luckily for me, I was able to get a Fairy Shadow and an Alice of Shadow right when I needed them to allow me to destroy her field and do some quick damage. She managed to rebuild her board and did Judgment to reveal Faria, Chosen Girl. Luckily though, I was holding a Black Moonbeam and destroyed her J-Ruler which allowed me to get the victory.
Our second game was similar to the first, but I discovered another fun combo, Alice’s Little Decoy + Alice of Shadow + Fairy Shadow, which allowed me to destroy multiple Resonators repeatedly. That, along with another well-timed Black Moonbeam, allowed me to pick up a second win and gave me first place in the tournament.
So, the first pre-release tournament for us as a family had finished. All-in-all, it was a pretty good day for our family. With me taking first place, I got the coveted playmat. Afterward, Jon (the store owner) announced that he had a second playmat that would be given out randomly. He had drawn the name from all of the players before the tournament began, and my name was chosen. But, rather than award me with two playmats, he would have the remaining players randomly determine which of them would get the second mat by rolling dice for it (which I was totally fine with). Once the dice had settled, Arianna had rolled a 12, and that made her the winner of the second playmat. She was thrilled!
We have another tournament coming up next weekend, and are looking forward to building new decks with all of the new cards we got. Here’s hoping that you were able to attend a pre-release this past weekend and had an amazing time as well.