For this article, I would like to focus on the responsibilities of a player. When you sit down for a game of Force of Will, how often do you think about the actions you take during a game and how they affect your opponent? I’m not talking about the cards you play or the order in which your resonators attack. Instead, I’m talking about your behavior and the effect it has on your opponent (and by extension, how it affects the other players in the tournament). Hopefully after reading this article, you’ll be a little more conscientious of the things you do while playing and become a player who is an asset to the game (rather than detracting from the experience).
Responsibility # 1 – Be Respectful
The first responsibility I’d like to mention is to be respectful of your opponent. As a long time gamer, I’ve learned how to play many different games. As such, I know what it’s like to be a new player with less experience than my opponent. It can be an intimidating experience. I’ve also been on the other side of that situation, where I’m the more experienced player sitting across from a newer player. I know it’s my responsibility to respect my opponent and not treat them as inferior to me simply because they haven’t been playing as long as I have. I try to follow the Golden Rule and treat my opponent the way I would want them to treat me.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines respect as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way”. Every player in a tournament is important and should be treated as such, no matter what their skill level is. Keep in mind, each player is important to the longevity of the game, and if they leave because they are disrespected by other players, it’s bad for all players. Treat each other player fairly and equally.
Responsibility # 2 – Salt Happens, but Nobody Wants it Thrown at Them
“Salt” in this instance is a term used meaning to be upset, annoyed, or embarrassed. Everyone feels this way from time to time, but if it happens to you, try to contain it and not throw your “salt” at others.
I was at a prerelease for a different card game recently and I played against a player in round 3 that constantly complained about not drawing enough resources from his deck to allow him to play the cards in his hand. Round 3 wasn’t the only time he complained about this, as I had heard him from across the room during round 2 complaining about the exact same thing. He was making a spectacle out of himself all because of a random element of the game.
Now, I’m not saying that you should always keep your negative feelings inside and never vent. That would be unhealthy. But remember, games are designed with randomness built into them. Not every game is going to go perfectly. And things like this happen to everyone from time to time. While it can be upsetting, try not to take it out on your opponent.
Responsibility # 3 – Don’t Cheat
When playing against anyone from a total stranger to your best friend, play by the rules and don’t cheat. Recently in the Magic community there was an issue with a person not sufficiently randomizing his deck, which is akin to cheating. While the player may not have thought he was doing anything inherently wrong, when a deck isn’t shuffled properly it may lead to situations where the player will know the order of certain cards in his deck. Most games will consider this to be cheating.
Cheating can also go further than not shuffling your deck properly. If you have a card in play and your opponent doesn’t know what the card does, it’s better to turn the card so they can read the text for themselves rather than telling them what it does. For example, if you were to play “Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant” and your opponent asked you what it did, you might be tempted to only tell them the [Enter] ability (Draw two cards, then put a card from your hand on top of your main deck), as that’s the only relevant ability at the time. However, by not telling them the other continuous abilities on the card, you would be considered to be misrepresenting information.
Responsibility # 4 – Slow and Steady Wins the Race (Except When It Gets You a Penalty for Slow Play)
When you’re playing in a tournament, always be mindful of the clock. It’s your responsibility to always make your plays in a reasonable amount of time. It’s also your responsibility to make sure your opponent does the same. I typically try not to let more than 30 seconds go by in a game where one player is doing nothing but looking at their cards. Usually I won’t notice if this happens only occasionally, but when it happens I try to ask my opponent politely to make a play and I let them know that 30 seconds has gone by since their last action. If I notice that I’m the one playing slowly, I try my best to make a quick play based on the information available to me at the time (I usually play more slowly when I’m trying to figure out how my opponent will foil my next planned move).
I’ve also found that I’m more sensitive to slow play if we’re in the second or third game of the match. And I really notice it if I’ve lost a lengthy game one and have to win games two and three without much time left on the clock. This can be stressful for me, so not only do I have to remember to keep my play speedy and remind my opponent to do the same when they pause for lengthy periods of time, but I also have to remember not to get too “salty” about the situation and take it out on my opponent.
Responsibility # 5 – Be Prepared
Have you ever played a game where your opponent plays a card which puts counters on their resonators and they ask to borrow your dice to represent the counters? Personally, I find this to be very annoying. I understand things happen and you may not always be as prepared for a game as you’d like, but don’t make it a normal thing for you.
Prior to playing in a tournament, I try to review my deck to see if any of the cards I play will add counters to my resonators. If so, I make sure my dice cube is packed. I also look at the pad I use to keep track of life totals to make sure there’s enough paper left, and I make sure I’ve got a couple of pens with me. In short, I try to make sure I have all of the things I will need to play the game. This is a good habit to get into doing.
There you have it. That’s all of the responsibilities you have as a player… Or maybe not. I’m sure there are other responsibilities you can think of that all players should remember and be aware of. If so, please let me know in the comments section of this article.
Hopefully after reading this article, you weren’t surprised by any of the responsibilities I mentioned in it. Most of them are just common sense and harken back to the Golden Rule I mentioned before (treat others the way you want to be treated). After all, we’re all just playing this game to have fun, so let’s play responsibly.
Mike Likes has been playing games for well over 25 years. His wife, Keri, has also been playing games for quite a while. He’s a more avid gamer and she’s more casual. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Arianna, who has been interested off-and-on with TCG’s for a couple of years now. After trying to get her interested in playing Magic: The Gathering, their local shop owner, 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 they’ve been playing Force of Will as a family ever since.