Howdy everyone. My name’s Tommy Roark, and this is my first article, so my apologies if it’s a bit torn and rough around the edges. I figured one of the first things I should cover was to write a casual’s guide to the Force of Will Grand Prix, as some casual and or newer players either haven’t heard of them or know what they are. Lucky for them, this is where this handy article comes in! I’ve participated in around 10 Grand Prix since entering the game, and various local tournaments so I’ve had experience at every level of tournament play. I’ve never made top 8; I’ve made top 16 once and normally I settle in the middle of the pack. I’m not a professional by any means, just a passionate casual Force of will player.
This article I hope shall serve as a syllabus or a template for newer players and/or casuals looking to enter their first official World Grand Prix, what to expect, how to prepare, and hopefully educate you enough that perhaps you might just participate whether it’d be in person, or (starting this year) online!
What is a Grand Prix?
Now the first question you might ask is “Tom, What is a Grand Prix?”.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Grand Prix (Or GP as everyone calls them) is a big tournament held by the company, and the winner is given unique acrylic prize cards, sometimes cash, and for first place paid invites to Japan to participate in the World event, where all other players from all over the world battle to win the title of World Champion!
What to expect – tournament atmosphere
Now with this information in mind, one might assume the atmosphere/ the playing environment in person is different than at your local store or at home. It is with such prestigious stakes sometimes on the line. But take it from someone who’s played in almost every GP since the game came to America, it honestly doesn’t feel that much different. There are more players for sure in a bigger space, but everyone there is mainly there to have fun and enjoy themselves! Some if not most of us players, (Me especially) treat it like a vacation. It’s an event where me and my friends/teammates take off work, carpool in either a roomy SUV or in cramped little Chevy Cruz (I HIGHLY don’t recommend cramping 5 people in that tiny Chevy. There is 0 leg room. None I tell you.) I think personally that is the best way to go about perceiving it as a vacation, you get some time away from everything and just enjoy playing.
Starting this year, due to COVID circumstances, this year’s GPs will be online. As such, this changes the environment to a degree. The player base doesn’t change, everyone’s still the relax-laid-back-having fun Force of Will community that I think this game has developed into its trademark community. The only difference is instead of going to a venue or dance hall surrounded by fellow players (which for your first time may be intimidating) You’re in the comfort of your own home! What could be better for someone starting to get into a tournament? You’re home and the big bonus? You know where the bathroom is! All jokes aside, the nice thing about it is you get to gain experience a tournament, playing with various other people who also enjoy playing the game without having to leave your home. With the online events even if you lose, there’s no real feeling of loss compared to traveling to a big event just to lose.
No one likes spending hundreds of dollars to fly 10 states over just to 0-2 drop and sit there being upset about wasting all that money and time. Online GP’s it’s kind of like “Damn, I lost bad. Oh well it was fun getting to play. Time to walk to the kitchen and make myself some pizza rolls and put on Netflix”.
Let’s say you decided on playing in one of these events. Great! But you’re probably asking yourself, “Well, what do I need? I’ve never done this before”. Well, that won’t be an issue anymore. This part is going to be pretty self-explanatory and simple.
For both of these tournaments, you will need:
- Deck box
- Notebook/Notepad with pen and/or pencil
- A playmat of some kind
- Card Sleeves
- Money for Entry
Your deck box is there to protect your cards and bring your deck around in between rounds so you don’t lose any of your cards while you play. It doesn’t have to be fancy, speaking of protecting your cards. Another key piece is a playmat. If you are new to trading card games, it’s just a long mat that is so you can lay your cards on them instead of the table. Playmats also serve as a great ice breaker when meeting new players, If I don’t know somebody who is nearby, I would comment on their playmat, and this can often lead to a friendly discussion and even friendships just stemming from these friendly conversations. As I said previously, card sleeves would follow the same rules as a playmat. Keep’s your cards safe. A notebook/notepad and pen are used to keep track of life totals during the match in case one player says a number is different than the other person.
For online tournaments you would need a computer or a phone with the Discord app. I know the North America Grand prix tournaments as well as European ones all use Discord to get in hang out rooms to hang out and talk, and to go into individual match “tables” As they would do in a normal in person tournament to stream their set up for the match. You would also need a desk/table with adequate space to set up your playmat, cards for obvious reasons. You don’t need a webcam, as you can use your phone’s camera, but I would highly recommend one. Getting an external webcam for say a computer and a webcam arm to position it just right. I had just participated in an online tournament this past Saturday on the 24th and having that adjustable arm to get the right angle for the right angles and for a crystal-clear picture made everything smoother and easier.
Also, if you need any of these items like dice, a deck box, a playmat or card sleeves, your local card store/the vendors at the GP ALWAYS have plenty to go around, and even players carry extra playmats they can let you borrow/keep/use.
My own personal recommendation is to bring a friend or two for in person tournaments! Whether it’s for company during a long car ride/flight, another player who will join you on your Grand Prix adventure, or a friend who conveniently lives twenty minutes away from the tournament and comes out to visit you after not seeing you for years. Everything is better when your friends are involved, the more the merrier.
Once you get settled in on the day of the tournament you would go to the venue and check in. If you preregistered, the tournament organizers (T.O’s) would then confirm you entered and the would give you your promo’s and a deck list to fill out. Once everyone gets a sheet and checked in, you’d fill it out and just follow their directions. Easy as that!
With that been said, I only have 1 more thing to add. I had asked some players about the atmosphere at these events and with Force of Will TCG as a whole. I received a lot of answers in unison. It was a healthy, wholesome, inviting environment welcoming to new players. However, a long-time player who has recently come back into playing was Josh Patton. He gave me an answer that I could have never given, and I’m not sure if anything anyone could ever say hold weight to this. So, I’m going to end this whole summary with his answer, if this gives any insight into both the Force of Will community and into our Grand Prix tournaments all over the world.
“… There is something about our game, history, and community that welcomes ANYONE that decided to put a deck together and come play a game of Force of Will. I long for the day when our global page is flooded again with pictures of the after-tournament dinner tables filled with old and new friends after a long day of cards.
At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of our community is happy that someone else the world enjoys the game that they do and wants to play. When you get a bunch of people like that in a room together doing what they enjoy then it ends up feeling more like a celebration or a festival rather than a tournament.”
Thank you for reading, and Tune in next time for some more Casual Force of will!