The Caster Chronicles is a brand new trading card game from the team that brought us Force of Will. As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the series of books by the same name nor the movie Beautiful Creatures which is based on those books. In fact I’m not entirely sure it’s based on anything and, like it’s older sibling Force of Will, it may be an entirely new IP.
“A mysterious academy hides a dark secret. Girls form magical contracts and participate in magical battles using enchanted cards in this exciting new card game from the creators of Force of Will. Assemble your Casters and call Servants in this exciting and engaging new card game system. The Caster Chronicles is sure to push your strategy, will, and magic to the absolute limit!”
While the game won’t be available for purchase until later this year (October 20th I believe), demonstration decks have made their way out to Australian stores and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one. I managed to have a few games with my local Force of Will community and thought I might explain the basics of the game and my thoughts on it for those unable to give the game a play themselves at their local gaming store.
The demo kit includes an A3 rules sheet / playmat that I’m not going to copy verbatim but instead give you a simple rundown. Presently I was unable to find a more comprehensive rulebook online so please forgive me if I’ve made any mistakes.
Decks are made up of exactly 50 cards. Of that, each card will be either a Caster, Servant, Conjure or Barrier.
The Caster is essentially Stones (Force of Will) or Land (Magic: The Gathering) which can be rested to produce aether of the same element (in the case of the demonstration deck it all appears to be Ignus). These typically also have another rest ability of some type. You may only have one of each specific Caster on the field. You may play any card from your hand face down as a level one Caster that will produce aether of no element. You may place a level two version of a caster on top of an existing level one version on the battlefield, effectively upgrading it. When playing Servants, Conjures or Barriers you will need to rest a number of Casters equal to the card cost and at least one of those Casters must match the element of the card being played. In the demonstration deck I didn’t come across any cards that required more than one aether match.
Servants are essentially Resonators (Force of Will) or Creatures (Magic: The Gathering). They enter the battlefield either the right way up (recovered) or upside down (reverse). During your Battle Phase all recovered Servants must attack (one at a time). Reversed Servants do not and can not attack; they are used only for defence. When a Servant attacks, you may choose to have it attack an enemy Servant or the enemy player, however you may only attack the enemy player if they have no reversed Servants (essentially you need to sweep away the defenders first). As far as we were able to determine, Servants have no ‘summoning sickness’ or delay on entering the fray and will attack immediately. If attacking a recovered or rested Servant, players compare the attack value on each card. If the attacker has a higher value the defending Servant dies. If the defender is higher or the values are tied then the defender wins and nothing happens. If attacking a reversed Servant, the attacking Servant compares its attack value to the defending Servants defence value instead. Once per turn you may flip a Servant from the Reverse to Recovered position or Recovered to Reverse. This cannot be done if the Servant is rested and may not be done more than once per turn.
If you manage to hit your opposing player then you ‘corrupt an orb’, one of seven cards placed to the side of the game at the beginning of play. That card is then added to their hand. Some Servants will corrupt more than one orb when hitting a player. Some cards will have a Break ability which is a special action that takes place only if you drew the card from the Orb Zone. If your opponent has no card in their Orb Zone when you hit them they lose the game. Likewise if they attempt to draw a card from their deck and have none, they lose the game.
Conjure cards are basically Chants (Force of Will) or Spells (Magic: The Gathering). They have a cost, an effect, and then enter the graveyard. They never enter the battlefield. Some Conjure cards have Quickcast which allows them to be played at any time, whether it is your turn or not. The game also makes use of the Chase system from Force or Will, very similar to the Stack from Magic: The Gathering which allows players to respond to the plays of their opponent.
Barrier cards are the equivalent to Additions (Force of Will) or Enchantments (Magic: The Gathering). Essentially these are similar to Conjure Cards but remain in play on the battlefield and have an ongoing effect. The demonstration decks contain no Barrier cards.
Shuffle up your 50 card deck and cut your opponent deck. Roll some dice or flip a coin; the winner must go first. Draw a starting hand of seven cards. Take seven cards from the top of your deck and without looking at them put them face down in your Orb Zone. You may then perform a partial mulligan putting none, some or all of the cards in your hand on the bottom of your deck in any order and drawing that many cards from the top. You may only perform this mulligan one time. The player not going first receives a coin or token that can be ‘cashed in’ at any point to produce an aether of any element.
- Recovery Phase – The active player turns all their rested cards to the recovered position.
- Draw Phase – The active player draws a card and adds a card to their hand. If they cannot they lose the game. The player who goes first does not draw a card on their first turn.
- Call Phase – The active player may put one Caster card into their Caster Zone.
- Main Phase – The active player can perform a number of actions such as playing a Servant, Conjure or Barrier as well as turning a Servant from Recovered to Reverse or vice-versa.
- Battle Phase – The active player must attack with all recovered Servants that are able to do so. The player who goes first does not attack on the first turn.
- End Phase – “Until end of turn.” effects end. Any unused aether is erased from both players.
Thoughts & Opinions
As you can see, the game is pretty simple and straight forward. I don’t think it’s intended to have the depth of Force of Will and is perhaps designed for quicker matches, the combat mechanics certainly indicate such. Although it’s still far too early to tell and until we see more of the cards later this year I’ll reserve all judgement.
For us here in Australia two Intro Decks will be available at launch; “Wings of Anger” (Ignus) and “Arrogant Swallowtail” (Terra) for $25 each. Booster boxes will retail for $100 with 20 boosters in each box. Each booster contains eight cards and should retail for $5 each. The feedback I received from my group was that $4 boosters would be more acceptable considering the boosters only contain eight cards.
The artwork is something that needs to be discussed as well. Firstly there doesn’t appear to be any backgrounds, simply characters placed over a generic pattern. Also, the quality of the artwork when compared to something like Force of Will is lacking. Perhaps we’ve simply been spoiled by the quality of Force of Will. While we’ve seen more than our fair share of scantily clad ladies in Force of Will, The Caster Chronicles seems to be potentially pushing a few boundaries in the “loli” genre which will no doubt please some, but seriously upset others. Just be very careful Googling any of the cards as I found the controversial ‘Michizuki Momoka’ below to return a series of extremely graphic images, hopefully just an unfortunate coincidence.
Michizuki Momoka – Controversial Artwork?
Honestly though, my experiences to date are with a single demonstration deck and I doubt are truly representative of the final product so I’ll reserve any final decision until we (hopefully) get our hands on more product in October and get a chance to play around with the game further. Currently though I think it could be a fun diversion or side-game to Force of Will.
Looking for more information? Head over to the official Facebook Page here – https://www.facebook.com/casterchroniclestcg/ and while you are at it the official Australian Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/CasterchroniclesAUS/ which also has a list of all stores in Australian with the demonstration decks. The Caster Chronicles is distributed here in Australia by our good friends at OzAnimart.