Drawing from a base of 40 players, some commuting from the corners of the state, Sorcery: Contested Realm has found a welcoming home at Unison Games Cafe in Hamden, CT, where it thrives under the care of and enthusiasm of both players and staff.
This past Saturday, legendary TCG artist Melissa A. Benson stopped by the store to sign cards and engage with the Sorcery community which is so enamored with her work. Surrounded by fellow Sorcerers, and with Melissa Benson signing cards in the background, David Letourneau, owner of Unison Games Cafe, took a moment to share his insights into what makes Sorcery stand out and how his store has embraced and promoted Sorcery: Contested Realm within its community.
A community needs a solid foundation
Letourneau’s mantra of being a player-first resonates deeply within the store’s walls, creating an atmosphere where every game feels valued and welcomed.
“Building up your local community is all about effort,” he asserts. “As a store owner, it’s easy to buy the newest card game and throw it on the shelf hoping customers know enough to look for it but to keep them coming in and wanting it is where the work is.”
Noting Sorcery’s strengths with both an appealing rule set and visually distinct cards, he sees Sorcery as a TCG particularly well-suited for the space he has so carefully cultivated, with Sorcery’s mechanics providing exciting and unpredictable moments in games, while still rewarding skillful play and tactical mastery. He notes, “Each game between players, even the same two, ends differently, and that’s fun to watch!”
Curating engaging events
Central to Unison Games Cafe’s community-building efforts are its engaging events and leagues. Letourneau recognizes the power of organized play in fostering connections among players and regularly hosts tournaments and leagues for Sorcery enthusiasts. While friendly competition can provide energy and excitement, Letourneau shares that the real sorcery at work is encouraging players to meet new people and forge lasting friendships within the community.
Looking around the room, players swap stories from battles within the realm waiting to speak with Melissa Benson, while others pick up impromptu games on the few remaining empty tables. Letourneau punctuates the moment by adding “My greatest achievement here is how inclusive the community is without forming cliques. Anyone’s welcome here, that’s what I preach, and the people in these walls buy-in.”
Currently, in the 6th week of an 8-week escalating league, Letourneau has structured his event so that players gain points for victories and losses, but of equal importance is enjoying games with unique opponents each week. Meeting benchmarks allows players to add packs to their deck, and victors and “almost winners” spin on a wheel after their games with the chance to add additional cards as a mechanic to help support players still finding their footing. One local player shares “I once spun an ‘add 1 exceptional and free spin' three times in a row!’” Letourneau is quick to point out that such luck is a rare, but certainly memorable moment as players are allowed to pick freely from his collection.
Embracing artistry and creativity
Letourneau recognizes the significance of art in Sorcery and its ability to captivate players, with posters from the Sorcery: Social Play Kit displayed prominently on the walls. Furthermore, his initiative to bring renowned TCG artist Melissa Benson to the store further exemplifies his commitment to celebrating the art of the Sorcery: Contested Realm. Gesturing to Melissa Benson, “Her art is iconic!” he exclaims - and that’s just one of Sorcery’s many talented artists.
With the artists so connected to the Sorcery project, many are advocates for the game in their own right. David has had success in contacting luminaries like Jeff Menges for signed cards which he has used to further supplement Sorcery’s Social Play Store Kit, and he has even had dialogue with geographically distant artists like Gadu Duaso.
Let us know about your community!
Through a combination of inclusivity, engaging events, and appreciation for gameplay and Sorcery’s art and artists, Unison Games Cafe has created a space for Sorcerers of all stripes to come together to contest the Realm.
We’d love to hear about the community at your local game store! Join the discussion in the Sorcery: Contested Realm Official Facebook Group.