BoardGameGeek Reviewer EndersGame
SUMMARY: A take on the Classic Force in the hands of a master
OVERVIEW: Anyone with experience in card magic knows the value and importance of being able to master and perform a card force. The Classic Force needs a lot of practice to get it right, and not everyone is ready to put the work into it that is necessary to make it successful. Magician Dave Hooper has been performing his version of the Classic Force for more than 30 years, and has developed and refined his own take on this staple effect to produce a handling that in his expert hands has a remarkable success rate. His version of this effect is entitled Force of Will, and he has fooled world famous magicians with it. Available as a DVD or as a digital download from Vanishing Inc Magic, Dave finally has shared the secrets that have enabled him to perform this effect with remarkable consistency and outstanding results over a long period of time.
EFFECT: The Classic Force is an old force with a long history in card magic. You fan the cards and as your spread through them you offer them to your spectator for an apparently free choice. Everything looks natural, casual, and unplanned, and yet the spectator's chosen card is your force card almost every time. Much of this is about the timing, and Dave Hooper has mastered this to perfection. The effect is called "Force of Will", which is simply the name used to describe Dave's take on the Classic Force.
VIDEO: The entire video is only 12 minutes long. It begins with Dave himself explaining how the classic force works, and demonstrating the effect several times to a spectator. His explanation of how to do his take on the force lasts for about 3-4 minutes, while the rest of the video covers things like outs, troubleshooting, tips, and a final question and answer session. The video is well-structured, and is clearly divided into various sections. There are multiple camera angles, and the production quality is very high. Great job all round on that score!
TEACHING: The actual explanation of how to perform the classic force effect is fairly brief. Although to be fair, there's not a whole lot to say unless you expect Dave to repeat himself over and over. Dave isn't a natural teacher, and doesn't always do the best job in explaining everything in the most articulate or clear manner. But he is an experienced magician with over 30 years of real life experience under his belt, and the beauty of video is that you can watch what he is doing while he's talking. So while this video wouldn't get the highest marks from an educational standpoint, its true value lies in the fact that you're being taught by an expert who knows what he's talking about, has been doing it for decades, and is showing you his secrets right on your screen. He also gives some good suggestions for how to practice and learn the effect, starting with four force cards, and slowly working yourself down to a single force card as you improve. With this effect, there's no real substitute for performing it with a spectator, so the only real way to learn is by actually doing it. Dave himself has years of experience performing at a market, where he got thousands of people to pick a card from his deck, over a lengthy period of time, so he was able to refine his technique and become really good at what he is doing. There's no doubt that what you're seeing is a master at work!
DIFFICULTY: While the concept behind the Classic Force is quite easy to understand, the real challenge is to master its subtleties so that it can be performed with any degree of consistent success. The sleights involved are not difficult - if you know how to do a swing cut and work with a simple break, then you already have the basics in hand. But the real difficulty in succeeding with the classic force has to do with the small nuances of timing and presentation. And that can come only with practice. Much of this is also about adjusting your timing, depending on the speed at which your spectator reaches for a card. Unfortunately this isn't something you can practice on your own, and you really need to practice with real people. Not everyone will have the same opportunities that Dave Hooper had while working in a market, which enabled him to really master his technique. And that's mostly what this effect is about, because there's no substitute for experience. What about if you don't succeed with the force? Fortunately Dave Hooper also covers that in a section on "Outs", although this section was a little confusing at first, and I found myself needing to watching it a couple of times before I understood what he meant. But if you do "miss" your force the first time around, you shouldn't panic, and Dave explains how you can get your spectator to choose another card, and eventually use a transformation to end up with the forced card anyway. So besides the Classic Force itself, you do need to learn how to deal with an "Out" in the event your spectator doesn't choose your forced card.
IMPRESSIONS: There have been mixed reactions to this video, and that doesn't surprise me. It's important to come in with right expectations. Dave Hooper hasn't come up with something ground-breaking or fundamentally new. So if you already know the classic force and have been using it for a long time, then this video is probably not for you. It's basically a short introduction to the classic force, done in his style, which is really just a stylistic variation of an already established effect. Nobody disagrees that Dave is very good at what he does - after all he's been able to hone this version over decades of extensive use and experience. The problem is that most of us can't replicate that kind of experience ourselves, and that's really what's necessary to get the same type of success. The Classic Force is never going to have a 100% success rate, so this is a force that requires you to have a backup plan in the event that it doesn't work. Fortunately Dave Hooper also covers one way to deal with that, by having your spectator pick another card, and eventually doing a switch with the force card. So the Classic Force it's not ideal for every situation, but if you can pull it off, it's one of the most natural forces imaginable.
SUITABILITY: So who might this video be useful for? I can think of two main groups of people:
1. People new to the classic force: If you've never really tried the classic force, don't know how it works or what it is about, then this video will serve as a helpful introduction to it, and give you some useful ideas for how to learn it, and develop your technique.
2. People looking to refine their technique: If you're struggling to master the classic force, then you may find some helpful ideas here that could help you overcome some difficulties you're experiencing, or improve your approach. Some of David's ideas for how to learn and practice are quite useful, and you might find some tips and nuances in technique that could refine your own way of performing the classic force.
Considering the content, and the fact that it's a 12 minute video, I would have liked to have seen this video at a lower price point than $15. But it does have its value in the right context, and there certainly is some good content here that will be useful to the right person.
ALTERNATIVES: Dave Hooper isn't an educator in the first place, and this doesn't feel like a session with a professional teacher with polished words. But Dave is a battle-hardened veteran who knows his magic and knows what he is doing. As such, watching this video feels like sitting down over a coffee with an experienced magician, and sessioning together as he shows you how he does an effect. There are other video resources that deal with the classic force in more detail and depth (e.g. Paul Green's Classic Force DVD, Mark Mason's Real World Magic). But few things can substitute learning from an experienced veteran, especially if you're looking for a more quick overview. Dave does the classic force so well, that it's a joy to see him do it so naturally and casually. The video does a good job of showing what this looks like, and even if you pick up just one idea that improves your existing use of the Classic Force, it will be worthwhile.
RECOMMENDATION: When it comes to the classic force, Dave Hooper is an expert - there's no doubt about that! Almost everyone is in awe of his abilities at performing this effect successfully time after time. But can he help you master the classic force? Maybe. That depends on whether you're willing to put in the time to learn and master it, and trying to gain the experience necessary. Don't expect something radically new or earth-shattering, because this video basically just teaches the Classic Force with Dave Hooper's style. But if you're relatively new to this Classic Force, or want to watch an experienced cardsman show you how he does it and see what you can learn from him, then it is well worth a watch. The additional material with tips and troubleshooting is also valuable, and adds useful insights and ideas beyond the force itself. Thanks to Dave Hooper for sharing his experience with the rest of us! Just don't come in with too high expectations, realize what you're getting, and then perhaps you'll want to pick up Force of Will and check it out!
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame