It is an exciting time to be a card gamer! There is so much on the horizon for Magic the Gathering, my head has been kind of spinning to figure out what to write for this column. I guess I will start with the thing that has me the most excited, tournaments!
I love to play competitive Magic. Since the Mountain State is a bit smaller and has a smaller community, major tournaments do not come near very often. Many players in the state always look forward to the fall when the circuit of state tournaments come around. This year the excitement has started early! The online card shop TCGPlaer, magic.tcgplayer.com, is hosting a set of state tournaments this spring. The tournament will be May 18 at the Charleston Civic Center.
This is exciting for standard players because it will be the first time two different standard seasons will be represented in state championships. Standard rotates, which restricts players to play with only the newest available cards.
With the additional tournament, players will be able to shuffle decks that contain cards that would not be legal in the format this fall. The challenging part right now is getting ready for the tournament.
My suggestions for those players considering going are to play a lot of cards in the coming weeks and do your research. The Internet provides a wealth of information on the best decks, what people are going to play and how to combat the metagame (the most popular decks and strategies).
The most important part is figuring out what cards you need, but that is a bit of a challenge right now, too. That is because the new set, "Dragon's Maze," drops right before the tournament and will be legal to play. Luckily, Magic's daily online magazine, DailyMTG, www.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/Default.aspx, spoils the cards early and allows you to see the upcoming set before it releases. This is important for competitive players because it gives us an idea of what cards we will need to get to finish off our "perfect" creations before the tournament. No deck is perfect. Every deck can be beat, but al players believe their deck is the best. They have to, or they should not play it.
I have never won a state championship and have tried several times. I do not get discouraged, because I love the game, the atmosphere of the tournaments and hanging out with other gamers. There will be a group from the area that will make the trip to the tournament.
We have started practicing and play testing decks. I am down to two different possibilities that I will play. Both decks contain three colors, and one is my own build of Esper Control.
Esper combines white, black and blue cards, and the aim of the deck is to control the board state and win with one big shot from a creature, or to grind their deck, or library, down. If opponents cannot draw a card from their library on their turn, they lose.
The other deck is dubbed The Aristocrats. The deck is being played by professional players and having a ton of success. I put my own twists on it to benefit my play style. The major reason I put the deck together was to test against it for the tournament so I would know how to play against it and hopefully be able to defeat it. In the very few games I have played with it, it is evident that it is good and should win several games.
I am still developing both decklists, and they could change drastically over the next month with the new set coming out.
Who knows, I may even build something completely different. But I learned an important lesson last fall during the state tournament. I didn't take enough time to build my deck and test it out beforehand. The night before we were heading to the tournament, I was up at 3 a.m. trying to finish the 60-card pile.
The deck was decent, but there was no way I could win with it. I had a blast, but I want to be more competitive this year.
I thought I would wrap this up with some tips for people who may be planning on going to the tournament. Like I said, I have not won one of these, but I have played in several and have learned some important lessons.
First, practice. You have to practice if you are going to do well. Playing more only makes you better. I would also suggest getting a good night of sleep the night before and make sure you eat a good breakfast before you go to the tournament. Six rounds that last 50 minutes each give you little time to grab something to eat. If you are hungry or thirsty, it is distracting and can cause you not to play as well. In my group, we always grab some bottles of water, soda and some snack foods and throw them in a backpack. It saves time and helps if you need a snack.
I would also suggest minimizing the amount of cards you take with you. I try to take two decks, in case a friend needs one or I make a last-minute change.
I also try to consolidate cards that are up for trade into one book that I can keep an eye on. Magic is a trading card game and you can get awesome deals on trading cards. There are a lot of people who will need one or two to finish a deck, and you can get something you want much of the time.
You also should keep your trade stuff with you as much as possible. I hear stories every year of how a player will have something stolen or taken. I like to carry a backpack to keep my stuff with me and can drop it at my feet at the gaming table when playing.
If anyone has any comments or questions for me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are looking for someone to play with or try to get into the game shoot me a message.
I will keep everyone updated on my play testing and my preparations for the tournament in future columns.