Parents - Getting Kids Involved!
The Second in a Series of Articles for Parents of Young Players
Finding a Good Local Card Shop & Places to Play
Finding a good environment for your child to play in is something that most parents of younger players usually end up involved in, as the parent usually ends up chauffeuring their kids to the local card shops or other tournament facilities. Finding a good outlet that will encourage your children in Magic is important. Some stores will be better than others, and I'll give you a few things to look for here that may help you track down a great place for your kids to play.
A great resource is Wizards.com. You can use their Retailer Locater to find stores close to you. Be sure to check the box to search for "Friday Night Magic" box on the form. Once you have the location near you, call the store and ask them what kind of tournaments and leagues they hold for Magic: The Gathering. Once you have the dates and times, drop in for a visit and talk with the league director or the Friday Night Magic director. If your kids are new to the game, ask if they will be able to work with them on some of the skills needed to play.
Another resource is independent gaming stores. Look in your phone book under Games & Supplies, and call around to see which ones support Magic players. Ask specifically about tournaments or other leagues. Some retailers have the product, but don't hold tournaments. You definitely want a gaming store that has a place to play for your kids. Once you find something suitable, go and check out the store. Look for tables and seating made available for the kids to play at. Ask about tournament schedules, and if they allow casual play at other times, and if so, what time other casual players show up usually. You may want to take your kids and some of their friends down to the store to play and get to know the shop owners and other players.
One of the greatest learning tools for any new Magic player is Friday Night Magic tournaments. As the name implies, they are held regularly on Friday evenings, and are "low level" tournaments, with lower level of rules penalties. This allows the director of the tournament to teach kids the rules as they play. It usually costs about $5 to enter the tournament, and there are multiple prizes: First place takes one of the prizes, and there is usually a 2nd and 3rd prize that usually goes to 2nd place and one of the players in a random drawing. So even if you come in last, you still have a shot at a T-Shirt or some booster packs! Other possible prizes include store credit or other fun merchandise, all depending on the retailer.
Some retailers also have leagues that cater to the younger magic player. They give away special cards and prizes that are only available to the younger players that participate. They work specifically on teaching the game and improving playing skills, and a great way to get and keep kids involved in the game.
Once your child starts to become a skilled player, he or she might want to consider playing in higher level tournaments, including Junior Super Series (JSS) tourneys or Pro-Tour Qualifiers or Grand Prix Trials. The level of competition can be high at these events, and the level of rules enforcement much more serious, but for the well-experienced player, the rewards for doing well can be great. Prizes range from significant scholarships for the JSS kids, to cash and product prizes for the top finishers. On mid-levels, JSS winners can receive $1,000 scholarships and Magic products, and on the highest level, National tournament JSS winners get up to a $20,000 scholarship, and lots of Magic products! Reaching this level takes a lot of work, but can definitely be worth it for the dedicated player!
Other great ideas for players include starting a play test group for your kids and their friends that play. Provide space for your kids to play and trade with their friends at your home, or arrange with other parents to trade off times. If you have a large number of kids in your area that are interested, you may want to approach your school to see if they will allow a Magic or general CCG club to start on campus. This is really a great way to get kids involved and encourage play and friendships.
I hope this gives you some starting points on getting your kids playing! I'll be back next week with more ideas for parents of young players!
Until next time...
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