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The Fine Print
by DeQuan Watson

    Well here we are with Regionals approaching faster than we can speak.  
Everyone is scouring for decks.  Others are looking for playtest results.  
Some of you are even putting in six to seven hours a day playing decks to
find out which one is the best.  Well, there’s more to Regionals than just
finding a deck to play.  

    Are you truly prepared for Regionals?  I mean are you REALLY prepared?  
Have you thought about the logistics of the event yet.  In many places,
Regionals is the largest tournament of the year.  For some regions, this
event is larger than the average Pro Tour and/or Grand Prix.  Yeah, the
number of players may not be overly astounding to you and may not strike fear
into your heart, but that’s not the point.  The event is an ALL DAY event.  
Most of the tournaments will be starting between 10AM and noon and running
until 2AM. Granted, you will only be playing until 2AM if you are in the
finals (which is where we are all hoping to be).  This is not unimaginable.  
Remember Grand Prix and Pro Tour events have just as many players, but the
swiss rounds are broken up over two days.  At Regionals, you don’t have that
luxury. You have to plan for the event in multiple ways.

    Are you going to be able to concentrate as the day goes by.  The day
starts to drag after 6PM.  When you have set at a table for that long, sleep
deprivation, hunger, and many other factors start to weigh you down.  You
don’t want to start losing games for lack of concentration.  The only real
solution here is to make sure that you get well rested.  Try to get all of
your testing and deck building done the night before the event so you don’t
have to worry about it the day of the event.  Trade for cards ahead of time.  
Make sure you can get enough sleep to make it to the round of eight.  Once
you make it that far you are at least guaranteed a spot on the National
tournament.  That’s what we are all gunning for.  Being Regional Champion
just gets you some more product, a trophy, and a title.  

    Be aware of time constraints.  When testing your deck, pay attention to
your flow of play.  Are you able to play quickly without making mistakes?  Do
a lot of your matches take a long time?  If you are playing games that drag
out, you end up with two potential problems.  The first being drawn matches.  
No one wants to take a draw early in the tournament if they can avoid it.  
Historically, the players with early draws end up playing the people that
brought strange combo decks.  You will end up playing people that are just
perpetually slow.  You won’t be seeing many of the metagame decks (except for
maybe a counter-rebel deck or two depending of first round pairings).  If
your deck is a little slower, you may want to take this into account.  You
also, may want to learn the matchups for the deck a little better so you can
play a little faster in the second game if the first one drew out a bit.  The
only real solution here is to be VERY careful on your deck selection.  

    The second problem that a slower deck presents is something really
important.  In one word… HUNGER.  I don’t know about you guys, but I like to
eat.  I’m about 5’9" and weigh all of about 155lbs., but I enjoy my eating
time.  Most of the larger regional tournaments are not going to have a lunch
break.  It logistically doesn’t work out.  The tournament is already going to
be extremely long, so it would be hard to justify an hour lunch break for the
tournament.  If you are playing a slower controlling deck, be aware that you
may not get time to stop and eat during the day.  My advice to you would be
to eat a good breakfast.  I know many of you don’t like breakfast that much,
but at least have some cereal or orange juice or breakfast sandwich or
something.  For us, it is ritual to stop at this little Czech Bakery along
I-35 on the way to large tournaments.  I also personally bring some sunflower
seeds and a pack of gum with me.  This helps me to alleviate the hunger in
the later rounds and seems to help my concentration.  I wouldn’t recommend
this to anyone though as the seeds can be distracting to you and can break
your game concentration and rhythm.  

    The rest of the stuff here is obvious.  Don’t start new rituals on the
day of the event.  I have heard of people taking Gingko Biloba and/or Ginseng
to keep their concentration and alertness up.  Theoretically this is a good
idea if you started doing it two weeks before.  Honestly, trying it the day
of the event can be bad for your game in some cases.  Many of you may be
playing cards and pushing your body harder then normal, mentally, and that
can cause the chemically to make you less alert and even make your more
tired, since they are new elements to your body.  Just be aware of the stuff
you are doing.

    Keep your stress levels down.  Don’t let a bad play or a tough loss
break you for the rest of the day.  Stuff happens.  Honestly, it won’t be the
first or the last time for many of us.  Just deal with it, learn from it, and
move on.  If you make a mistake in round four that cost you the game and then
make two more mistakes in round five and round six because you are
frustrated, then you just cost yourself a spot at Nationals because of ONE
mistake.  Don’t let them multiply on you.  Also, show up early.  Do
everything you can to be at the event early.  Make sure you have the cards
for your deck and triple check your deck registration sheet.  Anything you
can do that keeps you from being rushed or frustrated is good.  You will be
able to play better and concentrate better if you are more relaxed.  Also,
stay calm while playing.  I have seen so many players get overly seriously
about the game and get mad over one ruling, or one miscommunication during a
match and basically end up throwing the match because of poor play.

    Well, I hope these helpful hints are put to good use.  Everyone wants to
do well and everyone wants to be competitive.  Don’t be so hard on yourself
regardless of your results at Regionals.  Remember in some cases there will
be 300+ players.  Only eight of these players get invites to Nationals.  So
this one day doesn’t decide your Magic career.  Michael Jordan didn’t even
make the team his freshman year.  So one day doesn’t reflect a whole lot.  
Just go out and enjoy the day.  I’ll be enjoying the Southern Regionals this
weekend.  I hope you enjoy yours just as much.