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Thinking About Someone New

I was perusing some things across the net this weekend and decided to take a pick at the run down on the events from Origins. My main reason being that I will be attending GenCon and was curious as to what group dynamics might develop as a play environment. Well, anyway, I came across something interesting. The Amateur Championships had coverage up.

Well, the most obvious thing I saw about this event was the HUGE amount of control decks. Not only that, a bunch of them were blue based control. First of all, I have to say that there could have been several reasons that players went that route. The most important being metagaming. The most recent large Standard (Type 2) event was US Nationals. With the large amount of Fires decks, one can assume that many players were playing and sideboarding against those decks.

However, this reading I was doing was hot on the heels of a discussion that Skye Thomsen and myself had this weekend. I had explained to him that you have to play differently against new players. Some people started listening to our conversation and seemed a bit confused. I figured this would be a great topic to write about, so let me elaborate a bit.

First of all, some cards are better against bad players than good players. (NOTE: I am using the terms ‘bad player’ and ‘good player’ loosely here. Just a quick generalization to help get my point across.) I see this a lot, because I own a game store. For instance, in a draft situation, some of my picks change based on the play level of the players participating. My biggest example are discard cards such as Bog Down and Hypnotic Cloud. These cards seem like obviously good picks. However, if the draft consists of predominantly bad players, then I let these cards roll by. If the draft is predominantly good players, then I scoop them up in the 5-6 pick range. Of course I have to be playing those colors to even want them, but you get the picture. The logic here is that bad players too often play out their cards and lack patience. Many times, if you catch them with a card in hand it is a land or a spell that is unplayable for one reason or another. On the other hand, good players have a ton of patience and are always thinking for the future. Many times their cards are creatures that are going to be deadly later in the game. Their might even consist of some potential tricks or game winners.

Another thing that impatience leads to is frustration. Counter spells can frustrate bad players to no end. This may have been another reason that the Amateur Championships sported to many blue based control decks. I'm sure that had to have gone into the logic of many players. The funny thing about it all though, is that someone should have metagamed against the metagame. Something that goes against all the heavy blue madness.

The general truth to it all though, is that there were no pro players participating in the tournament. As a matter of fact, form what I understand many of the players didn't even consult the pros as to what deck or cards to play. Without the influence of the good, professional players, things were bound to be different.

One more thing I want to touch on, is playing against bad players. I know from first hand experience that a room full of new players can be a judges nightmare. Neither side of the table knows the rules, people losing track of life total, players skipping faces, and the list goes on. I have had countless times that I have walked up to a table and pointed out something small to help them correct their plays that would be considered warnings and/or game loses on the pro level. I personal believe that it takes more work to play against new players sometimes. You have to make sure they understand everything and play properly in addition to yourself.

I was just talking to a judge last night on #mtgwacky on EFnet (you can get mIRC at www.mirc.com). He basically held a mini seminar to show his players different ways to cheat. He skipped beyond the obvious of stacking and such. He would switch life totals, improperly cast cards, and he event went as far as to rearrange the first few cards of his library. The worst part was, he was getting away with it. So he would show them and explain it to them. Then he would do it again. They still didn't catch it. Maybe that's why there are no good pro players from Alaska :) Honestly though, this is proof as to why you need to take your time with new players. Help them through their early stages. You will all be better for it.

Now, new guys, don't get discouraged. There are phenoms out there. We all know this. There's only one thing I can say to you all: PAY ATTENTION. If you pay attention, it's harder for people to cheat against it. It makes it easier to follow game play. Most importantly, it will probably reduce your errors and play mistakes. Also, try your best not to be intimidated. You'll be at a higher play level soon enough. When you are the underdog, you have less to lose anyway. Relax, have fun, and pay attention. To the pro players, I say the same thing, but lets help the new folks along.

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson 
a.k.a. PowrDragn 



name: DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my
writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a
little more. 

    I'm 23 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a
game store.  The Game Closet, my store is one of the premiere places to play
in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build
decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is
neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I
can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the
tendencies of the average player a little better.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour
Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I was
also invited to the Event horizons Invitational last year.  These are not
stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on
straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week
talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see
their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get
a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.
 I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I
plan to be playing it until it goes away...if it ever does.


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