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Expanding Your Horizons

Obviously, the net is full of talk about Darksteel this week.  We are just over a week away from its mainstream release and people are speculating about so many cards.  What's so funny is that so many cards get hyped and then turn out to be duds.  It's amazing that people are so quick to make judgments.
Before you take someone's opinion about an unproven card to heart, think about a few things.  What is the player's track record that is making the judgment?  If they've been wrong before, they might have a good chance of being wrong again.  What is the skill level of the player making the judgment?  There is usually something that makes a player good.  In constructed, it can be largely due to that player being able to spot something in cards that others don't see.  Does the player making the judgment favor a certain play style?  I'm an aggressive player at heart.  I can normally identify those cards that fit an aggressive style well quickly.  I can play control well, but I don't build great control decks.  Using that knowledge, if I look over a set, it is likely that I will miss come good control style cards.
The reason these questions make any difference at all comes down to two main things...trading and collecting.  These two things sort of go hand in hand.  The trading part is obvious.  As for the collecting, I don't mean it in the sense of trying to collect a full set.  I mean it more in terms of being selective on which cards you need to get sets of four of (play sets).  You want to know that you aren't wasting your time.  You want to know what you should value each card at.  It's hard to know these things honestly.  Even if you and all your friends agree that a card is good in a popular deck, there is a chance that knowledge means nothing.  For example, what if a new rogue deck comes along and makes the other deck that you want to put the card in terrible in tournaments?  You didn't make a wrong read.  You just weren't able to see the future.  That's part of the reason to need to have other people that you can turn to or rely on to get information from.
Let take a step away from Magic for a brief second.  I want to tell you all little about the sport of cricket.  For those of you that are unaware, cricket has been around for an eternity it seems.  The interesting fact is that it derives from the same basic game that baseball was.  The difference is that baseball became more of a pitchers game, whereas cricket became more of a batter's game.  Cricket seems to involve a bit more teamwork though, which is what interested me.  You play on a field that's between three and four acres large it seems.  You only have nine outfielders to cover the area, so you have to communicate a lot with your teammates.  Also though, the batters have to work together, because you always have two people running with the ball is it.  I know it sound strange, but I don't have the space to explain here.  You owe it to yourself to look it up though. 
There are some small comparisons between cricket in Magic though.  OK, maybe not in a serious sense, but in more metaphorical terms.  Picture the cricket field like Darksteel at the moment.  The field is large with lots of ground to cover and you have to be ready for hits and misses.  A new set is completely new.  Lots of strategies to be played out.  Lots of tricks to explore.  In both cases, you need players that you can talk to.  You need people you can work with to make the most of your time.  There is a lot of ground to cover in both cases.  The more people you have working together on the same wavelength the better off you will be.
Before I forget, let me get my alternative game of the week out there.  There's a new game called Film Frenzy that just released this week.  It's produced by Comic Images, the same great folks that brought us the WWE Raw Deal card game.  These games are completely unrelated though.  Anyway, this game is great, it's a large deck of cards and each card has an event and a point cost.  You are trying to spot the event on your card in an action movie that you watch while playing.  When your event comes up, you score the card and reload.  For instance, if you have a card with someone jumping or falling out of a window, when the event happens int he movie, play the card.  It seems a bit awkward at first, but it is quite fun.  They are supposedly working on Horror movie and comedy versions, so there should be something for everyone.  It makes every movie worth watching.
OK, back to more Magic.  I think that everyone is so caught up on Darksteel that those that are smart can use this time to get some easy tournament wins.  Go do some drafts at your local store before the new set becomes available.  You have so many people sitting out, waiting for Darksteel that attendance is most likely going to be low.  This should make for some easy drafts to win.  This also means some easy cards to get for you.  Better yet, clean up at the next couple of Friday Night Magic tournaments in your area.  Remember that Darksteel doesn't become tournament legal until the middle of the month, so you get three more Fridays before everyone shows back up with their new decks.  For those of you that are trying to reach the next ratings plateau, this can be good times.  Take advantage of it.
The thing that makes working with other players hard for some is that gamers as a whole (not just Magic players) seem to have superiority issues.  A lot of them try to use games or their gaming knowledge to validate themselves.  I'm not saying that all of use do, but a lot of use do.  That's a bad thing.  It blocks your ability to accept knowledge.  It makes people believe they are correct and are the end all be all.  I've even watched people with this type of what shall we say... gamer's complex...lose a game, because they spent more time worrying about losing to a "bad player" instead of just playing the cards at hand.  I find this whole concept humorous.  But I ask you to think about it seriously.  You will be able to most likely identify tow or three people like this in your local play group.
Also, trading at pre-releases is crazy.  Sometimes cards you want go for a ton.  Sometimes cards you want go for nothing.  It totally depends on the play groups from place to place.  Some players from one area may not value a card high at all, while players from another area value it like gold.  This can make trading very difficult if you aren't prepared for it.  Just be open minded.  Don't gripe are people.  No value it too high or too low.  Just accept the values for what they are and then just leave if you can't come to an agreement.  That's part of the deal when you are offered a trade.  This information won't be immediately useful to you, but you can still use it at your next big event or prerelease.
The next round of qualifiers start next week.  Don't miss out.  It should be a fun qualifier season.  It's sealed and this round of qualifiers gets you qualified for San Diego.  It looks like the JSS is going to be in Kansas City this year and be completely independent of the US National Championships for the first time.  That's in interesting decision.  But as a reminder, if you are eligible to play in a JSS, go do it.  If you are able to get to a tournament and you have the entry fee, you are all out of good reasons to not play.  There are too many positives to this whole thing.  Another point of interest is that WotC is having another team event added to the Pro Tour this year.  Pro Tour Seattle will be a team sealed event.  This is going to make for one helluva busy summer this year for Magic players.  That's great though.  No one should be bored.
My pick of the week this week is Weathered Wayfarer.  This is a bit of a forgotten card.  It's good in multicolor decks with white.  It lets you fish out ANY land, so you can go get artifact lands or even a land that turns into a creature if need be.  It's only one to cast, so it comes out early.  It's very interesting to say the least.  It doesn't fit into EVERY deck that has white in it, but it's definitely worth a look next time around.  This is slowly becoming a forgotten card.
Don't forget to swing by and sign up on our brand new message boards.
On another note, don't forget to stop into your local shop at least once a week and play a few games.  I'm not even telling you to go spend money (even though that would obviously be preferred).  On my game industry forums, I know of three stores that are closing up shop within the next thirty days or so.  That's sad.  We need to support our local retailers.  Without them games die and things get very sad.  We don't want that to happen.  Support your local retailers, seriously.
I just realized that I didn't prepare a deck for you this week.  I thought that with all the talk of new cards, someone else would have given you one.  That's what I getting for assuming.  I guess I'll definitely have to make it up to you some time.
How many of you out there have checked your DCI rating lately?  It's not all that important if it's not really high or if you aren't at any ratings thresholds to get byes at Grand Prix events.  However, it can be fun to set small goals for yourself to complete.  You know, like trying to reach 1750 within three months.  Or maybe trying to reach 1850 is more of your goal.  If gives you another reason to go to tournaments and try harder.  It's something we do around my store that is fun and competitive.
Anyway, that's my time for this week.  There's not telling what I'm going to offer your minds next week.  I am still planning something special if I can land it.  I'm just having trouble getting all my scheduling down right with travel and new sets and such.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
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