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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 25 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.  Of course, owning a store means I have knowledge of a lot of games and not just Magic.  I also find out my fair share of insider information on the industry.  But having other resources to pull from makes for more informative writings.

    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 have also been invited to the Event horizons Invitational.  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 fades away...if it ever does.


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The Dragon's Den

Casual Players Have Power
By DeQuan Watson - October 23, 2006 

It's easy to get wrapped up in competitive play.  Even this past weekend had everyone talking about the results from Pro Tour Kobe.  That's not a huge surprise, I suppose.  But, let's be real.  The professionals aren't the only important people in the gaming world.
Yeah, I know, the guys that make the cards are important.  And yes, the designers are important.  Even the guys (like myself) that run tournaments and have stores are important.  But it takes lots and lots of players to keep things rolling.  And I'd venture to guess that nearly 75% or more of all MTG players aren't super competitive.  A lot players that attend Friday Night Magic events aren't even competitive for the most part.  They are just playing some fun decks and hoping to score a few packs most of the time.
Think about this last set that Wizards released.  Time Spiral has casual player written all over it.  The tournament professionals don't care which cards get reprinted.  They are going to make use of whatever is available.  They are going to dedicate the time to figure out which cards are the most efficient.  But casual players see things a little differently.
For starters, MTG seems to go in cycles.  Players come and players go.  Each group seems to get a different play experience based on the cards that are available.  With Time Spiral, the latest few groups of players to enter the game will now be able to play with cards from previous eras of the game.  That's huge.  I've watch players open up Psionic Blast and say, "Cool, it's a blue Char."  I just giggle to myself and then correct them that Psionic Blast came first.  I get to give them a little bit of a history lesson.  There are other cards, like Flying Men, that even some experienced players know nothing about.  Some of them haven't even seen one, because of the amazingly short lived retail existence of Arabian Nights.
Multiple Champs formats are also geared at catering to the casual player.  I mean really, think about.  Why else would there be a two-headed giant format?  And now, the new city championship series that's starting should be neat.  It too is geared toward the less competitive player.  It's a way for you to play regularly and support your local stores, but still get a shot at the pro level without putting in a zillion hours of preparation for a pro event and go through the grueling fight of 7-10 rounds of super competitive opponents.
So many people try to deny the fact that casual players are important to the game of Magic.  I'm not sure why that is.  There's nothing wrong with it.  I think it's a good thing.  There are cards that the R&D teams at Wizards of the Coast headquarters sit around and think of just for the casual player.  They know that some of the cards will be frowned upon by the tournament gladiators.  And they don't care.  Why should they?  They will be appreciated by the proper people. 
Ask anyone that sells singles.  Without casual players, sales would be way down.  You'd have a community of hyper aggressive players are feverishly battling for the same cards.  Prices on many cards would skyrocket.  And many other cards would sit around collecting dust if they were lucky.  The unlucky ones might becomes coasters are get dropped off in File 13 (a.k.a. the trash bin). 
I do find it amusing that some players find it embarrassing to be a casual player.  Some even try to seek advise with various sly ways, because they are embarrassed of the deck they are building.  Why be embarrassed.  If you're having fun, keep it up.  It's a game.  Not everyone is in it to be profitable.  There are profitable paint ball players and profitable bowlers.  Those are two things I love to do.  And truth be told, I'm pretty mediocre at both.  I even turn down lessons to get better, especially when I'm bowling.  I always tell them, that helping me is a waste of their time.  I'm not in it to be competitive (except for bets among friends). 
There are more interesting situation I encounter that stuns me.  Some players will build a deck, and then when it doesn't work out say something along the lines of, "Ah, it's a casual deck that I was working on."  I've even heard, "It's something that's only going to work out for fun."  It's almost as if they are outright saying that casual means bad.  That's not really the case.  I've seen some casual decks build strictly for big group games that are pretty powerful.  They may take six or seven turns to get rolling, but when they do, six or seven player are going to be sent packing.  I'd prefer a players just say, "Man, I need some help.  I built this deck and it sucks." By automatically hiding behind the guise of the "casual" facade, they are not only insulting the casual player, but they are also denying themselves a chance to get better as a tournament player.
I used to think that learning all the little rules to the game was pointless, because they so rarely come up in tournament games of Magic.  But casual guys give us a reason to know all the little rules.  Judges become good ambassadors of the game.  Casual guys have all those questions about Humility, Deranged Hermit, and Glorious Anthem. 
And that's not to say that a casual player can't build a deck for competitive play.  In today's format, you can absolutely play theme decks and enjoy.  There are obviously slivers in their myriad of colors.  Then of course there are Thallids and Saprolings.  With all the token makers, I'm sure there are some very fun decks you can build.  There are also things like the all flying deck or the all protection deck.  And if nothing else, you can show up to your next tournament to play spoiler.  The tournament regulars spend time preparing their deck and sideboard for the big decks and cards that they expect to see.  When they run up against a "bad" player with a less than stellar card such as Gravepact in their deck, things can get a little frustrating for them and possibly result in a loss.
And that brings me to another point.  The competitive guys need to lay off the casual guys.  Those guys are a different crowd.  Just because they like different things, doesn't make them lesser.  By picking on the casual crowd or insulting them, you are pretty much taking part in another form of segregation or prejudice.  Seriously.  Think about it. 
More importantly, don't insult them and belittle them because they've chosen not to be as competitive as you.  They are enjoying the game at their pace on their level.  They put lots of money into the system to help keep things going.  They also provide singles to stores (usually via trade-ins) and cards to you directly in trades that allow you to better your decks.  Liking different cards or enjoying the game in a different way doesn't make them any less of a person.
Man, that last paragraph came off like an after school special message.  Actually it was more like one of those NBC "The More You Know" information/awareness segments.  I'm sorry about that.  I just want to make sure my point gets across when I am writing.
Time Spiral is doing a lot to bring all groups in the game together.  Cards from different eras have players from all over interested in the game again.  Some are excited about getting to play with old cards.  Some are excited over new cards.  Some are excited over their favorite cards coming back.  The reason doesn't matter.  It's just cool that one set seems to be having this big of an affect on everyone.  I've been busy just writing up deck lists for players over the past couple of days.  Lots of people just getting back into the game want some help to dive right in.  Excitement is at an all time high.  We also have a Champs weekend coming up, so it'll be interesting to see what everyone plays.
Just take time to consider how important all the different levels of people and players are to this great game of ours.  We need manufacturers.  We need distributors.  We need retailers.  We need judges.  And we most definitely need players...casual AND competitive.
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at pojo dot com





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