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February 17, 2004 - Tidbits


So, its Sunday night, and my article is due in about three hours. This is the problem with writing a weekly article. Some weeks you just don’t have anything you want to write about. I have been sick most of this week, and haven’t really had time to do a lot, so I haven’t had time to get my ire up about anything.  So, instead I’m going to have a few tidbits to share, and hope you enjoy them. This isn’t me slacking on you. In fact, it’s the opposite. Rather than stretching a really crappy topic out a couple thousand words to meet a space and time deadline, boring you to tears, I’d rather give you several little things to think about, and hope you find them worthwhile.



First, when you play in a high level event, and they use result slips, CHECK YOUR RESULT SLIPS. Do not sign it before the scores are written. Do not trust the loser to “fill it in and submit it” for you. Fill out the score first. Sign it, and then give it to your opponent to sign. Now bring it up yourself and turn it in. Once that slip is turned in, it is official and it stays that way. Don’t let some random cheater fill out your slip for you and steal your win. It’s just a bad idea.



Second, conveniently, during the week I submitted my article about trying to get better, some articles came to light from several top players about play mistakes, and there was a lot of talk about being able to limit your decisions, and a famous quote about, if you do it enough “the only play you see will be the right one.” 


Now, this seems to directly contradict what I had said in my article about making sure to examine all of your options when playing and to look for the different options available. In some respects it may be, but I’d like to take a few moments to defend my comments.


The concept of  “the only play you see will be the right now” is a great thought, isn’t it? Don’t you wish you could do this? Well, I’m sorry, but realistically, it may not happen. There is a certain level of raw natural talent some people have when playing Magic, and not all of us have it. The rest of us have to understand that this may never happen, and need to simply practice to be the best that they can be.


We’re not all Jon Finkel. We’re not all Kai Budde. A lot of us aren’t even “the guy who wins Friday Night Magic every week.” And a lot of us are not going to be able to “only see the right play.”


Also, keep in mind that this relates to tournament play, something my article definitely does not focus on. In tournament play, decision narrowing may be good, but in practice, I think you want to expand your decision practice as much as possible. When you are learning, you may not even see the right play the first two or three times you play it. Most of this knowledge is gained through trial and error, not some deep intuitive process.



Third, Duel Masters is coming out soon. For those of you who don’t know, Duel Masters is a new Trading Card Game coming out from Wizards of the Coast that bears a more then slight resemblance to Magic. The game also has its own TV show to go along with it.


Duel Masters is likely not the game for you, and its not going to steal your friends away. Duel Masters is a gateway game. It is a game that will lead people into Magic, not out of it. The marketing plan is simple if you look at it. Take the TV Show kids all playing Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh now, and move them over to Duel Masters, which has striking similarities to those games from a marketing perspective. Then, slowly move those players into Magic, your flagship game.


Its brilliant from a marketing perspective, and I know my store will be actively demonstrating and playing the game to see how it works out. Does this mean you shouldn’t play Duel Masters? Not at all. In fact, I expect to have quite a fun time diving into it when it comes out to see how it plays and what can be done with it. Does this mean that Duel Masters will not stick around as a game, if its whole purpose is to get players into Magic? No, there will always be players that don’t move to Magic, and I think Wizards knows this and wants to have a product available for this group. It used to be Pokemon, but they no longer own Pokemon, and NeoPets isn’t picking up the slack. Likely Duel Masters will.



Fourth, I’m going to take a slightly unpopular thought on an issue currently showing up in the Ontario community.  Apparently, the head judge of the Darksteel Prerelease miscalculated the number of packs he was supposed to give out as prizes during the event, and gave out total roughly three extra boxes of product during the course of the day. Coincidently, the judge’s pay was supposed to be three boxes, so the Tournament Organizer said the head judge would just not get paid, and they’d call it even.


Ok, now, the first thing wrong with this picture to me as an organizer may not be as obvious to the spectator. The first thing wrong is that the head judge should not be determining the prize support for the event. This is quite specifically a responsibility of the tournament organizer, and perhaps if the organizer wanted to ensure the prize support was correct, they should have done it themselves, as it is their job.


The second thing wrong with this picture is that, and this is strictly word of mouth, the organizer told the judge that they couldn’t afford to “take the hit” for three whole boxes, and that’s why the judge was being penalized. My understanding that there was roughly fifteen full flights of players for this event, and they charged $40 per player for a flight (Canadian). I cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, picture a situation where the organizer could not afford the three boxes. I am sure they didn’t WANT to have to shell out three extra boxes, but I am reasonably certain that they could afford them.


And here is where I get to the unpopular part of my analysis of this incident. The third thing wrong with this picture is the judge expecting to not be penalized for giving out three extra boxes of product. That’s roughly $350 (U.S.) retail product that just flew out the door, intentional or not. While I personally believe the head judge should never have been deciding prizes to begin with, by agreeing to do it he took responsibility for it, and some of this loss really should be on his shoulders.


I have to admit; I doubt I would have penalized my head judge like this, especially on a first offense, which I believe this was. I doubt I would have handled it the same way at all. But I am not sure I fault the organizer as much as everyone else does. If I saw $350 of product go out the window, I’d likely be a bit aggravated as well.


This story hit home for me, because the same thing happened to me just last prerelease. I am in charge of the San Diego and Phoenix prereleases, and in San Diego, my remote manager accidentally printed out draft sign up information with the wrong prize payout, and some extra product was given out for the event. My remote manager immediately took responsibility for it, and even offered to take it out of his pay, but I passed it off. Things like this happen, and my primary concern was not that extra packs went out the door, but that the players do not get the wrong impression about the prize structure. Losing a few extra packs is fine. Listening to dozens of players complain that I lowered the prizes next time, when in reality the last event’s prize structure was wrong, is not.


I never did check if my remote manager really did take it out of his pay, as he did the product accounting. I better check, because if he did, I need to beat him up more for not following orders. And I see him next week….


Thanks for reading everyone. As always, you can reach me at rayp at primenet dot com if you want to comment of have any suggestions. Have a great week!

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