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Bring the Right Attitude

This is the busy season for me.

In some ways it's great for article writing, as I am almost certain to have something to write about every week. On the down side, I rarely have time to actually write, so everything feels hurried or rushed, and I worry about making deadlines. I started writing this one while running a Man of Steel Vs. System Sneak Preview, and who knows when I'll get to finish it. Tomorrow I run a Mutant Mayhem Hero Clix prerelease. Next weekend, I run two Unhinged Release Parties in two different states, a Pro Tour Qualifier, and a Yu Gi Oh Rise of Destiny Sneak Preview. Then its Thanksgiving, then the glory that is Gen Con So Cal. During this time we signed on a new house, and are making all the decisions on that.

So, I'm stressed. But in a good busy way.

Unhinged is coming, and I have to admit I am eager to see how it plays. Unfortunately I won't get to be there for the Unhinged Release parties next weekend, just the Gen Con So Cal one's, which I won't get to play in either because I am the organizer of record for all of these events. It's times like this that I hate to be an organizer. There's very few events that I really want to play in, and I nearly never get to when I can. But the ability to play an Ass Whuppin on someone just seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up.

But with this event in my mind, and some recent discussions about events, made me start thinking about the levels of events and how people treat different events. It seems to me that people have a tendency to show up to win at every event, at any cost. While I have no argument against the desire to compete and win, the amount of effort put into it for certain events seems contrary to the pay off for that event, and the attitude people display at these events can ruin it for everyone. If you are going to a Pro Tour Qualifier, by all means, bring your A Game. But if you're playing in a weekly casual event, or a prerelease, keep in mind the event is there for people to have fun and enjoy in this game we all love, not to see who can beat the snot out of each other more.

At events with a substantial prize on the line, and an understanding of fierce competition, a certain level of competition is to be expected. But when its Friday Night Magic and your opponent is little Jimmy who is playing his first Magic event, do you really need to try to rules lawyer a win out of him because his white weenie deck just happened to get a good draw against you? Let the kid win for once.

Recently I've run into several instances like this, and I don't think people realize how badly it hurts the games they play.

Right now, at my store, we have a group of people that play Wars, the Trading Card Game from Decipher. There's four of them there every time, and a couple others that come and go on different weeks. These are people that played Star Wars by Decipher when it came out, and have been loyal to the game since its inception. When Decipher lost the license, they stopped coming around, or maybe some of them went to other Decipher products, but now that Wars is back, albeit with a different name, they're happy as clams about it, but are concerned that the game is not exploding like they think it should be.

The reason is pretty simple. Decipher has no intellectual property to go with the game except the one they created, so its hard to get the non-hardcore gamer into it. The hardcore gamer was around during the time of Star Wars, and either liked or didn't like it way back then, and sees no reason to change their opinion about it now. So, the only real way someone would get into the game is if the players brought in new players and showed them how fun it is to play. The problem is that every new guy we send to these four guys has a distinctly unpleasant experience with the game, and doesn't come back. Its not even because they guys are mean, but they play to win, and they've been playing the game for years and won't spend the time with the player to teach them things. So, a new player comes in, barely knows the rules, doesn't have many cards, and just gets savagely face smashed by four people who seems to have this tight knit group that makes everyone else feel like an outsider.

These events aren't even sanctioned. There is zero lost value in letting a new player beat you to give him a feel for how the game plays and give them a taste of how good winning feels, ensuring they will come back next week to try again, and growing the community for the game. But for some reason this thought never seems to sink in for them, and they wonder week after week why the game is not growing.

The feeling hit home for the Upper Deck Vs Tournament. My store manager and I were talking about Vs, and how downhill its gone for us, even with us trying to push it harder and harder. The biggest problem we seem to have is that there are no casual players for the game. The people who have gotten into the game did because of the Pro Circuit, and are basically in the game because they think they can make money at it, which means the primary play group is ultra-competitive gamers which drives out the other players. Its a shame too, because the game is really well built. Its not my cup of tea to play, but that in now way stop me from appreciating it as a well designed game, and while I may gripe about Upper Deck a lot, one thing I can say for them is that they seem to be continually attempting to improve as every week goes by, and while it may or may not work in the long run, I give them a lot of credit for trying.

Sunday, however, gave me a feel for what I wish every event could be, the Mutant Mayhem Prerelease had 29 people, and they all came there for one reason, to have fun. Wiz Kids events give out a Fellowship prize which is given out to the best sport at the end of the day. The Head Judge of the event and I literally could not come up with one guy that was better than the next. Every person there was nice to their opponent, and deserved it. We ended up narrowing it down to SIX people, and just rolled a die. By the way, random piece of geek trivia, does anyone else find it funny that I had to drive by the Xavier's Prep School to get to the site of my Mutant Mayhem Prerelease?

Anyways, with Unhinged coming, I just want people to get in the right mood. You're going to be heading to an event based on Monkeys and Donkeys. You'll be playing with cards that will not be legal anywhere ever, and the tournament will likely not even be sanctioned. Go to have fun. Go to enjoy the cool new cards you'll see, and to try to figure out neat new ways to use them which will delight and amaze you and other's.

Don't go there to win.


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