What have you done for me lately?
What have you done for me lately!!!
Ever since Eddie Murphy uttered that line in his stand up show, it
embedded itself in American Pop Culture. Why was it so, popular? Because
its true, not only in your love life, but your magic life as well. To be a
successful event organizer, you need to be continually keeping your
players happy, offering them new and better prizes and tournaments, and
creating an atmosphere where they want to keep coming back.
This applies not only to event running specifically, but the magic
community as a whole. I'd like to think I run good events, but I have had
very little time lately to spend on visiting with the magic playing
community, and keeping in touch with their wants and needs. so, when
Atomic Comics approached me and asked if I could sanction a sealed deck
event for them, I agreed. Atomic Comics is not a "player" in the
tournament scene, but does cater to some casual players, so I was likely
to get to interact with some players I normally never get to see.
Boy was I right....
The Place: Atomic Comics, Mesa, Arizona
The Time: Sunday, February 13th, noon.
The scene: 38 magic players playing sealed deck for EIGHT DOLLARS trying
for the following prizes:
First place: A Booster Box
Second: A Booster Box:
Third: A $50 gift certificate
Fourth: A $35 Gift Certificate
Fifth: A 420 gift certificate
And finally, the first new player under 5th would get a $20 gift
certificate. Out of 38 players, we had TWENTY FOUR new DCI cards.
Evidently, casual play is alive and well.
The cheap entry fee, plus the nice prize structure brought a very
interesting array of players there. We had two thirds of the players never
having played in a sanctioned tournament before, and at the other end we
had 2 pro tour players, and 4 other "serious" players. Atomic Comics was
very interested in keeping it casual, so it was a major adjustment for me,
as I normally do not judge anything under a PTQ level. Trying to keep the
atmosphere fun and keep the serious players from rules lawyering the new
players in some cases proved a challenge.
The first major issue we ran into in the tournament was seating. First,
Atomic Comics suggested moving their gaming tables outside to let people
play in the sun. This may sound scary to you east coasters, but in
Arizona, the forecast was for 75 degree either, so the temperature was not
an issue. I vetoed it on the basis of the infamous "gust of wind" that
would inevitably occur and destroy several games, and they relented. Our
second seating issue was lack of space. We had seating for 34, and 38
players. The last two tables were some barrels they had set up for
decoration, with the encouragement of "win, and you won't be on the
barrels." Not the best of situations, but the players were okay with it,
and the atmosphere was nicely casual.
As we were doing deck registration, many questions occurred. Although I
did not require deck swapping, I did make them fill out a deck
registration list. I believe it is valuable if for no other reason in that
it is good practice should they move onto more serious events. Over half
of the crowd did not understand the 5 land swap rule, or exactly how to
fill out the decklist, but we still managed to make it through deck
registration with 2 minutes to spare.
During the registration, I found some more interesting news: the store
closed at 6:00PM. Considering we started the event at noon, this
presented somewhat of a challenge. I finally settled on 5 rounds of Swiss,
which, when doing the triangle, came out the most accurate way to make
clear cut winners.
For those of you that have not done it, it is my opinion you try running
an event straight Swiss, no cut. It is wonderful. With the proper amount
of rounds, you get a clear cut winner, and you also stop players from
using the Intentional Draw rule to help their friends, making it a much
more unbiased tournament. I love straight Swiss and would suggest it
No one argued with straight Swiss (after I explained it to them), and,
after a longer than normal introduction on things like Paris Mulligan, and
how a match winner is determined, we began.
The first thing I realized was I assume too much. :)
Two rules calls immediately occurred when a player chose to play first,
AND draw a card. Both were in their first DCI tournament, and simply did
not know the play/draw rule. A kind warning later, and a shuffling of a
card back into their library, and off they went. I briefly stopped the
tournament to explain the play draw rule, then continued. Its amazing how
quickly you forget how casual magic is played, and consider tournament
magic the de facto standard. most of the issues I ran into this day
centered around things that are normally okay in casual play, but not in
tournament play. A second example of this was a player who dealt himself
six card, played first, laid a land, drew another card, played a land, and
during his opponent's turn, picked up his deck and just absentmindedly
started shuffling it. No real reason, he was just in the mood to shuffle
and had no idea it was against the rules. Since there was no previous
library manipulation, *I* shuffled the deck (on the off chance some odd
stacking had occurred), and gave the player a warning. Throughout this
event I tried desperately to give no game losses, as these were all very
new players, and it was a very casual event.
Around round 2, Atomic Comics sent out for Sonic. Life is good.
One of the issues with an event like this is the serious player that truly
wants to win often ruins the fun for the casual player. Suggestion to
WoTC, hold events where only people ranked 1700 or under can ATTEND. I
think it would get good attendance. Many new players were very intimidated
when playing against serious players, and it dampened the mood somewhat.
Not that all serious players were bad, I saw one of my better players
happily joking with his newbie opponent while suffering horrible mana
screw. Although the older player was well on his way to losing because of
lack of land, he was still having fun, and making sure his opponent had
fun as well. Another who went on to win the event, seemed to be taking
particular care not to be "overly serious" towards his opponents.
Still, there were some less than wonderful moments. During round 3, a
serious player called me over because he thought his opponent was
stalling. I walked over and watched the opponent. He was a brand new
player, had not played with Masques before, *and* had an arm cast, so was
essentially playing one handed. I saw his hand, and even without that
consideration, he had a wide variety of choices of what he could do based
on his hand. I watched for a few rounds, then left, saying I felt he was
playing at a reasonable pace. Towards the end of the round, the serious
player called me over again, his opponent had just renounced, basically
putting him out of range to be killed in the last two extra turns going
on, which would make the match a draw. The serious player argued that the
new player had tapped three mana for a Renounce instead of two, and
therefore should take a point of mana burn. This new player was the one
with the cast. I asked him to reenact it and he said his announcement was
'tap two for renounce' and he tapped the land with his casted arm, so it
was entirely likely that he had accidentally knocked and extra land,
although he did not think he had. In the end I ruled that I would not rule
against someone because they have a physical handicap that may have caused
them to knock an extra land, and it was a correct renounce and no mana
burn would occur. Afterwards I had a brief conversation with the serious
player, reiterating that this was intended to be a fun tournament, to very
little avail. Can't win them all.
The rules questions for the rest of the day were very straightforward, so
I won't go into detail on them. simple question like how to deal with
trample damage, and if you can regenerate a creature when Maggot Therapy
is on it were the order of the day.
We ended at exactly six, with a nice finishing. One of the five was a
brand new player, and 6th, was as well, earning the top new player prize.
Everyone had fun, and may players asked when the next event like this was,
and I walked off with a sense of accomplishment and feeling more in touch
with the local players than I have in quite a while. At the highest level
we forget what Magic is supposed to be about, the social aspect. Friends
getting together and playing and talking and having fun. Towards the end
of the day I saw some of the players that had dropped out playing a 6
person free for all. One of the protour players looked on, making
suggestions, and cracking jokes with them. Its something we all should
try some time.
Level 3 DCI Judge
Arizona Tournament Coordinator