We’ve just had a long weekend here in New Zealand, over which I attended King of Card’s Morningtide Sneak Peek Tourney. As I’m a Magic newbie this was my first time at an official ‘DCI sanctioned‘ tournament so I approached it with some trepidation. I generally avoid official war game tournaments because I play for fun and the type of high pressure players you can encounter at tourneys kills the game for me. Not to mention I’m often a mediocre general as I favor the painting and modeling side of the hobby more than the dice rolling.
However the rigid structure, well defined rules interpretations and fairly even playing field of a Magic ‘Pre Release’ Tourny attracted me. You’re all given the same number of cards and the same amount of time to construct a 40 card minimum deck and the option of tweaking your deck as much you like between opponents. So Saturday morning I wandered into King of Cards and plunked my $35nz entry fee down. The mix of players looked good, there were only twelve of us, not too many teenagers and only one child attending with his father.
Of course going into the tourney I had absolutely no expectations of winning a damned thing because I’m definitely a noob and the Morningtide release is part of the Lorwyn block in Magic which I’ve largely avoided to date. I’ve been playing Time Spiral and Tenth mostly. Lorwyn doesn’t really grab me with it’s creature heavy theme and natural tendency to limit your decks to one or two creature types. However Morningtide changes a lot of that because it carries the Lorwyn theme into creature classes as well like Rogues etc. This appeals to me more because I tend to play a lot of Rogues (favoring Black) and because class based mechanics don’t tend to limit you quite as much to certain Magic races.
My expectations were to fork out my entry fee, get my $35 worth of Lorwyn and Morningtide cards and have a few games where I got totally schooled by people that knew the game inside and out. I was perfectly happy with that because hey, $35 down and I walk away with $35 worth of product, that’s a win-win situation from the outset!
With only twelve players we played four rounds that started at 11am and finished at 3pm. Overall my rounds went like this:
- 0-2 to Sean, a Magic veteran who rebuilt my deck from a Kithkin/Changeling themed White/Red/Black to a Elf/Changeling themed Green/White/Black after the round. The first game I got him down to 5 life before he got his deck off the ground and demolished me which was a nice confidence booster. In the second game once he had Liliana Vess out I knew my fate was sealed. It was also very kind of him to rebuild my deck since frankly I really had no idea what the heck I was doing.
0-2 to Nick, a talkative ten year old child. He was a nice enough opponent but I had to keep a close eye on him to make sure he played the rules correctly. I called him on a few things but unfortunately missed a really core mechanic that he was playing completely incorrectly and essentially gave him both games. An unlucky intersection of my newbie lack of rules knowledge and the fact he was a ten year old and as such couldn’t really be expected to play the rules properly. Ah well, chalk that one up to experience.
- 2-0 to James, a friendly teenage guy who was a model player, pointing out stuff he was doing as he played and calling me on card rules I was missing occasionally that benefited me. He was an excellent sportsman and the sort of player I’d happily play against casually. He just had a run of really bad luck, relying on the Morningtide Kinship mechanism to give his decks a boost, but then only getting one successful Kinship draw in two games! I however had a rebuilt deck and a run of lucky cards that gave me the two games.
2-1 to a quiet Asian chap who’s name escapes me. He played reasonably fast at the outset which I found a little confusing but fortunately slowed down as the games came down to the wire. He was another player that pointed out errors I made which was nice and actually gave me a tip that essentially won me the last game. This round was the most exciting in the tourney for me as the games were all really close and my luck held out when it was needed, particularly since it was obvious from the combos my opponent was exploiting he was an experienced player.
Overall I came 8th out of 12 players and with such a small group we had 72 booster packs to split between us – first place scored no less than 18 boosters! I myself came away with 4 boosters, a Morningtide Deck box and a nifty foil copy of Morningtide’s ‘Earwig Squad’ which is roughly an extra $30 worth of Magic products.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, and as an aside I have to recommend King of Cards as an excellent store if you’re an Auckland Magic player, comic collector or Euro board gamer. The proprietor Lawrence is a friendly and helpful guy and I’ll definitely be going back for any future Magic tourneys he hosts in store.
In summary I learned the following:
- Learn the rules! In particular, all the special mechanics in the game. A little obvious really but to date I’ve really only paid attention to the mechanics I like to play, or my gaming mates have used against me.
Learn the cards! I found it nigh impossible to create a decent deck in 30 minutes simply because I didn’t know any of the cards I was dealing with. Thirty minutes with 45 cards leaves you less than a minute to comprehend each one. I knew this was going to be an issue since I haven’t been playing Lorwyn to date, although I have been playing against a couple of Lorwyn decks. It was just luck that my first opponent was kind enough to rebuild my deck.
- Keep an eye on your opponents and don’t be afraid to query their plays. For example I noticed all the veteran players I went against kept track of both their life and mine. Also keep an eye out for funny stuff. I didn’t encounter any deliberate cheating but on a couple of occasions my (newbie) queries resulted in people correcting their play.
Remember it’s only a card game and enjoy yourself. For example my last opponent had a couple of combos working that were really hammering my creatures (with Thornbite Staff and Moonglove Changeling, killing 2-3 of them each turn) but it was nicely done and I couldn’t help complimenting him on it.
- Take notes! Unfortunately I neglected to take a note book but I certainly should have, if only to note down useful combos and plays that came up. If you’re playing people with more experience than you, might as well benefit from it!
Anyway, back to the war gaming!