Okay, it’s time for me to write the article that I feel a number of players at my local shops need to read. Also there’s a few tips others might have overlooked. Here’s the scene; it’s tournament time and you are about to leave your house, what are you bringing with you? I know: cards, money, positive attitude, and yourself. Just hold with me as I go through the check list.
Deck – You can’t play without this, but just because you grabbed the deck box doesn’t mean it’s all there. I once showed up ready to battle with my Jund list at FNM just to go into my sideboard for game two and learn that I wasn’t playing with a full deck. Maelstrom Pulse was sitting at home in the Dredge list I had made for last week’s Extended event. Lesson learned; always do a deck check before you leave the house.
Money – Just because you have the entry fee doesn’t mean you’re all set for the night. Some times events go long, even longer with limited ones, safe bet is to bring a few bucks for snacks in between rounds. Meat and nuts are best because protean fuels you longer and doesn’t turn to fat as easily as high carbohydrate foods like chips and candy. Remember this is a sport of the mind not the body so you wont be moving around to burn off the sugar.
Positive attitude – Tons of articles are out on the web about “tilting.” Tilt is a term that comes from pinball and brought to card games by poker players. When you tilt a pinball machine it goes all crazy and makes you lose the game as well as letting everyone around you know that you’re a cheater. When you go off your game and start thinking you are going to lose you are tilting and you will make mistakes. These mistakes of being off your focus with negative thoughts is what is making you lose. Stay calm, stay focused, and don’t give up until it’s over.
Okay we covered the main three, but what else might you be forgetting as you walk out the door.
Water bottle – Like I said about chips and candy the same goes for soda. Plus bringing water cuts down on the money you spend leaving more for tournaments, packs, and singles. All gaming stores have bathrooms with sinks so just refill when you empty. Yeah, that was a potty joke.
Dice/Counters – In a game there are so many things you will need to keep track of. How many loyalty counters are on a walker. -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters on creatures. Charge counters on artifacts. The list goes on and if you miss something it might cost you the game, or could even be thought of as cheating. Dice are easy to come by. When I started gaming I raided the family board games for all the six-sided ones we had in the house. Another thing I found was my mother’s collection of glass craft stones. They’re the kind you use in flower vases and fish tanks, which is why most department stores have them in the craft and pet departments. If you do take the ones from the fish tank please wash them before coming to the shop.
Deodorant – Speaking of bad smells. You are most likely sitting in a hot room with little ventilation with your arms down. This causes you to get some major pit sweat and leads to popular idea that gamers are dirty creatures that never bathe themselves. Do your store and the guy next to you a favor and pack a small stick of BO killer in your backpack. Skip the sprays. These just get mixed in with the funk and can end up misfiring in a bag if the cap comes off. Trust me you don’t want to Axe Bomb your gear.
Tokens – Dice and counters are not tokens. Because of the volume of my token box I’ve started to forget it at home, but I’ve just started a binder of token cards I plan to leave in my backpack for events. When you are building a deck that is using only one or two kinds of tokens it’s okay to let things slide with dice and counters, but when you are making three or more it gets very confusing to have to remember what is what. Even if you are using different cards from other games that have a clear translation into what kind of tokens they are is better than just some dice all over the place . Examples would be Stormtroopers as Soldiers, Bellsprouts as plant tokens, and Tie Fighters as Birds.
Deck box and sleeves – Even if you are using those dirt cheap penny sleeves and a card board box you made with duct tape I will have more respect for you then someone who just holds lose cards together with a rubber-band. You paid money for these cards and you might want to sell them or trade them later on, but no one will want it if it looks like it just got back from a war zone. Respect your cards, respect you money, and buy some sleeves and a box. Also for everyone with sleeves, make sure to have extras on hand with you at events. Sleeves break at odd times, and this is why you get extras when you buy them. Remember practice safe gaming and use protection.
Trade Binder – Now the reason I say binder is because this is the standard for players. A binder allows you to display all your cards with ease and doesn’t run the risk of damage from the cards being loose in a box. Some players with large collections will have a range of binders based upon different reasons: formats, rarity, money value, and foil. If you are just starting stick to one binder for now and add more as you go. Also a good tip is to price your trades and keep the prices up dated. Just get some penny sleeves and write the prices on the sleeves of any card worth over a dollar. Also if you tape a list of the cards you are looking for on the inside of the binder with their prices this will help you even more.
Playmat – Not all gaming stores are mess free. Tables will have dirt, grim, and sticky spots where you are about to put a card. You don’t have to go out of you way to get a playmat. Ones with art can range ten to twenty dollars, blanks or solid colors are about five to eight, or you could make one out of card board, hot glue, and an old t-shirt. You could be the dude with his own Iron Maiden playmat.
Note pad – In the middle of a game dice can get bumped. This is why I don’t trust them for keeping life totals. Also sometimes I want to make some notes about key cards I’ve seen in a game. Also when you get the chance to look at the other players hand or side board it’s nice to write what you see so you know what might be coming at you. Notes, like reading, is tech and leads to wins. Write that down.
Backpack – Now that you have all you gear laid out it’s time to get going to the store. Now because you don’t want to have to carry everything in your arms you’ll need one of these. Now most gamers have either gone to school, or still there, the odds of you having a backpack are very high. I’ve been out of high school for eleven years and I still have the one I got at the start of junior high that even has my name on it, but if you want to keep the low tech look a plastic bag will work just as well.
Well that’s your check list. So gear up and learn how much better gaming is with all your tools.
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