The slight benefit for waking up at 6am for early classes.

The slight benefit for waking up at 6am for early classes.

Last weekend was the Prerelease for the new Magic the Gathering set called Shadows over Innistrad.

What’s a prerelease? I didn’t really know, since I haven’t played Magic in 10 years (if you can even say that I ‘played’ back then, I was just given a free deck by the local game store [THANKS!]). I compared it to Yu-Gi-Oh’s sneakpeek (which I’ve also never been to), where you pay a fee to get 5~ packs of the new set, build a deck with it, and then play in a tournament with that deck, with additional packs as prizes.

My friend linked me an article that gave me some advice about Prereleases. He also linked a very, very informative and helpful series of article which I didn’t read. I wish I read them, since they would have made me feel less overwhelmed during the draft. I was overwhelmed by a different task – groupwork. I was writing and finish my parts to meet my groups’ internal deadlines (in which members for both groups didn’t meet, great).

I was hesitant in attending the Magic event. I didn’t play the game, I was pretty bad at YGO, and card games are quite costly. But I’ll go through those problems later.

Right now, I just need to say that the event was fun. Hell, I even won something (yay!), and talked to some nice people.

Oh, it also was a super low pressure way of networking. I didn’t make a blog post for this, but I went to a lunch event a few weeks ago to try and network. It was pretty much my first every try at it, so it obvious ended pretty poorly. It really let me see how much I needed to improved, and in a way, motivated me to go to more events. Attending the prerelease was basically a pseudo networking event for me. It was just to practice initiating conversation, holding conversations, and trying to be me when I’m with people who I don’t know. I soon forgot that goal, and ironically, probably achieved that goal because of it.

The box isn't as large as the picture shows.

The box isn’t as large as the picture shows.

The prerelease draft was fun. $35 was a bit high for my tastes, but I’ve accepted the fact that the Loonie is actually worthless, so I’m satisfied that it’s not over $40 dollars. The box it came with was pretty interesting. I don’t remember YGO ever having boxes like that for anything. The box was quite practical for the prerelease. It was only as large as the display artwork on the box, so it only had enough space to really fit 1 compartment for cards. The prereleasse also came with a 20 sided die (for health), a rather nice cardboard separator, and a foil prerelease (different from normal foil is that it has the dates of the prerelease printed on it in gold). The box was just cardboard, but their method of the clapse mechanic was really cool. It made using the box super satisfying.

I guess I’m just gushing over the box because I’ve never had anything like this for other games. It’s like the developer, Wizards of the Coast, actually care for their players, unlike some other companies *coughcough*. I confirmed that by seeing the amount of empty boxes just being left around near the end of the event. I even saw a few in the trash. Feels bad.

Anyways, I started that Saturday by going to Allen’s house and getting a quick rundown of basic game mechanics, how to enter combat, and ran through a few turns. It was enough to get me by during the event, but I definitely had to get a lot of things cleared up during my first match. I thought the event started at 1pm, but it was actually 2:30pm, which was a considerable difference in time. I still thought I could meet my 8pm Skype meeting for one of my aforementioned groups (it was eventually canceled, not by me, but probably initiated by me), but it was not to be. The event ran until around 9:30-10pm. Although we could’ve left earlier, since the last round we (me & Allen) both split rewards with our opponents.

Mr. Froggie.

Mr. Froggie.

When we arrived, I was surprised by the amount of people there. It was way more than I expected. I think there was about 100 or so people there. That’s pretty impressive. Drafting came first. I opened my 6 packs with Allen, separated them by colours, and quickly organized the cards between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (I used this online resource [Allen sent it to me] to tell which were good and bad, and a bit of self judgement). Then Allen helped me choose the two colours I should run. It ended up being Green/Black, mainly because I pulled this stupid frog, The Gitrog Monster, that required both colours. He was supposed to be my ‘win-condition’. Allen also helped me choose the rest of the cards to play. And by help, I mean he did everything. He legitimately carried me through drafting. I would’ve probably not built a deck in time without him.

My first match was against a UK guy who worked as a game designer at a company here, called Will. They create a (his words) popular MMORPG game, which it’s name I forgot. He said there was a few hundred thousand players, so it does sound very popular. Will was the first player I had ever really played. I started out introductions by saying I was pretty much a new player with other TCG (okay, Hearthstone is a CCG) experience. He was really nice about it, and helped me get through my first match. He explained a lot of mechanics to me, and pretty much filled all the holes that Allen didn’t cover. Great guy, would have loved to play more with him. He won the first game (I had to ask if it was a bo1 or bo3, because I didn’t know – kind of embarrassing), I won the second game, and we tied for the final game because of time constraints (ruling: get 5 more turns to declare winner, or result in draw). So with 1 win, loss, and draw each, our final result was a draw.

I went into my second match, and did the same introduction (probably cut some stuff because he seemed more competitive, and because I forgot). I think his name was Sergio, but I’m not sure. It wasn’t a name I heard often, so I don’t remember it well. Then again, I’m just bad with names so it could always just be that. I won both games (wow!), and I achieved my goal of winning at least one match (although my initial goal was just winning 1 game). I had answers to all his cards game 1, and game 2 he just didn’t draw into anything useful. Cool.

It's embarrassing to read things wrong.

It’s embarrassing to read things wrong.

Match 3 was the most interesting thing about that day. I did an even brief introduction (only been playing for a bit, might make mistakes – sorry!), and we started. We only played 2 games. I won the first won, after a very long game that was actually quite complex. It would be easier for someone with more experience, but they definitely weren’t easy game states to read, especially for me. I made some obvious mistakes because I was too busy trying to understand everything that was going on, but mistakes only mean improvement. It reminded me a lot of playing ladder in Hearthstone and noticing my mistakes, and that comforted me a lot. Game 1 lasted a long time, and near the end of it I was frustrated that it wasn’t ending, and was scared of having my 3rd match result in a draw off only 1 game, but I RNG drew into direct damage and won. God bless. Game 2 was more of the same, only he had a much better opening, and I didn’t have many answers. I had things that would stall the game, but I couldn’t find ways to win the game. I was holding Rabid Bite since near the beginning of the game, and for the entire duration of the game I thought it could target either creature or player, so I wanted to use it as a finisher. I reached a point where I thought I could end the game through targeting the player with Rabid Bite, only to realize it only hits creatures, and it was very embarrassing. Allen said later I could’ve used it to clear his creatures and probably won game 2 if I played it earlier. Oh well, I was too focused on using it to end the game because the previous game lasted too long. Eventually time limit hit, and we had 5 turns to end the game. At the end of turn 5, I was 1 damage away from ending the game, so we ended as a draw. I was initially pretty sad about it, because I thought having a draw meant the final result would be a draw, but because I had won game 1, and tied game 2, I had the better record in this match, and it became a victory.



The photo in question. I can’t believe I did this. I can’t believe I’m uploading it.

With that, I was into the money, as Smash players like to call it. There was no money at this event, but I was guaranteed to win some packs, which was an amazing feeling. I had never won anything in any of the other card games I played (albeit I attended only 2 YGO locals in which I played a tier 3/4 deck, and no tournaments for Hearthstone), or any other game for that matter, so it felt like an achievement for me. I did realize that it was a sealed draft casual tournament where players are bounded by luck and aren’t very competitive over things, but it was a nice experience all the same. I even ended up posing 3 times (!!!) for a rather embarrassing photo later on.

Before match 4, I realized that because I had 2 wins and 1 tie, I was guaranteed to win 4 packs regardless if I won or not. If I lost, I would be 2-1-1, and get 4 packs, but if I won I would be 3-0-1 and get 12 packs. Wow. 12 packs at 5$ a pack is basically winning $60 dollars. Damn. Though, because I was hearing that a lot of people split prizes for match 4 (aka: they choose to draw so they both get rewards), as it was a non-competitive environment, I realized that if my next opponent was a 2 wins and 1 loss, if he forfeit and gave me the win, we could split the prize 50/50 and each get 6 packs – more than what he could get if he won, and more than what I would get if I lost.

Yes, I would be losing out on a potential 6 additional packs ($30!!!), but Will really left an impression on me, as he was very nice and helpful, and I kind of wanted to pay it forward. So when I sit down in front of Zak, and find out that he was 2 wins 1 loss, I was pretty happy. I would have loved having another $30 of value, but considering I would’ve probably gone 0-3 without Will’s kindness, the 50/50, 6 pack split was the easiest thing I had done all day. Allen went 3-0-1, with a tie split at the end and got 12 packs.

The name sounds pretty cool.

The name sounds pretty cool.

We opened our packs (aside from his 4 coupons that he can redeem for SoI packs next week when they are legal to play), didn’t pull any ‘Planeswalkers’ (basically the best creatures in the set), went to eat dinner (because it was super late!) and then went home. The event made me a lot more interested in Magic. It was way less dumb than YGO’s obscure rulings & 2-3 turn kill setups, and more complex with less RNG than Hearthstone. I’m actually interested to attending more drafts (probably Sealed rather than Booster), and maybe even look at getting a Standard deck that can last 1 year~ (not talking about competitiveness, but more about legality). The next prerelease will be for Eldritch Moon, in mid July, and I definitely will try to attend that one.

But I’m scared. YGO was fun for me at the beginning, before I learned about it’s stupid things. Same for Hearthstone. I spent a decent amount of money for both of those, and I don’t touch either of them now. Is that what will happen for Magic? It seems unlikely since this game is the ‘better’ version of Hearthstone, less dumb than YGO, and a long lasting competitive game, but if I buy a $70 deck a few months from now, how long will I play it for? I’m not trying to win back my money or anything, so this is definitely a monetary loss like the other two games were. But magic cards don’t have huge spikes in cost like YGO does. They have a 2 year life cycle, so eventually they’ll drop in price as they leave Standard play. There’s also costs for the entry fees for the events. Of course most hobbies will end up as a deficit, but how long will this one last? Will it be worth it? How many times am I actually going to be able to play with the physical cards I buy? Twice a month? 4? Will I use them outside of tournaments? All these questions. I don’t want to fall back into the same cycle as I did for other card games, where I get interested, spend money, then drop it under a year later. It’s too costly for me to be spending $200+ for something I won’t use often, and end up leaving behind later. Smash is a lot cheaper of a game, while lasting much longer (I don’t get bored).

All in all, the prerelease was a fun experience. But it made me think, why don’t I attend events for things that I am already interested in? Why don’t I go to Smash tournaments? Hearthstone ones (when I was interested)? League? CSGO? I think I just did not have anyone to go with. Outside of that, all the other reasons are basically non-negligible. The pressure of going alone and potentially feeling very isolated and left out is very high. Honestly, if I went alone to this event, my deck would’ve been worse, would’ve probably felt a lot more weird in a place where I didn’t belong (since I don’t play the game), and would have been much more frustrated with how things went. But most of these are Magic-related things. If I was a veteran player, their effect would have been significantly diminished. Like for smash – I know enough about the game that things wouldn’t be frustrating for me. I might not be good enough to do a lot of the tech, but that doesn’t reflect on my enjoyment (since I don’t use the tech), I would belong (I play the game & follow the scene), and I would finally get to play with people outside of when JV comes over.

So why aren’t I registering for the next smash event? Honestly, I should register right now, but because the next one is past April (in which what I’m doing is literally unknown still), I can’t make the commitment. However, I will make the slight commitment to trying to attend more events I like, because they’re enjoyable. I mean, if it’s about a topic that I’m interested in, why wouldn’t it be interesting to attend? All I wish would be that at least 1 or 2 of the people at the event are people I know. Either that means going with people to the event, or getting to know people who attend the events. Either way, it sounds fun.

Also, I should make a note to request UBC’s Smash 4 weeklies to move back to Thursday evening! I can’t make Friday evenings, and it makes me sad.