To the interested community--
I wanted to take a moment to address a disturbing (or hopeful?) trend I've noticed in the Magic scene for my area, and for the Ohio Valley in general; that of -fun-.
I've been playing Magic for over 5 years; I remember getting excited about the "new" set coming out with fourth edition. I've seen *a lot* of games.
I've had a lot of fun with this game, and continue to have fun rediscovering it every day of my life. I'm competitive and highly skilled; one would think a dream for the Pro-level, right?
During my long career, I've participated in 4 declared tournaments. Yes, that's right, 4.
The first was by far the most fun; myself and two other friends in college got together for a game, and set the rules as thus:
50 poison counters max.
Starting with 2 basic lands of each type, and a half-dozen non-basic lands.
*Must play with every single card you own*
As y'all can imagine, it was a beast, a nighmare, and a dream come true. We played for 12 hours straight, and I came in second, losing only because I made one bad call. Oh, well. I had more fun than I can ever remember having with this game. It was sheer insanity.
The next one would be many, many years later. It was a local tournament, with an extremely relaxed Type 1 atmosphere. There were 20 folks in attendance. I ran a mono-artifact deck, and came in 8th or 9th, losing to a pro-level player who crashed the party.
I must say, though, that I appreciated the experience, learned from the beating, and would come back stronger and more skilled.
The second one, I ran my mono-artifact with Tinkers and Counterspells added in. I felt very proud (and would later find that many people were running Tinker decks, after I discovered there were websites dedicated to Magic-imagine that!) of this creation. I came in 5th, losing to my girlfriends' brother, running a monster counter-burn deck.
As we can see, improvement, yes?
The final tournament I've attended was the Prophecy Pre-release in Columbus. Going into my last round, I was 14th of 175. However, I noticed something subtely different with this tournament; there were a number of folks I played against that were having no fun at all! I couldn't believe it! You're in a room full of people devoted to Magic, how could you not have fun?
But, the signs were there. There was only one vendor in the *entire* building. I'm not sure of figures, but as of round 5 or 6, half the people had abandoned the building. The thinning of the herd was disturbing.
All of the people I came with were dropping to draft at side events in the final rounds. Many had dropped earlier. It was really exciting at the time, but in retrospect, I see what it means - people were there for the prizes, not to play.
I mean, the fee to enter was like, $28 or something. That's a significant drop, right? So, why not play it out the entire 8 rounds? Because there were no prizes, and that's the only reason these folks were there.
After the tournament, I returned home exhausted but elated; it was the experience of a lifetime! I had participated in a "real" tournament! And I had rocked! (Well, not that no one else rocked, I just felt it was pretty cool to go 14th place at my first official tournament.)
After that, I ran into another of the snares that invariably pose a problem trying to break into the tournament scene; transportation. I work so much, I simply don't have time to travel four hours to Columbus or wherever, and I don't want to destroy my car to do so, either! So, I thought, well, there are all these teams out there, right?
I started making some inquiries, seeing if anyone was interested in car pooling, or what-not. The response was a unanimous evasion.
Well, that settled that. I would simply have to wait until such time as I moved to a major city to be a pro-player.
But, then, it occured to me in writing a few reports on the Pre-Release; the only people that had fun playing me were not there for the prizes. They were there to play.
I discussed this with my girlfriend, and how I just didn't seem to be having much fun playing all the time, and getting nowhere. She asked me why I didn't play my artifact deck anymore.
I spit out the obligatory response; it's not Type 2 legal. And, it can't stand up to Trix in Extended.
She stared, and nodded, and asked me again, "Why don't you play it, though?"
And it suddenly occured to me; I was so bogged down in competitive concerns that I was simply not having fun. I was not playing decks I wanted to, and therefore, I was not enjoying my games.
I was wound up in knots about how much I wanted to participate in the tournament scene; why? Prizes? Fame?
And that's when I knew I had stopped playing Magic, thankfully realizing it none too late. I had stopped *playing* the *game* and was only concerned with competitive winning.
To heck with that!
In retrospect, I must say that the tournament scene is not evil, but neither is it fun, for most. Casual play is what will keep this game alive, not the pro-tour. Honestly, which came first? And which will endure longer?
So, I have to say my advice is this; attend a pro-tour or whatever if it's convenient, if you've got nothing better to do. But, just play. Make that deck you've always dreamed of. And have some fun, for crying out loud!