Hello reader! What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.

Hi folks. Before we start this week you need to go read John Corpora’s piece last week on the topic of the prevelance of rape culture in the Magic community. John has been kind enough to not reproduce any of the specifics of what was said, but if you’ve been on the receiving end of this sort of thing, consider this a minor trigger warning for a story about a player’s wife being verbally abused at during a standard tournament. John’s basic message is that change begins by opening a dialogue in ways that will help promote improvements. Not everyone is comfortable doing so, and that’s fine. If you are someone who wants to effect change in the gaming community, then you should absolutely read his advice.

Hipsters of the Coast is a community that strongly promotes and advocates understanding, acceptance and equality for all people. If you ever feel that anything written by an author here or in the comments section is offensive in any way please contact us at [email protected] and let us know how you feel. Furthermore, if you ever experience anything at an event and want to say something but don’t know what to do about it please feel free to e-mail us for any help we can provide.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Whoa. Is that Darth Vader adorning the front page of my favorite Magic blog? What is going on here? Am I in the wrong place? Don’t panic too much, but this past weekend I played in a competitive tournament. It wasn’t States, and it wasn’t even a PTQ. It was the 2013 Star Wars: Living Card Game Regionals tournament. I finished in seventh place, losing in the top-eight. For my troubles I got the pretty Darth Vader play-mat pictured above and some promo cards. It wasn’t Magic, but other than the game being played it may as well have been a small Grand Prix Trial in atmosphere.

Competition is universal. It transcends borders and cultures and language barriers in a very emotional way, not unlike love or hate. Eighteen players showed up with one goal in mind, walking away from the Compleat Strategist on a rainy Saturday with a trophy and an invitation to the Fantasy Flight World Championship weekend to be held in Minnesota at the end of the year. The meta-game at previous events was discussed as we sat around checking our deck lists and speculating about what changes the new expansion (coming out this week) would have on the game. Soon it was time to get round one underway.

Man was I out of practice. A single turn of Star Wars could have a dozen or so triggered effects, virtually none of which are mandatory. As a Magic player you may immediately see where this is going. Missed triggers were running rampant. I was fortunate to have a first-round opponent who was very new to the game (which we all are really, as the game just came out earlier this year) and was fine with us picking up the lapsed triggers shortly after missing their window. Still, the Magic player in me was furious with himself. Missing triggers is the sort of thing that gets beaten out of a Magic player at Friday Night Magic, and here I was at the equivalent of a PTQ for a smaller game and I was making mental mistakes left and right.

By the end of the swiss rounds though I was back in form, hitting all my triggers, shuffling the cards in my hand, baiting opponents into egregious play mistakes. It was just like playing Magic, just with a different set of rules and with lightsabers. The competition was not like a Magic event though, likely because the stakes weren’t as high nor was the cost of entry. At most, a player would have spent $110 plus tax on their collection. For this fixed price enough copies of every card can be acquired to build any decks. Still, some people took the event very seriously. In the second round two players had a very heated argument over missed triggers and the way they were playing. The judge decided to end their match as a draw, neither of them being given the victory.

Some of the other players in the room had played Magic competitively, but I quickly discerned that none of them even came close to the competitive experience I had. After the third round several of them were complaining of the exhaustion of having driven an hour to get to the event and then playing three straight rounds, though there was a 30-minute break for lunch before the third round. I sympathized with them but on the inside I was laughing. As someone who has lived through the grind of a ten-round day of swiss-pairing Magic, I was more than prepared for a four-round event followed by a top-eight. These players were not accustomed to any sort of thing and as the event dragged on it showed.

I had the unfortunate circumstance of being paired twice against the best decks in the room and a highly competent pilot. John, who I played in round four and then again in the top eight, is an incredibly clever deck builder and an admirable player. Personally, I feel I am a comparable competitive player to John, but was outclassed in both our matches. Otherwise, my experience as a competitive Magic player helped me greatly in navigating the event.

Never underestimate the experience you gain by playing a game competitively. My days of high-level Magic may be in the past, but the lessons I learned over those ten years will never leave me. Competitive Fantasy Flight games are much more casual because of the lower stakes, which makes for a more enjoyable experience for me than Magic had become over the past few years. Still, my desire to not lose, very different from the desire to win, never left me and certainly surfaced several times throughout the event. In the end though, it felt really good to top-eight a competitive event again.

The Quick Hits

  • Mike Robles caught a few things I missed last week. The 8-bit phone wallpapers are neat, if you’re into that kind of thing. [Treasure Hunt]
  • Heather Meek interviewed the creator of the Sign in Blood life pads. He thinks of PV as a villain, so he’s cool in my book. [LegitMTG]
  • If you’re wondering what a Magic collection in Soviet Russia may look like, Red-Army member Eric Levine has the answer! [Raging Levine]
  • Here’s an amazing look at how the foiling behind some amazing cards is laid out. Wizards makes very pretty crack. [Magic Arcana]
  • The Pro Tour is over, but Lauren Lee has the rosters for all the teams attending. ‘Get yer programs here,’ or something. [Mulldrifting]
  • A picture is worth a thousand words and MJ Scott took a billion pictures of GP Portland. Enjoy. [Gathering Magic]
  • A Brief History of Slivers by John Dale Beety will likely not be a NY Times best-seller. Still worth a look. [StarCity Games]
  • On a serious note. Don’t let your Magic cards out of your sight ever. I can never stress this enough. [StarCity Games]
  • Wizards Magic now has an official Instagram page. More importantly it was Arcana number 1234. [Magic Arcana]
  • Here’s the official Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze infographic. The city of San Diego hasn’t gone more than 3 years without a Pro Tour. There used to be Pro Tours in New York every year, but that stopped in 2001. The last one was World Championship 2007. Six years with no Pro Tour in New York. Get your act together Wizards. [thatguyjames]

Wallpaper of the Week

Despite my desire to see more of the Fuse cards given the wallpaper treatment, we’re back to portrait wallpapers with Mirko Vosk. I get that they want to feature more of Dragon Maze’s legendary dudes, but this one is just awful to me. As usual, the character is centered, which makes sense for a Magic card but less so for a wallpaper. Furthermore, the art is fairly uniform in shade or hue, or whatever artists call that. It’s really yellowish-gold. The yellow border at the top doesn’t help this fact. Had the border been any contrasting color I think this would have gotten at least a passing grade.

Grade: D

The Week Ahead

The Hangover III comes out on Thursday. Not sure I really need to write anything else in this section.

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