In the last 4 weeks, I’ve gone to 3 Pro Tour Qualifiers. That’s a lot for a guy that used to only get to play on the week days. But with my job change a schedule change has come too. I’m now free on the weekends to pursue a higher level of competition. It’s great news if you love the game. More time to play means more time with friends, and overall, a whole lot of fun on short road trips.

That said, I’ve compiled a list of things to know about PTQs as well as some helpful advice to players that are just getting into the PTQ scene and some tricks for all the old hats out there.

Bring a water bottle

These events are day long 5-9 hour long Magic Marathons. You’ll need to stay hydrated. Sure, I think it’s fine to drink some 5 hour energy if that’s your bag, or have a soda or whatever, but YOU NEED WATER. The Brain likes water, and it uses water to help you play Magic well. So help your brain out and drink a little H2O when you can. Having a water bottle, especially one that fits in your bag is super clutch. Trust me, you’ll notice a difference in cognition and just overall mood. Water helps keep your body working optimally and that makes you happy. Playing Magic when your body is uncomfortable is a lot different that the other way around.

Bring a snack

Most venues have snacks, but do yourself a favor and pack one of your own just in case. You might not have time between rounds (if you durdle like me) to get food once you get hungry. Playing with hunger rage is bad for you and bad for your opponents. No one wants to play a cranky hungry complainer. And you don’t want to be that guy anymore than you want to be sitting across from him.

Bring your Magic Necessities 

You need dice, Pen and Paper just to start a game. Those are a must! But does your deck require Tokens? how about scrap for your Storm count, and all the other stuff your deck does? Don’t be that dude asking his neighbor for a piece of paper from his Moleskin Notebook. Having your stuff organized means you spend more time playing Magic and less time searching for random bits. Remember in school when you used to get in trouble if you didnt have a pen and paper? They should take 2 life from your starting total for the tourney if you show up unprepared… I think at least. And bring extra pens, you never know who’s gonna need to borrow one. 🙂

Save the sob stories…

… For your friends. The guy you are sitting down across from likely just had a bad beat or is working his way up from a few rounds ago. He’s not really interested in how your last opponent was “so lucky and top decked the only card that could have saved him.” It’s just bad form. Your friends likely aren’t either but they think you’re cool so they don’t mind listening. It’s not polite to talk about people behind their back, so don’t presume that your last opponent was a scrub, just play the opponent you have in front of you. Plenty of Grinders already have this sour business approach to the game, at the end of the day only one guy goes home with an invite.

ITS A GAME! remember that. This is your day off, no one is asking you to answer those emails about TPS reports so smile for gods sakes you live a pretty sweet life that you get to play cards with fun people on your day off instead of wondering how you are going to get your next meal…

Get enough sleep

I’m the worst at this, because so many PTQs are on Saturday morning and I work on Friday night. But I’ll tell you for a fact that having enough sleep will not only help you remember all your triggers, it might make you smart enough to play decks that don’t involve so many of the goddamned things in the first place.

Carpool or Group Up

There’s a pretty good chance that you have other local friends that also play MTG. This is a great opportunity to get to know people from your local store. Organize a Carpool. Not only does it make getting to events easier but it takes Magic Friends and turns them into Real life Friends. We can all use a few more actual friends. Car rides are the place for bad beat stories, and outlandish tales about that time you got jumped twice in 5 mins while working as Mister Softee in Trenton New Jersey in June 2001. Even taking the train together makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Having a team route for your success sure makes the day a lot easier.

Bring Your Trade Binder

This is a rare time to meet 9 or more people that aren’t from your LGS. If you only try to trade with these 9 people you’re likely to find something that you couldn’t find amongst the folks that you trade with there.  Worst case scenario you’ll have had a non competitive interaction with those 9 people, they’ll be more likely to remember you and you’ll have 9 people in the room that know you’re looking for random foils for your cube. When you see them in later rounds you can ask them how its going without asking for their record, maybe they found a guy that has the cards you’re looking for.

Bring your Wallet

Vendors at these events generally have some good deals on singles, especially singles that are in formats that aren’t the one you are playing that day. Cash is king and you might be able to haggle a little with some green if you aren’t annoying about it. Dealers have a bottom line so look out for the vendor with the worst spot that maybe isn’t getting the attention of the other players. She/He’s likely to hook you up just for spending some cheddar at their table.

So do you have any tips or tactics that don’t apply to actual gameplay? Please share them. This is my first real PTQ season that I’m actively playing as much as I can. Pretty exciting stuff on my end. Let me know what you think.


Zac Clark, @DurdleMagus

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