Hello boys and girls, it’s T-Time. So nationals is coming up and you are wondering how to prepare. Well of course there is play testing, but I’ve already talked about that. Then there are the slight pro advantages that I have also already talked about. Everybody knows what the best decks do, so what else is there that you can do? Every event one of my friends takes a loss due to a silly mistake that could have been easily avoided. Often they result in a game loss, of which I have had myself. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but they happen to a lot of people at every event.
There are more problems with people’s sleeves than anything else. Marked sleeves are not usually a result of deliberate cheating but rather carelessness. For each day of a big tournament you want to have a new pack of sleeves on. That means if you play on Friday, you need new sleeves for Saturday. If you make it to Sunday, you definitely want a new pack of sleeves. You should also have a few replacement sleeves in case some sleeves get damaged individually.
It is ideal to buy a 60+ count pack of sleeves. That way your main deck and side deck will all have the same sleeves out of the same pack. If you buy two packs of 50, they may be cut differently and you may unintentionally have 5 marked cards floating in your deck or side deck. If you do purchase the 50 packs, just be careful and check to make sure you are alright. You should never be able to pull the same card out of a deck multiple times by just looking at it. If you can, a judge can, and that means a game loss or worse.
Also, make sure that you shuffle through your sleeves a few times before you sit down. Yes, new sleeves are necessary, but they can also cause problems. You want to have shuffled them up for a good 6 practice games. You don’t need to play the games, just the shuffle and draw fishbowl. This keeps them from being too slippery and falling all over the place. Your opponent could drop cards while shuffling and know what you are playing. Worse, you could drop a card yourself while shuffling your hand because they are so slippery. Trust me. I’ve been there. I personally like Ultra Pros because they are a little less slippery and show less wear throughout the day but KMCs and Player’s Choice sleeves are also good. It is a good idea to purchase your sleeves ahead of time instead of doing so at the event to be sure you have the color and make you like (like here on Altereality’s site).
The second biggest issue is often decklists. Round three or four of every tournament, there is always a slew of game losses received for decklist errors. Make sure you write out your decklist the night before and go over it again laying each card out as if you were checking over an exam. Decklist errors are the silliest mistakes and they happen at every event to hundreds of people. Prevent losses, GO OVER YOUR DECKLIST!
Don’t do it. People’s tempers are already flaring with the stress of nationals, there is no need for things to get out of hand. If your opponent creates an unfixable game state, then call over a judge and a game loss may be issued. However, NEVER beg a judge to give your opponent a game loss. I advise you don’t even bring that word up. Once the issue is brought to the judge’s attention, it is between them and your opponent. You can tell your story about what happened and you can appeal, but don’t try to make decisions for the judges.
Don’t try to call people out on reversible game states. It is annoying and distracts judges from doing their job. It will also probably make your opponent pretty angry. If your opponent at any point does get angry, do not retaliate. Always stay calm, and try to never get angry, raise your voice, or make any personal attacks. You are not there to fight, you are there to play. If your opponent makes a personal attack, a judge will handle it. Don’t get disqualified when you are in the right just because you couldn’t control your temper. I have trouble controlling my temper sometimes, but never take it out on my opponent. Remember, calling for a judge is not illegal but unsportsmanlike conduct is. Begging a game loss or personal attacks can result in a penalty for you.
4. Food and Rest
Get to your match on time. If you have to go to the bathroom or get food, make sure you have enough time to get back and not take a game or match loss. Keep your cell phone and make sure you know the time left in the round upon leaving the room. That way you know exactly how much time you have left. If you sit down with 5 seconds to go before a game loss, you will get a slow play warning for not having your cards out and ready to play. Don’t be late. That being said, try to get plenty of sleep! You aren’t there for partying, you are there to play. I know I have trouble following this rule myself, but you can party at home. Your play testing should already be completed. You have a long tournament to play in, so you better get your shut eye.
Make sure you eat! Adrenaline will be rushing through your body the whole day suppressing your hunger, but don’t let that trick you into thinking you aren’t hungry. Your body needs food to operate and so does your brain. Bring protein bars or cereal bars and water to snack on during the day. Other good choices are things like Chex Mix, Granola, Cheerios, or any other kind of complex carbohydrate. You want to keep sustaining your energy, not getting bursts from fats or simple carbs. Do, however, get in some good fat in the morning. I am not talking about potato chips, drink some milk or eat some peanut butter. Good fats help support brain activity throughout the day. If you are looking for a supplement to help you, try Ginseng or Bee Pollen. Caffeine will burn you out.
Hopefully these tips will reduce the amount of silly mistakes that happen during nationals. It will make the judge’s job a lot easier and ideally keep them in better moods and more available to answer ruling questions. Now that you’ve read this, make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes! If you have chosen not to listen to these articles written by some of the best players in the game, then best of luck at nationals. To the rest of you, you probably won’t need it. I hope to see you all there! Until then, if you have any questions/comments/concerns feel free to leave a comment.