Friday, September 09, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 19)

[This is part 19 in a series, and assumes that you've already read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 14.5, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, and Part 18]

September 6, 2011: Today Wizards of the Coast dropped a bit of a bombshell in the form of a whole new ratings system called Planeswalker Points.

I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time discussing how the system works. If you're reading this and somehow haven't yet heard all about it, and wish to, I will direct you to the official announcement (written, by the way, by Mike Turian who you may remember from his role in Part 18), as well as a great article by Trick Jarrett from on the subject.

What my takeaway from all of this is the following:
  • I may actually start caring about my rating. I never did before, as I never planned on having any kind of pro career as a Magic player. However, these Levels one can rise through over one's career I can see as kind of cool. My current standing is rather sad, and could definitely stand some improvement:
Not exactly a stellar performance.
  • This will, hopefully, draw more players in to events, ESPECIALLY the Friday Night Magics, as they get a x3 multiplier to points towards these levels.
  • However, part of the point system awards points based on the attendance level of the event. It is entirely possible that this will COST me players, who will choose to go to another store that can run larger FNM events.
  • I fully plan to spread the word about the system, especially to newly signed up DCI members who can follow their progress from the very beginning this way.
  • If the WPN is smart, they will send out to us TOs a small pamphlet giving the briefest of explanations of the system and the URL to check their records. Get these people excited about the program (as I say, especially the newbies!).
In other news, I had a bit of a panic today that came as a result of checking my Planeswalker Points standing. I had played in my very first event at Novel Places (described in Part 9), as we only had 5 people show up, so I had to cancel the sanctioned event and run a casual one instead. I played in that event (and actually won it), so it should have shown up in my overall detailed point break-down in the system. And it did not.

So, I fired up the WER on my desktop computer (not the one that I ran the event on - that was my netbook) and checked the completed events section. It didn't show up. Uh-oh.

Quickly booted up the netbook. In case you're unaware, a lot of information gets stored locally from the WER (like a list of "local players" composed of everyone who's played in one of your events, so you can easily grab their info and register them for another event). I pulled up the completed events on that version of WER, and there it was. Without a Sanction #, and not marked as reported.

Now, what had happened was this. I must have somehow clicked "Create" to make that event, not "Create and Sanction". Probably because at the time I thought only Sanctioned events get sanctioned (makes some sort of sense, right?). I think this is a problem in the WPN terminology. To sanction an event is to create it in the full-fledged system. Even Casual events can be sanctioned, not just Sanctioned events. I'm not sure what word should be used instead of "sanction" but that obviously confused me that first time.

Since it was my first time doing this the lack of a Sanctioning Number didn't bother me for the same reasons I just discussed. It wasn't a Sanctioned event, so why would it need a Sanctioning Number?

The problem here, of course, is that we need to report 4 events to reach Core Level. I have been operating under the assumption that I had so far reported 3 at Novel Places. BUT, it turns out, I had in fact only ever reported 2! Eep!

Now I was putting this all together at around 8 pm my time, which is around 5 pm Seattle time, so I was worried that Brian may be already gone for the evening. But, in desperation, I started writing an email to him explaining the problem. Then in a wonderful bit of serendipity, as I was writing the email an email from HIM popped into my inbox! He was writing to answer my question regarding FNMs if under 8 people show up*. Huzzah! He's still in the office! I quickly replied telling him I was writing up a problem, would he be around a few more minutes. He quickly replied back: why don't I just call him?

So, that is what I did, which was useful as it's much easier to explain over the phone than via email. I explained the situation, and he offered a quick fix that we tried out (very not kosher, and not to be tried without express permission of your WPNWPN Rep. I seriously owe this guy the frosty beverage of his choice should we ever meet in person, at the very least!

So, we should still be in position to possibly attain Core Level status on Saturday at the Magic Celebration event. We so far have 6 people preregistered at Novel Places, 5 of whom have never played there before. This will give us our 4th event (so that hoop is jumped through) and if we can get 4 more new players that day, we'll have the 30 unique players which is the final hurdle (if I can mix my metaphors).

*The answer is, by the way, that if under 8 show up you need to cancel the sanctioned FNM and Create and Sanction a casual event for the evening. It won't count as an FNM for Planeswalker Points purposes, but you can still hand out the FNM promo cards as normal.

September 7, 2011: Well, this is weird. Patrick tweeted to me today to let me know that he received a SECOND box of the Magic 2012 Rulebooks. Perhaps the original box that was supposedly sent just took forever to get to him? Whatever the case, the Frederick branch of Beyond Comics is also starting their own journey to WPN Core Level, and I'm sure could use a batch of them, so (at Patrick's suggestion), we shall pass on this set to them to use. Spread the love!

September 8, 2011: Two things of significance today:
  1. I settled (finally) on what the regular schedule of events will be for Novel Places. We (John, Patrick and I) had settled on a split of time slots between the stores. Beyond Comics will get the FNMs (which Patrick is less interested in, as he sometimes has other events scheduled on Friday evenings) and Novel Places will get Saturday afternoon events (barring special events like this weekend's Magic Celebration, etc, where Beyond Comics can/will get a Saturday event as well). The question had been whether to run every other Saturday, or 1st/3rd/5th Saturdays, or 2nd/4th Saturdays. The final decision is to run on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month. So, I hopped onto the WER to register an event for October 8 and another for October 22, which is when I happened upon significant thing #2...
  2. When I went to run the WER, there was an update waiting to be installed (no surprise, WPN had sent us an email warning of the downtime & update). When I read the Release Notes (yes, I do read them), I discovered that Modern has been added as a new sanctioned format! Hot diggity! I wasted no time, and registered an Sealed Deck event for October 8 (we'll do Innistrad) and a Modern Constructed event for October 22. Can't wait!
September 9, 2011: Today saw an interesting Twitter clamor, another nice plug for the blog, and of course FNM. Here's what happened...

Fridays are my "day off" from being a stay-at-home homeschooling dad (my main job, believe it or not - the Magic store and TO gig is a sideline!). My MIL takes the boys for a day to let me get caught up on whatever projects I've been unable to get to the rest of the week (usually Magic related). So, that's the one day of the week where I'm available to tweet more than usual, and today was no exception.

One question I had, and posed to my twitter followers, was this:
Hypothetical Q: If 10 show up for a draft, what's better: 1 pod of 10, 2 pods of 5, or 1 pod of 6 and 1 pod of 4?
I had read somewhere (in some DCI document) that the expected pod size for a Booster Draft would be 4 to 8 players. This is why in the first Draft event I ran, with 12 players, I ran 2 pods of 6. Either lots of people were available to tweet right at that moment, or I really struck a nerve with the question. Either way, tweets started flying fast and furious.

There was nearly 100% agreement with the following:
  • A 10 player draft should be just one pod.
  • Pods with odd numbers of players are to be avoided (to minimize byes). So if one were to divide the 10, a 4/6 split would be preferable to a 5/5 split.
  • The dividing line for when to split into 2 pods is 12 players.
  • If you do run more than one pod, you should NOT allow for cross-pod matches (that is, players should only play against players from their own pod, not the other one); only exception: winner of each pod against each other if a Grand Champion is desired for some reason.
That third point, however, was interesting. Because while all agreed that 12 was the dividing line, there was some controversy over whether it was the highest number at which one should run  a single pod (that is run one pod of 12 players) or the lowest number at which one should start splitting (into two pods of 6). At this point it was recommended that perhaps a quick poll of the players to see which they would prefer would be in order. After all, they are the ones who paid to play, right?

Speaking of asking for player opinions, I decided that at tonight's and next week's FNM I would poll the players as to what format(s) I should run the FNMs in November. October is already signed up and advertised, so I don't want to switch them, but I figured I'd get some input on November. What brought this on is that fact that as of right now I don't have a single person preregistered for the 4th week of September, which is scheduled to be Two-Headed Giant, M12 Sealed Deck. That makes me nervous. I certainly don't want to be running formats that no-one has any interest in!

So, I put together this ballot for the players to use to voice their opinions:
Original version had a typo: "Sead Deck". What?
The results tonight favor the top three choices with Modern and (surprisingly) 2HG Sealed getting almost the same # of votes. I'll poll players next week (Standard event) and see what happens then.

Somewhere in the flurry of tweets back and forth, I agreed with KYT of to write at least one article for him, and maybe do so biweekly. I'm still not sure how that happened.

This blog gained another point of notoriety, making it into This Week in Magic on That's the second time this blog has made it (the first being for my controversial piece "A Case Against Speculation (of Any Volume)"). Very cool to be there again.

And tonight we had FNM. In a strange happenstance, I had 10 players show up tonight (as in the hypothetical question I had posed on Twitter), so we ran 1 pod. After 3 rounds of Swiss, prize packs and FNM promos were awarded. My "ideal distribution" got derailed as the third 2-0 player who got paired down against a 1-1 player in Round 3 lost, meaning I ended up with only one player going 3-0, and 5 players going 1-1, instead of 2 and 4 as I had planned for. So, we ended up with extra booster packs in the prize pool again. Everyone who ended with 1 or fewer match wins (4 players) got 1 booster each, and I randomly assigned the last one.

This was the first time I've run one of these where I had players afterwards immediately asking me if I wanted to buy their cards. I need to come better prepared for this eventuality in the future (more cash on hand, easier access to the prices). A lot of folks who draft aren't interested in the cards afterwards - they're there for the experience of drafting, and that's it. And among those cards looking to be sold were Gideon Jura and Primeval Titan, two very nice cards.

There were many return customers, but among the 10 were 3 who had never played at Beyond Comics before tonight at all, and several who haven't played since we made Core. So, of course, the Core Level Report Card needs an updating!
That red X will be gone tomorrow, I swear it!
Tomorrow is Magic Celebration, and we're running it at both locations, so I will be CRAZY busy all day. 10 am we start at Beyond Comics, then 3 pm we start at Novel Places. The format is M12 Mini-Master and it should be a blast. We have 15 preregistered for the morning session (there were 16 but one dropped) and we can only seat 18 (if John gets two more chairs in the morning!) so that will be packed. That will give us our event with 12+ players. Also, we'll have at least 2 players getting their DCI numbers tomorrow there, so that last goal will be met as well. And, since it's the fourth event, the first goal is taken care of also. That leaves only the "30 unique players" goal (and many tomorrow will count towards that as well).

Meanwhile, Novel Places may well finally hit Core Level tomorrow. It will be the fourth event, taking care of goal #1, and we have 9 folks registered so far, 7 of which have never played there before. So if we get at least 2 more walk-ins who have never played at that location, we've got it made. And that will be in time to register to run an Innistrad Game Day (deadline being October 2 for that).

I'll probably have an update posted tomorrow after the insanity. It will be a good test for how the Innistrad prerelease day with two events will go (although for that one at least both events are at the same store!).



Anonymous said...

Something we do at the store I play at that seems to draw a crowd is run Sealed FNM on the day new sets come out.

Don said...

@anon: Thanks for the idea! If we hadn't already scheduled an Innistrad Launch party for the final Friday in September, I may well have done this. Next set I may well do it.