Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 22)

[This is part 22 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, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, and Part 21]

September 20, 2011: I have decided that we should offer Open Dueling at the prerelease next Sunday. For those of you who don't know, in Open Dueling a player purchases an Intro Pack from the new set (which includes a preconstructed deck and a booster pack). They play games against each other, against players from other events between rounds, or between events, etc. We will also run it such that after they have played 5 other games they can report their games and receive another booster as a prize pack (I'm modeling this after how Dream Wizards runs their Open Dueling).

I tried and tried, but I would not figure out how to report an Open Dueling "event" using the WER. So, I decided it was time to try out the fancy new interface (actually it's not - it's just the WotC customer service system) we will have to start using after October 4 to get WPN answers (we will no longer be able to email our WPN reps directly - something I have mixed feelings about*). So, today I sent in this message through the system:
It is my understanding that we are allowed (even encouraged) to offer Open Dueling at our prerelease event.

I know from past experience (through my son playing Open Dueling at other prereleases) that it is possible to report the results of Open Dueling (these past events show up in his history).

My question is: how does one report Open Dueling? I have tried to figure out how to use the WER to schedule such an event, but nothing in any category seems to mention Open Dueling. And if I try to schedule a casual event, I need to specify a pairing method, which isn't how Open Dueling works (as I understand it).

Any help/instruction/advise on running Open Dueling and correctly reporting it would be greatly appreciated.

We'll see how long it takes to get a response. I got an auto-generated email letting me know my "incident" had been reported (how ominous does THAT sound?), and that I can expect a response within 24 hours.

*On the one hand, it's nice that we can get answers more easily from another rep if ours is unavailable for some reason. But there's no way to tag the message "first try Brian, then next available rep" so there's no guarantee you'll be getting a reply from your actual rep, and dang it I like my rep very much, thank you!

September 21, 2011: I got this response from the WPN system today:
This email is to inform you that we have received your incident and have escalated it for further review. A representative should be contacting you concerning your incident in 24-48 business hours or less. We apologize for this delay and appreciate your patience while we work to resolve this.
While it may be unkind, what this says to me is: we folks on the front line of customer service can't answer your question, so we sill kick it up to a WPN rep. So, I wonder, why can't I just directly correspond with a WPN rep? Do you think me incapable of determining whether a question is a general WotC Customer Service question, or if it is indeed a WPN-rep-worthy one? Le sigh.

I later got a second copy of that same email. Weird.

Then, about 6 hours later, I got this response:
Thanks for writing in! You can indeed sanction Open Dueling as a Casual Event. You can put the format as Casual Constructed and the pairing method as swiss, but as a casual event, the program will not ask you for match results. You can reference this snippet we have on our website about Open Dueling:

Open Dueling: Open Dueling players each receive 1 Innistrad Intro Pack and 1 promo card (Mayor of Avabruck/Howlpack Alpha, while supplies last). Open Dueling players use their Intro Pack to play against each other, as well as Prerelease tournament players who are between matches. All players should be encouraged to help teach Open Dueling participants how to play Magic.

If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know!
That  second paragraph appears, almost verbatim, on the Prerelease info sheet included with the promo cards that I mentioned in Part 21. I'm pretty sure I have reported an event as a Casual one before, and it did indeed ask me for match results. So, I will give this a try, but I'm not 100% confident. Also, as I said in my initial email in to them, I know for a fact that my son's DCI info said "Open Dueling" in his record, so it seems to me there should be a more specific method for reporting this type of event. Maybe there used to be and isn't now? I don't know. I guess we'll find out on Sunday.

September 23, 2011: Tonight's FNM was both a disappointment and an awesome time.

When I arrived, I found there were two WPN-related packages for me (along with all of the Innistrad booster boxes for this weekend's prerelease - yeah, I may have geekgasmed a little at those). One package was the Buy-a-Box promos for the store to hand out to people who purchase a full booster box of Innistrad. The second contained these beauties (the Launch Party promos for next weekend):
I can't wait to Proliferate one of these! (Yes, I know you have to pay for the first & fifth).

As of late last night I only had 4 people registered for the event (a Two-Headed Giant M12 Sealed Deck event). I had many things working against me here:
  • It's the night before prerelease weekend; many people are probably skipping FNM and instead going to midnight prereleases;
  • Two-Headed Giant is a somewhat obscure format and not everybody loves it.
  • A lot of folks are just tired of M12 already.
I'm still not sure whether to run a 2HG event in November. The jury's still out. Maybe in December.

So, anyway, I contacted my main man Craig this morning and asked him if he wanted to be my partner so that we'd have a third team, and I hoped and hoped that a fourth would show tonight.

Craig was indeed available, and agreed to come out and sling some spells (HUGE thanks to his family for letting him have the evening free!). We formed team "Last Minute" (the WER has you enter a Team Name as well as the individual partners in the event - and pairings, rankings, etc are done by the team name) and prepared to face off against "The Raging Goblins" and "Blue Balls". I kid you not. Unfortunately, since there were an odd number of teams, there would be a Bye for each round.

Side note here: It was my understanding that if I had fewer that 8 people at an FNM, I would have to cancel the registered event, then create & sanction a casual event in the WER. Try though I might, I could not for the life of me figure out how to create a casual 2HG event in WER. At one point in the process I was able to click on a "Team" checkbox, and select 2HG in the "type of team" drop-down box that came up afterwards. But then once I clicked on "Create and Sanction" I lost that option. Obviously I was doing something wrong, but I simply could not figure it out. So I decided to go with the "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" philosophy and run the event as scheduled (thankfully some foresight told me to not cancel the already registered event until I got a new one put together). Foreshadowing: the event ran fine, and WER even allowed me to submit the results. I don't know what that means as yet - I guess we shall see what happens.

Craig and I opened a fairly decent pool. I built a BR build with lots of removal, a Bloodlord of Vaasgoth, a couple copies of Child of Night and a Bloodrage Vampire. Craig piloted a WG deck with lots of defense to let my deck build up to what it needed. I talked him out of including his 1 Naturalize. This would prove to be a mistake (that he will almost certainly never let me live down).

Round 1 we got paired up against The Raging Goblins (and Blue Balls got the Bye). It was going great at first: got the Bloodlord out (after hitting the opposing team in combat, so he was a 6/6), used Gravedigger to get back a Child of Night and cast her with Bloodthirst 3 thanks to the Bloodlord. Things were looking pretty good despite a turn 2 Jace's Erasure on their side of the board (which had effectively milled a lot of my removal away).

Then the blue mage played a Mind Control on the Bloodlord. "Wish I had my Naturalize!" says Craig. Arggghhhh....that was pretty much it. The Raging Goblins took the match (2HG matches are single-game, as they can take a LONG time).

Round 2 found The Raging Goblins facing the fury of Blue Balls ("maybe that's why their raging!"). Craig and I chatted about some potential business plans during our Bye, so I can't tell you much except that Blue Balls took the round.

In Round 3 we again came to the battlefield, this time against Blue Balls. This game took FOREVER. It was EPIC! Huge amounts of creatures on the board. Craig's deck played excellent defense while I built up an army (and used Goblin Fireslinger to slowly whittle away their life ["I hit you with a flaming rock."]). Blue Balls got 2 (TWO!) Swiftfoot Boots out, but thankfully that player didn't have many creatures (and you can't equip things to your team-mate's creatures!). At one point they also got our Sorin Markov and got him up to 6 (thankfully my 6/6 Bloodlord took him out after Craig's Stingerfling Spider took out their one flyer). It all ended with Craig and I attacking all in (after taking out one defender with my Grim Lavamancer and hitting them with another flaming rock).

When the dust settled, they were left with 5 life, and we had 14. All our Creatures were tapped out. Things looked bleak for us...

But I had enough mana for a final Lava Axe for 5. Go team Last Minute!

So we ended the evening with each team having 6 match points - all equally set. I took the prize packs (3 per team were in the pool) and distributed 3 to each team. The FNM promos were randomly assigned to Blue Balls and The Raging Goblins. All agreed that the night was amazingly cool (and we all wondered why not more people had shown up - 'cause IT WAS AWESOME!).

Okay, the geeky fan boy in me will now shut up.

September 24, 2011: Confirmed with  John at Beyond Comics that we are still at 11 (out of 18) preregistrations for tomorrow morning's Sealed Deck event, and only 2 (out of 18) for the afternoon's Booster Draft event. I expect we will have a number of walk-ins in the morning. I hope we don't have to turn anyone away.

John told me he had already had one person walk in asking when the prerelease was going to be (thinking it was today) and another call in with the same question. My guess is that folks find us on the Wizards Event Locator but don't really look at the details (like what day it's on), they just see the store name and head there or call.

Less than 24 hours until I run my first prerelease!



c3ss6r said...

exited for my first pre release tommorrow! see you there!

Les said...

Oh Im liking the promo cards! Wicked!

It sounded like there were come epic duals happening that night.

Great read