Friday, March 21, 2014

WPN Boy: Advanced Plus

A quick entry today - some exciting news to share.

Earlier this week, WotC & WPN announced a new store level for the stores running their events called Advanced Plus. As in the past, there are certain hoops a store needs to jump through in order to make it to this level. Once there, however, the store is eligible for additional goodies, including (but not limited to) additional Buy-a-Box promos, the ability to purchase extra From the Vault products, and the like.

When I looked at the requirements for this level, I thought that maybe (just maybe) the two stores I work with would be able to pull off Advanced Plus if they pooled their resources. Beyond Comics brings in more players to their FNM events generally, so I figured they would be able to hit the Number of Unique Player requirement and the Number of New Players requirement, but they wouldn't get the Minimum Number of Events since they only run their weekly FNMs, 2 Prereleases per set and Game Day. Novel Books, on the other hand, runs weekly FNMs and a weekly Casual Magic, as well as 3 Prereleases per set and Game Days. They would reach the Minimum Number of Events easily, but would have trouble with the player numbers.

And, unfortunately, neither store has ever had an event with 50+ players yet (we just don't have the space - the only event that comes close is Magic Celebration, as that one can be run as a rolling event with players coming and going, but all counting as participating in a single event).

Patrick (owner of Novel Books) thought it would be interesting to see where we stood anyway. Unfortunately this is not something that a store can just look up for themselves (something that I wish the WPN would institute) but you can ask your WPN representative to check for you and let you know. So, that's what he did. And the results took us completely by surprise.

  • Number of Processed Events: 144 (Requirement for Advanced Plus: 125)
  • Percent of Events Delinquent: 0% (Requirement for Advanced Plus: 0%)
  • Biggest Event: 42 (Requirement for Advanced Plus: 50)
  • New Players: 49 (Requirement for Advanced Plus: 50)
  • Unique Players: 287 (Requirement for Advanced Plus: 250)
That's right - we're almost there already! Since this report was generated we have already had another new member, so that goal has been hit. The only thing we're short on is largest event. We may try to somehow expand out onto the porch of the store some weekend (maybe a huge Conspiracy Draft in June?) to get that one taken care of. So exciting!

Friday, March 07, 2014

WPN Boy: Home Brewin'

To say it's been a while since I added to this series is an understatement. Truth be told I sort of felt like everything I'm doing as a Tournament Organizer has become rather routine. A new month comes, I schedule FNMs and 2nd & 4th Saturday events at Novel Books. Sure, some changes have happened (we now run FNMs at both stores, which allows me to always have a Standard event every week) but for the most part things are routine. What could I possibly write about that would be of interest enough to justify an entire blog entry?

Then this pops up in my Twitter stream:

When the Director of R&D for Magic asks you to write something up, you write something up.

For several years now, the last Standard FNM before a new set comes out has been what I call our "Home Brew" Standard event. This means 4 times a year we encourage people to not bring a net deck, or something that's been winning the latest MTGO events or SCG Opens. Something fresh and new that they built themselves. The description for the event says:
...participants are STRONGLY encouraged to bring decks of their own creation. No netdecking; no copying the "best deck" from last weekend's big event. While we of course cannot REQUIRE you to do this, those who fail to join in the spirit of the event risk taunting, shunning, ill will and cooties.
I feel I should interrupt here to point out that this is not an original idea of my own. Jason Clark (@RealEvilGenius on Twitter) told me that his local gaming store has done this for a while. And, yes, the irony of me adopting via the internet a format that encourages not adopting things from the internet is not at all lost on me. Deal with it.

I strongly feel that this format needs to exist. Way back in the day (I started Magic back when Unlimited Edition was the active Core Set, back in 1994) everyone made their own decks. By the time the tournament reports could come out in Scrye Magazine or the like, weeks had passed, and things had changed. It was simpler time, before MTGO and dozens of MTG content web sites, where the latest deck tech is just a click away.

Something has been lost in all that. The simple joy of finding a wacky combination of cards, or throwing together a deck that just feels right to you for whatever reason. Tournaments (even FNMs) are dominated by Spikes who put together the strongest deck in the current worldwide metagame, and we poor Johnnies and Timmies are either forced to do the same, or see ourselves at the lower tables for the whole evening.

I'm not naive. I know that this is the way things are now, and that there are many people who actually can't build their own decks (that's not a talent they have, or feel they have). Then there are those who are simply not willing to take a chance on an unproven deck. And you know what? They can have the other 48 Standard FMNs I run every year. But for 4 measly FNMs, I want there to be a place where Johnny and Timmy can come out to play. A place where a deck made up from whole cloth can actually have a chance at winning one of the Top 2 FNM promos instead of just hoping for one of the random 2.

Last time around I brought a deck using Master of Waves. At this point mono-Blue Devotion was a thing and one might accuse me of breaking the spirit of the event. Until one looked at my decklist that is. Yep. "Ral Zarek and the Elementals". Elemental tribal, baby. Elemental tribal. The deck ended up only going 2-2 that night, but man I had fun playing it.

At the Home Brew events, I ask folks to submit decklists, especially if they make Top 8. Then I highlight the Top 8 in my weekly event newsletter that goes out the following Monday. This gives people their moments of fame and has the added advantage of making the Top 8 decks, technically, net decks, so they can't be used again. :)

Last time around that looked like this:

Last Friday marked our "Home Brew Standard" FNM for this cycle (the last Standard at Beyond Comics before the new set, Born of the Gods, is released). An amazing 26 players came out, the vast majority of whom seemed to embrace this format, bringing decks of their own devising to enjoy playing for the sake of playing. As is our tradition, I hereby present the Top 8 players (and their decklists if submitted to me) for all to peruse.
  1. First Place: Gavin Wu with his Dredge 2.0 deck
  2. Second Place: Brett Tunick with his Monster Mash deck
  3. Third Place: Philip Candleana with his Bant Tokens deck
  4. Fourth Place: Erick Pfleiderer with his Boros Aggro deck
  5. Fifth Place: Jon Tsou with his Shambleshark! deck
  6. Sixth Place: Ralph Dominguez (who unfortunately did not submit a decklist)
  7. Seventh Place: Dalton Wu with his Azorius Maze deck
  8. Eighth Place: Matt Yancer with his Mono-Black Humans deck
Yes, you read that right. 26 players. The store can only comfortably hold 30, so we were nearly at capacity. These events are popular. There are so many people out there with deck ideas running around in their minds that they dare not bring to FNM for fear of being crushed beneath the heels of the latest hot decks that the pros are running. And that's a real shame, because it's not the pros at these FNMs. It's regular players and they should, at least a few times a year, be playing their own decks.

Of course this is just my opinion, and your mileage may vary. But the fact that these events bring out the number of players they do tells me that I'm not alone in thinking there's a place for this.

Yes, it is a difficult format to enforce. In fact, it can't be enforced at all, really. I sanction the event as Standard (I have no choice there, really). And there's always the distinct likelihood that someone will show up to the store for the first time, having never heard about Home Brew, and they're slinging a net deck. But the vast majority of the players who attend get into the spirit of the thing, and bring something of their own.

Hopefully this gives other TOs out there something to consider. I'd strongly recommend giving it a try at least once. It takes some advertising, and talking up to encourage people to "play by the rules" as it were, but I believe it is completely worth it.