Monday, July 11, 2011

FNM & Gamestore Review

As part of my post-college real world social networking initiative, I dropped by my FLGS on Friday. (Game Parlor in Chantilly, if you're close enough to care.) They were playing Friday Night Magic, (their website lies) although apparently they don't always, and I picked up a foil Jace's Ingenuity by coming in 4th in a big messy EDH game -- played with a borrowed deck, since Game Parlor can't manage to keep the new Commander decks in stock, and I haven't had the time, inclination, or cards to put together one of my own. (Even if I do a home brew, I'll likely want one of the new decks for utility cards like Sol Ring, and just at the moment all my legendary critters are single color, which is okay but not optimal given the otherwise limited size of my card pool.)

I'm not entirely sure I'll be back. At least for a while. The staff was great -- friendly, helpful, enthusiastic even about games they didn't play themselves. The other players... well. They weren't bad guys. They weren't particularly unfriendly. But they were all guys, and I've played long enough in groups that had at the very least a significant minority of women that I'm not used to or particularly interested in being "the only girl at the table." I'm not quite good enough yet at Magic to deal with the problem through overwhelming mastery of the game at hand, which is my usual strategy, although I was several times able to take advantage of the not-nearly-enough-attention the rest of the group was paying me. ("Man, this deck usually runs way more cards than this." "Yeah, mine too." ::quietly sits at the end of the table with 8 cards in hand and a ton of discard effects in my graveyard::)

More importantly, they're not really on the same wavelength with me Magic-wise. Any group that plays big free-for-all games with Urza's Saga rares and seriously suggests signing up for a Worldwake draft and dropping out just to get the cards instead of, y'know, playing draft just isn't going to hold my attention for long. Bird Stomp is currently tuned for two-player Standard, and while getting to run it in said big free-for-all game before the actual "tournament" started was enlightening in the sense that it reminded me I desperately need to bring a set of d6s when I'm running something that has that many fiddly little bonuses, but the complexity of the social and play dynamics made it impossible for me to separate out play style and skill from the overall performance of the deck itself.

On the other hand, Elder Dragon Highlander, otherwise known as Commander, is damn fun. I think I'm going to push my playgroup (Dangerfox and my little brother at the moment, though I'm hopeful of adding a few more to the crew presently.) to adopt it, since I suspect the friends of mine who lack an interest in even low-level tournament-style play will have a lot more fun with its big creatures and big effects, and I've heard tell that once you have the basic shell of an EDH deck together, there's a lot less upkeep involved in keeping it "competitive," which would be a plus.

Still, I can play EDH on my own. That's not much of an argument in favor of the Game Parlor as my away-from-the-kitchen-table Magic destination. The place I went out to in May has a group that's somewhat more serious without being overbearing about it, and the store itself has a better selection of product to boot. They run Standard tournaments and my favorite format, and they've got a lot more players, which means more women. It's significantly further away, but I'm perfectly happy to drive the extra fifteen minutes once or twice a month if it means that I leave the store actually excited about Magic, instead of thinking, "Yeah, I guess that was fun?"


  1. Tsk! Boys should read more mythology in school these days. If they'd been familiar with, say, "The Tale of Prince Kamar al Zaman and Princess Budur" (in which a djinn princess wins a bet with an ifreet by ignoring the spirit of the rules of the contest) they'd have been watching you like hawks! ;)

    I suspect, however, that they were also not used to folks playing a discard-heavy deck. It's easy to fall into a rut in those games, especially if the local conventional wisdom says that your particular rut is superior to all other strategies. :p

  2. What's especially amusing is that one of the people making this observation had lent me the deck I was using.

  3. Out of curiosity, what is your goal in playing Magic? Do you just want to have fun, or do you want to become a competitive tournament player? (It's very difficult to do both.)

  4. Still figuring that out. I doubt I'll ever be a high-level competitive tournament player (don't have the attention span) but I have enough of a competitive streak, and there's enough of a gap between most of my friends' interest in Magic and mine, that I might settle into being primarily a FNM tournament player.

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