I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions. The inane promise to lose weight or read a better class of book are ridiculous. If you really want to make a change in your life, don't wait for the new year; just start now.
That said, I do like to look back at the previous year for ways to get better. I don't want to completely change my life, but I do want to do more of the beneficial things and less of the detrimental.
Yeah, I know, fancy words trying to hide what a hypocrite I am!
I have come up with a few Magic resolutions for this year that I hope will only make the Magic part of my life better than ever!
In 2015, I made a point of getting out to more Magic events. I went to PaxEast, Gencon, Illuxcon, and a couple of Grand Prix-level tournaments. In 2016, I went to fewer events and the year was less fun because of it. This was primarily due to some personal issues that prevented as much travel this year as in the past, but I want to ramp things up!
I'm currently committed to PaxEast and Gencon, but I'm hopeful to add a few GP's and Illuxcon to that. I'm also hoping to get in more small get togethers. My recent trip to Stybs' home involved a pretty small crowd in comparison to a convention, but getting another chance to spend time with friends is something I don't want to miss. I hope to open my home to a few of these events this year too.
And if you're wondering, the big tournaments and conventions are great, even for the casual Magic player! I don't play in the tournaments, but I have a great time. At every GP or major convention, there is always a group of Commander players congregating in one corner of the hall or the other. With fairly little effort,you can usually find a game that fits your style of play. Gencon in 2015 had about 20-30 of us at the same row of tables all throughout the convention. It became a home base of sorts for several of us, and games were running all the time. I was even able to convince seven others to draft Conspiracy with me!
These events are also the best way for me to meet and play with readers and online friends I would never meet otherwise. Keeping an eye on Twitter before and during an event will likely lead you right to whatever gathering you are looking for. Magic players, whether casual or less so, are always excited to meet new players and get some games in. If you can, I recommend checking out these big events!
I regularly host my group's Thursday Night Magic. We meet almost every Thursday and play Magic for a few hours, catching up on life while enjoying some food and games of Commander, Planechase, 60-card casual, cube drafts, sealed, or whatever happens to spark our interest that week.
Our setup is pretty good. I have a big dining room table that easily accommodates all of us, unless we get a huge turnout, then there is a spare table and chairs that fit nicely in the living room. The
beer soda fridge is close enough that players often don't even need to stand to find refreshment, which is great.
This has been going on for over five years now. While the games are fun and the friends are great, my efforts as the host haven't changed. Every week we have pizza. I love pizza and the guys never complain, but we've been having the same pizza for years.
Every, single, week.
I need to spice things up! Pizza is still a good option, but I often get out of work early enough to do something more interesting that just pizza. Things that can sit in a slow cooker and stay warm all night are perfect! Meatballs and chili are great options. I'd like to try burgers, but cooking that involves too much time away from the table to make it a real option.
What I really want are options from you. What do you think about meals that can be prepared beforehand, or just other food options in general? I have a few hours before we start, so if there is preparation I can manage it. Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!
My deckbuilding skills are suspect. My regular readers will know I struggle building what I think are good decks, and have turned to many shortcuts to shore up my woeful efforts. I know that one of the reasons why my decks struggle is the lack of review once it is built. Once you have your list completed, you want to spend time fine-tuning things. Is your mana curve on target? What about your mana base? My efforts and suggestions get you to a point, but careful tuning and preparation is what brings decks to the level of a smooth-running machine.
Given that I know this, why don't I correct it? Time. I just don't prioritize it the way it needs to be for it to happen. I have a busy life and just about everything in my life comes ahead of spreading out my deck on the table and taking a deep look over it to make it better.
Since for some reason doing that really bugs me, I want to spend time tuning my decks. After a few games with your deck, each of us likely recognizes some weakness or problem with our deck. For my decks, these weaknesses tend to be fairly obvious. I even started making little notes and leaving them in the deckboxes so I could tune the deck later.
Some of my notes are more than a year old.
I want to take a deck every week and tune it. I won't take more than an hour of my day. I can even do it while spending time with my family watching TV. I just have to get it done. With more than 20 decks, this will still take time, and will still involve decks with notes in them from almost six months ago, but my play experience will only get better.
And besides, adding cards from Kaladesh to decks that have been untouched since before any card currently in Standard existed seems like fun!
I host prereleases for the kids in my neighborhood and have been doing it for a few years. I started when my youngest child was 13 years old and part of a Magic Club he and his friends had started. Now they are all off at college and I'm still running the prereleases.
The early years saw steady improvements that were easily made. We improved turnaround times between rounds. We added lunch breaks, which is more important with young players than you realize. We added door prizes. We improved the table layout in the library to add more players. We focused on helping the younger players build better decks so their experience would be more fun. We made plenty of changes.
Over the last few years, we stopped making changes. Things became routine and streamlined. We could set up and take down the library in no time. We handled judge calls and garbage pickup better than ever! But the experience for the kids wasn't getting better. They still have a great time and everyone seems to be having fun, but I want to offer more without adding to the expense. I am currently running at break even, so bigger door prizes are not really an option.
The problem I'm currently trying to solve is helping more kids build better decks. A big part of what we are trying to do lies with making the young players better players. We are introducing them to the idea of 17 lands and 17 creatures. We are teaching them about land bases. We are trying to show them the importance of small utility creatures in their decks. All of this is difficult when there are just two of you and a dozen children under the age of 10.
One of the options we are trying to help this is our Saturday events. One of the older boys is running small informal tournaments on Saturdays. He has been helping the younger players build better decks and we are starting to see improvements at the prereleases. We want to encourage more like this.
There are two other ideas I'd like to try this year. The first would involve some short, basic lessons on Saturdays around building decks, talking about the things we already show them at prereleases, but doing it as a group without the time pressure of a tournament. The second idea involves getting more people to help, particularly during the building and through the first round of the tournament. With more people helping the newer players build, there would be more one-on-one time, and that should lead to better experiences for the players.
I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year! I hope your Magical endeavors are bigger and better than they ever were before!