Friday, I’m in Love

It’s almost Friday!! Ok, it’s actually only Tuesday when I am writing this, but that’s when I start thinking about the weekend…

So why should you be so excited about Friday?? Because of Friday Night Magic (if you don’t know about FNM my first suggestion is to click here). FNM can be a great way to add a little competitiveness to your game and also let you play people outside of your normal playgroup (which can help you grow as a player and a deckbuilder). It’s also a great way to start getting more into the Magic Community and meet other local players. Doesn’t hurt that you can get some nice shiny versions of cards (current promo is Acidic Slime which is an EDH/casual player staple in my opinion). Today’s post is going to look at what to expect at your local FNM, and what you should do to prepare for and play in the event.

Playing FNM means that you have to go to an actual Local Gaming Store (LGS). A lot of new players are intimidated by this. I remember the first time I ventured beyond the kitchen table games I had always played and went to Ralph’s Comics. I went in to buy singles (mainly old commons and uncommons) and can remember walking into the store and feeling shocked. First of all there were all these cases of cards, and binders of cards, and packs for sale, and sleeves (what the hell are those for?), dice, everything. I didn’t even know where to begin and I felt nervous asking anyone for help. During this first visit I also saw all these regulars just sitting at tables talking about magic, playing magic, and for the most part having fun. But I wasn’t one of them, and so I didn’t really try to interact with anyone. I stood around looking awkward (I actually still do every time I go to a new store for the first time). It took multiple times of going in for me to even ask someone if they wanted to play a game.

I was just so afraid I would get ROFLstomped, or play incorrectly and I didn’t want to look like a fool. However, most of my friends who had started playing together at each other’s houses were getting bored and drifting away from magic while I was getting hooked. I think the hardest part for me was overcoming this idea that I would be labeled as a n00b. I’ve since learned that every store will have casual players and people I can identify with. And when I started I did get ROFLstomped but I learned both how to play better and make better decks. The most important point I want to make on this is that while there are some bad stores, most are good places, most are there for you the gamer, and it’s a great way to get into the community. FNM is a great way to go to, since this is the lowest level of competitive magic and is really aimed at casual players and helping people learn the rules and how to play in matches.

Preparing for your First FNM (for the purpose of examples I am going to talk about Constructed Format):

  1. Call Ahead: Find out what time FNM will be, what time you need to be there to sign up by, and most importantly what the format will be. FNMs can be either constructed (you bring your own deck that is format legal: Standard, Block, Extended, Two-Headed Giant) or they can be limited (these are Draft and Sealed formats which I will discuss in a later article).
  2. Stuff to bring: Your deck, dice, pad of paper (my preferred method for keeping track of life), trades, bottle of water, scarf, Tardis… Whatever you need to play a game of Magic bring it with you. If you don’t own sleeves for your deck or dice most stores will have these. I highly recommend sleeving your deck if you haven’t done this before. Easier to shuffle and protects your cards.
  3. Know your deck: For the first FNM you don’t need to get online and netdeck, spending tons of money. If you want to, great. But I think you will learn more if you bring one of your homebrewed decks. You want to play something that you are comfortable with and that you know all the cards in. Make sure that all the cards are legal to be played in the format being played. By bringing your own deck you will learn what works competitively and what doesn’t. You often will be up against some Tier 1 decks (top decks played by the pros), and you might lose these matches, but you are going to learn a lot about how decks are played. It’s more important to just get comfortable playing more players that you have never met!
  4. If you’re confused: ASK! The rules enforcement level for FNM is the lowest that there is. Sure you can’t just break rules and take things back, but if you make a mistake the penalties are much less. If you are confused by a play your opponent made, ask him why it works, or ask a judge. Most people at FNM hopefully aren’t going to be jerks, and will want to take the time to explain it to you. If they don’t want to help you, don’t worry. Just ask someone else later! The biggest thing to remember about FNM is that it is a learning experience. You might lose a lot early on, but you will learn how to build better decks, how to play better opponents, and you will learn where you are making mistakes. Just like with poker, or chess, or any other skill game, the best way to get better is to play tons of games. The more games you play, the more you will recognize board states, and what plays you are supposed to make.

This is really just a short intro, and if there are any topics I didn’t cover well enough please comment! I will respond to every comment (assuming I don’t get hundreds, which isn’t going to happen). It also helps me see where I can help you guys in the future!

As always I can be reached on the comments here and @HobbesQ on twitter! I appreciate any and all feedback as this is my first blog.

PS: I know today’s articles had a lot of links, but I wanted to make sure people had the resources to learn more about FNM and the different formats that are offered. I highly encourage you to look at these articles if you are starting out.

PPS: In case anyone wants to know, my first FNM deck was a Turbo Fog Blue White Mill deck, it was horrible, but it was hilarious to play 🙂

10 thoughts on “Friday, I’m in Love

  1. Solid article for an FNM intro – I’ll suggest a linky to that crazy-a$$ WUBRG video – angry pancake-eating, MTG card-slinging muppet to round the post out. 🙂

  2. I’d add to come a bit early and see what the scene is like, maybe you can find a game or two against people before the tournament or learn what kinds of decks people like to play.

    Something that casual players may not be used to is timed rounds which are used at many FNMs. You only have so much time to finish a match of best 2 of 3 (typically 40-50 minutes), so making your decisions in a reasonable amount of time is expected both as a courtesy to your opponent and a good strategy for you to have time to win game 3 if it comes to that. Taking a moment to evaluate a complicated board is fine, but typically after a few seconds you need to make a play or not and move on.
    One way you can maximize your time’s value is by thinking through plays during your opponent’s turn and not just tuning out because it’s not your turn.

    I can’t agree more with the point on asking when you don’t know how something works, or even if your cards are legal for the format. There are normally plenty of people who will know enough about the rules to be able to answer any question you might have, and even if they can’t, most locations have internet access to look things up for you.

    MaxFan on MTGO

    • Thanks for the reply Stuart! I am hoping to do a draft conversation soon and I think that talking about round times is going to be really important. It’s hard for new players because I feel like sometimes they might not question a ruling or what someone tells them because they are intimidated.

      One of my main goals for this block is general is to try and reduce that intimidation about stores and about other players. Thanks once again for commenting!

  3. I still don’t go to stores for FNM because I am scared of getting ROFLStomped haha. My first “tournament” experience was a vintage event at Neutral Ground when I had no clue about formats and had only played kitchen table. I definitely agree in your recommendation on FNM, its less shocking, you won’t lose on turn 1 like I did lol, and hit the nail on the head with rules enforcement.

    The teaching experience with the rules enforcement is key in making it much more approachable, always as a judge if you are not sure, its a chance to learn.

    • I started playing FNM for the first time around affinity… I showed up with some really bad deck and was like what do you mean you can sac your Arcbound Ravager in response to me playing Echoing truth?

      But I tried to bring some homebrews aimed just at having a good matchup for affinity, so I felt like it did help me as a deckbuilder. And honestly deckbuilding is still my favorite part of the game (prolly why I mainly play EDH)

  4. Yeah FNM is more of the casual tournament scene these days, cool promos, a chance to meet new friends and hang with the crowd who usually shows up for the event before hand, make some cool trades.

    But the cooler parts about it are the fact you can bring your own homebrew, play it, do fairly well, maybe get rofl stomped in the process but have a good time none the less

    • Yah I love that there isn’t the pressure to be entirely Tier 1. Sure some people might show up with these decks, but you are able to go Rogue much easier at an FNM (esp if you can guess at what people are going to play most likely!)

      The promos to me are a great thing. You get a reward for finishing 1st or 2nd, but you still get a chance to get one even if you have a bad night!

  5. Hey, nice blog. I’ve been going to FNM for about 3 months now. Before I went I had just played with a few mates. But now I feel as though I have improved 10 fold as a result of going. I recently got 2nd place at an FNM, so it shows perseverance does pay off people 🙂

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