The MTG Community - Friday Night Jitters [Jon Waldrop - Apprentice, Level 7]

Being a new player can come with several challenges: which deck do I build, how much do I want to spend, is it normal to be thinking about a card game as much as I am; and finally, when should I start playing outside of my kitchen table. All of these challenges, plus several others, have all been going through my head.

As soon as I understood the game on a deeper level, I immediately started thinking of playing more competitively. I started playing with my 16-year-old brother-in-law and there are only so many times you can beat or lose to a 16-year-old as a 31-year-old man before start questioning things. Anyway, I digress.

As for all of the challenges, the one that I was most perplexed by was the idea of going to an FNM event. So many questions accompanied the idea of attending an FNM. Would I stick out? How horrible is my budget Defenders deck? Will people laugh at me? Will I be the only one over 30 at this thing? Is everyone there going to be unbathed and smell funny?

To me, this is the most daunting task being a new Magic player. What will happen the very first time I attend an FNM? Like most good Americans, before attending, I decided to go to the best source of material I could find; Google. If one were to google 'what to expect at my first FNM”, you'd get several results. First, of course, is Reddit, followed by Youtube and then several Magic content sites. After digesting as much of this information as humanly possible, I came to the conclusion that there are only two outcomes: 1) You'll hate it and everyone will be a pompous a-hole or 2) Every person you meet will be awesome, and you'll be infected with a sickness. A sickness that can only be cured by attending more and more events and spending more and more money on tiny little pieces of cardboard.

I was lucky as my first experience was of the second variety. Everyone I met was so extremely awesome. My brother-in-law and I showed up at a store and right off the bat we saw about 10 people having a great time playing EDH along with about six other people waiting to play Standard. We sat down and started our own game to get ready for the night’s festivities. I took out my super sweet budget Defenders deck. That’s right...Disowned Ancestor, Archers' Parapet, Kin-Tree Invocation, and Assault Formation. So much fun, especially when you add Languish and Murderous Cut to it.

As we finished our first game, another patron of the store sits down by us and we struck up a conversation. Because of this interaction, my love for this game has grown to an unhealthy obsession and I love it. Everyone I met that night was just great. I received several helpful tips on different cards to play or how I should play certain cards and in what order. With the help of a bye, I ended up going 2-2 (2 wins and 2 losses) for the night and got my first Planeswalker Points.

To make a long story short, the best advice I can give as a new player trying to help other new players is this:

1. Attend an FNM event.
2. Go in with an open mind.
3. Talk to everyone and have a great time.
4. Ask as many questions as you can.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t understand something.
6. Don’t get caught up with winning or losing.
7. Go to become a better player.

My skill set grew leaps and bounds after this first experience. Playing against and talking to people who have infinitely more experience than you is key to becoming a better player. This is a great game. But what I found my first time playing outside my kitchen table is that the people who play it are what make it so damn addicting.

I'm sure a lot of people remember when they first started playing Magic. I'd like to hear your stories. What do you remember about your first few competitive tournaments?

Thanks for reading,

A Little Bit about Jon

Jon is a high school football, basketball, and track coach. He's also a government and economics teacher. He loves how he can apply his competitive nature and sports strategies to the game of Magic. He's excited about using his experiences to help other new players along their journeys just as he enjoys coaching rising sports stars.

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