My Argument For Playing At Your Local Game Store
I’ve been really rallying hard that the best way to play and improve your game is by playing online. Magic Online offers a lot of things that many players can’t get. There are tournaments running day and night, prize payouts, even a really robust rewards system that pays out cards depending on how well you play. You may think with all this emphasis on the digital age that the traditional table top version is dead. Well, until recently I would have been squarely planted in the digital boat. But there is an intrinsic value to be had just by scooting over to your favorite haven to sling cards.
1. Tournaments that you just can’t feasibly play online happen at your local game store. I’ve been to a few “Draft Extravaganzas”, which take the joy of drafting and turn it into an entire day event. There are events such as “random pack” draft where everyone at the table is opening a different booster from a different expansion. There are also “hybrid” draft formats where you take two packs from one block and splice the third pack from a set that has a similar theme. For example, the last one I went to we played Ravnica – Invasion splice block draft and everyone was opening different packs and the decks and picks were highly interesting.
One thing you cannot do online is play in an event like this. Mainly, the only way you can draft online is with known draft formats. While you can acquire packs from older or other blocks, it really isn’t convinent and you can’t “Create your own format” so your choices are limited. Online makes up for this by offering drafts of sets long out of print in the paper realm. It isn’t very cost effective to do a paper Urza’s block draft (each player would be paying upwards of thirty or forty dollars for three packs of cards). But you can find most expansions and draft formats easier offline than online.
2. Actual human interaction. This is something that I feel needs to be noted and why it is so important to Magic. I’ve always said if you want to get better at playing Magic, play online. Online teaches you intricate interactions that you can’t really see from playing with someone across the kitchen table. You’ll also be able to use the replay feature to look back on past games and really analyze your game like never before. One thing that I find lacking in the online game however, is the social interaction that you get from playing someone in person. I go to my local game store at least a few times a week. Sometimes I go just to hang out with people and play a game we all share. Sometimes it is for a tournament. But for many players this is the best way to make lasting friendships and ignoring it, is ignoring a prime place to find like minded players and take your game to the next level or just form an interesting play group.
I understand there are a lot of reasons why some people prefer to play games with little or no human interaction. Sometimes you are just not in the mood to be friendly and you just want a mind puzzle to take the edge off the day. I get a lot of perks because I spend a lot of time at the local game shop. I get preferential treatment when it comes to singles the store gets as well as a heads up when they are preordering product or they hold my favorite sleeves for me. This is the one major benefit to supporting a local game shop. It helps your local economy as well as it promotes games in your community.
3. You can’t make trades with yourself at home. Magic Online has a really flawed system when it comes to buying and trading cards. Because most players online are savvy enough to know how much certain cards are worth and what they “are going for” it is hard to find people who will trade for need rather than just selling their cards for “value”. At your local game store there are many players looking for all different kinds of cards. I’m not saying you should go into the trading front unprepared. But you can turn a lot of unused cards into cards you’ll be putting to good use. I also strongly suggest you have a way of looking up prices on a smart phone or know the price of your own cards or what you would be willing to “sell” the card at before you go into trades. There are a lot of bad people out there just looking to rip people off via trades. If you can’t agree on a trade then move on and let it go.
Other trading tips. No one really wants your terrible cards. Don’t expect to get a lot of bites on “bulk rares”. Bulk rares are rares that are worth about 10 to 20 cents from a site that will buy them off of you. I try not to keep many rares in my trade binder that I could buy for a dollar or less. I also try not to keep everything in there either. I want people to think that I only have so many of a certain card and it will more likely mean they “want it more” by thinking that I only have a few left. I also try to put more in demand casual cards in my trade binder as those are cards that seem to get the most attention. You also never know when a trade will take place. For example, I was heading into the card store yesterday on my way to dinner just to see if they got anything new. One of my friends was there and he offered me a card I was looking for and we came to a pretty amicable agreement on both parties. It may have been a little impractical for me to pull a card out of a deck and then go home and reconfigure it, but sometimes thats how trades manifest.
All in all, both mediums have their purposes. I love going to the game store to hang out with people and play some cards on the side. I love going online and playing the stiffest competition that I can find and see how I measure up. Then again, there is nothing like going to a really big event and playing Magic simultaneously with hundreds of other players. Magic is a very interesting game and sometimes half the fun is the where rather than the game itself.