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CardShark Content - Patrick Sullivan (6/15/2003)

We are all friends after all

Let’s see, I’ve got three really big tournaments coming up:

1. June has Origins in Columbus, Ohio
2. July has DecipherCon in Indy
3. Second weekend in August has the Battle of Helm’s Deep mega-weekend in Spokane, Washington (not to be missed, MEGA prizes)

Seeing how the big convention season is coming up, I think an article on good manners in BIG MONEY tournaments would be timely. So I figured since I got some knowledge on this subject, I might as well share it with the rest of you to try and make everyone’s pro season tour a little more fun and a little less stressful.

In a tournament when there is big money and prizes on the line, it’s very easy to forget good manners. However, believe me when I say it’s not worth losing the respect of others just to get money. The gaming community is a very unforgiving one. Most of us know many stories of the players that are either cheaters or total jerks. Talking about cheaters is a whole other issue so let’s stay focused on the jerks. Pretty much everyone knows of some that seem to turn into complete monsters once they hit a competitive environment. What exactly is the matter with this people? Don’t they realize that they’re essentially ruining it for the rest of us? They are the reason many players don’t come to the big events because they find the competition way too aggressive. To the point of it not being fun anymore. And when you’re causing the fun being taken out of a great game like Lord of the Rings, you’re really doing a great disservice to the gaming community.

Before I continue, let me clear something up. You don't have to be a dick just to stick to the rules. Being nice does not mean letting your opponent take things back and bend the rules. All I am talking about here is RESPECTING your opponent. For instance, my most frustrating moment had to be in Day Two of last year’s World Championships. It was the second last game of Heat A and I needed to win ONE more game to make it to Day Three. My opponent needed to win both his next two games to make Day Three. We are both at site 7 and I am ahead so I move into the Shores. He plays 5 orcs and I ask him if that’s it and he says yes. So I play a Secret Sentinels, then direct some archery and then he states that he spots 5 orcs to prevent me from moving again. I tell him that it’s too late and we are now way past the shadow phase. He then proceeds to throw his cards onto the table and state loudly, ‘Are you actually going to hold me to that?’ To which I point to the PT Cruiser parked about 12 feet from our table and say, ‘This is the World Championships, man.’ So he immediately states that he concedes and now I’m all feeling bad about not letting him stop me. I tell him that he still might win the game, you never know. I can see that he’s very upset so I advise him not to let this type of thing affect his game play and try to stay focused. I’m trying to be as nice as possible and end up talking him out of conceding the game. So we play it through and I can move again against all these orcs so I end up stopping anyway. He then proceeds to double move past my 4 orcs and win the game. So, what went wrong here? Something must have because we both became upset and stressed (my heart rate has even increased just in writing this and reliving the moment). Was I wrong in not letting him go back to the shadow phase to spot 5 orcs to prevent me from double moving? Of course not. He made a clear mistake and it was at a big tournament. Take-backs should not be expected and frankly, should never been requested. In essence, he’s making ME feel bad for HIS mistake. That’s not only uncool, it just isn’t right. However boo to me for not accepting his offer of concession. When he conceded, I should have scooped my cards and said, ‘good luck in your next game’ and gone about my business. But instead, I tried to be nice and it cost me the game (I ended up winning my next match making Day Three and he lost his next match and was eliminated from the race). This type of incident could have been avoided if we were both nice guys with clearer expectations of what this type of event is about and what is on the line. I tried being as polite as possible but in not accepting his conceding the game, I wasn’t being nice, I was just being stupid. I think that if players walk into these events with clear expectations of not being offered take backs and not requesting take backs, that would go a long way. But even more important is that people need to live with their mistakes. It is possible (very possible) in Lord of the Rings to make multiple mistakes and still win the game with ease. The problem is that many people when they play casual, make mistakes and go back to correct them because it’s just a ‘fun’ game. At some point, you need to really rehearse organized tournament play and live with your mistakes. Otherwise when you make them, your world falls apart because this has never happened before. And then you usually by instinct blame in on your opponent and his being a ‘jerk’ when in reality you’re the one being the jerk. Me and my good friend and play tester, Steve Judge, very very rarely allow ourselves take backs and make mistakes frequently (especially when it’s getting late). However, we learn to live and move on so when it happens in tourney (and it does), we don’t harp on the issue.

Anyway speaking of harping on issues, I think I’ll move on. Respecting your opponent is really key to making sure that everyone is going to have a better time at these tournaments. Understanding that they are probably taking this event very seriously is important in not becoming surprised at their possible behavior. Some people get stressed. Just try to be as laid back as possible and play your game as best you can. Some people (like my teammate David Malboeuf) create a much more positive playing experience by not saying anything all game long. This type of player usually stresses me out because I like to talk a lot in games, but more and more I’m beginning to understand that they need to stay focused and I respect that.

The biggest incident of disrespect I’ve ever seen happened in Vegas. Two players in the game next to mine had a misunderstanding and a judge was called over and after that everything kinda fell apart. You could cut the tension with a knife for the rest of that game. I was sitting beside the game and it made ME uncomfortable with how much hostility there was in that game. To me, the problem here was not respecting your opponent. People REALLY need to get it into their heads that when a judge is called over, it should not be taken as a personal attack on your opponent. In all of my games, I’m always happy to answer ruling questions that my opponent might have during the game (like can I exert Friend of the Shirefolk to heal a wound-less Frodo, Son of Drogo). I judge a bit back home so I’m always happy to answer questions. But is it in my opponent’s best interests to take my opinion of the rules at face value? Probably not. I don’t make mistakes but I am clearly biased in delivering fair rulings. And if my opponent calls over a judge, I never ever get upset because it is his right and I totally respect that. So think about it next time your opponent calls over a judge. Basically he is sitting in front of a total stranger who is not going to give him a fair view of the rules at this very moment. Don’t let it get to you. Now on the other side of the fence, if you’re one of these players that almost always calls a judge over for rulings and questions, don’t ask your opponent for the answer first if you’re going to call the judge anyway. All you’re doing is showing that you don’t trust your opponent and you’re wasting valuable time. If you’re going to call a judge over, just do it and get it over with it. Don’t get into a discussion with your opponent over some ruling knowing full well you’re going to be calling a judge once the discussion is over. Anyway, please bear all this in mind at big tournaments. Calling judges over is really no big deal, it’s the right of your opponent and it has nothing to do with you or your character.

Finally the third issue I’d like to touch upon is when time is about to be called. When there are about 10 minutes left in a game, if you aren’t anywhere near site 9, the tone of the game is about to take a drastic turn. Be ready for this. You have to understand that players are EXTREMELY sensitive to the notion of stalling. A timed win will almost always make a huge difference after 8 rounds of exhaustive play. If your opponent is worried about the time issue and is trying to rush you, he/she is just trying to get a fair outcome to the game. Either state up hand that you’ll just give a full win to whoever gets the timed win, or try to speed up your game play. At this point it should be clear which way the game is supposed to go. If it is clear that he will be double moving next turn to try and win at site 9 and now that your fellowship moving to site 5 really doesn’t change much, PLEASE try to just speed thru it. You are helping to reduce the stress level of your opponent and believe me he/she will appreciate it. I’ve filled the shoes of both sides of this coin the past. Last year at the Worlds, it was Moria vs. Moria which as you well know, can take a while. There were 15 minutes left and I admit I was taking a long time in the shadow phase. My opponent just kept saying loudly over and over, ‘is that all? Is that all? C’mon. Is that all? C’mon’ Like seriously, how is that helping me focus? Instead what I do when I’m in his shoes (and I seem to be filling those shoes more often than not these days) is I just say could you please try and hurry? You only have to ask once. If you’re polite and show respect for your opponent, it will almost always work. If after 30 seconds he/she still hasn’t budged, then you can then suspect stalling and call over a judge (this always gets ugly, I can’t really give any tips on how to handle this situation). In the case I presented earlier when you are the shadow player and are anxiously awaiting your next fellowship phase to try and win the game, either don’t play any minions at all (a very wise strategy) or play your minions and if it is taking long, don’t let it frustrate you. Instead, show your opponent how he can survive the skirmishes, scoop your minions and let him play all the maneuver events and skirmish events he wants to. You do the same and then your both hopefully reconcile and the game will end the way it was supposed to. Once again, the trick here is to respect your opponent and try to understand why the whole timed game issue is important. Don’t forget to offer the full win if the game does to time. You both benefit from this (one side gets a full win and the other gets a really nice boost to his strength of schedule). You have nothing to lose and it is completely legal (although Gabe Alonso doesn’t seem to think so). All you’re doing in conceding the game before the game ends. 100% legal. Timed Wins aren’t good for anyone. Please remember this. Your opponent will really appreciate it. I had two guys last year at Worlds that gave me full wins when I was supposed to get a timed win. I’ll never forgot those guys and every time I see them I remember what great sportsmen and smart players they were.

So that about sums it up. Good manners really add a lot to a game. Try to always shake hands and wish your opponent good luck. Even if you don’t mean it, it still starts the game off on the right foot. If you tend to get really stressed and confrontational, just don’t talk much in the game and call over judges every time you have an issue. And for everyone else, respecting your opponents means understanding them and where they are coming from. You should assume that everyone that is at the event is there to win. I don’t understand people that get all mad when you don’t allow them a take back and then they say, ‘well I just play this game for fun.’ As if that makes them better than you?! If you are ONLY playing the game for fun, you wouldn’t be at these huge events. And if you are just playing for fun, then try and do that without alienating your opponent by giving them a hard time. Some of us are in this for the money.

If I wasn’t having fun playing Lord of the Rings, I wouldn’t be playing this game. But at the same time, if there wasn’t these big cash tourneys, I also wouldn’t be playing this game. It is possible to combine fun with competition. The trick is really in respecting all your opponents and not being a jerk. I’ve managed to pull it off since the beginning of my LOTR career and use these skills in real life as well. How else could I drive right past a cop that has told me to pull over and then afterwards talk my way out of the ticket? How else could I get stopped at Customs because David Malboeuf has ZERO identification on him only to be later allowed entry into the States with the customs officer recommending local restaurants in Syracuse for us to visit? Because I’m always very honest with people I deal with be it a LOTR opponent or an officer of the law and I try not to let anything that they do affect me in a negative way.

Anyway all to say that if everyone enters these events with good manners and respect, a great time will be had by all. I think LOTR is the first CCG I’ve ever played where this type of thing is possible. I think that the LOTR playing community is a fine group of really friendly and fun-loving people.

So now since I have your attention, I might as well plug an event that I think will be the finest gaming event of the year. The Battle of Helm’s Deep weekend!! This is the list of events for the weekend of August 8-10 in Spokane, Washington. This is going to be the greatest weekend of gaming in the North west this summer. Everyone should start making plans now to come. Anyone who misses this event will be left out on tons of fun. Pre-register now and come closer to wining a Complete Set of All Rares for Lord of the Rings. At the end of the last day of events after all other prizes have been given out there will be a bonus prize awarding ceremony! All players will be given tickets (burdens) and each ticket they have will give them a chance to win lots of other cool prizes. These prizes include hundreds of foil Star Wars CCG cards which will be given out in 9 card lots, hundreds of foil Lord of the Rings CCG cards which will aslo be given out in 9 card lots, The One Ring replica, many Posters for both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and best of all...
A Complete Set of All Rares for Lord of the Rings!!!
Ooops did I say all. What I meant to say was Every Single Rare From Every Single Set Ever Made to Date! EVER!!!
Here is the link to start pre-registering for all of the events. Pre-Registration Page. Sign up quick to make sure you have your spot in this great weekend.

August 8th:

9:00 am: Star Wars CCG Open Constructed Tourney: 4 Rounds, $5.00 Entry Fee, Prizes For All who finish.

10:00 am: Lord of the Rings TCG Standard Block Last Man Standing Tourney:
$10 Entry fee, players play like a constructed tourney, people who lose are out of
event, Winner gets 2 boxes of any set. Prizes for all who enter.

2:00 pm: Lord of the Rings TCG Open Block Tourney: $5.00 Entry fee, 5
Rounds, Prizes for all who finish.

2:00 pm: Star Wars CCG Classic Constructed Tourney: $5.00 Entry fee, 4
rounds, Prizes for all who finish.

7:00 pm: Lord of the Rings TCG Towers Block Draft Sword Tourney: $15.00 entry fee, 4 rounds, prizes for all who finish.

August 9th:

10:00 am: Lord of the Rings TCG Standard Block Cash Tourney: $20.00 entry fee. 8 Rounds, Top 4 play for their share of ALL of the entry fees. Prizes for all
who finish.

12:00 pm: Star Wars CCG Open Constructed Tourney: $5.00 entry fee, 4
rounds, prizes for all who finish.

August 10:

10:00 am: Star Wars CCG Open Constructed Cash Tourney: $20.00 entry fee.
6 rounds. Top 4 play for their share of all of the entry fees. Prizes for all who finish.

12:00 pm: Lord of the Rings TCG Standard Block Premier Series Qualifier: $10
entry fee. 6 Rounds. Premier Points and Pins for Top 8 players, and Binders for
the Top 4. Prizes for all who finish.

I hope to see everyone there.

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