Hello, yesterday I played in my first LCG tournament! It’s nearly happened a couple of times before, for Netrunner and Star Wars LCG but for some reason I just didn’t quite get there. I felt fear. I didn’t want to look silly in front of others, I didn’t want to be laughed out of the place for performing so poorly. Which is of course, ridiculous. So, with a new game in hand Game of Thrones LCG 2nd Edition and my good pal Richard by my side we ventured to Dark Sphere in South London (It’s quite central, but south of the river so we’ll call it South London) to participate in a Winter Store Championship. Here are the five things I learnt from yesterday.
Luckily, I went to one of the last Winter championships that was being held. Why should that matter? Well, each championship has goodies to be won and when you see a few of the participants already have the deck cases you only get as a top four winner you can relax and know they aren’t vying for blood as if they might have been during their first opportunity to win. This is important if you consider yourself a newbie. I can imagine the intensity of a tournament that mattered a bit more and that fills me with a little bit of dread. Yesterday however, was a nice combination of new players and a few experienced players who, thanks to the Swiss format I didn’t see for a while.
I’m not sure if yesterday’s tournament was a little longer than usual, there was ten minutes dedicated to setup, which we blew through in about ninety seconds. You’ve then got an hour to play your game and while some games (Baratheon vs Baratheon) will take you to the limit, many other games will take between twenty and forty minutes. So you’ve got time. If you need to take a minute to determine your next move, take it. Yes perhaps you want to apologise because you’re a) British and/or b) it’s nice etiquette but the other player in general won’t mind. They want to win, but they want to win against someone who can feel proud of their performance so if you play a little slower, don’t feel you have to be rushed.
Side note: Also, while you’re taking your time, don’t be afraid to talk through each stage of what you’re doing. LCGs have dedicated action windows and a set process for a reason. Even if it seems silly, do it when it matters.
A lot of the players (including myself) I spoke to yesterday had only played the game with one or two friends and this was their first opportunity to play against new players. Now, when you play with your friends you tend to reinforce misread rules or mistakes, which can be a problem and a stern reminder to re-read your rules reference book a few times. What this means then, is that sometimes on a rare occasion you may have been playing wrong and your opponent may have to just clarify something for you.
Sidenote: I was incredibly nervous and played a card I couldn’t and had to be pointed out by an opponent, so even if you fully know the rules you can still make mistakes sometimes.
So why focus on this? Because if you hadn’t of guessed, the other players at the tournament love the game, they’ll happily discuss rules and offer their interpretations. As long as you aren’t asking for advice (very bad etiquette) feel free to ask people. Ask your opponent first, but if it’s more sensitive (from hidden information) then feel free to ask someone close by. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) my first game was against a very experienced player and he not only clarified a couple of rules for me, he offered advice. Again this stems from the non-competitive nature of the event, being one of the last Winter tournaments but it helped to know later on I could ask others as well.
Look mate, you might beat your friend 100% of the time, but you’re probably not going to win 100% tournament. If you do well you’ll be playing against people who are seasoned veterans of the game and tournament life. I went yesterday with the aim of getting one win. I waited until my very last game to get it but I got it and I was SO happy because of it. It’s all it took. Keep your expecations reasonable and most definitely…
You’re going to learn a LOT. Take the lessons you learn and get better. You and your friends might have played a couple of different decks each so you’ve got a small idea of how things work but that won’t come close to an opponent who has streamlined their deck and have an attack plan. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see the different playstyles and see how your deck compares. Learn as much as you can and then in your second tournament aim to do better. Eventually you could become World Champion. Who knows?!
I hope this article is helpful, I probably sound like a nervous wreck (mum don’t worry, I’m not) but I wasn’t I was just anxious and didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a very fun day, an opportunity to meet some lovely people and lots of games I’m really enjoying at the moment. My last piece of advice is to not put off attending a tournament due to fear, it’s not worth it. Good luck, hope you top deck every time!