As I write this, I have taken a brief respite from my endless exile in the wilderness of rural West Virginia and I am now at GenConSoCal in beautiful Anaheim, California. When I left West Virginia, the weather had just turned cold and we had just had our first snow. I am not disappointed in the least to be taken away from the icy cold of Appalachia and given a chance to play in the warm California sun for one last weekend.
It is just before 3 a.m. on the west coast, and I am in the main gaming hall at GenConSoCal with some of my friends, local super judge Becky Dodd, Tim Linfield (he’s Canadian and doesn’t fully understand our customs yet), and brand new level 3 judge John Alderfer, who stopped by to show us the new RoboRally board game he won. The last Ravnica: City of Guilds™ Booster Draft of the night has ended, and those of us left on night shift have started to get a little bit nutty for lack of sleep. The few remaining players have broken up into groups and are trading and playing amongst themselves. There is always someone playing something here—the games never stop.
Moments like this one help me to get a fresh perspective on what it is I love about Magic®. I get to hang out here in a room with people that I only get to see a couple of times a year whenever one of these events rolls around. Anyone I may meet here has plenty of shared experience with me from the time we all spend gaming, which means that there is always something to talk about and something to do. Opportunities to learn about new games come around just about every corner. For instance, earlier today, I had a chance to demo the new Axis & Allies Miniatures game (I am even wearing the Axis & Allies shirt I got for learning to play).
GenConSoCal is truly the last little vestige of summer before a long, cold winter for me. Soon I will be on an airplane back home to the frozen mountains of West Virginia. It is always nice to get home and finally get some rest after an event like this, but in a week or so, I will doubtlessly be looking ahead to the next convention or tournament and the next chance I get to spend a little time with my friends in the gaming community.
If you have never been to a tournament before, Wizards of the Coast has a great way for you to start experiencing the atmosphere of the gaming world, as well as getting together with some people who could end up being some of the best friends you have ever made. It’s called Friday Night Magic (FNM), and you don’t have to fly anywhere to play in it. FNM takes place every Friday night right in local game stores all around the world. For the month of December, Wizards of the Coast and the DCI® have even decided to give players who go to FNM events a special foil version of Icy Manipulator. If you can’t beat the cold, you can at least harness its power with this artifact in order to thwart your opponent’s plans.
Icy Manipulator has been around the Magic: The Gathering Multiverse since the very beginning, first appearing in Alpha and Beta. It was also one of the first cards ever to be reprinted in a black-bordered expansion set, fitting in nicely with the frozen wasteland of Dominaria during Ice Age™. Over the years, many players have sought to use the intriguing power of the Icy Manipulator to hinder their opponents. The power of the manipulator lives on today, and this is a great way to make its power yours.
Thanks to the DCI, your local game store is the place to be on Friday nights. Check out the Wizards of the Coast Website or contact stores in your area and ask them if they run FNM. Every Friday night, stores that participate in FNM get four special promo cards to be given out to players at each of these events. Two of these cards are given to the players that finish highest in the tournament standings; the other two are given out randomly to players that took part in the tournament, so you don’t even have to win to get a prize.
A Friday Night Magic tournament can be Standard, Booster Draft, or Sealed Deck. In order to play in an FNM tournament, you need to plan on bringing a Standard deck. Standard is a format that uses only the newest expansions for Magic, so you don’t have to have a lot of the powerful older cards in order to play. Right now, cards from Ninth Edition, Champions of Kamigawa™, Betrayers of Kamigawa™, Saviors of Kamigawa™, and the newest expansion for Magic, Ravnica: City of Guilds are all legal for Standard play. A Standard deck must contain at least 60 cards with no more than 4 of any one card that is not a basic land. If Sealed Deck or Booster Draft format is used, you will not need to bring a deck of your own; rather, you will build one at the tournament using cards provided by the organizer.
If you don’t have much tournament experience, then Friday Night Magic is a great way for you to get into the game. All FNM events are run at Rules Enforcement Level (REL) 1, which is a more relaxed set of rules designed to maintain a serious level of play while not penalizing players for making errors due to inexperience. This also means that the event only has a K value of 8, so you don’t have to worry about losing that many DCI points if you don’t do very well at an FNM event. This makes FNM an excellent way to begin a career in competitive Magic.
You will need a DCI number in order to play in an FNM event. If you have ever played in any DCI-sanctioned event like a prerelease or a Pro Tour Qualifier, you should already have a DCI membership card. However, if you don’t, you needn’t panic. DCI membership is free, and the tournament organizer of the FNM event will most likely have everything you need to get signed up. DCI membership is free, and once you are a DCI member, you will be able to check out your rating and ranking against players in your area and across the world.
Playing a game like Magic is about a lot more than just playing a game. By playing games, we get opportunities to meet new people and create new experiences. Some of the greatest memories I have are in a major way the direct result of playing Magic. It’s about time that you find an FNM event near you and start making some memories of your own. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go find someone here at GenConSoCal with an Internet connection I can heist so I can send this article to my editor. As tired as I am, I fear that making this article into something cohesive may be a big job.