Level 0 – Preparing for Major Tournaments

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Welcome to the fourth installment of Level 0 – the column that explores the basics of strategy in Weiss Schwarz!

Next Article: The Art of Losing

Previous Article: Building A Deck

Author’s Note: This article is going to be less about the game of Weiss Schwarz itself and more about the approach to take when preparing for large and/or major events. A lot of the ideas from this article are applicable to a wide array of topics. I will be drawing from my personal experiences from having played other games and using anecdotes to illustrate my points. An article like this would be boring without stories anyway, so enjoy! – Michael

Let’s start with a list of Things You Should Absolutely Do Before A Tournament and Why:

  • DO NOT SHOWER.
    • Smelling awful ensures that your opponent will make more misplays. Extra bonus for mixing BO with bad cologne or perfume.  Additional extra bonus for hitting the one week mark.
  • Don’t sleep.
    • Staying up for hours playing Smash with your friends with or without money on the line is an excellent way to burn those pesky transition hours between evening and morning.
  • Play something you’ve never seen or used before.
    • How else are you supposed to know that you’re the Chosen One? After all, the Chosen One can pick up a ham sandwich and win a tournament, so why not you?
  • Don’t eat.
    • Food is for the weak.
  • Brush up on as many racial slurs as you can.
    • Remember, trash talk is the soul of every game. If you can’t trash talk your opponent and make him or her feel bad about him or herself, you’re doing it all wrong. Bonus points if you get arrested.
  • Purchase a large salt shaker.
    • To have something to sprinkle on your opponent when you win.

Doing all of these things is a sure way to success failure in a tournament environment.  Sorry, the list wasn’t serious. Can you imagine if it was? Anyway!

Preparing for an event starts with the self above everything else. First step –

Take care of yourself!

Some things should be givens: hygiene, food, water, rest. If you can’t take care of these, then reconsider attending the tournament.

If you are tired, dehydrated, hungry, or smelly, these things can and will throw you off your game. No need to needlessly hinder yourself!

Test your deck!

Testing is very important.

Testing helps practice a lot of soft skills that are difficult to directly teach. Ideally, you should test with friends who share a common goal and vision. Testing with someone who throws a tantrum over a random bad game is not a great idea.

Even if you don’t have a group of friends to test with, local tournaments are good for opening cans of worms discussions among other players about ideas. The key is to keep an open mind. Disagreements will happen, but good testing will ultimately result in improvement.

There are many benefits to good testing. You not only learn your deck inside and out, but you also add to your existing knowledge of what to expect from other decks. (Granted, that does mean that it is easier to test for the EN metagame than the JP metagame because the card pool is smaller.)

Good testing helps you get used to the mechanics of the game (playing characters correctly etc), and trains you to remember what your ‘outs’ are at any given time during a game.

In the music community, there’s an old adage that goes:

Amateurs practice until they get it right once.

Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Just because something is done or played for fun doesn’t mean that it’s illegal to approach it with a professional mentality.

So you get to the tournament and you’ve rested and tested. What next? Here are some things to remember when playing in a tournament:

Mistakes happen.

Playing any game perfectly is difficult, and WS is no exception. A factor that separates the good players from the inexperienced however, is how he or she handles making a mistake during a game. Remember, no one is exempt from making mistakes!

An inexperienced player may not realize that he or she has misplayed. As that player improves, he or she might start to notice mistakes made more quickly, and if one of those mistakes is made in the middle of a game, may become flustered and play poorly for the remainder of the match.

A more experienced player is still capable of making that same mistake, but it won’t affect his or her standard of play. Remember – making mistakes is no excuse for choosing to melt down and play on tilt. On that note –

Tilt loses games.

If you know any semi-competitive player, you might have heard these kinds of comments:

“Oh he just got lucky.”

“Holy [email protected]&($ my opponent just drew the nuts.”

“There was nothing I could do, seriously he was pulling some Yugi Motou !&[email protected] or something.”

yugi

That face when you attack for 6 and it goes through

But if you’ve ever seen the games that some of these players have played, you might start to observe some cognitive dissonance. Yes, it is true there are some instances where the opponent straight outdraws you. And yes, there are times that you get outplayed. But doggedly insisting that you are never a factor in lost games is madness.

People tend to take good play for granted, and only remember the extremes. WS has no ranking system or ladder, so tracking the habits of the game’s best players is actually more difficult than other games. But, regardless of player skill, there is no “excuse” for poor play. Unless you accurately analyze your game and determine that you made no mistakes, complaining about being outdrawn doesn’t get you anywhere. Don’t let mistakes get to you. Even if you lose a character for free during an attack because you weren’t paying attention, stay calm and stay focused. Having a clear head is worth more than a lost card.

Losing happens.

Even the best players lose. Especially in Weiss Schwarz, it’s important to remember: Anyone can beat anyone.

Even though it’s much more difficult to close the skill-luck gap in WS than say, chess, it still means that anyone has a shot, so long as he or she has a deck to play with. There is no skill ceiling in WS that means you are virtually impervious to losing to a player of lesser skill.

Most days, it won’t be your day to win, but that’s the same reality that every player that enters a tournament deals with. Remember that at an event, only one person gets to walk away the winner!

Have fun!

How to properly have fun with the game is one of the most disputed points about it. Ask a player what makes him or her enjoy the game and you’ll get an answer. Ask ten different players and you’ll probably hear ten different answers. Here’s a simple trick to having fun with WS – don’t worry about what other people think about trying to have fun with the game!

Wait, how does that make sense?

Think about it – the reasons that we as players were brought into the game and continue to play are quite vast. Some people play because they are enthusiastic about certain series. Some play because they like card games. Others play for the competition. All of these are fine reasons to play.

UltimateMadoHomu

Madoka #1!!

Sometimes, players are so passionate about the game that they want to make sure that others enjoy the game in the same way that they do. I’m sure you’ve heard them before:

“Believe in your waifu! Waifu power OP!”

“If you can’t understand why X is Y, then you’re just a bad person.”

“Casual only. There is no such thing as competitive WS.”

“I’m the greatest. Everyone else is just trash.”

Ironically, the way this can come across to others is being pushy, preachy, or otherwise sanctimonious, which leads to arguments, drama and community fracturing.

I don’t blame those individuals for being as passionate as they are about the game. In fact, I applaud their enthusiasm. However, it’s important for us to be mindful and respectful of others, and remember that everyone enjoys the game in his or her own way.

As someone who’s been a tournament organizer for WS and Magic, I’ve seen all sorts of attitudes come through the door. Sometimes you’ll get a super new face who just LOOOOVES everything about the game and believes that his waifu is best, and sometimes a competitive player who wants to crush everyone in her path. As a player, as long as you aren’t actively going out of your way to make another player’s experience miserable, your behavior is most likely just fine. Sporting behavior and competitive behavior are not mutually exclusive, and the areas that they reach are wider than people (generally) give them credit for. It is OK to have a competitive attitude when in a tournament environment, and it is of course great to have a sporting attitude.

Attitude counts for a lot, and will help you improve as a player. How a player deals with a bad beat can be very indicative of his or her willingness to improve.

Bottom line : Remember that you never stop learning.

Years ago I used to play a lot of online poker. In 2013, I took a trip to Vegas to try my hand in a live tournament.

I played poker for seven hours straight before coasting into the money. I had won some good hands and buffed my stack to a healthy amount. I felt alright about my chances of scoring the $10,000 top prize. As players were eliminated, players were shuffled around, and unfortunately for me, a gentleman with millions in chips was eventually seated directly to my right. This was a Very Bad Thing™. It was only a matter of minutes before I found myself shuffling back up to my hotel room with much less than $10,000 in my pocket.

Instead of despairing over my rather hilarious exit (seriously, I got my butt handed to me on a silver platter within an hour), I spent the next day or so analyzing my event and identifying mistakes I had made so I could avoid those in the future.

My introduction to WS in 2012 was even more rough than my experience with poker. I began with Madoka as my first set, and I really did go for two months without winning a single game. As someone who’s played Magic for 19 years, I admit that it was pretty unsettling to me that I wasn’t able to pick up a card game right away.

I asked myself, “Why can’t I figure out this game?” and “Why are cards so different?” It took me a little while to realize and accept that what I was doing was attempting to shoehorn in concepts from other games that I knew that simply were not applicable to WS. For instance, one thing that I know very well in Magic is the concept of ‘value’. That is, determining a card or a play’s complete range of value, from ‘abysmal’ to ‘game-winning’. However, what determines ‘value’ in Magic is wildly different from what determines good value in WS.

Respecting a game’s difficulty is critical to becoming better at it. Competence in one thing does not entitle one to being good at another, even if the two are related in some way. While there might be some mechanics and basics that are applicable, some things probably won’t click right away. Tenacity and grit are two great assets to have.

So to conclude…

Whether you’re going out for your first event or your hundredth, good luck! I hope I’ve been able to give some perspective and insight with this (much more personal) guide. If you want to talk more about it, you can find me on Facebook or send the page a message. (I answer everything, seriously!)

Be sure to sign up for our monthly giveaway, and as always, thanks for reading!

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