A Competitive Edge That Cuts Deep

I should preface this article with two things. The first, I don’t actually believe in what I’m about to explain to you but it is something necessary to know. The second being that I believe in good sportsmanship, never sinking to a lower level and having the best possible game between two people. I had posted an article earlier about table ettiquette while playing someone. I strongly encourage you to read that either right now or after finishing this article.

While playing competitively you will encounter a disruptive player. I was discussing my frustration about the rudeness of other players with a group of friends who all play Magic the Gathering, another TCG. They explained to me that these actions weren’t simply a lack of manners but a tactic. My opponents had been trying to throw off my train of thought. Clearly I thought too highly of the card game crowd. There are lists and lists of things you can do and I’m going to bring up some effective ones, not in hopes that you will use them but with a hope I can help you notice them when they’re occurring.

There are simple interactions that can rope you in. A discussion with your opponent, probably about Pokemon or another player at the tournament, is an easy way to get distracted. A friendly face can build trust but focus is key to success. Save the conversations that aren’t directly related to you game for after the match. This doesn’t mean don’t talk to your opponent but be sparse.

The things right in front of your face are often the most distracting. Playing with the cards in your hand can make a lot noise for the person across from you. Riffle shuffling your hand or sorting it out and picking it up are both terribly annoying tactics. If there is only one card left in their hand, slapping it on the table, picking it up, checking it and repeating. These actions can all bring questions to mind. Why is he doing that? What card could he have that he needs to keep checking? The other thing almost every competitive player has are dice. These dice usually come in the plastic container. When you leave a few dice in the container it also makes an excellent maraca. This noise is always loud and obnoxious. Also the repetitive rhythm of these actions can be disruptive to thought.

A final, and personally what I consider the least sportsman like, using confusing dice. There is a reason that the starter decks come with pogs labeled “10”. Its easy to read and clearly distinguishable from the pogs marked “50”. Using dice with a strange symbol on them or even worse not using dice but instead some make shift way of keeping track of damage can be confusing. A single miscalculation can sway the game.

I would hope your reaction to this article is disbelief and you tell me in the comments how wrong I am and that people would never sink to this level to win a game. The fact of the matter is though that people want to win and will do whatever it takes. I encourage you to speak up first to your opponent then to a judge if there are things distracting to you. Try to avoid accusation but remember you deserve a fair game.