Tag Archives: MtG

Good Game

1 Oct

I had always imagined that the first time that I cried around my boyfriend would be because of a particularly sad scene in a movie that we were watching or maybe because of a truly heartwarming gift that he would buy me for my birthday or for Christmas.

I never dreamt that the first time that I cried around my boyfriend would be because of World of Warcraft.

It happened last night, after I called to rant about how much I was frustrated with the leveling process, how I felt like my guild had backpedaled on their initial expectations on when they wanted us to be raid ready, how I hated the prospect of having to do a seemingly overwhelming amount of dailies to get ahead, how I felt like leveling had turned into a competition to see who could hit level 90 in the most unhealthy way possible, and how I felt like Blizzard was being hypocritical by saying that they wanted to make raiding more accessible to people, while still creating even more hoops for people to jump through in order to prove just that.

Once I got all of that out of my system, I grew quiet and stared up at the ceiling.  He waited patiently on the other end of the phone, thinking that I still had more to say.  My eyes began to dart around the room, making sure that I didn’t focus on one spot for too long, because I knew what would happen if I did.  I could feel my chin quivering and the emotional dam inside my head starting to break.  Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

“I don’t love raiding anymore,” I said through tears.

I know it sounds silly to cry over a computer game and I told the boyfriend as much.  But raiding is something that I have truly loved to do for a long time.  I have compared my relationship to World of Warcraft and more specifically raiding to being in a relationship with an actual person and having to say that I no longer loved the one thing that keeps me going and the one thing that keeps me playing hurt about as much as realizing that the person you have spent years of your life with you no longer love anymore. 

If I loved raiding, I would gladly take time off of work to be raid ready.  If I loved to raid, I wouldn’t mind using my last vacation day of the year to spend it leveling and doing dailies.  I wouldn’t mind losing sleep, or temporarily putting off plans, because I would be doing those things for something that I love to do.  But I don’t love the idea of it anymore, so those things are turning into an imposition and they are turning into things that I’m starting to resent having to do.

I think another reason that I broke down at the fact that I didn’t enjoy raiding anymore is because for a long time I have felt like raiding was the one thing that I was good at.  Especially now, since I came back to Magic.  I’m not that good at Magic yet.  When I don’t do well at a Magic tournament, I can at least walk away from it knowing that I’m a Savior of Azeroth or that my guild finished in the top 300 of the United States, or that I am a competent priest that people turn to for advice.  If I didn’t have my raiding anymore, then I would have nothing to console myself with.  I would be just another player who performed poorly at a Magic event.  I would have nothing that I could turn to and say “Well, I’m not very good at this, but at least I am good at this.”

At least that’s what I thought, anyway.  As I dried my tears, the Boyfriend began reminding me about all the things that I am good at and that I could be good at anything I put my mind to.  I could turn all of the passion that I had for World of Warcraft and for raiding and put it towards something else and most likely see the same results.  He told me how smart I am and how I don’t need raiding to feel good about myself or to feel competent and that if he thought that I was that type of person, he never would have started dating me to begin with. 

That made me feel a little bit better.  I know he’s right, too.  So with that said, I think I’m going to tell my guild that I’m not going to raid anymore and take the demotion down to the social rank in the guild, provided they let me stick around at all.  And if they don’t, I am sure I can find someone on Twitter or in the community with a guild that will take me in as a casual member.  I can see myself doing some PVP in the future or maybe a fun raid with friends who just need a warm body to fill a spot.  But I think it is safe to say that my time as a serious, progression minded raider is over. 

It’s funny.  I had a conversation with a couple of people on Twitter yesterday about a custom in Magic the Gathering where your opponent tries to shake your hand after the round is over and says “Good game.”  I had mentioned how I felt that the practice was sort of condescending, mostly because it always seems like the winner is the person who puts out their hand first and that of course they are going to think it was a good game because they won. 

Then a friend pointed out to me that “Good game” is not to be taken literally and that often times the person feels that you genuinely put up a good fight or played well and that it deserves to be said and complimented on.   I didn’t even think of it that way. 

So in the future, when I think back on my time spent raiding and that I walked away from it all, I won’t be afraid to pat myself on the back and say “Good game.”

And it was.

A Beginner’s Guide to Cockatrice – Part One

7 May

I meant to write a brief post about my thoughts on experiencing the Limited and Limited draft formats for the first time over the last two weeks, as part of the Avacyn Restored pre-release and release day events, but I felt like I really needed to write this post first, in the hopes that it would inspire more people to get on board with this and ultimately give me more people to play Magic the Gathering with online.

As of right now, I don’t get a lot of experience playing Magic outside of the Friday Night Magic events that happen once a week in my city.  There are card shops that run tournaments on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but they tend to be ones that you have to pay an entry fee for and you typically want to have your ducks in a row before you show up.

So needless to say, I don’t really have anywhere to test my decks or decks that I have been thinking about building.  I realize that testing is a huge part of the process and one that I really lack in.  I tried looking into official versions of Magic the Gathering that you could play online, but I didn’t like the idea of either paying for virtual cards that don’t translate to real life ones, or the idea of having a limited pool of cards or pre-constructed decks to choose from.

Enter Cockatrice – a free piece of open source multiplatform software that you can use to play Magic the Gathering over a network, along with hundreds of other users.  After giving Cockatrice a try for myself one night, I decided that I really liked not only the layout of the program, but the simple and easy to use controls associated with it.  The users that I found online tended to be pretty friendly and now I’m trying to get more people into this, so that I have more people to play with.

Because new or unfamiliar programs can seem intimidating, I figured I would write a brief starter guide for Cockatrice and give people a taste of what they can expect. This won’t be terribly in depth, but hopefully it gives people some idea of what Cockatrice brings to the table and inspires people to try it out for themselves some time.  The first half of this guide will walk you through how to get Cockatrice onto your computer, how to setup and update your card database, and how to build your deck.  Part two will go into more detail about how to get a game started and some of the controls that you can use once you start playing.

Step #1:  Visit the Cockatrice home page.  It should look like this:

Step #2:  Download the program.

Click on the yellow circle at the top of the page marked “Download.”  This will take you to a page that looks like this:

I only have experience downloading Cockatrice as a Windows user, so I apologize in advance for not being much help in the Mac department. Click on the link found in the “Windows Users” section to download the .exe program, which will help you install Cockatrice.

Step #3:  Connect to Cockatrice.

Once you have installed Cockatrice to your computer you will see a mostly blank screen with two menus at the top.  Click on “Cockatrice” and then “Connect.”  Make sure to leave the host and port information as is and type in a name for yourself.  If you plan on using Cockatrice more than once, you can register your username on the main site and use it subsequently by entering in your username and the password you have chosen.  If you’re still not sure how you feel about the program, you can just enter in whatever username you want to go by without a password and that would be fine.  Successfully connecting to Cockatrice will take you to this area:

Step #4:  Run Oracle

Either during the initial download process or after, you will have to run the program called “Oracle” that can be found in the main Cockatrice folder and which allows you to upload all of the cards that you will use to build your deck.  On the Oracle importer screen, click “File” and then “Download sets information.”  A window will open, asking you to enter a URL, but one should already be located in the field for you.  Hit “OK.”  You should see a list of expansions with check boxes to the left of each name.  You will want to select “Check all” and then “Start download.”  This will give you access to every card from each set that you have selected.  Going forward if you want to just add one set, like for when a new expansion comes out, just select the box for the set you want, uncheck the rest, and then click “Start download.”

Step #5:  Build your deck.

Once you have uploaded all of the sets that you will want to have cards from, click on “Cockatrice” and then “Deck Editor.”  When starting off with a fresh deck, it looks like this:

Start by searching for the cards you want from the box on the left.  An image of the card will appear in the middle of the screen, to show you what it looks like and what the card does.  Use the green arrow to add those cards to your main deck or the blue arrow to add them to your sideboard.  If you add cards you later decide that you don’t want, you can click on the X button to remove all cards with that name from the deck.  If you want to increase or decrease the number of said card one at a time, you can click the plus or minus buttons, respectively to do that. Once you have your deck built to your satisfaction, click on “Deck” and then “Save deck as” to save your deck for future use.

Part two should be coming out shortly.  If you just can’t wait for me to publish it, feel free to poke around Cockatrice on your own, or even pop into the main chat room channel and see if you can strike up a conversation with someone there who might be able to help you out a bit further.  I’ve had some pretty positive experiences so far with folks that I have met through the server, so I highly encourage you to try and make a new friend that way.  Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for the second half of my guide to Cockatrice and let me know what you think of the program, if you have gotten around to trying it.

May the cards be with you!

Pressure

19 Mar

I feel like if I were a boy I would be less worried about my performance in a game than if I were a girl.

Let me explain.

I feel like when a woman puts herself out there, wherever it may be in the gaming world, she is automatically expected to either be completely bad at what she does, or is viewed with hesitation or apprehension.  So when I do poorly at something, whether I didn’t show as high on the meters as I would have liked, or I didn’t win as many rounds in a tourney that I should have, I feel like I am living up to that expectation of me.  I feel that I am proving that person right.  I am just another terrible female gamer.

I feel like you not only have more wiggle room, in terms of your performance, but you are also given more leeway to try new things, or to be innovative.  If I were to show up to Friday Night Magic and tell someone that I was playing a self mill Vampire deck, people would immediately look at me and think I had lost my mind.  Nobody would give me the benefit of the doubt, or the chance to show them that maybe this deck idea might not be so bad, and maybe it would turn out to be something great.

But if I were a man and I showed up with that same deck idea, I think people would still be a little apprehensive of my idea, but they would at least let me see the idea through, and then poke fun at me if the whole thing crashed and burned.  And if the deck did end up being a glorious failure, I think the focus would be more on how terrible the deck was, versus how terrible I was.  More often than not, when a woman does perform poorly at something, more of an effort is made to establish that she is in fact a woman.  The focus isn’t placed on how badly the strategy was, or the idea behind it, but the fact that a woman implemented it.

At the same time, you can’t just be a woman and be good at what you do.  Someone let you win.  You cheated.  You got lucky.  A man can take a defeat from another man much more easily.  It involves swallowing so much more pride to say that you won, and that you did so without gaming the system, or using your feminine wiles, or anything of the sort.  Even if they don’t make any initial snide comments, they will still wrap things up by saying “I lost to a girl.”  You would never hear someone say “I lost to a guy.”  It would be “I lost to this comp,” or “I lost to this type of deck.”  Again, the focus is immediately placed on losing to someone who happened to be better than you, and who happened to be a woman.  It isn’t enough to say that you were a better player, or that you had more skill.  It has to be reiterated that you are a woman.  Everything else will come a distant second to that.

At the end of the day, it’s not my perfectionist nature that makes me stay up an hour after the raid is over with to pore over the logs, and to see how I did, or what I can do better.  It’s not the competitive side of me that gets angry when I lose badly in a Friday Night Magic tourney.  These things tap directly into the side of me that feels like I have to do my gender proud, like I have to represent for all women, and that if I don’t that I have let any number of women like me down.  It taps into the feeling that I have proven every short sighted, misogynistic asshole right by being bad at what I do.  They must think women are bad because I was bad.  I’m not helping.  That’s how my mind interprets it.

I’m not really sure what can be done about this, or even where I’m going with this.  These are things that I feel, and I can’t necessarily say that someone has directly made me feel this way.  This is how I choose to interpret things that are said or things that I have experienced in the time that I have spent gaming.  I feel like we have come a long way, but the pressure is still there.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so maybe I felt like it would be a good idea to get this all off my chest, and to see if I’m not the only one who feels like I owe it to my gender to be good at what I do.

If you have felt this way, let me know how you cope with it, or how you deal with those feelings of inadequacy when you are feeling not good enough.  If you haven’t, feel free to leave a comment about that, too.

Thanks for reading.