We had yet another fantastic year at GenCon, mainly in large part due to the stellar events that Upper Deck runs. Upper Deck continues to outclass all other tournament options at the con, especially when it comes to Organize Play and judges.
I finished in 12th place this year, running a variation of Mystique that was a blast to play throughout the day. I will post more about my deck tomorrow, including my decklist, but today I wanted to write a wrap-up of sorts, specifically focused on things I learned from GenCon 2017.
In no particular order, here is what I learned:
Don’t Test in a Vacuum
I’ve been playing competitively in card games since 1995 and the one statement I’ve always held true, regardless of the game, is that you are only as good as the people you test against. If you constantly test against people that are better than you, you will constantly get better at the game. If you constantly test against people who play the same deck over and over or have a very limited scope of the game you are testing, your scope will be equally limited. Sometimes, players can get so focused on believing they know every aspect because of how they test that they fail to see that others play differently, have different designs and ideas, and can come up with some pretty original stuff. The Kingpin decklist that one team played during the 10k is proof in that no one, literally, saw that deck coming. And it is a fantastic deck. I would even toss around the world ‘brilliant’. Branch out. Play fun decks. Experiment. Don’t just stick to what you believe works – try everything until you’ve exhausted it all.
Don’t Listen to the Echo Chamber
While the Facebook Collective Group is one of the best resources around for VS 2PCG, it can on too often of occasions be an echo chamber. Group Think can plague discussion, and force a lot of players to believe things that might be said without much truth or value behind them. When Mystique was first spoiled, for example, the Collective had a very positive and fun reaction. Loads of questions were thrown at Chad, and all sorts of new math popped into people’s heads. But then Origins happened and many believed that Thor was the be-all-end-all of VS. Many crowned him king due to the results, and often times people discussing the pros of other Main Characters were shut down in conversation. The Echo Chamber isn’t always right. Mystique is a fantastic MC, one that provides plenty of win conditions and is a whole heck of a lot of fun to play. She also happens to give Thor a very hard time.
Don’t Get Emotionally Attached
There are some really good cards in VS 2PCG and there are some really, really bad cards. My personal favorite character from all of Marvel is Spider-Man and my personal favorite villain of his is Carnage. If I weren’t able to remove my emotional attachment to those two, they would literally go in every single deck I built. And they are, for the most part, mediocre card choices that would most likely not win me many games. The night before the 10k, I had two copies of *Hulk* in my deck. I love this card. Absolutely, without hesitation, this is one of my favorite cards within Monsters Unleashed. I love Genius, I love 2 health, and I love +1+1 counters. But this card had no place in my deck. As much as I wanted to play it, I had to sacrifice its spot to something that made more sense for my decklist.
Don’t Be Rude
Sometimes, it’s hard for players to take a mental step back from the table and question their possible decisions before taking action. All the players I faced throughout the day were exceptionally nice, but there were a few moments of interaction I saw/heard where I believe the player could have taken things down a notch. It’s a big event with a ton of money on the line, but ultimately we’re all there to play a great game and to have fun doing it. This goes for both the discussions you have during games as well as the materials you bring. You might have the coolest set of custom tokens or the coolest set of D20 dice, but not everyone will like them as much as you. And that’s okay. It never hurts to ask if your custom tokens are okay for the game and don’t be offended if someone finds your dice confusing. I saw dozens of custom tokens and dice all day and some were great, imo, and some were awful, imo. Just be overly courteous, in all ways, and the game will be that much better for it.
Don’t Miss GenCon
Okay, I may have said that these were in no particular order but, truth be told, this is the number one takeaway from GenCon this year. This event was fantastic, from the surprise playmat given to every single attendee to the cash payouts all the way down to 25th place. Monsters Unleashed being on sale and legal was great, but the fun promo for the Predator set was awesome (and it is way cool to know that GenCon attendees scored the set super early!). WinABox events were firing constantly, there were Loyalty and Cube events added (with super sick enlarged cards!), and Upper Deck continued to make sure all events were worth it to all players. On the flight home, we were discussing how expensive GenCon is and how hard the trip can be to justify, but we both easily agreed that it feels more costly to miss it than it does to attend. Upper Deck continues to be the best place to spend your GenCon weekend and it should go without saying, especially after three years now, that you shouldn’t miss it.