From The Kitchen Table To Your First FNM: What To Expect From Judges And Other Players, by Morgan McGowan
For the vast majority of us, the kitchen table was our first battlefield.
If you’re nervous about going to your first FNM, you are not alone. I was certainly nervous! It is always a nerve-wracking experience going somewhere new and meeting new people, especially when we consider how much of a presonal experience Magic: The Gathering can be. Going to FNM is something you can easily– and quickly –get used to. Reading this article will help you will feel as comfortable at FMN as you would be playing at the Kitchen Table.
The transition from the casual Kitchen Table where you can play any card from Black Lotus to Storm Crow to an FNM where you can only play certain cards in a more competitive atmosphere may seem large. There is nothing to be afraid of however, everyone there will have had to do the same at some point in their Magic life and most will happily help. Experienced players would have had to start somewhere and we all had to transition from the Kitchen Table to an FNM, and if we can do it then so can you.
In my experiences both playing and judging at FNM, the MTG community is fantastic. Most players are willing to help no matter how old you are or what your experience level is. At my first FNM I had the pleasure of drafting alongside some really helpful people who gave me support and advice on how to draft and how to build a deck. Although I may not have done brilliantly at the event, I had an excellent time.
I had such a good time, in fact, that I kept going back for more. I looked to improve and learn, and judging has been a huge part of that. As a Judge in training I have had to deal with situations that required a simple explanation and at the events I have judged I have spent time with new players coming from the Kitchen Table. Like any other Judge I help where I can. There are still times when I don’t fully understand something but I know that I have the support of other people to help me develop my knowledge. I am one of the least experienced players in my playgroup as the others have been playing for far longer than I have. Despite this I do not feel intimidated and, in fact, being around people like this helps me learn.
I was introduced to Magic at the age of 11 at school where only about 4-5 people played. There I had vast amounts of support which helped boost my confidence. When I first went to my local game store I found this level of support there too. Bringing sweet FNM Promos back to my school made all my friends jealous and all my casual decks better.
As a player going to an FNM, fun is the number one objective.
As a player who has been playing for about 4 and a half years I now absolutely love going to my local game store to have fun with friends, and if I learn something new along the way then that’s a bonus. As a player going to an FNM, fun is the number one objective. I love winning as much as the next guy but winning isn’t everything; it is better to have fun and lose than have no fun whatsoever. You’ll find that this is the general attitude of lots of the players at FNM. As you develop and grow as a player more events will feel accessible to you and winning bigger prizes will be part of the fun (But that’s probably the topic of another article). As a Judge in training there are still plenty of hurdles ahead of me and that holds true of everyone, player or judge.
What should I do when I get to my local gaming store?
At your local game store it would be highly beneficial to introduce yourself to the people there. I can guarantee, you will be welcomed with open arms. It also is beneficial to talk to the local judge and you will see they will be more than happy to answer any and all questions you have. The first time I went to my local game store I was nervous, I had never seen so many people playing magic in one place. Knowing that we all had this hobby in common helped me sweep aside my nervousness and now I am happy to call many of the people I met there, my friends.
When you arrive and see people walking around observing, listening, watching and you may think ‘Who are these people’ then a cry from the other side of the room ‘Judge!’ and that person swiftly responds and resolves the situation. These are judges and they are not big bad monsters who wish to punish you for playing wrong, they are there to help and advise you whether you are new to the game or not.
What happens when I or another player calls for a Judge?
As a new player you maybe unsure or nervous about calling a judge but you shouldn’t be. It’s a simple process. If you are think you or your opponent has done something wrong, simply ask your opponent to wait, raise your hand into the air and call ‘Judge!’. A Judge will then come over and ask for an explanation of the current situation, explain what to do to to rectify the situation and advise you on how to be more careful next time. You can even call a Judge over if you are not 100% sure how a card works and can ask for the oracle of a card or how it works with regards to other cards. As a new player you may be scared of committing a serious error but don’t be, no matter how experienced someone is they are still can make mistakes so don’t feel bad if you make a mistake, just simply call a Judge and they will be happy to help. Calling a Judge shouldn’t be a frightening experience, but don’t worry, they won’t bite.
Remember: Judges are always there to help. One of the reasons I participate in events as a Judge rather than as a player is because I like helping others. I know this is a sentiment echoed by others. All the Judges I know are nice, helpful people who became Judges to help others enjoy Magic as much as they do, especially new players. Don’t feel like you are wasting their time, they’re there to help.
Judges are the go to people when you are unsure about a what is happening or if you think an error has occurred. As a new player you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if you make a mistake as you can learn from those mistakes. Judges will always be a part of Magic: The Gathering and you will always be able to find a Judge at every event you go to. There will be someone there whom you can ask questions and that will be there to support you when they can.
Top 5 tips for your first FNM
FNM style events are often the best to go to to begin your competitive career, everyone started at it and people built up to where they are today and they did not do it by themselves but with help from fellow players and Judges.
Here are some tips for your first FNM:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
2. Don’t be afraid to call a Judge
3. Listen and learn
4. Don’t worry if you do badly, the only way is up
5. Just be yourself and have fun
I can’t speak for all judges but I myself wish you a prosperous future within this fantastic game and if you have any questions for me do not hesitate to ask.
Community Question: What were your biggest fears when you were planning to attend your first FNM?
Thanks for reading,