Saturday, 22 June 2013

FNM Hero

By Norman Ralph

Can you remember being a new player? It was only eighteen months ago that I was sitting down at my very first draft at my first FNM as a registered player. I had played at the pre-release for Innistrad the week before with some friends for my first taste of magic in several years and the experience got me hooked.

The thrill of building that sealed pool and then drafting the set the week after was a great feeling. However, the real excitement for me came when I had to put my first standard deck together, an horrific mono blue mill deck that went 1-3. Building a deck after playing magic for two weeks with cards pulled from a pre-release and a draft, plus a handful of boosters I'd picked up was a challenge that I relished at the time and was the sticking point (that moment when your allegiance to a hobby goes from passing interest to a full on commitment). Winning the match, even though it was effectively a dead rubber, was such a high that I wanted to do it again and again. Unfortunately, it took a while to replicate that success in standard but it did come and the lessons I learnt from that early period in my Magic career have shaped it ever since.

After speaking to some fellow members of Team Leeds, and having read the brilliant series on SCG by Adam Prosak by the same name, I decided to try and recreate that new player feeling by issuing a challenge.

Can you become an FNM Hero?

The goal is simple. Relive that first year of your Magic life by starting again from nothing. This is Team Leeds, and as we are a competitive bunch at heart, there will be a twist.  With a small budget to buy cards, accessories and entry fees, aim to cover the cost of your FNM's for a year with the aim of getting enough Planeswalker Points off the back of those FNM's (and any other tournaments you enter using the FNM Hero budget) to qualify for a place on next year's WMCQs.

As I have set the challenge, it is only right and proper that I partake, so you can read my exploits over a series of articles over the coming weeks and months. I will maintain a public card pool and list of transactions so you can see how I am doing, along with a variety of tournament reports and other odds and ends.

If you are up for the challenge, or have any thoughts on the series, then leave a comment here, or contact me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think.

The Rules

1. Starting Budget

The initial capital for this challenge will be £75. This means you will have a maximum starting budget for the year of £75 with which to buy all cards, product, accessories etc. as well as cover any entry fees to FNM or other tournaments. You may not add any additional funds of your own to this budget, but you may add any prize-money or store credit you win through playing in the challenge to it.

2. Card Pool

Any cards you buy, product you open or prize support you receive will be added to your card pool for the challenge. This card pool is the only source of cards you may use for building decks, trading or selling. You may not use personal collections nor may you borrow cards from other players or receive free cards as gifts. You may add to this pool through trading and buying cards from either vendors or other players by following the Trading/Buying rules below.

3. Trading (inc. Buying/Selling)

You may buy or sell cards to vendors without restriction, except that any cards you sell to a vendor must have been played in a minimum of two tournaments within the challenge (this does not apply to door prizes, promo cards or tokens that are opened/awarded).

You may trade to and from other players using a recognised website for valuation (e.g. SCG, Patriot Games etc.). Again, any cards you trade away must have seen play in at least two tournaments and, again, this won't apply to promos etc.

When buying or selling to players then this must be done at market value. Buying must be done at retail buy prices (eBay completed listing prices for example) and selling must be done at Buy List prices (e.g. SCG, Patriot Games etc.).


  1. So you can't trade that bomb rare you pull in week 1's prizes unless you can play it in your deck for two events? Seems unrealistic - you'd be putting cards in your deck just to defeat this obstacle of trading them.

    What would rules on trading with your own, regular collection be? I understand obviously that the idea here is to replicate starting from scratch taking through only your understanding of the game, but you have actual cards outside of this that you may want to use, and have cards in pool of equivilant value you'd be happy to lose from the pool (much like if your collection was another player)

    This challenge, while I support the idea, is also diminished if everyone does it because only 1 person can take the prize at each shops FNM :P


  2. The trade rules are there to try and encourage the progression through playing, rather than trading, which is closer to the experience of new players.

    Most new players don't make profitable trades to start with. They will also not tend to trade their chase/expensive rare for more playable (in the FNM deck building sense) commons/uncommons.

    Interesting question about self-trading as I hadn't thought about it. I guess technically it would be allowed, but is probably not in the spirit of the challenge.

    Also, buying boosters (or getting them as prizes) is probably not the best way of progressing with this challenge as the EV of a booster is less than the equivalent in store credit (at least in Leeds). Being able to pay event entry and singles with store credit is just a better value bet than opening boosters. That means your scenario of having to play an off theme/colour bomb to trade it away is less likely to come up.

    Finally, the comment about diminishing the challenge because we would all be competing for the same prize pool is not valid. If there are enough people doing the challenge that it impacts FNM results, then the competitive nature of the challenge will really show - the better players and deckbuilders will win out as the playing field is even. It also encourages people to explore alternate FNM tournaments - travel to another store, or even city, to maximise their return.

    The challenge is about balancing competitive play with that new FNMer feeling. It isn't purely either and hopefully combines some of the best elements of both.

  3. "Being able to pay event entry [...] with store"

    PG:L doesn't allow this.


    1. Travelling Man does. Which means picking the FNM might depend if you need store credit for singles or entry, or both.