11.18.04 OK, first of all, let me apologize to everyone about last week's article. It got written in a hurry and honestly, it was posted before I could do anything to revise it. There were several errors. I think it was a good piece of information on playing against the deck in question nonetheless.
However, this week I won't to switch gears a little bit. I want to break away from doing deck strategy foe this week. I know it's useful, but there is something else that was brought to my attention this week that would make a great article. It's something that many writers don't touch on. It's viewer etiquette.
Before you bail on me, just hear me out. How often is this addressed among the gaming community? I honestly can't remember it ever being written. I'm not saying that it hasn't EVER, just that it hasn't been recent enough on a major site to be easily remembered. So, that's what I'm here for. Let me explain some things and talk about what is accepted and expected.
Zip the Lips
The title of this segment says it all. However, you can get away with a few things at different levels. If you are playing a practice game, it should be OK to open your mouth and speak up. Honestly, you want to help each person make the right play. It's practice. Be aware though, that even when practicing, you can annoy players (most likely teammates and friends) by speaking too much. So even though it's acceptable, do it in moderation.
If you are watching a casual game with people you aren't familiar with, don't say anything. Keep comments to yourself. If you do want to speak up, ask permission. And honestly, if you are going to ask, because you see something to comment on or fix, wait until the next turn, or even the turn after to ask. This way, if they don't want to be bothered, you won't disturb anything in their game by giving away a play or mistake. And if you are unsure, just speak AFTER they are done. Again, if it appears you are bothering the players involved, back down a little.
In tournament play, there is no good time to speak up during a game/match. Be polite. Give them the same consideration that you would expect from them. In tournaments, prizes are on the line. Don't disturb the concentration or put someone's chances in jeopardy. Keep it fair. Also, be aware that you can be removed from the event for disrupting other games. And if you feel the need to say anything to someone not involved, please step away from the table to speak. When everyone is watching a match, it can be quiet and you may be overheard. I can even admit that I've made a different play, because I've heard someone speaking about things relevant to my game.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself
This one seems obvious too, but I see people's hands cause as much trouble as their mouths at events. It's obviously not good to speak during a match that someone else is involved in. We know this. But think about it. People communicate with their hands. So what would make that type of communication any better?
Don't point. Please don't point. I hate seeing other players do this during matches that I'm not even involved in, so I know the players involved can't appreciate it. Don't point at a card. If you are speaking to someone about what's going on, don't point. I've seen guys draw in the air and make circles over certain cards as though they were John Madden explaining a play with a teleprompter on Monday Night Football. It's distracting and completely disrespectful.
And absolutely, positively, at any level don't touch anything on the gaming surface if you aren't involved in the game. It honestly blows my mind to see players just reach over and say, "What does that card say?" In a casual game, this my be acceptable. And honestly, if it were Arena league play in my store, I may not even get riled up about that. But in a tournament, of any kind, this is absolutely unacceptable. The only person that should touch cards in play other than the players involved is a judge or tournament organizer.
Get Excited, But Not Too Excited
Games are competitive. That's the nature of games. There will be big plays. There will be topdecks. That's expected. It's awesome to be excited about these things. But keep yourself in check.
Good plays are easy to get excited about. And honestly, it makes players feel good to have the audience excited about a play they just made. However, if you are going to make a comment, be careful about what you say. Comment about the play at hand and that play only. Anything else could give away strategy. But generic cheering is good and usually welcome and appreciated.
Now, reacting to a great topdeck can be a bit more touchy. It's hard to be silent when you see a player set up and amazing play and rip what they need off the top of the deck. In a game between two good players, both players generally know what card will break the game. So, when they draw it, it's not a big deal. You aren't giving away much. However, in your typical Friday Night Magic tournament, players aren't that good. So you getting openly excited about a topdeck could give away a key play. Now, if they draw the card and play it, THEN, and only THEN, is it OK to get excited.
Watch Their Space
The last thing I want to talk about involves space issues. Some spectators feel the need to be right on top of the players involved. I mean seriously close to them. I mean really close. No, closer than that. Close like Siamese twins. I'm talking close enough that they could scratch the players jock if they had a problem. OK, maybe that's a bit out of line, but you get the point. The players are already feeling some pressure, so give them some space so they can relax a little and think.
And to be fair, there are other reasons beyond just the players even. You don't run the risk of bumping the table if you are away from it. That's a big deal. It's a definite mood (and concentration) killer to have someone bump a table and have things moving all around. Also, spectators get the urge to cough or sneeze. When you are away from the table you aren't being noisy and disturbing the competitors and aren't spreading germs. It's a simple thing, but it's the polite thing to do. You're also less likely to bump a player or effect the game in some way if you step away a bit.
When In Doubt, Mill About
If you are ever unsure of what the proper procedure is to follow, just step away. Walk around and keep yourself busy. If you think what you are about to say or do could potentially bother the players at the table, don't do it. Your instincts are probably right. There's nothing wrong and stepping away from a game. It's good for you and everyone else involved sometimes.
I think this should clear things up. Some of you may have been completely aware of the proper etiquette to follow. Some of you may do this now, and not even known you were being rude. There's no handbook on it. These are just things that have become accepted over the years as proper procedure. There is etiquette for almost everything it seems. Sometimes, it isn't relevant. However, among your peers, in an activity you share on a regular basis, you don't want to be the odd man out that's upsetting people.
Until next time,
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