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Matt Sperling's New Column, Premium Events, & More

TopDeck.gg Newsletter - June 2024

June, 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the second ever TopDeck newsletter! This month we have some great featured events, the start of a recurring column by the one and only Matt Sperling, and plenty more. Let’s get into it!

Upcoming Featured Events

LDXP Tacoma - TopDeck Champ Series Gold Event

When: Jun 22, 2024

What: cEDH

Where: Greater Tacoma Convention Center, Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA, USA

The Bar-B-Cube

When: Jun 15, 2024

What: Cube

Where: The Mana Vault - 3807 South Packard Avenue, Saint Francis, WI, USA

Sperling’s Tip of the Month

Welcome to Sperling’s Tip of the Month - our new monthly column where former Magic: the Gathering Platinum pro (with 4 Pro Tour Top 8s) Matt Sperling will give you a piece of his mind, helping you improve your TCG game. This month - are you ready to make the jump from casual to competitive play?

Signs You Might Be a Competitive (or Tournament) Player

In my recent travels in the Magic world, I’m more and more often encountering competitive players at 1v1 tournaments or cEDH events who started playing Magic not in the competitive 1v1 setting, but in casual, multiplayer EDH. Casual EDH has become the most popular way to play for a reason and it’s a great way to get exposure to Magic and the worlds of possibilities Magic offers. Magic doesn’t offer just one way to play and have lots of fun, it offers several. So it doesn’t surprise me that some players who start with EDH end up exploring other ways to play.

If you’re currently playing mostly casual magic, whether that’s EDH in-person, online play in a casual manner, or something else, what are the signs that you might enjoy investing more time (and money) in Magic’s more competitive contexts?

The most reliable sign that you may be a player who will have at least as much fun or more in a competitive setting is that you get bored when the outcome of the game doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. We’re talking about player preferences here and everyone has a slightly different set of those preferences. Personally, the moment it is clear who is going to win a game of Magic, or clear than some or all of the players don’t even care who will win, I’m reaching for my phone or thinking about the next game I’ll be able to play, or regretting playing the one I’m in. It’s not that others are wrong for enjoying those games, it’s about what I have gained by recognizing and playing to my own preferences.

Another sign that you may be a player who wants to try a format like Modern, Standard, Pioneer or cEDH, is that you get frustrated when you have to “pull punches” and avoid making your deck too strong (or when you or someone else tries to do so, but misses the mark). Magic is generally less fun when there’s a big mismatch in power level between the decks. These mismatches happen much, much less frequently in competitive contexts.

Lastly, if you find yourself motivated during and between games by the pursuit of the proud feeling you get when you win, and/or avoidance of the disappointment that accompanies a loss, it may be time to check out competitive Magic. An example would be that when building decks, you find it fun to consider not just how cool it’s going to be when your deck does its thing, but also about how often your deck will be able to pull that off. If you often think about whether your deck building choices will produce winning outcomes, competitive formats are the arena that pays you off (in fun) for that hard work.

I suspect the hardest part of this exercise for some players is that to discover what we like most, we need to listen to ourselves, not other people. I can’t tell you what you’ll like the most, but there’s a part of you that’s already been saying it, you just need to listen.

Merch is Here!

From exclusive t-shirts with custom designs to snapback hats (we know you all love them), the TopDeck store is here to help you proclaim your love for competitive trading card game playing.

Whether you want to capture the feeling of finally defeating your opponent in an intense top cut game (with the Semifinals t-shirt) or want to disparage your own skills a lil’ bit (Smiley Squad tee), we already have a little something for everyone with plenty more to come. Don’t worry, we have a sticker too.

Lorcana, Here to Stay?

I’ll admit, when hundreds of people were putting themselves through a day-long line at GenCon 2023 to get their hands on the first of all Lorcana products, I was skeptical. Was the game going to be good or was it just going to be hype-y? Plenty of Trading Card Games have come and gone over time and Lorcana

was also launching into what is something of a genre renaissance, with Flesh and Blood, One Piece TCG, Digimon, and others seeing some continued success alongside the stalwarts of Magic, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. The hype has continued over the past months (it obviously helps that its a well designed game with excellent IP to back it), but I was waiting for a solidified competitive scene - something to give players to strive for beyond their local game stores. Well, it looks to be happening.

On May 25-26 (last weekend at the time of my writing), the very first Lorcana Challenges took place in Atlanta, GA and Lille, France. Both of these events were massive successes numerically and optically, featuring 2000+ players that were vying not for cash, but for glory (this is Lorcana’s top competitive circuit, after all) and promo cards. Don’t raise your eyebrows too much at that - even the equivalent of Lorcana Game Day winner promos are selling for $500+. Day 2 promos from the Challenges are already selling for thousands. Regardless of the prizes on the line, the fact of the matter is that Lorcana has managed to have its first major competitive events without any major road bumps and they were attended VERY well. I was expecting to hear horror stories coming out of the weekend, especially as it seems that Ravensburger is still figuring out the best way to set up competitive rules for the game. However, it seems like the majority of players had an excellent time competing with minimal friction.

This is a very important step in the right direction. A well run, excellently attended first competitive event is exactly what the game needed to help keep it on the map and radar of potential serious players. Also - shoutout to Magic: The Gathering Hall of Famer & everybody’s favorite manabase statistician, Frank Karsten, for taking down the US event, winning himself a serialized 100/500 Mickey card in the process. 

With this major feather in their cap, eight more Challenges on the way this year, and the fourth set, Ursula’s Return, already in big-box stores and LGSes, Lorcana is set on a good path. Expansions are selling. They have hit the first major competitive play milestone. Will promos continue having huge value or will they have to start doing cash prizing? Will sets continue to have demand that outstrip supply or will we end up with a Homelands situation, leaving stores with plenty of dead stock? Will a single over or under-tuned set kill competitive momentum when it's needed most? I can’t answer these questions myself but I think Lorcana is going to be here to stay, for a while at least. That’s a great thing.

Cowtown Throwdown is this month!

Cowtown Throwdown is almost here and while it may be sold out, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on any of the action! We’ll be broadcasting the event all weekend long on our YouTube channel, following each player’s journey as they vie for the massive $12,000 prize pool. Make sure to get subscribed now so you don’t skip any of the show!

Isn’t It Beautiful?

If you happen to be one of the 256 players competing in the event or showing up on-site to browse our vendors and jam games, don’t forget to preorder your event-exclusive GoldSabertooth-designed playmat! This will only be available for pick-up on-site and also will never be printed again.

That’s All Folks!

Thanks for reading this month’s TopDeck.gg newsletter. See you next month for more articles, insights, and more.