Sorry for the lack of writing from me recently, been busy with finals and then Spring Break. Now I'm back at work so, of course, that means it's time to steal my employer's money and write a blog post!
So far this article series has mainly been about getting an edge in tournaments through superior strategy, but that's just one way to improve your play. Another way to get an advantage over your opponent is just to simply be in superior condition to them.
So what do I mean by condition? Well, this game is a test of mental acuity (or attempts to be, depending on your view of Bandai's skill at card design). And the surest way to lose this particular battle of wits is through misplays and mistakes. Therefore, to win, our goal should be to minimize our misplays and mistakes. The best way to do this outside of playtesting? Minimize outside distractions. The less-distracted player is already ahead in the matchup before the cards even come out.
Now, not to boost my ego or anything (although I'm plenty fond of that), I've been one of the more consistent Day 1 players in this game. Out of the numerous events I've been to, the worst finish I've had is a either a 6-2 at AX '07 or 5-1-2 at Sannins '09 (basically, 1 bubble match win/tiebreaker away from top cut). Every single other time I've been in the cut. My preparation (in card terms) for those events has been highly inconsistent, however. I can't really attribute my consistency to that. What has been consistent throughout all these years, however, is how I approach these events from a personal standpoint. I'll go through that list in the following sections.
- Get a good night's sleep. At least 8 hours worth. At the end of the day, you'll be more focused than your opponents that are tired and sleepy.
- Take a shower and clean yourself up. While some gamers may prefer to use their stench as a weapon, those usually aren't the ones doing well. Feeling clean and refreshed will again give you that edge at the end of the day, when other people might be feeling greasy and icky and nasty.
- Eat a healthy, filling (but not too much so) breakfast. Your first few rounds are going to be built on the energy from this meal. Get some carbs in. Eat some fruit (I always eat bananas before events - they are extremely healthy, decently filling, and provide you with good sugar that won't result in a crash later on. In fact, Thomas Cao, perhaps the unhealthiest guy on the planet, picked up my habit of eating bananas before events at Sannins. The rest, as they say, is history.)
- Pack some snacks and drinks. There's not always enough time to get food in between rounds, or there might not be anything healthy available. Be prepared. (I'll go over this point and the above in more detail later.)
- Make sure you have all your materials ready the night before. Freshly sleeved deck, extra sleeves, various gaming accessories required, filled-out decklist, trade binder, etc. It's nice to have peace of mind going into a match without worrying about "did I bring this/that/etc.?"
- On a note about trade binders - bring with you only what is absolutely necessary. Thieves do exist. Don't carry around extra stuff that you have to worry about.
During the event:
- Stay energized. Use the restroom regularly. Wash your hands/face and stay fresh. Don't let distractions build up.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Water is the best. Tea is good if you need some caffeine (tea gives you caffeine nice and slow, which tends to minimize the possibility of a crash). Diet soda is ok if absolutely must have something with a sugary taste (but watch your caffeine intake). Stay away from anything with sugar in it - even those "natural/organic/blah blah blah" fruit juices. If you want some sugar, eat the actual fruit. Nothing good ever came from all the processed sugar found in soda and juice.
- Apply that same sugar philosophy to your snacks. I prefer granola bars (the healthy kind) and baked chips when I pack snacks. The goal for snacks is to have something that will quell your hunger without taking away from your mental capacity later on.
- Try to eat lunch and dinner. Keep your body in the routine it's used to.
- Avoid oily, greasy, heavy, and high fat foods at all costs. These will kill you (literally). I am as much a cheeseburger fan as anyone... but never during a tournament. Eating a cheeseburger is pretty much a death sentence once your body processes it. There are so many things that can go wrong: food coma, sluggish thoughts, a greasy feeling on your skin, doesn't go down right, mad cow disease...
- I prefer sandwiches (no cheese or heavy sauces) during events. They have the carbs to keep you going, are nice and filling, and are delicious.
During the match:
- Figure out your pre-match routine. I sit down, introduce myself to my opponent, get out my deck, then riffle shuffle 7 times, pile shuffle with 7 piles, and riffle shuffle another 7 times. I've done this so many times that my body instantly knows it's time to focus after I do that. It just helps to get into the proper mindset to play good Naruto.
- Stay calm. Don't go on tilt. Always be respectful. Luck will always be involved in the game. If it happens, it happens. Don't worry about it.
- Play your match. Don't listen to music. Turn your cell phone to vibrate or silent.
- Have fun and smile. You're playing a game!
Labels: josh, ptw