Monday, November 11, 2013

PTQ Primer

I suspect that many of you might be deciding to venture out and participate in Fanatix’s very first Pro Tour Qualifier (PTQ) this upcoming weekend.  Some of you have been down this road once or twice before, if so you probably already know most of what I am going to talk about.  Hopefully lots of you will be attending your very first PTQ.  I want to go over some of the things that will happen and try to make this experience the best it can be for everyone.

First things first a PTQ is a serious tournament where the winner will get a plane ticket to where ever the Pro Tour tournament that the qualifier is linked to, in this case a trip to Valencia Spain for Pro Tour Born of the Gods.  Not to mention many boxes of product and other prizes from the store running the event.  Needless to say with so much on the line these type tournaments enforce the rules much stricter than your average FNM or Prerelease.  What this means is that there will multiple Judges at the tournament.  Judges are your friends they are not there to make things difficult.  They are there to make sure that everything is played by the rules of the game.  I am sure that our Head Judge Zak Whyte will say it at the player’s meeting, but it bears repeating: “Your opponent does not have your best interests at heart.”  What this means is if you are ever unsure no matter how small it may seem, always call and ask a judge.  It is what they are there for.

Before we even get to the actual tournament there are a few things you should bring with you.  Since this is going to be a sealed deck tournament, you should probably bring an EMPTY deck box or maybe two.  This way you have a place to put your cards between rounds.  Pen and paper or if you prefer an electronic device for keeping track of life totals.   Please don’t use dice.  If there happens to be a disagreement over what the life totals are, a judge will be far more inclined to side with the person who has life total changes documented rather than just using dice.  I recommend using new sleeves at an event like this.  While not mandatory it can save you from perhaps losing a game because the lands you got from the land box are easily recognized due to wear and tear.   To be safe sleeve ‘em up or take the time to make sure that your lands are not heavily played.
Be sure to get to the venue ahead of time, these events will start without you.  So for this one you should try and be at the Clarion Inn by at least 9:30 am Saturday.  The event is scheduled to begin promptly at 10 am.

At that time the judges will post sheets of paper at places that will contain your name and a table number by it.  Just find your table number and have a seat at one of the two available chairs for that number.  Congratulations a large number of people just quick and painlessly alphabetized themselves!  At this point a judge will go over how the tournament is going to go, how many rounds, and some rules reminders.  

Now comes the fun part, opening some packs!  Wait though don’t get too excited the cards you open will not be the ones you get to play with!  Remember what I said about this being for a pretty nice amount of prizes?  Yeah well there are some people in this world that don’t always play the game for fun and will cut corners and cheat.  This is how we make sure we keep them honest.  I really suggest not paying too much attention to the contents of your packs.  Just quickly pull out the lands and the tokens and begin separating them into piles based on color.  IF you have FOIL land in your packs you have to include it with the cards you are separating!  Remember how the judges alphabetized us?  Well now we get to alphabetize these cards.  Start with White, then Blue, Black, Red, Green, Multicolored, Artifacts and finally Lands.  If your eyesight is sharp enough the cards are also numbered on the bottom as well.  Now that they are all put in order we get to mark them all down like on this picture below from the PTQ I participated in down in Biloxi.

As you see this is a list of all the cards in Theros, there are two columns the first is PLAYED, don’t mark your cards down in this column yet.  We want to mark all these cards down in the TOTAL column.  You can see that the person that registered this deck made a mistake on Mogis’s Marauder.  It’s ok just call over a judge and they will make the changes in red to assure that everything is good.
After everyone is done comes the verify step.  Generally you will pass your pool of cards to the person across from you and they will double check your efforts, don’t worry if you had some mistakes this isn’t a test.  And you will of course check their efforts.  Now the big sweat, passing the pools around like musical chairs.  Judges tend to get creative sometimes here, but usually you will pass the pools several times left right or across until they say stop.

Alright here we go these are the cards you get to build your deck with.  I hope they are sweet.  Remember that you are not allowed to ask the players around you what you should do during the deck building stage.  I don’t want to delve too deeply into how to build a sealed deck in this article.  However here are some pointers.  Try to build a two color deck.  Try to play between 13-17 creatures. Generally you want to play around 17 lands, but don’t be afraid to play 18 in this format. Remember this is limited so the minimum deck size is 40 cards you should always try to play the minimum. If you want more insights into this Theros limited format, try hitting up or local Pro Hayden Bedsole.  He has done well so far Top 8ing both of the events he has attended this season.  He is always happy to share his knowledge.  Once you have decided on your deck, remember that PLAYED column I told you not to use, well now is the time to use it.  Mark down the quantity of each card you decide to play beside its name.  Don’t forget to also mark down the number of each basic land you use in your deck as well!  People always forget to do this and end up losing a game because of it so be careful.   Judges tend to frown on people using all foil lands for these events, feel free to bring your own non foil lands from home if you want to.  There will be lands on site for you to use as well.

It is very important that you remember what cards you have chosen and marked to be in your deck, for the rest of the day you must begin game 1 with that exact deck.  Judges will occasionally do deck checks to make sure that everyone is playing fairly.  If your deck is not the same as the deck you registered you will get a game loss.  If you choose to change cards from your main deck, remember to change them back after the match is over.

When the match is over there will be a match slip that you need to fill out.  It will ask you how many games each player won in the match and for both of you to sign it.  The winner of the match should always be the one that turns in the slip.  Always, always double check and make sure that it is filled out correctly.  If you decide after a match that you no longer want to play there is a place on the slip to write YES next to your name.  If you decide to drop from the tournament after the slip has been turned in please make sure to tell a judge.  Not properly dropping from the tournament will make someone else not have an opponent for the next round.

After the last round has completed (most likely seven or eight rounds) there will be a cut to the top eight players.  This is the spot everyone wants to get to.  These eight players will then have a booster draft.  Then play a single elimination tournament where the winner gets the prized blue envelope and a chance to chase the dream of playing this game on its biggest stage.

Don’t let the formality of all of the above dissuade you from coming out, at the end of the day it is still just playing Magic.   I hope that I have answered any questions or concerns anyone might have about this event.  However if there is anything that you have questions on ask away or give Phil a call at Fanatix.  Good luck and have fun this weekend, maybe just maybe that blue envelope could have your name on it.

JW Kingsley


  1. To clarify a small point regarding dropping: The easiest way is to put it on your slip. If you don't put it on the slip or decide to drop after your slip's been turned in, there will be a sheet up at the scorekeeper's desk for you to put your name on. Once you do either one of those, I'll be able to drop you.

    Your Head Judge/Scorekeeper

  2. If i hadn't already known this was written before hand i would think it was written afterwords chronicling the days events. I should have read it before hand i would've had a lot less questions lol.