As you may have guessed, the Discord office has a high concentration of gamers within its walls, many of whom have either played or want to learn how to play Magic: The Gathering. Having played Magic for most of my life, sharing this fantastic addiction game is always at the top of my priority list. I thought to myself, If there’s enough interest, why don’t we run an in-house league?
Finding a format or decks to (re)introduce players to the world of Magic is no easy task, however. Ideally, we’d want decks that are low-cost and intuitive, while retaining depth and a cohesive game plan. Limited is the go-to format for situations like this, but I didn’t want to burden the new players with not only learning a new game but also learning how to build a deck.
While looking for options, I stumbled upon a YouTube video from Tolarian Community College recommending Card Kingdom’s Battle Decks. According to The Professor, these were the “ideal product for new players, returning players, and casual players,” so they seemed like the perfect fit! Card Kingdom was gracious enough to provide us with a few Battle Decks (and Sideboard Starters) to get started, while I purchased a few extra for the other players that wanted to play in the league.
We started with a pre-season week where players could try out their decks and decide whether they wanted to use them for the remainder of the Battle Deck league. The group started off small, but soon there were three, sometimes four matches of Magic going on during lunch. As week one of the league kicked off, there were clear front-runners in the standings: Shadi, an experienced Hearthstone player (who has participated in an in-office draft) started week one with three match wins, all at 2-0 with his Fightin’ Fish deck. Having the most Magic experience, I, of course, started 0-3, trying to force the Battle Blitz combo deck (albeit an old version of the deck).
Week two started strong and players were excited to add their sideboards. I switched to Pristine Control to embrace my calling as a blue mage and proceeded to win all the games with that deck. However, by midweek it was getting harder and harder to find games. Conflicting schedules made it difficult for people that worked through lunches to find games after work, while others could only play during lunch. There were a few players that continued to play games, but the falloff was quite drastic.
While this is likely not the exciting ending to the league that you were hoping for, I believe the Battle Decks themselves were a huge success. They brought new players into the wonderful world of Magic and reignited vigor in those who were already familiar with the game. All the archetype pillars were represented in the Battle Decks and players could pick and choose according to what felt fun for them. The various Battle Decks were not only a blast to pilot, but also incredibly fun to watch being played.
Today, there are still Battle Deck games that pop up at game nights or during lunch. Some players have moved on to creating their own Pauper decks, and a few have proxied Legacy decks to test the format out. Despite the league falling apart, the Battle Decks brought new players into the game, and old players back.
I think Shadi summed up the experience with Battle Decks perfectly: “These Battle Decks were an awesome way to get into Magic: The Gathering for me. Each deck was so unique that each game I played was interesting and fun. The decks were fairly balanced and cover a wide breadth of gameplay styles.”
Some key takeaways for anyone else wanting to run an in-office league:
- Set a designated league night or two. Had we done this, I think it would have been much easier for players to get their weekly games in.
- Have experienced players sit down with new players to show them the ropes during the preseason. This helps the new players get acclimated to their deck and the game as a whole when points aren’t on the line.
- Set a game-per-week maximum, but not a minimum. In our league, we had players making up games from previous weeks, and getting behind in league games trying to make sure they hit their “three games a week” before adding a pack. As players fell behind, the task to catch up became incredibly daunting.
I hope in the future we can try and run a league again!