Attending your first Friday Night Magic (FNM) event at your local game store (LGS) is a bit first step for any player. It’s usually the first time you’re get to play sanctioned Magic against people you don’t know, and it can be a bit intimidating for some new players. Luckily, I’m here to help you get ready with this primer and show you that it’s nothing to be nervous about since they’re usually very casual.
I’m a bit nervous, how competitive is FNM?
To start off this section, I’m going to show you an excerpt from the judge’s guide to judging at your FNM.
[FNM] encourages a welcoming atmosphere and friendly competition. As judges, we should be friendly and involved, sometimes playing in events ourselves. Like players, we are encouraged to help at appropriate times, such as during deck construction or between matches.
Now having judges makes this sound official, but as this says they are just there to help you. They are not there to make sure everyone is playing perfectly and rule with an iron first, they are there to help you learn to play at an FNM and teach you about the rules of the game. If you watch Magic tournaments on Twitch or participate on forums, you’ll hear about people making a small play mistake then getting a game/match loss. No need to worry, this won’t happen to you at FNM! At FNM, unless you’re cheating the judges will help you solve those small mistakes without giving you a game/match loss. At this level, they understand that mistakes happen and just want to help you learn so they don’t keep happening.
Okay, then what do I need for FNM?
First, for FNM there are two common formats that you’ll stumble upon: Draft and Standard. So below we’ll go through what you need for both of these.
- A DCI Number: This is basically a unique number Wizards of the Coast (those guys that make Magic) give you so you can keep track of how you’re doing at tournaments. If this is your first FNM, don’t worry because you don’t have one yet. When you show up to your LGS and ask to play, they’ll ask for your DCI number and you can just say “I don’t have one.” Then, the judge or person running the event will give you one. Make sure to save a picture of this on your phone since you may want to use it next time you play, although if you lose it you can always just get a new one!
- Money: It ain’t free. Most drafts cost around $15.
- Knowlege: You should have a vague idea about what a draft is. It’s my absolute favorite format, but it helps to know what you’re doing. Here’s an article on how to draft and here’s a video on how to draft. If you read/watch either of those, you’re good to go, and when you get to FNM let the judge know you’ve never drafted before, and he or she will help you out. Also, be aware of what cards are expensive and pick those if you see them because it helps make each draft less expensive.
- Recommended: Sleeves! Your store will be selling sleeves, and you can get 100 “penny sleeves” for a dollar. These sleeves will help keep your cards from getting too damaged when you play with them, and you want this because you may open up a $20 card.
- A DCI Number: Same as above.
- Money: Once again, it’s usually not free. Price range is usually $5-$15 for this.
- A Deck: Unlike draft, standard is a “Constructed” format, which means that you bring your own deck. For standard, the cards in the deck have to follow a few rules so here is a brief overview of what standard is. Once again, if you ask a judge for help they’ll be more than happy to help!
Sounds fun! Where do I play?
Friday Night Magic happens at nearly every Local Game Store (LGS), and Wizards of the Coast has this handy store finder to help you find a place to play. If you’re fortunate enough to have a few stores within your area, I highly recommend trying different ones until you find the right fit. For example, I am lucky enough to have 4 LGSs within 20 minutes of my house. The first place I went to was large with a competitive crowd. The second was similar, although a bit smaller. The third was casual, although a lot of players were very young so it was not much of a challenge. A few months ago, a new place opened up that was also casual but with an older crowd. As a very casual player that’s been playing a while, I found the fourth was far more enjoyable for me since it’s a laid back crowd and I can have good conversations with the players.
- Bring a snack and water, but never put them on the table! These events can last for a few hours, and for most of the time you are going to be deep in thought trying to beat your opponent. Turns out this can get tiring quickly, but bringing a snack and some water can help keep you going at a high level of competence.
- Don’t be discouraged! If you don’t do so well at your first FNM, don’t let it get to you! Your opponent have probably been playing for years, and this is your first time playing outside of your friend group. Just try to figure out how they beat you, and learn from their experience. If you’re looking for help to improve, there are plenty of resources out there if you google for them. I’d also recommend finding someone playing the format you like on Twitch, then watch them play and learn to think like they do.
- If you run into any problems, ask a judge and they can help you out. If not a judge, you can always just ask me.
Now get out there and have fun!