(I was going to continue my overviews of the different titles in Title format, but due to the recent announcements of LQs and what seems like more people traveling for Crystal Cups this year, I felt this was a timelier topic.)
Crystal Cup season is here and Local Qualifiers are about to start up. A lot of you are going to be grinding for your spot to get to the North American Championship and hopefully find your way to the World Championships at the end of the year. Because of this, I wanted to take the time at the start of the season to give everyone out there some advice that comes from my 20+ years of TCG experience. It’s not going to be about secret tech or what you should do to prepare for a tournament. I’m going to talk about the times in between. There comes a time in a lot of players’ TCG lifespan where they get better at the game and compete more and more. You get addicted to that sensation of growth and progress. But eventually you hit a wall or you run out of that precious MP and you get tired of the game or the grind. Eventually we all hit that point and it’s natural.
There are many ways you can burn out from the game, even if you aren’t that competitive of a player. Sometimes when you’re going to a tournament every week, jamming nonstop on casual nights, staying up too late playing on OCTGN, you start to run through the motions, and that’s when the fatigue starts to creep in. I personally try to remind myself why I got into FFTCG in the first place. What made me fall in love with the game. Keeping that perspective in mind rather than just thinking about your wins and losses can actually do a lot to keep the game fresh for me. I personally love the game because I think it’s a mechanically deep and satisfying strategy game and I’m also a giant Final Fantasy nerd. When Opus 1 came out, I probably bought up all the sealed product in a 50-mile radius and had the largest collection for a while. Before even playing the game, I told myself I would just collect it if the game wasn’t fun. Luckily for all of us, the game is a blast to play, and I have to remind myself that that’s why I got into playing the game in the first place. Think about what sparked that joy in you when you were introduced to this game. Don’t focus on the winning or losing. Go to your happy place and you’ll find an abundance of energy to pull from over the long season.
Shake It Up
If you want to keep playing but you’re feeling that fatigue creep in on you, something else that I like to do to combat this is to play the game in a different way. Title format is a great way to dust off some cards that would be unplayable in standard. If you care about winning, there are some super busted decks you can easily find. If you just want to have fun, pick your favorite Final Fantasy and try to make the best deck you can with that title. Something else I love to do is play limited. Whether that means you do a draft, sealed, or All-Star Draft, you might find it flexes your other FFTCG muscles. You now have to think about cards in a completely different way and how you build your deck is much different. Reading the signals at a table or opening a sweet foil Legendary card can help you find that passion for the game again. Another benefit to doing a draft is you need other people to do it! Drafting is as social an exercise as it is a mentally challenging one.
Let’s be real. The real reason why we have stuck it out with this community is because we not only enjoy the game but the people, we play the game with. It’s only been a little over two years, but I’ve become much closer to the friends that I’ve met through this game, and I’m sure a lot of you have had the same experience in your areas. We all know that tournaments are just an excuse to go to Korean BBQ or Shabu-shabu after. Hang out with your friends and enjoy their company. The game doesn’t have to be 100% of your focus. I especially recommend this for any group of players that consider themselves a team. You should be friends first. You’ll work better together when it comes time to grind. I promise. Meta Potion is proof.
Take A Break
One obvious solution of course is to just take a break from the game. Maybe take a week off and don’t touch it. Maybe a month. However long you personally need. I find separating myself and enjoying my other hobbies to reset myself mentally and I can come back to FFTCG with fresh eyes and continue my enjoyment of the game. What I like to do is engage with Final Fantasy in other ways. The IP was the reason why I was interested in the TCG in the first place. Taking some time off and catching up on FF14, trying out an FF title I’ve never played before, or revisiting one that I love reignites the passion I have for the franchise and reminds me of the characters that I fell in love with when I come back to the TCG. Whatever you choose to do, it’s incredibly healthy to take a break every now and then. The game will be there when you get back.
I hope you can take something away from this article and hopefully it helps you not just this season, but in anything you have a passion for. If you don’t have fun doing something, why do it? Remember that this is a game and games are meant to challenge us, bring us entertainment, and enjoyment. Good luck this season. I hope to make a return to the NA Championships and if I do I hope to see you there.
If you follow Magic: The Gathering at all, you may have heard of a Youtube channel called Tolarian Community College. They made a video about this exact subject that gave me the inspiration to write about this and if you have the 40ish minutes to listen to the discussion, check it out here: https://youtu.be/H_yq-VSTs0U
- Dan Nguyen
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