Attending Your First Tournament

So, you’ve been playing Destiny for a little while, slowly building your collection playing with some friends around the kitchen table.

Maybe you’ve ventured out to your local game store a few times and had some success playing on open play nights?

Or maybe you’ve even been to a few Store Championships, and you’re preparing for a larger tournament with more difficult competition?

Regardless of your situation, you want to try and take your Destiny game to the next level, and you’re a little scared of how different (and sometimes intimidating) a tournament atmosphere can be.

Well don’t you worry, it’s not as bad as you think! Your first tournament can be nerve wracking, whether it’s a “for fun” kit night, a store championship, or something bigger like a Galactic Qualifier…but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, I’m going to walk you though all the things you should expect when attending your first tournament, and what you should do to prepare.

What to Bring

You can do a lot to help make your day go smoother before you even show up at the event. Here is a quick list of things you may want to consider packing before you head out to the shop.

Pen – Before you play your first match, you’ll need to fill out a deck list to hand in to the tournament organizer (make sure to show up early so that you have time to fill it out). Bringing a pen makes it easier to get it done at your own pace. Plus, some larger events have you fill out slips to indicate who won each match. This way you don’t have to stress about finding a pen to borrow.

Water Bottle – This is a simple, but important one. You’re often playing Destiny for multiple hours in a row without a break. Stay hydrated! It will keep you feeling better, which means you’ll play better too.

Snack – This goes hand in hand with the water bottle. I usually like to pack one or two protein bars to snack on between rounds, but whatever snack you prefer works just fine. Playing hungry leads to mistakes, and you’ll feel much better if you have something to keep you going in between rounds of Swiss.

Ibuprofen/Advil – Getting a bad headache during a tournament can sap the fun out of the entire day. As the famous Boy Scouts motto states: Be prepared! This is something you may not ever use, but trust me, when you do end up needing it, you’ll be very happy that you brought it.

Two Different Sleeve Colors – Your characters and battlefield are required to be in a different sleeve type than your main deck. This is to make them easy to differentiate so you can avoid accidentally shuffling them into your deck between games.

Compact Deck/Playmat Case – I see a lot of people carrying around huge boxes with their decks, playmats, etc from game to game. Sometimes the venue you’re playing at leaves you with very little room to play on, so the more compact your carrying solution, the better. I personally use an Ultra Guard Mat Case for my playmat and tokens, and a small Dex Deck Box that has more than enough room for my deck and all my dice. This way I can just put the one box on the table to pull dice from and put everything else away in my backpack, leaving as much room on the table as possible.

In Game Etiquette

There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind about how you should approach each match that may differ from your “kitchen table” games with friends.

The first difference is that after you’re done shuffling, you need to offer a cut (or shuffle) to your opponent. This is a practice that many newer players may not be used to, but is required at a tournament. I personally offer it in friendly games as well now, just to get in the habit. Some players may “tap” the top of your deck. If they do, that means they are declining the option to cut your deck. You also must repeat this offer every time you shuffle, including after you mulligan, before you draw your new cards.

After that is set up, I like to inform my opponent of a few things I do to make sure the board state is clear. This is an optional step, but I like being as clear as possible to avoid any potential issues. For example, I have a special token I use to track Power Actions, and I will explain that to my opponent so they know exactly what I’m referring to. I also will point out where I keep my resource tokens so that there is never any doubt as to how many I have available.

During the game, it’s always a good idea to be considerate of your opponent’s cards and dice. For example, if I play a card that removes one of their dice, I will use the card to point at it, instead of picking up the die and removing it myself. Another example of this is looking through your opponent’s discard pile. I always ask for permission to look through before I reach over and grab it. The rules state that you can look through a discard pile at any time, but it’s always a good idea to ask beforehand, just to be polite.

Event Level

It’s important to be aware of the level of event that you’re attending, as some events are more relaxed than others. Store Championships, for example, are considered “relaxed tier” events. These are, in my opinion, the best way to start out your tournament experience.

Players at Store Championships are generally attempting to compete, but the “vibe” of the event is relatively casual. Make sure you understand the rules before you go, as players will usually point out errors (like playing a “spot yellow” card if you don’t have any yellow characters alive), and you won’t always be able to take the action back. However, due to the relaxed nature of Store Championships, the games are usually relaxed enough that opponents will often forgive a mistake or two, especially if you’re a newer player.

Regionals are also considered “relaxed tier” events, but are usually taken more seriously than Store Championships by the majority of the players. Nationals, Galactic Qualifiers, and Worlds are all considered Premier level events. These events are highly competitive, so make sure you know the rules well before you go, because no one will be taking it easy on you!

Rules Questions

This probably falls within the “Game Etiquette” category, but it’s important enough that it warrants its own section.

If you are a newer (or even intermediate level) player going to a tournament for the first time, or even if you’ve gone to a few Store Championships and you’re venturing out to something more competitive, you may be a little nervous about not knowing all the rules. While I always recommend getting as familiar with the rules as possible, you also shouldn’t fret if you come across an interaction you don’t fully understand.

Never. I repeat, never, feel bad about calling a judge and asking for his opinion on something you’re not certain about. Be sure to do it as soon as it happens too, because if you wait until after a game it will be too late to fix. Judges are there for a reason, and it is not in any way a slight on your opponent to ask for clarification. There will always be confusing interactions and the best way to learn is to ask those that have the best understanding of the game. Not to mention, involving a third party will relieve any unnecessary tension between you and your opponent.

And The Most Important Thing…

HAVE FUN!! The overall Destiny community is extremely friendly, and while we all want to compete, always remember the main reason we play this game: because it’s fun. Yes some players may be more rigid than others, but out of all the countless events I’ve been to so far, I have yet to have a bad experience.

If you go into your event with an open mind and ready to just have a good time rolling dice and playing some Star Wars Destiny, you can’t lose.

I hope this article helps you as you delve into the exciting world that is competitive Destiny. Keep an eye out for future articles and podcast episodes, where I’ll go more in depth about how to take your game to the next level if you’re looking to compete with the best of the best. But for now, get out to your local Store Championship, Regional, or whatever it may be, and just enjoy this amazing game!

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