In what hopefully will be a regular column on this site, Nick Petrasiti of Blues on Attack talks about building up your confidence to play your own decks. Practice makes perfect!
Like with all things in life, the more you do something, the better you will get at it. Simple, right?
A debate came up the other day in one of the Transformers TCG groups about netdecking vs original deck creations. As I’ve stood on both sides of the fence, I of course found myself in the middle of the conversation.
Firstly, a little context.
Generally, card game players either fall into the category of Pilot, Builder or a mix of both. Young me, circa 1995, played Magic the Gathering and with little effort, built decks that put most of our local players to shame. I was the youngest player there and was taking out people twenty years my senior. I can’t even tell you my deck building process from back then. It just happened. No thought put into it. My young, innocent mind, without any fears or anxiety was easily capable of throwing something together and it just worked.
It wasn’t long after that I stopped playing. Not entirely sure why but I wouldn’t touch another TCG till about three years ago when I started playing Star Wars: Destiny.
I was on unfamiliar ground. Twenty three years of life experiences can change a person. Confident in some ways, self-doubting in others. As you lose your innocence, feelings of doubt creep in and will always tell you, you can’t do something. It’s a rough road and I remember it well. Sitting down to play for the first time was terrifying. “Look at all these rules, what am I going to do?” The first game I ever played was against fellow Blues on Attack member, Adam. Not long after that another Blues on Attack member, Salty, also got into the game. Salty however was a different breed. He is a player of many games and has a natural ability to pick up rules and understand them. To me, this seemed like a super power. I watched him flick through cards and build decks within minutes – and they were always good! It was annoying. It took me hours to look through the cards and try to understand what they were. In the end, I resorted to netdecking as I didn’t believe I could create anything good on my own. Then, I’d turn up to our locals with a really amazing deck only to be called out by Salty for netdecking to which I would sheepishly reply “NO, no I didn’t.”
I did. I was just too embarrassed to admit it.
It kept me playing, however. I just didn’t have that natural ability that Salty had. I just wanted to enjoy the game like my friends did. Towards the end of our Destiny run, I started to build some of my own decks. I never really thought about it. It just happened. They were not amazing by any stretch but it was enough to call it my own. Sadly, just as I was starting to hit my stride, the local Destiny scene died completely.
This is when Transformers came along.
All four of BoA boys got into it on release day. There was no deck tech, no resources, nothing. Everyone was on even ground and we were all enjoying the game with the big robots. I accidentally stumbled into a really strong deck in the form of Optimus Prime Battlefield Legend and Inferno. I was shocked. I’d built something that was doing really well! Eventually Inferno was replaced with Nemesis Prime and for a while, the deck was unbeatable… until Dan played Bugs of course, but that’s a story for another time. It became a puzzle I had to solve that would get easier as more sets were released, giving access to more combinations.
I didn’t realise that my strength as a builder was coming back. This is mainly because my fears were dissipating and I was starting to have confidence in myself, once again. I felt like I was back in 1995. Was I building masterpieces? No, absolutely not. Was I having fun? absolutely.
Becoming a content creator for Transformers was where it really started to take off. I was almost forced to create new decks every week so we had something new to showcase on the channel. I didn’t really think of it at the time but I was getting better. It’s that age old adage – practice makes perfect. It’s now got to the stage where on my twenty minute train journey to work, I can knock out two or three decks on the app. I tell people this and they think I’m insane. Maybe I am.
The only reason I can do this now is because I do it so much. Once again, I’m not painting the Sistine Chapel here, but, I am getting better every time. At the end of the day, if I fail, I fail. Had I not tried in the first place, then I wouldn’t have had the number of successes I’ve had either – fun stuff that works or pure jank that has a dumb gimmick. Take Police Brutality, for instance. It’s a deck idea that came to me, gained a lot of popularity and is now played by people. I will be the first to say that’s definitely not a top tier meta deck. It certainly has the capability of taking down the big boys but it’s highly dependent on untap shenanigans. It either goes off in spectacular fashion or it doesn’t.
The main point here is, it wouldn’t exist If I hadn’t tried.
Practice makes perfect.
I will always tell players, new and old, to try. What have you got to lose? If you think you don’t have the skill right now, it’s because you haven’t exercised that muscle, yet. The more you do something, the better you will get. You see top meta players innovate all the time, generally because that skill is transferable. DefTF is a prime example of that. A top Yu-Gi-Oh! player who made the transition to Transformers and continued being a top force in his game. The dude can build decks! That being said, I can definitely see why pilots are pilots. Firstly, not everyone will always have the time to sit down and make decks. We are human at the end of the day and life comes first. Secondly, there will be people who just won’t want to spend time thinking about building insane decks. A lot of people may scoff at that but who are we to judge how others enjoy their game? What difference does it make to our personal lives? In the end, none. For me, if someone else decides to netdeck then it has no bearing on my enjoyment of the game. It might get a little boring to keep facing the same type of decks all the time but then to counter that, I will always softly try and encourage players to try something different. The main thing I care about is people enjoying the game.
All in all, there is definitely room for both styles of players. Dammit, this game needs both because the more players, the better. If you are one of those players that sit in the camp of ‘I netdeck because I don’t believe I have the skill to create something worthwhile,’ then I say this to you – just try.
What have you got to lose? Ok, you might throw something together and it might be rubbish. You will learn something though. It’s all data and the more data you add, the better your creation will be next time. Knowledge is power. No one is going to laugh at you or judge you for building a bad deck. The Transformers TCG community in particular is one of friendlist supportive communities I’ve ever been a part of. Players will always dedicate time, where possible to help other players improve their game.
So, I implore you. Give it a try. Go home, look through your cards and think who you like the look of and just start putting cards down. Look at the character’s ability and try to match battles cards that would work. Once that deck is thrown together, get down your locals and give it a try. If it doesn’t work, cool, go home and give it another go. Eventually, you’ll surprise yourself. That hour it took to build a deck will go down to half an hour. Before you know it, you’ll have something special on your hands.
Practice makes perfect.
Photography by James as per usual.