Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Casual League Play the Consoles & Cardboard Way

By Eric Jome

What is an Open Challenge Magic League?


In ‘cast 18, I mentioned that we’re playing a Magic: The Gathering league using a format we’ve developed, tested, and enjoyed many times. Here’s some of the details of this format for you; it should work for just about any CCG, but it is one of the best ways to enjoy Magic while avoiding the hassles of keeping up with the Joneses or carrying a suitcase of cards.

The Rules

The Open Challenge league format takes its name from the way matches are arranged – players just seek each other out and play. There are no rounds and no assigned games. You just play as many matches as you can manage in the time allotted. This makes for a very easygoing environment, where people can come and go as they please, getting games and playing casually.

The league is usually scheduled for a certain number of weeks assuming players will meet weekly in a designated place at some time to play – say, your LGS one night a week. A good number of weeks is 4 to 6. Over those weeks, each player will establish an average. The average is the number of match wins divided by the number of matches played – in essence, like a batting or bowling average. The player with the best average in the end is the winner. Typically, I provide a gift certificate from the store as a prize in the end.

To make the average meaningful, you’ve got to play enough matches to qualify. A good number is 2 or 3 per week. But, at 2 per week for 6 weeks, that 12 matches… and if someone gets lucky and establishes a really good average in exactly 12 matches, we don’t want them to rest on their laurels. So, we have one additional rule; you may not refuse to play a match against a player with a lower average.

To start in the league, we keep the investment very small. We each buy 5 boosters, perhaps adding 1 each week or every other week. We play 40 card decks, sometimes 60 cards as we get to about 100 cards in total. That’s the only buy in for the league – you could collect an entry fee to pay for a league prize if you like, but it would always be best to keep it modest.

There are a couple extra rules to consider;

1) Players should avoid playing against the same people in the same session (week). It is more fun and more fair to mix it up and play different people. This rule is sometimes broken by mutual agreement of players and organizer to allow people to get more matches.
2) It’s fun to trade, but you don’t want the league prize going to the best trader over the best player. So add a trade rule such as all trades are one for one, same rarity, same set and only 1 trade between pairs of players per session (week) is allowed.


This type of Magic league is fun, easy, leaves plenty of time for other games, cheap, manageable, interesting, and engaging. It takes the game back to its roots and lets you enjoy it in the best way possible… give it a try!

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