I’m just going to have to issue an advisory for anyone looking to play casual format games with Korean players at Duelmall. Whatever “casual” scene existed for games of EDH as of last year, that is now completely gone, buried, and it’s grave has been pissed on. The only way to play casual Magic at Duelmall in Daejeon is now to either arrange your own games with friends, or to play draft formats on non-tournament days, because otherwise, you are going to end up playing people that have over-invested in a simple card game.
I’ll give a few examples from my “game” this weekend. There was a new person I hadn’t met, who was helping his friend build a hyper-competitive deck for EDH (Reminder: This is a strictly casual multiplayer format, where any investment is for laughs only. You can’t win cards or cash this way.)
The new guy with the cards said he had “invested” in Magic cards a decade ago, and had put some serious money into collecting the best cards. He had cards that were legacy staples, which means they are worth serious cash. (Or they were, he was oddly too cheap to put them in sleeves. They’ll be worthless soon enough when they get beat up by being shown off to people in the store.) He was walking around with a several thousand of dollars worth of cardboard, and was trying to convince this new player to buy collectibles from him.
The new guy was getting pressured by all the other players to pick cards that were going to end up costing the guy several hundred bucks. This guy was getting pressured into an expensive deck for a causal format, and all the other Korean players would scoff when he would mention price. “I want that card, but it’s too much.” It’s his money, and if he wants to spend it on some expensive cardboard, that’s his deal, but the other Korean players isolated him and said, “How can you even consider a deck if you don’t have X card? You need that, otherwise why play?”
I hate that attitude. The enforcement of a social standard that bars everyone not committed to following what everyone else does is very common in Korea. The weird thing with it being about a game is that after you can play with these guys, you’ve essentially “bought” your friends by having a deck good enough to play with them. It’s messed up on so many levels.
When one of the cards they were pushing on the guy happened to also be on my collection, I mentioned, “Oh, I have that card too. It is very good, you might want that one” to which another Korean at the table said, in a very dismissive tone, “Oh, do you have it? Do you have it….in foil? No, you don’t. I. don’t. think. so.”
Last time I checked, foil cards were only about collecting. They impose an additional layer of rarity and make prices of cards skyrocket. They serve no alternative function in the game. I responded, “Yes, I have the same card, it plays the same as the non-foil version. That one does look pretty though.” I don’t care about foils, or the condition of every card, as long as I have a copy I’m fine. Some people play to collect cards, which is their prerogative, but it doesn’t mean I need to be kept to the same “foil or nothing” attitude.
After this trade was completed, we sat down and drafted cards. I had a mediocre deck, and posted mediocre results. Whatever. When the draft was completed, these new players got out their EDH decks and started a game. I didn’t know them, and I was trying to be friendly. There is an etiquette to joining games, but I didn’t stop a game in progress. I asked to join, since it is a multiplayer format and they were about to duel one on one. They deigned my presence, even though the cards I saw them collecting and trading had me at a severe disadvantage. Whatever, I’m there to have fun, how bad could their decks be?
It turns out, they made for a very, very bad game experience. There was nothing but the most degenerate cards in every deck at the table. There was a new low established this particular game, as the player had a “stealth” design to his deck. He was deceptive and lied to everyone in the store about the contents of the cards. He pulled a bait and switch so that everyone was caught off guard. He claimed to be playing one style deck, but ran another. He claimed to be running something offbeat, but actually ran the most expensive, cutthroat card possible.
He starts a game by lying to everyone at the table to get an advantage in a causal multiplayer game so that he will win when he combos out his entire deck? WHY? WHAT IS THE POINT!? It’s not about making friends, apparently. It’s only about winning. It’s like cheating at Candyland with an infant. You were just playing to have fun, so why bother stepping on throats while you strut into the goal?
The Korean players at the shop have spent so much money on their cards they don’t want to be playing anything that isn’t optimized, which I can understand. If I was going to spend three month’s rent (serious, adult level money), importing cards from across the world, and spend lots of time tweaking my deck to win, I’d want to win every time too.
There is no margin of kindness in their decks, which isn’t really the style of game I enjoy, but I understand where it comes from. As in life, so in the game. I’ll play elsewhere, with others, from now on. The point where one of the players laughed, “Hah, this is like a single player game now. You can’t affect anything I do now.” is where my patience officially ran out for ever bothering to play with these guys again. If I can’t even play, and the game is no longer interactive, why am I here? Do you enjoy playing by yourself? I can make that happen pretty easily.
Unfortunately, the competitive nature of the players has pushed the game beyond what I find tolerable, so I won’t be bothering to play with any of the Korean players with hyper-tuned decks, which sadly, is all of them. If I don’t get to play, I’m not going to play with you. The next time I sit down with someone that’s willing to lie about what they are playing, I’ll walk out immediately that turn instead of letting them finish their turn. Waste my time AND lie to me? Not going to happen.
If you do have EDH decks with $2,000+ price ranges, you might want to check out Duelmall though. There are a lot of players looking to try to trick you into getting to watch them play a game you can’t join as they play the world’s most expensive form of solitaire. It’s not a lot of fun, but the cards sure are shiny.