Casual vs. Tournament: Which Type of Player are You?
Magic: The Gathering players tend to focus more on the game and less on the taxonomy of players. Some people, however, are going to ask you what kind of player you are. The biggest divide is between the casual players and the tournament players. If you want to figure it out then look no further.
Casual players adhere to set obsolesce rules only if they absolutely have to, for tournament players they are a fact of life. The planned obsolesce of cards from old sets, in official games, is a big divide. If you are playing tournament then the odds are good that these rules are part of your normal play. After all you can't bring non-regulation decks to tournaments, or even to regular games of Friday Night Magic in most places. If you’re a tournament player then having to change decks, or at least modify them, on a regular basis is just something you have to do.
If you're a casual player however that rule is more like the pirate’s code. It's a guideline and one that you can throw out when you need to. After all giving up the Bloodline Keeper really isn't that fair to your lovingly crafted vampires deck. After all he’s just so good at getting more vampires out on the field.
The Matter of A Regular Schedule
Even if a tournament player only plays on the release of a new set, or for Friday Night Magic, they are likely to adhere to some kind of regular play schedule. Casual players may or may not attend events, but they are much less likely to play on a regular schedule. They play when they can and they don’t when they’re too busy. This does not mean that casual players will not indulge in games at card shops, or attend launch events. It is simply not a set event on their calendar. It’s more about if they happen to be available and if it happens to be in the budget. Remember those launch day events come with a cost.
Number of Decks
Because you're not worried about set obsolesces, and you're playing whenever you have the chance, having dozens of decks is much less likely. Yes, a casual player with an eye for variety may have a fair number of decks, but a tournament player is more than likely focusing on creating the best current deck, and then discarding any parts that go out of reprint. They may, in fact, take advantage of new mechanics as often as they can to keep frequent foes off of their tactics. This means at least one new deck for each block set. Over time those decks add up, so tournament players have a lot more of them.
Playing with Specialty Formats
Most serious tournament players won’t play EDH (Commander), at least not more than occasionally. The opportunities to raise in rank, and to get your points come with official games and that means playing in the standard format. The choice to play in an EDH or Planechase as a format will be much more attractive to casual players. Yes, tournament players may indulge from time to time, but it will probably never be a staple of their playtime.
Focus of The Game
For the most part the biggest differentiation is the focus. A tournament player will focus on strategy behind the game, and a casual player is interested in the fun. That is not to say that a tournament player doesn’t enjoy the game, and that a casual player won’t think strategically, but the emphasis of the game changes depending on what you get out of it.
What about you? What type of Magic: The Gathering player are you?