The sun is shining, the birds are singing, flowers are in full bloom, and the suburbs echo to the distant sound of leather upon willow ("that’ll be 100 pound, m’lud"). In such circumstances, one’s thoughts naturally turn to Magic: the Gathering Teams; well, they do down our way…
So, what actually makes a team? (rhetorical question, so please back off the e-mail button)
I rang up the other members of MY team to elicit some sort of consensual (ooh, sexy word) response, but they all denied knowledge of me and threatened to notify the authorities. Still, despite this set back, I was pretty sure I could draw upon the fathomless wells of my life experience using the metaphysical bucket of enquiry and the pulley of careful consideration.
Not a bean.
So everything written hereafter has been made up on the spot.
TONY’S GUIDE TO MAGIC: THE GATHERING TEAMS
1. Establish The Team Name
This is the most fundamental, most important aspect of being in a Team – having a cool team name! After all, how can you possibly expect the community to respect your ideas, fear your play, and worship the very Cat V cabling down which your e-mails and newsgroup postings travel, if you call yourselves Team Giggling -Schoolgirls*, The Clod Squad**, or The Skidmark Crew?
In summary, the following sources are GOOD for team names:
o Violent Onomatopoeia eg, Smash! Kill! Ragnarok!
o Interesting Magic: The Gathering card names eg. Mogg, Necro[whatever], Armageddon etc.
o Rugged, manly-words eg. Machismo, Testosterone, Carburetor, Rotweiller
o Catastrophic Phenomena eg. Whirlwind, Tornado, Tsunami
In summary, the following sources are BAD for team names:
o Non-violent Onomatopoeia eg. Twinkle, Drip, and Brrrrrriiiinnggg
o Uninteresting Magic: the Gathering cards names eg. Carrier Pigeon, Air Bladder, or Wall of Wood etc
o Rude words eg. Team [EDITED], The [EDITED] Squad, or The [EDITED] In The [EDITED] Crew
o Titles with dubious or self-deprecating connotations eg. Team Frankly-Rubbish, The So-so Squad, or The Piss-poor Posse
o Weedy-sounding words eg. Doily, Fromage-Frais****, or Norman
o Not-so-catastrophic phenomena eg. Ripple, Hiccup, or Faux-Pas****
2. Establish The Team Code
These rules are the steel framework around which the Empire State of your organisation will be constructed, so make sure the foundations are solid! Suggested ‘core’ precepts for those tablets of stone could include:
a. No member shall cheat in a game with another member
b. No member shall pinch another member’s cards
c. No member shall pinch another member’s bottom
d. No member shall pinch another member at all
e. Remember, remember, remember, remember…REMEMBER YOU’RE A WOMBLE!
f. All members shall include the Team name as part of their signature/sig file in all M:TG communications
g. All deck tech / innovations are the property of all team members equally
h. No member shall refer to any other member as a ‘spaz’, a ‘muppet’***, or a ‘twinkie’***
i. All team members are equal in status (although some are more equal than others, obviously)
j. No man is an Island*****
3. Don’t Let Any Team-Member’s Boyfriend/Girlfriend Join
And before any of you politically-correct darlings get your highly-strung knickers in a twist, here are my perfectly good, wise, and sensible reasons for not letting a partner in on the team:
a. they never attack or target each-other in multiplayer games, unless
b. they fall out, refuse to speak to each-other, and make the rest of you walk on egg-shells until they’ve gone home
c. when they get bored of play-testing, they go upstairs and shag themselves senseless
d. they’ll sit down to draft practices with heaped bowls of spaghetti bolognese, while you empty the last crumbs of Cheese & Onion crisps down your gullet
e. it’s hard to prepare for upcoming Regionals when half your team are bickering about how the other half never buys them flowers any more/looked at that bar-maid in a funny way/prefers half an hour of ‘opening boosters’ to the intimate company of their co-habitee.
f. Play-test sessions have to be arranged around soap-operas and episodes of Ally bleedin’ McBeal, and are often conducted to a soundtrack of Whitney Houston or *gack* Celine Dion!
g. it’s mainly the sex thing, actually
4. Meet Regularly
I cannot stress how important this is. Nothing lets the side down more than realising part-way through an important Pro-Tour Qualifier that your opponent is your long-lost brother Charles. You should know your team members by sight (and by smell, by default, if the team is all-male). Also, you will find yourselves at a tremendous disadvantage if your draft skills extend to knowing what’s great in Ice Age/Homelands/Alliances block! Mind you, none of the above seemed to harm Team Apathy at all.
Good Places to meet: A local card/game store, a team member’s house, a local hall, at the Wizards Game Centre etc
Bad Places to meet: On the top of a pin, a local hardware store, inside the womb of a team member’s mother, In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry.
5. Play Magic: The Gathering a lot
I have to say this just to be sure, because it’s easy to get distracted when Bill’s got cable and an illegal satellite dish pulling in Dutch, um, programming… rest assured that this type of ‘shuffling’ tends to reap game losses at competitive levels.
6. (Don’t) Collude with your Team at Tournaments
This paragraph doesn’t exist – I wasn’t here, ok? On no account have I, am I, or will I ever, encouraged/encouraging/encourage intentional-drawing for the team’s benefit, scouting, trash-talking, signaling an opponents cards to a team-mate during a duel, aggressive trading, drink-spiking, and/or intimidation tactics.
You don’t want to win at all costs, right?****** – victory is all the sweeter+ for being honourable, right?
7. Stand up for your Team
Now, work with me on this one – there’s absolutely NO point in being in a team if, at the earliest opportunity you’re going to abandon them for another team++, another player, Asheron’s Call, or Pooh Sticks etc.
I have found that a motto works wonders in binding a team together, forging a unit under a single banner of faith…
Good Mottos for the Team include:
a. All for One, and One For All
b. Victory! Truth! Honour!
c. The Playing Is All
d. For The Good Of The Game
e. Learning, Improving, Winning
Bad Mottos for the Team include:
a. Screw ’em If They Can’t Take a Joke
b. Bite Us!
c. Get Your Retaliation in First
d. Rules are for Fools
e. Beat Us And We’ll Rip Off Your Heads And [EXPLETIVE DELETED] Down Your Neck
f. "Sponsored by Leather Bob’s Whips and Chains"
8. Pick a Fight with another Team (preferably in a different country AND only if you have a bigger brother with ‘net access as well)
9. Have a Tee-Shirt Printed
This looks cool at tourneys and it helps you identify who to collude with (oops, I didn’t say that). Please note that it is preferable to have a tee-shirt EACH, as opposed to having one enormous garment worn by the whole team simultaneously!
Thus, go forth and conjoin yourself with other players – but always use sleeves…
* Unless you are a team comprised of schoolgirls who suffer from fits of the giggles a lot
** Unless you are a team comprised of lumps of earth
*** Unless you are a member of Team Henson / Team Snacks
**** I’ve got nothing against the French, it’s just that the language is soooooo soft and beguiling…
***** except for the Isle of Man
****** unless your team motto is ‘Win at All Costs’, obviously
+ Not good if you’re in Team Diabetic
++ excluded are Team Dirtyrottenfinks and The Dobber Posse