Thinking it Through

Thinking it Through

Random Guy: “Hey man, can you spread out your resources please?”

Every so often I need to ask this question, usually after my opponent taps all his resources to cast a couple things or one big thing. Most of the time, my opponent has no problem and fans out his resources.

Some Dude: “Why?”

When I need to explain, my polite reply is, “I just want to know what you’ve resourced this game so far.” If some dude needs more explanation, I tell him it’s because it helps me calculate what’s left in his deck and what he might have in hand – let’s not forget that resources are public information to begin with. I shouldn’t have to state that, and if I do, I start to feel paranoid: he shouldn’t have a problem with this request because it’s illegal to hide public information.

If your opponent constantly keeps his resources in sloppy piles, stacked up in one or a couple piles, or has to be constantly reminded to fan them out, then something fishy may be going on. There are a lot of tricks a shady player can do with these types of game states that you need to protect yourself from.

Do You Know How Counting Works?

One trick is the cheater sneaking a giant creature into play a turn early. Let’s say the cheater plays Andromeda when he only has eight resources, which the cheater might try when he has been stacking his resources the whole time and is on the draw. On the draw is key here because you could forget that fact and think he was on the play —going to 9 resources yourself will help with the psychology of accepting the false game state.

Another trick is the cheater resources quickly, and then takes forever to enter his main phase plays. If he’s trying to pull a fast one here, I guarantee one of two things might happen:

  1. He will try and play a second resource
  2. He will under drop over his resources

You can protect yourself from the first scenario by paying attention to what the cheater resourced, and calling out when he tries to resource again. He won’t disagree with you. Unless he’s a highly, highly skilled—and possibly desperate—cheater, he will probably apologize and take back the second resource play. When he finishes his plays for the turn, ask him to spread out his resources. If he played more than possible, then he must rewind the last play to repair the game state.

How to Prove You’re Honest

Except for Kivu, no cards interact with your resources. Until someone plays that card and activates his effect, this is how I suggest tournament players present their resources:

  • Upside Down
  • Turn Order
  • Never Tapped or Piled

Upside Down

This is literally the most convenient way you can present your resource row to your opponent. He can just look if he has a question about what a card is or does.

An upside down resource row also keeps it in the opposite direction as your hand. This will help you repair the game state if you accidentally drop a card , as well as show your opponent that you have no intention of Hans’ing[1] him.

Turn Order

This ensures the integrity of the game. If for some reason players disagree and need to rebuild the game state, this provides an effortless way to track the turns.

Never Tapped or Piled

Well, never say never. Tapped, in most situations, is fine if your opponent can see all of your resources still. I gravitate away from tapping because it can easily break up the Turn Order principle, which does add a lot of value to tracking. Piled, however, is always questionable.

Like most players, I need to count out my resources when I underdrop in a turn. I recommend separating your resources in sections. Let’s say you’re thinking about playing Terror Pit and a Nix with your ten resources. I find the best approach is just separating the first three resources in your line, to create a short line of three and a long line of seven. This keeps the first two principles in order, but still allows you to visually count out what you have available.

Don’t Cheat

Duh. But in all seriousness, take it as another disclaimer. My pointers on how to play in high-level events are to protect you from the crappy 1% that will take advantage of you. As always, the shady player sitting across from you could be telling the truth about their nervousness or inexperience playing in high-level tournaments. Just keep in mind that might be an act to hide malicious intentions.


[1] Hans Joachim Hoeh is a seasoned TCG player who has notable success in VS System, Spoils, and the WOW TCG; however, he is infamous for the cheat he performed in the top 8 of a VS System ProTour, now known as Hans’ing. The cheat involved switching a card in his hand with a facedown resource. Luckily the cheat was caught during the match, leading to a disqualification and a ban from the game.

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