Well I'm back from my CZE Tour and am ready to regale the masses with the adventure that took place. I really hope the players had as much fun as I had. For those of you that don't know, CZE is sending members of R&D and OP to game stores across the country where players have the chance to smash our beautiful faces (most of us) into dust through one rigorous gauntlet of Sealed Deck, player's questions, gunslinging, and whatever else you want to surprise us with. It is a whole lot of fun and I suggest, if you can, to make it out to the closest store where the tour is passing by you!
This is an extra special article too. At the end I will unveil the new keyword I will be pushing for in the next block!
Thursday July 19th
Before my Tour started I had to acquire a few items: decks to gunsling with, some shiny new shirts, place bets with Patrick Sullivan on who will do better at their Tours. Now goading Patrick into a bet is not difficult. I offered, he hesitated for a second, I console him that I probably wouldn't be sure of myself if I was him either, he bites full well knowing what I'm doing and then snaps back with an off handed comment about how he feels bad about taking my money in other instances and needs to be "charitable". Check that off my list.
Now I go find my new CZE shirts, so I ask Phil where he got his and informs me a co-worker George had revealed the hidden location of the lost sanctuary of shirts. Once I found the elusive George, we set out to gather some shirts for my trip. After hours of searching he finds them and hands me two large shirts. I tip him and move on with the rest of the preparation.
While looking for stuff in the store room Alex Charsky jokes about my performance for the upcoming weekend comparing me to other coworker's disappointing performance, in which I wager that if I go 0-4 in any event I will have my resignation ready on my return (I'm always a sucker for a bet). Then realize I made that statement without him wagering anything so whatever I'm in. Now we have gunslinging decks built, but Patrick took the fun ones with him on his trip to Atlanta and for what would have to be some ridiculous amount of time refused to bring them back. I think it was due to the fact that he felt it would be too much fun for me and the players to have them, so at the last minute I had to have a paper deck printed off on our printer. Unfortunately during the day of my getting ready to leave, there was a significant amount of work in the office to be done and I was also coming off of a cold which lead to some cutting of corners on packing which will bite me later on in our story.
Friday July 20th
My ride blows me off at 5:30 in the morning. So I'm starting off my trip right, I still have a terrible headache from the cold, and am now aware of the hefty price tag the airport will be sticking me upon my return. I barely make my flight and do my best to stomach the person sitting next to me, who has no respect of the confines of each person's seat, and the fact that my window seat is the only one on the entire plane that does not in fact have a window leaves me with no way of distracting myself from the stranger who is currently snuggling me. I figure there is the possibility I'm still contagious so it evens out a bit.
I go through waves of intense chills, followed by profuse sweating which I can only assume is alarming to see from another person's perspective when on a plane. Luckily my neighbor was fast asleep doing his best to keep me warm, and being my worst enemy when I was hot. Once we finally arrive to the wonderful Pensacola airport I get my car and check into my hotel. Passing an alarmingly high amount of depressing billboards informing me of my mortality and how I will no doubt end my children's lives, I contemplate what angle they are working. I take a 15 minute nap and shower combo before I need to head over to the tournament site. I get into my suitcase and I see that the Crypto shirts that George gave me are not flattering, so I go into my suitcase and see that in my rush I only packed one normal CZE shirt and know that at some point I will have to wear this revealing new shirt.
I arrive to the tournament and am greeted by the Pensacola TO of TBS Games, Kristi Bush, one of our wonderful volunteers, and I start mingling with the players and making conversation, answering questions etc. After a short while we get the first tournament underway with 14 people. In the last round I am decimated by what can only be described as the most feared, most vile, most ruthless opponent I have ever faced, with the nickname of Southern Hostility. Jeff Stauter.
He demanded I fill his newly acquired mug with my tears, which as part of losing I must do whatever they say (little known fact about these tours). Sulking back to my hotel for the night I realize I forgot to eat for the day. No worries though. I can sustain myself on victories of players trying to defeat me.
Saturday July 21st
I am feeling a great deal better and on my way to the tournament I get to drive along the ocean for a good portion of the way, so I decide to man up and wear the somewhat unflattering shirt today. I start off my day getting stuck behind a train just as I miss the light to not get stuck. Once I arrive at the Book & Game Emporium I start mingling with the players. I notice out of my peripherals a young player is watching what I am doing but every time I turn to say hi, he manages to scamper off and be doing something else. After this happens a few times I finally manage to ask what his name is before I miss the opportunity and he just smiles, waves and walks away, giving the players I was currently talking to some ammunition to discuss how scary I am.
I assure you I am as cuddly as a bear.
After a few rounds I would like to use the bathroom to powder my noise and am pointed to the corner by Kristi who just says “good luck”. I don't know what I am supposed to think about such a response leading to a toiletry visit but my curiosity is peaked and I document my journey.
First Door: Sign to a bathroom- nothing weird of note.
Second Door: There is a large gated warehouse to the left on this path, they just have lot of stuff no big deal.
Third door: These cages look as though they might of used to contain life. I hear a paint can get thrown into the aisle way of cages and heavy breathing no more than 20 feet away. I quickly move towards the door.
Fourth Door: I believe I am no longer alone, there has been too many coincidences on this path to the bathroom. Lights flicker off in the distance. Indistinguishable sounds are heard down the aisle of gates. I move to the last door before two children approach me and inform me I will not be leaving this place.
The Final Stretch: This is just a play-by-play scene from Jurassic Park where Ellie is escaping the raptor in a power shed. But I made it to the bathroom, although the intent of going there was no longer a concern.
This tournament had 16 people this time.
Combined withI thought for sure I would be unstoppable. Until I met Jacob Lawson. The definition of cool, if I had to guess what this man's nickname would be, I would have to say he's "The Dude". "The Dude" casually beat me into submission before winning the entire tournament with the demeanor of a Stoic Master.
Yellow arrow points to Jacob, blue arrow points to an unflattering shirt, and purple is a baby.
Onto the second tournament for that day, once I arrive at TBS Comics the second (same store name, different local shop, I believe it's called a "chain", you might want to be taking notes) I realize I still have not eaten anything so I set out to find a Smoothie place to fill me up. I ask the store if anyone would want anything, to be polite of course. No one responds, which I assume means no one wants a smoothie. Kristi, the person who has been TO'ing these wonderful events, decides she will come to make sure I do not get lost, at which point 7-9 people give her their Smoothie orders. I'm not sure how to take this, so I kick over a few tables and jump out the window on my way to the car. It seemed like a reasonable response at the time.
We bring back the smoothies and get the tournament underway. We had 16 people again and I was lucky to open up. I found out that the younger man who was particularly shy at the first tournament drove with his dad six and a half hours in order to come play today so I try to coerce him into allowing me to ask him a few questions. He declines, so I offer a couple packs to convince him, he counter offers with six spectral tigers, I go up to six packs he counters with 36 packs. This kid Is looking me square in the eye. Mike Rosenberg told me I have to get an interview, and I knew this was the one to get, but I flinched. He knew he had me, and made me up the offer to eight packs. Knowing I had been bested, I begrudgingly accepted.
Whats your name?
What store do you play at?
Anthem Games in Tampa Florida
What is your Favorite deck?
I love my Veiwless Wings Alliance Hunter deck
Favorite columnist on the website?
How long have you been playing?
13 months (he knew exactly how long it was)
Whats your favorite type of format to play?
My favorite is Core because I don't like best of three. (I didn't coerce that response even remotely. Regardless of how much fabricating of the truth this article has, I wouldn't make this up!)
For how difficult it was to have him take a picture, he is insanely photogenic.
After this tournament we gathered together to take a picture and I came to realize that all World of Warcraft TCG players are between 5'6 and 5'9 and can make taking pictures a bit difficult. So I had an idea that I will just jump as the photo is being taken. Seems like a fine idea! So as they are getting ready to take the picture I jump as hard as I can (Clarks aren't known for their jumping)...straight into a metal pole coming out of the wall.
Red arrow is me looking stupid about to jump, yellow arrow is what's about to ruin my day.
So after everyone has a good laugh at my splitting headache I go out to eat with clan Markoff. Matt, his wife Hollie, her sister and florida TO Kristi, their father, and player/friend Josh all head over to a massive Irish Pub and Grill. This place is pretty cool, and the ceiling is covered with money. I guess there is a million dollars stuck to the ceiling. As we are sitting there chatting I want to get up to go powder my nose again. I ask an employee where the bathroom is and he directs me to go up some stairs and then to the left. I take that path and the bathroom door is already open, so I just stroll in. There are no urinals in this bathroom so I'm thinking, "that's stupid," but I shrug and just go use a stall. Once inside of the stall I hear high heels and the voices of people that are most certainly not other men.
I am already done here and these women won't stop talking to each other (interesting note: one is speaking English and the other is speaking Spanish). As I sit there looking down hoping that my purple shoelaces will do good work towards making the size 12 man shoes sitting under the stall less conspicuous, I begin to wonder if the size of this restaurant compounded by what the average women's time in the bathroom is will equate to me not being able to avoid an awkward encounter. The thought crosses my mind to stand on the stall and see if everyone has left but luckily I realize the ramifications of such an action, if someone were to make eye contact during that action, the jig is up, game is over, I am no longer there by mistake. Luckily I hear a lull and make a run for it. There are multiple women in stalls but I make a clean escape. On my way out I see poorly displayed signs that I should not be here. I sit back down with a face of what I can only assume looked like I saw a ghost, and say "So…. I just had an experience" to which they all immediately knew what had just happened.
Sunday July 22nd
So regardless of how you take from my writing, I have been having an amazing weekend. I leave to try to get to the store before the noon start time. Once I arrive the store is closed and I see it opens at noon but the door is unlocked and I note the wonderful store front.
I walk in with a emphasized "Hello?", and am greeted by store owner Valerie Hunt. Who immediately helped me feel like I was welcome and that this could have been my game store the whole time. She got a cake because there was not a Dairy Queen within 30 miles which was insanely nice and thoughtful.
After a moment I go grab so food with Kera Tharpe, who has had baby in tote all weekend and has attended all four events (also I fear she may have a Facebook problem) and Jared Warthen (Cardboard Jesus on the forums) join me on my first Waffle house experience and discuss some of the finer points of design and development.
Back at the store we had a great turn out, a lot of people too that had to work but wanted to ask a few questions. I opened upwhich is one of my favorite cards in Tomb and can really win a game or two. In the final round I will be paired vs. Markoff and he goes about trying to convince me to wager my shirt (I had two of the nice but unflattering shirt and today was round 2 wearing it) but I simply couldn't wager it. I won the tournament but he won his wife the mug which was a very sought after item. With only two hours until my flight and an hour drive back I said my farewells and departed with a group picture.
The trip was amazing. All the players I met were very nice and the store owners were very helpful. Special thanks to Kristi and Valerie for running the tournaments, you guys made my weekend more relaxed than it could have been, and special thanks to the Owner of TBS and Game Emporium for enabling these tournaments to have a home. It would not have been possible without the help of the stores. I really wanted to see an alligator but I wouldn't of even known what to do with one if I saw it. My layover was missed due to delays so I was stuck in Dallas but was not going to let that spoil my weekend.
Now, as promised, I came up with this keyword while almost missing my flight because I stopped for Dairy Queen. I will be trying to get this to be a Mage keyword. But imagine this: Your hero has Dairy Queen Dual Wield.
The explosions are there to make me look manly.
Come out to play me on my second CZE Tour trip through the Arizona to Las Vegas route on Aug 3-5th. I'm not sure If I can end on a better note than this image so I will leave on what happened when I got back into the office on Monday. A co-worker, April Jones walked up to me and said, "Hey, we are missing two of the nice CZE women's shirts, did you accidentally take them?"