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By: dragonmage65, Nick Matthews
Jul 04 2007 10:09am
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Welcome to an informative article on the nature of clans! I'm taking a break from my usual column because my head is a bit clogged up right now, but hopefully I will continue that series soon. So, then, without any further ado...

What is a clan?

Well, first off, there are two definitions. The first definition is the one that Wizards of the Coast has provided us with: a clan is nothing more than a 20-member chatroom. It exists purely as another channel for 'socialization' with online 'buddies'. However, I, as well as countless others, feel that Wizards has got it wrong. Very wrong. While many clans do in fact seem to fit this rather vague, boring definition that the minions of WotC hath provided, a good clan is far more than this.

This is the second, player-inspired definition - a clan serves as an avenue which brings players who share the same ideas and objectives together. Are you primarily a league player? Then there is a clan for you - a clan where you can test your latest league decks to your heart's content. Are you a multiplayer fanatic? There's a clan for you, too - a clan where you can hop right into a two-headed giant with a clannie, no questions asked. Are you a constructed shark? By golly, there is a clan just for you, one where you can test the metagame and bring the best deck possible to that 4x premier event. Whatever type of player you may be, there's a clan for you!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do I join a clan?

There are plenty of routes you can take to join a clan. The first option is to create your own clan. To do this, you'll need to navigate to the Clans room in the MTGO client. The Clans room is essentialy one giant list of all the clans that currently exist. You can sort the list alphabetically by name by left-clicking on the box at the top of the table that has the word 'Name' in red letters. You can also sort the list by prizes (which indicates how many total booster packs the members of a clan have won), by members (which, to be honest, is fairly useless), and by message (which, to be equally honest, is really useless). Anyhow, to create your own clan, click on the "New" button that appears on the right-hand side of the black bar. You will be prompted to enter a name for your clan. After you submit a name, you'll need to wait for a certain period of time (a day or two, according to the MTGO help files) for you clan to be approved; this prevents explicit names from getting through the cracks, so don't bother trying anything naughty!

Once your clan has been approved, a chat room should be minimized upon the bottom bar every time you log in. You can click on it to bring it back up. Since you're the captain, you can start recruiting people for your new clan!

A second method of joining a clan is simply to ask - many clans will welcome more players with open arms. A good place to find clans is on the WotC message boards: boards1.wizards.com/forumdisplay.php is a place where clans can advertise and recruit more players.

A third way you might join a clan is to actually be invited by a clan captain. This has happened to me no fewer than three times in the past, and I only declined one such invitation. Remember, you shouldn't necessarily feel pressured to accept an invitation spontaneously. Ask the captain about the clan, and what his or her goals are for the clan so that you can get a better idea of what type of experience you may be in for. Keep in mind though, if you really want to join a clan, the majority of the time you will have to seek one out yourself.

 Those are the major routes you can take to join a clan.

How does a clan work?

A typical clan is a relatively simple affair. Below is a screenshot of what the average clan chat room looks like:

The room is utterly devoid of chat - obviously, this is because only myself and Hellbilly_Ed are online. Why? It's 10:00 PM on the west coast, but on the east coast, it's about 1:00 AM. You'll see that with a lot of clans - players tend to be based all over the country, not to mention the entire world. On the list of names on the right-hand side of the chat screen, names that are darkened are currently online, while a name that is faded indicates the user is offline. MTGO TRADERS bears the rank of captain, which, simply put, means he is the official leader of the clan. The captain of a clan is the one who first started it, unless a former captain willingly handed off his position to another clan member. Captains are the only ones who can invite someone into the clan, though that's not to say you can't ask a clan member to petition their captain for you. Captains are also the only ones who can kick out clan members, be it for non-activity or just some sort of unacceptable behavior. The captain's role goes far beyond this in a good clan, however. The captain serves as an example for the rest of the clan, and guides it in terms of setting goals for the clan.

Currently, there is a twenty-member cap for individual clans. As you can see, clan PureMTGO is entirely full - new users can't be accepted unless existing clannies are removed. While MTGO V3 promises a 100-member limit, many of the larger clans still exceed that sort of capacity. To get around the limit, many such clans utilize the 'chapter' system - for example, the clan Hellz Angellz has over 20 chapters, or over 400 players. To consolidate clan chat, clan members are simply directed to join a common private/public room where members from all the chapters can congregate - for Hellz Angellz, the room is "/join hellz".

What are some of the activities that clans do?

Like I stated earlier, many clans revolve around a common playing aspect shared by every member of the clan. That one (or more) defining aspect of play usually affects what sort of activities the clan may partake in. Clans like Only Hell Will Fill Your Void are very much involved in multiplayer gaming, whether it be giant chaotic free-for-alls or ruthless two-headed giants. It's hard to find a two-headed giant where an OHWFYF member doesn't have a clannie at his side. They also have built themselves a reputation for bringing some mean decks, so consider yourself warned. Clans that center themselves around certain formats, like Classic Quarter, often have player-run events in that particular format (in CQ's case, Eternal Struggle - the quality of the competition is comparable to that of a full-fledged premier event). Player-run events are certainly a major example of a clan activity, which makes sense, given the limitations of the client. However, many PRE's are also open to the general public and aren't exclusive of anyone; playing in clan-sponsored PRE's is another good way of attracting the notice of that clan.

For the more serious player, there are many competitive clans that will benefit your ratings greatly if you join. Most of this benefit comes in the form of deck testing. You are far more likely to be prepared for the metagame if you test with clannies bringing the best decks available on the market, while the tournament practice room has a tendency to be redundant and/or weaker. You also get to do fun things like queue rushing.

How can I get the best experience possible out of my clan?

This is a really great question, and personally, I think a lot of it comes down to which clan you choose to be a member of. It's very important to make sure that the clan you decide to join fits your idea of what MTGO is all about; however, it's also important to ensure that your clan is readily active. If you're the only person who is ever online, then most likely, your clan doesn't qualify as being particularly active. If your captain is simply too damn lazy to recruit new clannies, then you likely aren't going to get a whole lot out of that particular clan. Remember, it's always okay to drop yourself from a clan - if you wish to do this, just go to the clan chat, right click on your name, and then select 'drop from clan'; in addition, be sure to message your former captain as too why you left the clan. I myself have left no fewer than four clans for various assorted reasons - it happens! Also, the more active you are, the better experience you tend to get from being in your clan.

Also, you need to keep in mind that a clan isn't a clan without the individual members of which it consists of. You need to respect those fellow members of yours, and you need to resolve any differences you may have with certain members in your clan. There's no point in letting petty differences of opinion sow irrepairable rifts among your clan-mates.

This last point may seem slightly bonkers, and if that is the case, then certainly, take it with a grain of salt. Simply remember - a clan is not for everyone. There are many people on MTGO who have no desire to join a clan. Perhaps they simply aren't into the socialization aspect, or perhaps they are simply rather shy. Regardless, if you don't actually want to be in the clan that you are involved in, then there is simply little chance of your experience with that clan being a wholly positive one. It's not a crime to be clanless!

The Last Word

Well, that ought to do it for clans. Remember, this is simply an introductory guide, not an authoritive rulebook - your mileage will vary.

Moving on to a completely different subject, I've begun hosting a player-run event as a part of Friday Night Magic: Online. The PRE is called Precon Melee - you build your own vision of a WotC preconstructed deck and bring it to the tournament. Currently, it is run every Friday - registration begins at 4:30 EST and ends at 5:00 sharp, with games beginning shortly thereafter. For more information, you can check out this thread here: http://boards1.wizards.com/showthread.php?t=878906. I hope to see you there!

That said, until next time, good luck, and have fun!

- dragonmage65

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