Howdy Hexers! Let’s talk about IQs—but not from a Pro perspective or even a hardcore perspective. We need to look at IQs from the every player perspective. If by some chance this is the first time you have heard of “IQs” check out the basics here. The TL;DR: the IQ is the equivalent of a regional qualifier tournament that requires special IQ tickets to enter and the winner receives an invitation AND travel to Hex HQ for a special 12-person tournament. Neat, huh? Best part since the game is all online everyone in the Europe and North American garden can participate in each IQ no matter where they are as long as they present the tickets. Earning those tickets is what I want to talk about with you today.
On The General’s Tent (Wednesdays on twitch.tv/hextcg) the other night we began talking about how to acquire tickets and how the feeling has shifted since the first weeks leading into the Qualifier Season. Pro tips abound on the forums and from our FiveShards writers but we cannot lose perspective in the shuffle. Now is the time for Hex’s mid-level, average competitive player to start getting serious.
The Running of the Queues
In the first week prospective pros and the near-pro contingent of Hex filled the queues to battle over every ticket, soaking up as many tickets as possible to ensure a supply for every event to come. Some players finished the first week with thirty, forty, and some with even more tickets. Dominance was asserted on the player base and everyone else felt it. That first week and even the second week queues were bustling and the “mid-level” player started to get discouraged. How on Entrath will we get those tickets to even participate in the IQs? Going 2-2 in 3 scheduled tournaments is only 3 tickets making that trek to your first IQ long and costly indeed. Mokog has your answer: patience.
What we all knew but discounted is that the pro players only need a maximum reserve of 120 tickets or 12 scheduled tournament wins before they would need to focus their testing on the IQ format of the week. They get their best sense of the meta-game with the largest participation and the rest falls on team testing and non-scheduled tournaments. Some will join the scheduled events but they play not because they need tickets. The pros need experience, information and practice. Their demeanor has shifted because with all the tickets they need in hand their eyes are set on the IQ prize.
The rest of us now have a golden opportunity to pick up where the pros are not focusing to grab the tickets we need. Scheduled queues have reduced in size and the names we see up in the winning deck lists are shifting around. Different players are winning with 4-0 victories and 3-1 good efforts. If you love Hex and want that snazzy top 64 IQ sleeve, now is the time to hustle your tickets together. This window won’t last forever. But what will it cost you?
Show me the Platinum
We will not rehash the full details of the announcement post, but let’s look at a chart of ticket payout by cost and method.
The Every-Player has high ambitions and decent skill but often lacks the time to hone their skills as much as the Hardcore Hexer. So to participate in an IQ they must either have great spot performance or consistently win tournaments. I would argue if you consistently win the 8-man queues, you are an above average player and already have your tickets figured out and in hand. For the more time-pressed of us we need to focus on the method of gaining tickets that can yield the best upside: the scheduled events. Ten drafts even if you win them all still costs 1,000 plat and 30 packs + 12-30 hours of your time. 3 scheduled sealed events put you at 600 Plat + 18 packs in addition to only 6-12 hours of your time. The ticket payout also has the higher upside. Drafts would only net you 0-10 tickets while the scheduled events described above net 0-30 tickets.
But Don’t Wait Too Long
The final and hardest push of the hardcores will begin with the last 4 IQs. The internal timer will start ticking and the overwhelming desire to reach for the top shall drive them. Queues will get bigger and more competitive. The IQs will be more cut-throat and there will be less experimentation. We will likely see well-honed trump cards or even a dark horse deck emerge in that time but the mid-level player will feel like fodder. This is your call to action. Step up right now while the first wave of effort lags the hardcore crowd and before they feel the pressure.
Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady won the race because the speedy hare didn’t stay focused. Earning tickets and participating in IQ events is a marathon activity where only your finish matters. The pace you started or maintained won’t earn you points but showing up and finishing while the hardcore crowd is focused elsewhere will get you wins with good play.
My first IQ experiences have not happened yet. I could not play in enough events and place well enough to earn the tickets to participate in either October sealed IQ. Now with the hardcores focused on the constructed format I have a nice nest of 24 tickets to use on the next sealed IQ and I might have enough tickets by next week to consider the next constructed IQ for fun. The moral here is that even though I felt shut out of the first IQs I still have the opportunity every scheduled event to walk away with tickets in hand. New faces and smaller queues means my sealed experience has produced more results and given me more play experience to boot. If I can start grinding extra tickets now then I know more of Hex’s player base can take advantage of this opportunity as well.
Most of all, don’t worry about the top-tier prizes until you are in a direct position to win them. Every tournament you just need to make the best play available to you and keep working at it every chance your get. Sooner than you think those sweet sweet rewards will be yours. Let’s play this numbers game together. Keep entering the queues and giving each tournament your best shot. That might just be your 4-0 moment and the entry to your favorite IQ format.