I have been playing in a Magic: The Gathering (MTG) League at the Games Laboratory, and while I am yet to win any matches (after playing 4 matches), I am enjoying myself.
For me, this game is very much going back to basics. While I can win games amongst my small group of friends that play, I do not win very much when I play against people I do not know. And as I explained to one of my fellow competitors in the MTG League, if I beat one of them, it feels like more of a real victory. Beating one of my friends is nice, but it is not on the same level. They do not have the same passion to try to win.
For those that do not know what a MTG League is, basically a competitor starts off in week 1 by purchasing 6 booster packs, and make a deck of 40 cards from them. The deck can be made up of as many copies of any cards found in the 6 boosters, and additionally as many basic lands as required. Ideally, you should have around 17 creatures, 6 other spells (made up of artifacts, pumps, removals or others), and around another 17 lands. Those are a rough guide line, and should be altered as required. Every week, a competitor is allowed to purchase another booster pack to add to their card pool - and then be able to alter their decks. During matches and outside of matches, competitors are allowed to swap out as many cards from their pool as they desire. Competitors are not allowed to add additional cards outside their pools, or trade cards with other competitors in the League to alter their pools. It is somewhat fair, requiring some luck, but also a lot of knowledge of the game, the cards, and using the individual competitors skill to win. You turn up, ask to see who is available and play them. You play 5 matches every week, and you cannot play the same person twice. You also must leave your deck at the store, to avoid you forgetting it, or modifying it accidentally with additional cards.
Games Laboratory also have a store League deck, so if no one is around, you can just play them.
My weakness is not understanding what I have in hand, and only a basic understanding of how the cards I have in my pool work together. I do listen to what my competitors say, and I do feel like I am getting better over time, but I need to judge myself against them with wins.
Lastly, if you are looking for something to do on New Year's Eve - Games Laboratory will be doing drafts all night. I may pop in, but I doubt it. Wish me luck in League games.