Each member of your team has a specific role if you follow my plan for designing a proper team. Remembering and understanding these roles and how they fit into the structure of the team is important for keeping your teammates happy, and for keeping your team on the path to success.
These roles need not necessarily be done by one person and one person only. In fact, our team had two traders and two Rogues, as well as one person doubling as our Netdecker and Networker. You can split these roles to reduce redundant work, or even double them up on one person so long as they still do a good job at both.
In understanding the role of yourself and others in a team, look at the things you should and shouldn’t do, and make sure that other team members are aware of your obligations. Treat your position as a job, because the only way to make sure that you do well as a team is by making a group effort to function well together. Understand that there need to be limitations on certain members, because if these limits were not in place, there would be no need to discuss the different kinds of jobs on a team.
The first and most important part of your team is the Trader. Traders are responsible for most of the trading, card valuing, and ensuring that your team has the right cards at the right time. If they slack in this role, they need to be replaced. I say this is the most important part of a team because in the case where you find a breakout deck, all of your team members need to be able to play it, and for that reason, you need to ensure that you either have enough cards, or the resources to get those cards, so that the maximum number of players can play that deck at the same time.
The function of the trader is, of course, to trade. These people are primarily responsible for creating a good income of cards, and should spend most of their time at tournaments actually trading instead of playing. There are a lot of people who will go to tournaments just to trade, and if one person is busy trading with them during the rounds, you can ensure that you’ll get first pick of his cards, taking everything you need before anyone else gets the chance to do so. During the tournament rounds is also the best time for visiting dealers, because all their other customers will be busy playing. In working with a designated trader, make sure that you and they both understand this need for them to be trading a majority of the time, but also understand that they need to have opportunities to play as well. Make sure the entire team participates in valuing cards so that your trader doesn’t miss any spectacular cards that they need to be on the watch for.
As your team’s designated trader, this person needs to have unlimited access to your team’s trade pool during the tournament. Each member should be able to hand over their binder to the trader, and have full confidence that they will not be taken advantage of. While this can be difficult, many good trades have been lost because the Trader hasn’t had access to a particular card that another team member had. In doing this kind of massive trading, the Trader needs to be objective in looking at the value of cards, and ensuring that trades are made fairly using all of the team member’s binders. If one or more players never has any good trades being made for them, they will lose patience with this team member and trouble will ensue.
The Netdecker is responsible primarily for scouring the internet and other magazines, databases, etc. for the most popular and modern deck designs in every season. Well informed and experienced players fill this role the best.
The primary duty of the Netdecker is looking at all of the major online publications every other day, and especially the night before a big trading session, and passing on the most important articles to the other team members. Each team member should be reading these important articles, but need not waste their time looking at many of the others unless they are interested. The articles that are chosen for a full-team read should be those that introduce viable new deck ideas, those that illustrate specific examples of the uses of specific cards, and those that have general theory about how to play the game in a certain format. Occasionally, well-written and detailed tournament reports can be included, especially if they are from decks similar to those that other team members are playing.
This player is also responsible for building the generic form of every deck that the team will use for playtesting. Generally, these decks can be proxied quite easily, unless of course someone wishes to play a generic form of a deck in a tournament, in which case, it should be constructed from actual cards. These playtesting decks should be built separately from the decks that the team develops on its own, for reasons which will be fully explained later.
Netdeckers should be in constant communication with the Trader, because their roles depend heavily on one another. The Trader needs to know about any developments in an environment so that they can stay current with their valuations on cards. The Netdecker often fills in for a Trader in times of need, or whenever the team decides to split up to cover more ground.
Rogues are important for a team because they are typically the creative geniuses behind most of the team’s decks. These players are in charge primarily of designing new versions of decks, or designing entirely new decks for the team to test. They need to be creative and occasionally risky players who understand the nuances of the game. Judges often fill this role well because a strong command of the rules is a must.
The Rogue should be on top of a lot of the articles that the Netdecker does not pass on to the entire team. Even if a given deck in an article is weak, the overall concept of a deck could be improved into something viable. Finding and making the changes to these decks is an important part of the duties of a Rogue. For the most part, these decks cannot be greatly improved, and the team must understand that. On the whole, maybe one out of five of these decks is even passable, but the team should not lose faith unless some serious design errors are occurring. The Rogue is often the player who builds a lot of the environment breaking decks, and once that happens your team will really start to get in gear.
As long as the netdecks are proving to dominate a format, the Rogue needs to consider overall concepts of these decks, and learn how to beat them. If a common theme can be identified, then decks need to be built to expose those designs. Additionally, look for unusual cards which fit into the netdecks that help them shore up some of their weaknesses. Rogues are invaluable when new sets come out, because this ability to spot cards which will fit well into decks which exist will help the Traders identify a lot of the cards that they will be trading for.
Another function of the Rogue is to solve disputes between playtesters. Because they have a strong command of the rules of the game, this should not be difficult, and it should integrate well with their playtesting time.
This is an optional role which some teams choose to adopt successfully if the team is largely comprised of introverts. If you choose to have a role like this on your team, their job is to get information out of other people while not giving away all of the discoveries your team has uncovered. They should be very social people who can put on a good poker face if needs be.
This role is often filled by the more outgoing of your team members, but is invaluable when traveling. Because of their outgoing nature, they can quickly acquire new friends and possible away-team members, as well as score you a free night at someone’s house, or a ride to a tournament.
These players are responsible for a lot of team communications with their away-team members and friends outside of the team. Remember that some ideas that your team comes up with should be kept quiet, but some need to be leaked in order to keep those friends and away-team members happy and providing information. Unless your team has infinite time to playtest decks, this information will help you understand a deck and a format almost as well as playing each deck.
Before tournaments start, these players need to try and find out which decks are popular, and who’s playing what. This information will be invaluable later on in the tournament, because the Networker should have a good idea of what your opponents will be playing, allowing you to sit down against him with an advantage.
The Limited Expert
One of the most important things to understand is that playing Limited format (Sealed Deck, Booster Drafts, etc) is not about the quality of the cardpool you’re given to work with. Having a Limited Expert on your team will help out the entire team by analyzing their limited play, and teaching each player about how to make proper deck design and game decisions. This person’s only requirements are that they need to be good at Limited, and it helps immensely if they are a decent teacher.
This is also an optional role often fulfilled by other players on a team. If it is not, this player needs to actively assist other players in preparation for Limited PTQs and Prereleases. They are also responsible for deckbuilding during Team Sealed events.