I started playing Yomi online about three and a half years ago, I think. I’d just remembered this cool game that I’d played in person two or three times, and googled stuff like “fighting game card game” until I ran across the old Fantasy Strike forums and saw that you could play it online! I was thrilled! I’d always liked fighting games, even though I was resolutely terrible at them, and I had come to really enjoy competitive card and boardgames. Yomi seemed perfect!
I bought the first ten characters, because Rook was in that set, and I loved the aesthetics and the design of the character. I thought 10 damage throws were sick as hell, and they’d buffed his King throw from 1st edition, which was already a card I loved. Fifteen damage in one card! Oh my god the power! I spent a bunch of time in QM grinding through the student ranks until I got to Master. Occasionally I’d get up the courage to join a casual room where people would swap out if they lost, and got to know a few people here and there.
I spent a bunch of time on the forums, just reading different strategy guides and poring over super old design threads, where people argued about what stats such-and-such character’s Jack or Ace should have, and what speed. I saw a bunch of stuff on valuation that didn’t really make any sense to me at the time. It was really exciting! It was obvious to me that there was something to this game, in the sense that there was a whole whack of stuff to learn and improve at. If I wanted to, I could really throw myself into it and be confident that it would be rewarding to do so.
CKR eventually messaged me on the forums and asked if I was interested in playing in a tournament. I initially turned him down because I felt like I still had no idea what I was doing, and felt nervous about looking foolish. At the time, my heart would pound any time I played, whether it be in QM or casuals. Yomi was absolutely the most nerve wracking board or card game I’d ever played. I mean, I still get nervous whenever I play in tournament, so not much has really changed in that respect… But anyway, after I told CKR I would rather not, he said, “hey, no problem, but honestly, I think you’re good enough to play, and if you change your mind, let me know.” It was apparently all I needed to change my mind, so good read on CKR’s part.
That was pretty much it for me. I went 1-1 in the event; it was a single elimination, one day event type thing, but I started looking out for tournament announcements on the forums. And it just so happened that not long after that first set, CKR ran the second installment of the International Yomi League. I can’t remember now how many sign-ups there were. I think something between 50 and 60? Anyway, this was definitely bigger than anything I’d ever participated in. It was really cool! I got my pool and saw a bunch of names I recognized and more that I didn’t. The weekly format really appealed to me, because it meant I could play regularly, and it was relatively easy to set up games with people sometime during the week.
The competition was really fun too. It was gratifying to play against people and think “oh, I think I’m farther along than this player.” And it was equally humbling and exciting to play against people who I knew were on an entirely different level than I was. Like, yeah, it felt bad to lose, but it proved the hunch I had when I started exploring the game: “There’s a way to get good at this game. There’s a skill here that I just don’t understand yet. There’s something to this that can be figured out, and I will do it.” I ended the season about the middle of the pack, and I was thrilled. I put together a list of the people I’d lost to and hoped I’d get a chance to play them again soon.
I joined different events, always looking mainly for those that had a match-a-week format, because it just worked the best for my schedule. I got to know a bit better the people in the community. Found a bunch of YouTube channels and watched their commentary videos, piecing together what insight I could from what people said. Raziek’s videos, especially the ones featuring other members of DRB were particularly helpful. Because there were multiple people watching and commenting on matches, it meant I got to hear some of the decision making behind different plays, and got to develop of sense of how different options and plays could be evaluated.
I got more involved in the community of people who played the game. I started putting together stats on tournament matches. I started making my own videos and putting them on YouTube. I got super excited when IYL3 had 100 entrants. I got to play in the third iteration of Summer Smash, hosted by Jengajam, who’d dealt me a tournament loss at the start of my time with the game that I still remember, it was so punishing.
I think the Fantasy Strike forums were closed up near the end of the first 19XX event, maybe around top 4? There was an event or two in the months afterwards, but the activity level really dropped. The community was split. These forums really became the Codex forums, in much the same way that the Fantasy Strike forums had been the Yomi forums. But people still played. We still play. We still enjoy this game enough to argue about what kinds of tournaments would be cool to run, and what the tiers are, and how you should play if you want to win.
And some new player just decided, hey, this IYL thing? It sounds like it was pretty cool? If no one else is going to do it, can I run it? And shortly thereafter - as he apparently does every year (???) - Jengajam has made the arduous trip down from the cave in the mountain where he spends his time meditating on the nature of all things and, without fanfare, said “Summer Smash 4, if people are interested.”
I didn’t realize how much I’d missed these things until they were here…
I don’t think either of them will be as big as they were the last time. I don’t expect them to be. I don’t need them to be. Don’t get me wrong, I would probably shed a few tears if they were. But it’s not the size of them that I care about. It’s just that they are. They still are.
People still play.
New people still find their way to this game that I love.
People that I used to see in tournaments when I just started played in them still play this game that I love.
That makes me so happy.
So, if you really had your heart set on playing in this tournament because you like the banned character format, I’m sorry that you have to wait. If IYL5 and SS4 don’t excite you or mean the same thing to you, that’s totally cool too. I get it - that feeling is why I started running 19XX in the first place.
But right now? I just want to put my quarter on the arcade cabinet next to a bunch of other people, old and new, who want to see what they can do when it’s their turn to play. I still want that rematch against Jengajam!
I’ll see you guys in the ring. If you made it this far, thank you. If you didn’t, I don’t blame you!
19XX officially on hold until later in the summer - don’t worry guys, this WILL happen