If you’re pretty new, DCI might mean nothing to you (and even if you’re only vaguely new … “Duelists Convocation International” was long lost to the vagaries of time). It’s been pretty well purged out of the lexicon at this point, except for one artifact – DCI Numbers.
If you’ve never played in a tournament before, you don’t have one yet. When you show up, we’ll get you one, no problem. You are absolved of everything else in this post.
The rest of you, among the easiest way to make staff miserable is to not know yours or have it on you. This happens a lot, and while staff tends to be in good customer service mode and tells you it’s not a problem, I’m here to tell you that every single one of them is turning around afterward and grumbling about it. What’s the big deal, you may ask, as you’ve been told we can look it up for you? Well, let me tell you …
1) Looking them up is painful and slow. It takes quite a while to do, which could hold up the registration process, unless an additional staff member is allocated for this purpose (which happens, but just means less staff to do other things), and even then, that line can get to be pretty long, which is also bad for you. Why does it take so long? Well, first it’s entirely online based, which can be spotty depending on the location. Additionally …
2) If you’re doing this once, I bet you’re the sort that’s done this more than once. Maybe every time. And I bet instead of looking you up, a couple times they got lazy and just got you a new number – after all, what’s the harm? And really, you just need a name to get a new DCI number, don’t bother filling out the rest of the form. Well, because of that, you and all the other people with your same name doing this, now when we try and look you up, there’s a whole bunch of entries that match your name. And none of the other data we might use to tell which one is you isn’t there, or you can’t remember it. What now … oh right, somebody is probably just going to give you yet another new number, and the cycle of misery continues.
3) Or maybe, you preregistered, and you didn’t know yours, but the darn registration form wouldn’t let you register without one (gee, I wonder why …). So you typed in a dummy number – success, now you’re in the tournament! Except, you aren’t, since you need a number to play. And you didn’t show up on site since you didn’t have to register, so now we either can leave you out, and then try and catch you in the morning (work we don’t need), or we can put you in with a dummy number and then fix it (surprise – work we don’t need). Bonus in that latter case, if somebody manages to forget to find you and make you fix it, suddenly it’s the end of the weekend and we can’t submit the tournament because of an illegal player.
If preventing this isn’t enough for you, there are benefits for you as well. First off, if you’re entitled to Byes, they’re registered by your DCI number, so if you don’t use the right number, you won’t get your Byes without a scare, an appeal, and a long wait in a line (with a bonus tournament delay to boot). You’d think that anyone playing seriously enough to have Byes wouldn’t have this problem, but it happens multiple times every Grand Prix and it freaks people out every time. Same deal happens if you write unclearly and somebody types your number in wrong. Secondly, earning those Byes in the first place requires you to gather Planeswalker Points (in the common case, at least), which also is tracked by – you guessed it, your DCI number.
A couple of other useful things to know about DCI numbers:
1) At a Grand Prix, the database that we use for DCI numbers is an older one that hasn’t been updated for a long time. If you keep showing up for Grand Prix and wondering why your name is always wrong, this is probably why (when you enter a DCI number, if there’s a known name, it auto-populates the name and so we ignore whatever you write for your registration for expediency). There’s nothing we can do about this in the short term, you’ll need to ask to manually fix your name, or just get used to whatever it’s auto-registered as. The easiest way to fix this, by the way, is the correct it on a result slip. This causes the least disruption.
2) If you swear you have the right DCI number and at a Grand Prix, you’re being told it’s invalid, you might be victim of the great checksum design … I don’t want to say failure, but … failure. If you have only played local tournaments at a store using the local store software, and that store typed your number in wrong the first time, they might have landed you with a technically invalid DCI number. Numbers have a checksum, much like a bar code, to help try and cut down on the number of data entry errors. Unfortunately, with the local store software, they decided it would be better customer service to drop this digit, so that you wouldn’t face the case where you were told your number was invalid, even if you thought it was. So now you’re walking around with an invalid number that happens to work at your store. Now that you’re at a Grand Prix and using the older software that respects the checksum, though, there’s no way to make that number work. You’ll need a new one, and I’d advise you suck it up and merge your old number into this one and get used to it, as it will work wherever you go (more on this below).
3) If you think you have the wrong DCI number listed, and your number is less than 10-digits, take a closer look at the number before you go to try and get it corrected. If the last X digits of the number match yours, then it really is your number. The story here is that numbers used to be shorter, and as the program grew, they kept having to lengthen the numbers. The way that they did this, was to add digits to the beginning of your number in a way that made the checksum continue to be valid, so if you have dummy numbers at the beginning of your number, that’s actually your full expanded number. Using either the shortened version of the long one is valid, though I’d encourage you to get used to the full one since typing in the full number allows the checksum to work and will guard against data errors. If it actually is a truly wrong number, then go get it corrected (and again, doing this on your slip is the best way to do this unless it impacts Byes).
Whew, that’s a lot about a simple number, but it causes a lot of grief. It’s a ten-digit number (or less, but more on this in a bit), though, so this can be very simple. You know what else is ten digits? A phone number. Biggest hint I can give you – program it in as a phone number right now. Call it “DCI Number” and type it in as a phone number. Now you’ll always have it. If you can’t remember it, go to www.planeswalkerpoints.com and click the link saying that you forgot it. Likewise, if you have multiples, there’s a link on the bottom of that site for combining those numbers. Take the time to do this and have a single number that is yours for good, which you always have on hand. This is better for you, as you’ll get registered faster and more smoothly, as well as getting all of the credit for all your tournaments on one account. And it’s better for us because you won’t be one of those problem children that makes us grumpy.
Plus, I continue to jokingly threaten to start using a Sharpie to write DCI numbers on people who need them look up. Who knows when I’ll snap and actually do it – don’t take the risk of being the first.