gp houston

@mojave-wasteland-official I was doing some thinking.  The reason there isn’t a Fallout with Texas in it is simple.  Texas was fine after the Great War.  We shot down all of the missiles and re-established the Republic of Texas.  The Wall went up and no one goes in or out.

It’s how the pipboy’s GPS system still works.  Houston maintains the satellite systems.

My Hobby, My Passion

Over the past few weeks (if not the past few years), I’ve discovered something about myself: I don’t just PLAY Magic: the Gathering, I literally LIVE this game every day.

Since I don’t wake up very early, that means that, from about 1pm until 3-4am in the morning, I’ve pretty much always got Magic on my mind. That might sound like a little much. It is a little much, actually. But I’m not just thinking about deck tech or specific cards.

Lately, a lot of that time has been devoted to thinking about how I want to progress with Magic. Where do I want to go with this game? I already work in it (thus, the 5-8 hours a day that I’m thinking about Magic). I already play (although not as frequently as I used to and wish I did). But what else can I do?
And the answer to that has recently been becoming very clear to me! It’s something I’ve wanted to do my entire life (before I even began playing Magic!): TRAVEL.

I’ve always been really excited about seeing the world out there. For a long time, I wanted to be an ESL teacher (English as a Second Language) just so I could travel. It’s a goal I’ve been striving for since I got into college and I’ve noticed myself starting to achieve my goal through my hobby (and work). It’s been a pretty wild ride this past summer, between Houston, Vegas, and Miami. I never would have dreamed that I’d get to visit so many amazing places all in one summer (or that I would have the funds to do so), but I’ve been living my dream without even realizing it!

So, let me go chronologically through the most stressful and wallet-depleting 3 weeks of my life:

Grand Prix Houston - RTR Block Sealed - End Record: 6-3

Houston’s Grand Prix was RTR Block Sealed. Since I’ve been working quite a bit during this block, I haven’t gotten to draft or Sealed it very often but it’s a bit of a daunting task to build 3-color decks (I REALLY like to stick to two. In fact, it’s hard to get me to draft decks other than G/W. I make it work.) for me. Without much practice, I delved into the world of RTR Sealed. If you weren’t already aware, that includes 2 of each pack from the block.

I ended up with a pretty amazing Bant deck. Ruric Thar, Trostani’s Summoner, a few flyers to get the job done, and Plasm Capture. This being my first competitive tournament in quite some time (the last GP I had gone to was over a year ago in Anaheim), I was pretty nervous, which resulted in losing my first couple of rounds. After getting over my bout of nerves and resigning myself to not going too far in the tournament, I entered my 3rd round fairly relaxed. Besides, I loved being able to play at all. Working in a card shop really makes you appreciate the time you get to spend ACTUALLY playing. My stroke of luck probably came from that ease of mind. I won round 3, a friend of mine conceded to me in Round 4 to play in the side event, and then I won 4 more rounds STRAIGHT. Talk about a high. I’ve never done that well at ANY Magic tournament. When I used to draft, I would go fairly far but it wasn’t really the same feeling. I was riding the adrenaline rush, crushing my opponents, and then doing victory hip-thrust dances all the way to my friends after I’d won. It felt even more amazing to sit across from an opponent who obviously didn’t think I’d win (because, I mean, what sort of bubbly, talkative, nice-looking girl is any good at MAGIC THE GATHERING), and then watch the smile drain off of his face as we signed the match slip saying I’d won in 2. I was really living the dream, all the way up until Round 9. I don’t know if anyone was following my Tumblr posts at the time, but I mentioned that I actually wouldn’t even be able to play in Day 2, even if I did make it. I was leaving for Vegas in the early waking hours of Sunday. So, already feeling like a winner for how well I had done in the GP so far, I made the conscious decision to give my Round 9 opponent the win, even if I ended up winning. Well, my opponent crushed me pretty soundly in the last round…. but I felt good about it. I followed him online the next day to see how well he did and was pretty impressed. He was a friendly guy who was more than willing to chat with me, so I wanted him to do well.

I ended up placing somewhere in the 200s in the Grand Prix, but I felt like I had won the whole thing. I’m not a super competitive person, so I hadn’t gotten my hopes up about the tournament at all. In all the past ones I’ve competed in, I haven’t really been much of a contender. But here was some validation. My whole playing group was proud of me and I felt honored to have so many great people behind me.

So, with a killer start, I boarded my flight to Las Vegas.

Grand Prix Las Vegas - Modern Masters Sealed - End Record 0-1-1

I spent about a week in Vegas to really be able to enjoy myself. Some of my good friends from high school came with me and we hit up the casinos. I’ve only ever been to Vegas once before and I wasn’t 21 at the time so I couldn’t experience it in all its glory (or expense). After spending about $100 a day on food and gambling (and believe me, that was hard enough already), and after seeing the Blue Man Group (seriously, WORTH IT), I was excited to hop back on the Magic bus. 

My friends from the shop and I had been planning this trip for quite some time so I waited for them to arrive so we could check into our hotel (we stayed at the Golden Nugget, only a short taxi cab away from the Convention Center). I had doled out the money for the VIP treatment at the GP, and it was a good thing I did. On Friday, I arrived to see an extremely long line going out the door and around the building. That was to check in if you had already registered online. Yikes. I later heard that only around 100 people got in who hadn’t already registered online. There were a lot more than that who got rejected after waiting in an exceedingly long line.

I, myself, waited in about a hour-long line. Picked up my playmat (have you seen that? Sword of Fire and Ice. It’s amazing) and my nifty pin. Then I went to compete in the free event for registering. It was basically pack wars with Modern Master packs. My pack was awful. I lost the first round of that and then went to wait with my friends. After they were in line for about 2 hours or so, it was announced that they didn’t have any more playmats (and hadn’t for some time), so the rest of the people in line could just grab their promo and go. So, basically, pointless line-waiting for all.

In general, it seemed like the company that was running the event (I think it was Cascade Games) wasn’t very prepared for the volume of people who appeared. There were at least 4500 people there (and that’s just the people who registered, imagine how many friends, family, etc were there!) and we were pretty squished. Fortunately for me, my VIP status gave me a bit of a perk in terms of room and work. After figuring out where I needed to sit (and that was a real challenge, we were all divided up into 4 colors), I received my brown bag of cards and realized that part of the VIP perks was having my packs already opened and inventoried for me. I don’t know if I really wanted that to be done as I love opening packs, but I accepted it. After going through the switching and passing process to make sure I got a random pool of cards, I ended up with a truly awful Sealed pool. Two Death Clouds. I got a foil Death Cloud. WAT. NO. My best card was the red dragon from Kamigawa, so naturally, I made a mono-red deck full of really awful burn cards and that.

My first round was against a guy who hadn’t played Magic since before they got rid of mana burn. We tied due to the game going on FAR too long. I would have called slow-playing but it actually seemed like he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Round two, I played another individual who admitted it had been “a while” since he had played. Not a very great start. We played game 1, which I won, and then in Game 2 he tried to take back attackers after declaring them. Not wanting to sound like a jerk, I asked him if he was trying to take back a move he had already declared and he got pretty salty.

“Are you really going to be like that?!” Yes. Yes I am. This is a competitive REL event. You can bet your ass I’m going to be like that. Hell, I am ALL ABOUT that. 

Despite my call, he ended up winning that game and then the last game in turns for a win.

Not feeling very awesome about my deck or my day thus-far, I decided to drop and go enjoy Vegas with another of my friends who hadn’t had a very lucky day. Admittedly, I wish I had played a few rounds longer… but there wasn’t much I could do about that after the fact. As a general rule, I’m going to make sure I play at least 4-5 rounds in every GP I attend to at least feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.

I went back the next day to get a bunch of cards signed since I had friends who paid me to do so and I got my own cards signed too. It was a bit of a pain because they only allotted 2 hours to the VIP crowd and that wasn’t enough time to get through more than maybe 2 lines tops. After running around all day, getting my packs for the free VIP event since I wasn’t really keen on playing, and buying whatever I might want from vendors, we left the Cashman Center and enjoyed the rest of our night in Vegas. I ate at a place called the Heart Attack Grill, where they spank you if you don’t finish your burger. 

I finished my burger. To my friends’ dismay.

And with empty wallets, we left Vegas a little more dismayed than we came.

Grand Prix Miami - Standard Constructed - Didn’t Even Play

Fast forward a week and I was on the long 20-hour drive to Miami. Did you know that you have to pay about $20 on the Florida Turnpike to even get to Miami? That or get a Sun Pass. I don’t know what a Sun Pass is so I doled out the monies. We took my car (a little blue Honda Civic) to Miami until Monday morning, when we made the 20-hour trek back home. 

What’s relevant here? Well, I didn’t really have a Standard deck built (much less one that made me comfortable!), so I didn’t have any desire to play. I DID, however, have a desire to meet/get cards signed by Greg Staples, Eric Deschamps, and Zoltan Boros. Greg Staples has done some of my favorite angels and that was reason enough for me to go. My 3 traveling companions (and good friends) actually played in the tournament. I’m proud to say that one of the shop regulars (and just an all-around awesome guy & friend) made it to Day 2 with his Jund deck! Yes, I am a proud shop-mother. Yes, I boast all over facebook. No, I have no shame. 

Ladies?

I waited in line on Friday and Saturday to get my cards signed by all the artists. I’m pleased to say that they were all really kind and friendly (especially Zoltan Boros! I knew he didn’t speak much English but that guy was a total sweetheart all weekend! No card limit! THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL!). There was a slight annoyance at the fact that I had to pay Greg Staples $1 per card I wanted signed in gold or silver. That also included my poster of Baneslayer Angel. And that’s on top of the fact that I had to scour the GP for a foil Baneslayer Angel because NOT GETTING IT SIGNED IN FOIL IS NOT AN OPTION OKAY!? 

Right… well…. I stayed in a pretty sketchy motel that was about 15 minutes from the convention center. It was an easy drive. Unfortunately, we only got to hit up the beach once… and that one time it started raining. We didn’t let that ruin our day, though. I mean… you go to the beach to get wet, right? 

OH BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT. After feeling like a weird stalker at the previous two Grand Prix (keep in mind, all of these are only a week apart), I finally got a chance to meet Brian Kibler. If you know me, you know that I love Brian Kibler. He is my favorite pro player. I’ve always been wayyyyyyyy too embarrassed to go up and talk to him myself, so, instead, my boyfriend went up to him as he was passing us and asked him if he would come embarrass me since I was such a huge fan. He shook my actual hand. And talked. And… sort of accused us of stalking him. But in a cool, Brian Kibler-joking way. Yeahhhhhh! 

So, as usual, let’s go over the important points of this article, for those of you who are inevitably going to claim TL:DR.

  • Three GPs in three weeks is exhausting and leaves you broke. Especially if one of those GPs is in LAS VEGAS THE PLACE OF DREAMS. 
  • GP Houston: It’s an amazing feeling when you finally beat your own record at this big of a tournament. It was a huge confidence boost to go 6-3 and I was happy to have many of my tumblr followers supporting me all the way, as well as my amazing friends IRL who watched me do awkward hip-thrust victory dances across the George R. Brown Convention Center. 
  • GP Vegas: The VIP was way worth the extra monies. A bad Sealed pool is exactly that: BAD. But, it’s worth it to stick with the tournament for at least 4-5 rounds, even if you’re losing. You paid to play (and for that SWEET SWEET PLAYMAT), so do yourself a favor and do what you paid for.
  • OTHER NOTES: Update yourself on the state of Magic rulings if it’s been a while since you’ve played. No one likes to hear “I HAVEN’T PLAYED MAGIC IN 500000000 YEARS, WHAT’S NEW?” from across the table.
  • And, yes, it is a Competitive REL event, you CANNOT take moves back. 
  • GP Miami: I WILL go to a GP just to see an artist. My friend who made Day 2 is a BOSS (Again, congrats, Ashton!). Sketchy motels are just that. There are some interesting places to eat in Miami if you look… and I love food. 
  • I MET BRIAN KIBLER ERMAGERD
  • I’ve realized that not every GP is run exactly perfectly. In fact, most aren’t. 
  • I’ve learned to always ask a judge if you’re lost/confused. 
  • Don’t expect a vacation out of a GP unless you are staying for extra days. You could always make Day 2!
  • Give yourself the extra day to experience a place you’ve never visited!
  • I’m poor now. Decent, college-kid poor. Spaghetti-O’s taste SO GEWD THO. 
  • AND MEETING TUMBLR FOLLOWERS IN PERSON IS SO AMAZING. I feel famous. Seriously, thank you to all the people who came up to me in my 3 week travels. Y'all confuse the poop out of my friends. It’s hilarious. And you’ve all been really kind. 

To tie us up, here’s what I really want y'all to know. 

I’ve traveled to states and cities that I never dreamed I would get to visit, all because of Magic. Magic has helped me achieve my dream of traveling and I intend to keep using it for that purpose. Right now, I work in the game and I run my blog as well as write for MTGNoob. I love doing all these things, but my passion is travel. I can never express how infinitely grateful I am to Magic: the Gathering for allowing me to achieve my dream and have the utmost fun doing it. If you can scrounge up the money (and believe me, I know how hard that can be!), I highly encourage ANY and EVERYone to travel somewhere they’ve never been and compete in a Magic tournament. It could just be an excuse to go - but it’s a GREAT excuse! 

Allow yourself to experience the amazing WORLD-WIDE community that Magic has to offer, because it’s huge and it’s enriching and you won’t regret the knowledge you gain from it. Don’t be afraid to let it sort-of consume your life. Magic, just like traveling is for me, can be more than just a hobby - it can be a PASSION!

Love,

VedalkenGhurl

5

GP Houston/GP Vegas

My first and second Grand Prix events (also back-to-back) were a success!

My goal in Houston was to win at least one round and to get the playmat. I got the playmat (which I love), technically won one round after my opponent failed to show in round four (then dropped because it seemed silly to play, beat someone and then drop), stayed in an awesome hotel, shared a cab with David Ochoa, and made a ton of friends!

Spent the next week in Vegas wandering the strip, seeing Cirque du Soleil, sleeping in, swimming, gambling, and doing whatever else Zach and I felt like doing.

Vegas GP was a lot of fun. Wasn’t planning to get a playmat, but did because of our friends who showed up early to stand in line. Sold it for $65 and covered the main event entry fee (I understand they’re selling for more on eBay now, but oh well).

I didn’t get anything memorable and lost immediately during mini masters, but was randomly selected to play in the Grand Prix “Preview" event. I opened a Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique, and Cryptic Command. And since it was the preview event (and passing pools wasn’t required), I got to keep them too. :) Ended the preview 3-2 and opened a Kiki-Jiki in one of my prize packs.

Main event I didn’t pull anything great, but was passed a foil Æther Vial, some other meh money cards (2 Kitchen Finks) and decent green/white deck. I won my first round, tied my second, lost my third (made a really dumb mistake), but kept playing for fun all day anyway. I ended the day at 5-3-1. Saw some of my same friends I had met in Houston, and made some new ones in Vegas. Even met two people from Tumblr!

Overall, I love events that bring people with common interests together. I loved seeing all the nerdy t-shirts, chatting with people randomly, and getting to play Magic with a bunch of new faces.

Thanks to anyone who was there! :)