Howdy, everyone! Guess who’s back from a convention tour?
I am…yeah, my name is right there. Anticlimactic.
I had the pleasure and good fortune to travel to 2 different conventions over the past few weeks. Specifically, Magic: the Gathering conventions. Games were played, friends were made, product bought, connections reestablished, and the inevitable con flu contracted. I’m mostly fine now, promise.
But while the events are still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share some of the details and events with you. A sort of walk-along narrative, if you will. Absolutely unrelated to the fact that my phone charger cable crapped out on me and I couldn’t vlog much of it. Total coincidence, that. Though I did manage to snag a few pictures for the TGE Instagram. So that’s nice.
In a similar vein to my piece on convention fever, and with a cheeky plug to TGE’s Instagram page (don’t look at my photos, I’m an absolute derp), I’m going to attempt a recreation of the last few weeks of my life. Not the best weeks, not the brightest weeks, but some damn good time spent away from home.
Travel and Arrival/Support Network
Protip for anyone about to go on a long car ride: audiobooks. Get some audiobooks that are going to keep you occupied. If sleep isn’t an option, a good book is more effective than a sugar-free energy drink.
Another tip for anyone traveling beyond their stomping grounds: make sure you double-check the pricetags. Just general advice, no specific examples here. Caffeine and lodgings cost more than you realize, and have more discounts than you expect.
I wound up making it to Roanoke a solid day before the con started. Here’s where I met the first hurdle: general event guidance. If you’re an introvert like myself, you might try to find an anchor point so you know where things are. Shoutout to dpkrause for putting up with my shenanigans.
After my arrival at the start of the event, things started to be a lot less terrifying for an introvert. It’s surprisingly freeing to walk into a room full of people who share the same interests. Artists and professionals and celebrity players; casuals and competitive hopefuls. There were plenty of tables with 3 other players where the best introduction was a deckbox and a “hi”. Even made an impression in some of the games. Definitely my kind of place.
Finding your Tribe
Dovetailing off the idea of a support network, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group going to the event. A few members of a Discord channel had planned a meetup beforehand, and I was invited to join. We met for dinner, played games at the event, and had a group of familiar people. Being a shy person, the idea of a core group within the huge crowd was fantastic. It’s one thing to share interests with a stranger at a convention, it’s another to nerd out about them with friends.
A night of trivia and overpriced drinks led to my first experiences with the Pauper format and new friends. After that came Indian food, awkward picture taking, cosplayers, plenty of games, and a little bit of salt. Add to it the ability to reintroduce myself to people like Wedge, The Professor, and the Commander VS crew, and that’s a solid few days.
What was great about SCGCon was threefold, at least for me. One, it allowed me to travel somewhere new, and meet people I would never have otherwise. Two, it was well-organized and inclusive. If you showed up with a deck, you were free to play. Any behavior unbecoming was either resolved quickly or largely absent from the event. Three, it was largely casual. Sure, there was the main event being broadcast, and competitive players swarmed the tables. But in our little command zone, the unspoken rule was “we’re all here to play the game”. No stakes, no money, no worries. I could throw down against Justin Parnell or Stephen Green or Jon Suarez as easily as anybody, schedules permitting. I hung out with Wedge before medical issues hung him up for a week. The Prof complained about his flight leaving hours later than scheduled. It’s not a bad thing to humanize your heroes, but it’s a good thing to see them as peers. After all, we only want to play.
The Long Journey Home
I made it from Ohio to Virginia on less than a full tank of gas, and back again on about as much. No real point to make, I’m just pleased I could.
SCGcon was a phenomenal break from a rather turbulent year for me, and the chance to relax with a favorite game is always welcome. It was hectic, strenuous, chaotic, expensive, humid, and beautifully fantastic. I miss that weekend, as often happens with a great convention. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it back in December, but if possible I’ll be there. Deck and mat ready, strategy planned, and shenanigans aplenty.
Do you have a favorite con memory? Feel like sharing? Please do in the comments! It’s fun to discuss what makes cons cool. For my next article, we’ll be shifting gears a bit towards the second part of my Geeking on the Go series: Grand Prix Las Vegas.