Greetings, and welcome to the second part of my 2-piece series on exceedingly nerdy travels. For this bit, let’s focus on one particular MTG tournament. No, let’s move beyond that.
Let’s talk about THE MTG tournament. One of the greatest community-held events ever: Grand Prix Las Vegas.
Wizards of the Coast-to-Coast
First off, you’ll remember from my last piece that I’d just come off the back of SCGCon in Roanoke, VA. Seriously, back home for roughly 18 hours before flying out to the desert in June. Enough time to shower, sleep, and (mostly) mentally prepare for the trip out west. Everything is fine, no worries.
Land in Vegas, get a cab, find a hotel because you arrived a day earlier than everyone else. No big.
Meeting the friends who offered to hang out AND give you a room for the week: oh, hell yeah.
I said it in my last article, and I’ll say it here, a support network or anchor point group is vital. Whenever traveling, find a group beforehand that’s also going. For an introvert, even coming off of another convention, that connection will be super helpful. Whether it’s complaining about the heat together, throwing down some games, or grabbing dinner, a group is ideal for travel.
Turns out that we were staying in the same place I stayed last year, though a different apartment suite. That meant that instead of an utterly clueless tourist, I was now the only mostly clueless tour guide, showing the best ways to get to the con hall and back. The night before the convention began, the group and I hung out, talked, and figured out what our plan was for the following day. I would set up camp in the convention halls, play as many games as I could, find artists and cosplayers, and generally soak it all in. They, on the other hand, would visit the convention center for a few hours, then go explore Vegas. Something about a strip and old Vegas. I dunno.
Going in the next day, this was the sight that greeted me, towering over the crowds.
Oh yeah, these were my people. This was going to be fun.
Fanfare and Festivities
Unless you’ve attended the same convention for a dozen years, nothing prepares you for the first moment on the showroom floor. Hell, even if you’ve attended every year, the differences will shock you. I was shocked by how much smaller this year’s convention seemed to be, comparing it to last year. But the layout was similar enough to find my way around the con hall. Competitive EDH tournaments, side events, vending machines, and con food spots: all familiar markers.
But an important reminder: just because something happened last year, doesn’t mean it’ll happen again this year. This time, there was no art show, there were no events in the side rooms, everything happened in the main convention hall. Schedules change, events change, plans change. Unless entire buildings relocate, you should be able to get to where you’re going.
But as for what’s happening when you get there? Who knows.
A quick summary: commander side events, lunch from a food truck, and a freaking WEDDING. Panels, live Dungeons & Dragons, artists and cosplayers everywhere. Streaming a draft of a 25-year-old set with some crazy and expensive cards showing up. Meetups with old friends, making new ones, and raising money to help a community member in an emergency. Dinner at a fancy restaurant with members of LoadingReadyRun, The Command Zone, Jumbo Commander, TCGPlayer, cosplayers, game designers, and fans. And, on the last night, a quiet couple of games with a roommate while two others slept off their excitement.
A week of fun, sun, and spending too much money at the biggest Magic event ever. Followed up by a night in the same hotel I stayed in the first night because the event ended a day earlier than I expected, several hours in the airport waiting for my flight, and landing around the time most people are waking up. And con flu.
Oh, con flu, you rascal.
MTG: For You and Me
Magic has been a big part of my life for a few years now. It’s allowed me to make friends I wouldn’t have otherwise, given me the chance to travel, and even got me here writing for TGE! It’s a complex, maddening, wonderful game that lets shy nerds bond together and talk in a common language. Last year was the first GP I’d ever attended, one of the first trips I’d taken completely on my own, and one of the greatest weeks of my life. This year had its ups and downs, but still showed how great the game and the community around it can be.
Have you ever attended a Grand Prix or any huge cons? What did you enjoy the most? What made it so special for you? Tell us the stories and share your memories below, if you like.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to sleep for a month. Cheers!
I like weird and silly and scary things. Sometimes I talk about them.
I enjoy gaming, sci-fi/fantasy books, well-written stories, Magic: the Gathering, and caffeine. I like things that make me think, feel, and react.
Praise Cthulhu, hail Rakdos, enjoy the weirdness. And remember: a good story can come from anywhere.