By: Cliff Daigle
GP Richmond is this weekend, and in case you hadn’t heard, it’s going to be the biggest Constructed event ever, and possibly the biggest Magic event ever. It’s closing in on the 4500 set this past summer at GP Las Vegas! That’s a ton of people coming to play, and if you’re going to it or some other large event, I’ve got some helpful ideas.
I’m always on a budget. I want to be on a budget for everything that isn’t cards, so I can go forth and buy the card that catches my eye. For instance, that sweet French Foil Angel of Despair, pimping out my Kaalia deck just a little bit more.
When you go to a big event, there’s a few tricks to keeping things at the right price, allowing you more time, money, and energy for playing Magic. Some of these are going to be self-evident, others might be things you haven’t considered. I offer this advice in the hopes that casual and competitive players alike can maximize their enjoyment.
Tip #1: Pack lightly.
If you’re going to a mega-event, the chances are that you’ll be there all day. You’re going to be hauling your backpack/duffel/luggage around for hours on end, so don’t overload yourself. Keep the binders and decks to a minimum. Unless you’ve planned to meet up with seven other people, leave the Cube at home. Bring three EDH decks, tops.
I’d also suggest that you make sure the things you need to play are easily accessible. Separate compartments, top-level organization, whatever method you use. Don’t be that person who sits down and then needs five minutes of digging to find your deck box for this event.
Tip #2: Bring your meals and drinks.
At GP Sacramento, the food inside the venue was around $8 for a sandwich and $4 for a bottle of water that is sold in packs of 36 at grocery stores. Large sodas, heavy on the ice, were $6.
Maybe you’re interested in losing an hour or two of side events and trading to leave the event and find a meal. Maybe you want to get away and take a break. Get a soft sided lunchbag, add a couple sandwiches, and go to town.
Preparing food and drink ahead of time is going to save you a lot of money and a lot of time. At a big event, every place within walking distance will have packs of players filling the lines and increasing wait times.
Tip #3: Security
It’s been said before and it bears repeating: you will have ZERO recourse if your cards are stolen. Unless you mark your cards with your name, Magic cards are less traceable than cash.
Everyone knows that Modern prices are going up across the board. It used to be that only Legacy and Vintage players had high-value cards, but pimped-out Commander decks have all sorts of goodies too.
Thieves know when they see a good target. When you play that foil Gaea’s Cradle, or flash a binder full of fetchlands, the mark is set upon you. Don’t engage in multiple trades at once. Don’t trade while playing a game. Don’t just hang your bag off the back of your seat.
It is cheap enough to look into renter’s insurance, especially through your auto insurance company. It’ll probably be less than $50/month, and you’ll need to update your card inventory regularly, but this is the only form of protection available.
Also: your car is not protection. There are many cautionary tales on various forums, Reddit and Twitter about thieves who broke into cars just for the cards. When one Modern deck can be worth $1000 or more, understand that a lot of people get very unscrupulous.
Tip #4: Pre-register
On-site registration is being phased out for GP-size events, but signing up ahead of time is a worthy option for many GP Trials and PTQs. You’re going to be doing a lot of waiting during events. Spare yourself the line at the beginning of the day.
Related to that is filling out your deck registration sheet ahead of time. It’s printable, available all over, and an easy way to prevent game losses due to sloppy paperwork.
Tip #5: Plan out your side events
I’ve never made Day 2 of a Grand Prix. I’ve made the Top 8 of a PTQ exactly once. So I’ve had a lot of chances to play in side events. Organizers will usually publish the schedules ahead of time. You will be able to plan out how many sealed events, drafts, or other constructed events will be available to you.
The scheduled side events are always notable for the prizes, and the formats. This is where you can randomly win a Commander’s Arsenal, or black Comic-Con planeswalkers, or uncut sheets.
There are also occasions where it’s just good value. Channelfireball has done this at the last two Limited GPs, running a ‘second chance GP’ sealed for $20. It’s hard to argue with a good price.
I am addicted to any event where $10 drafting is available. I will rare draft like a fiend at these, no matter the deck or format. It doesn’t matter to me if the prize is packs or a free draft, it’s the most fun way to open packs.
Tip #6: Buylisting
I always browse the buylists of vendors before big events. I will be interested in unloading old cards, or accessories, or picking up/dropping off orders.
At this weekend’s GP, prices are going to move a lot. This may be a time for you to cash out, or perhaps you want to listen to Travis and actually pick up more Modern pieces.
I’m not good enough with this format to tell you what to do, but seeing all these prices go up, it’s hard for me to look at my EDH decks and not think about selling some pieces.
At a minimum, think about buylisting things you open in drafts and the like. If you do several drafts in a row, you can make back most of the cash you spent, or choose store credit and snag that sweet foreign foil you’ve had your eye on.
I hope these tips help you enjoy your GP, be it Richmond or anywhere!