I’ve been planning for Grand Prix San Jose for about two months.
I have registered for the main event, I have arranged for a place to crash, I have made sure that the kids will be okay while I’m off drowning in Magic cards and events for a whole weekend.
There are some concrete, direct things you should do as part of the big event experience, and I’m here to share a few tips and tricks for what will make the event best for you.
#1: Sell Early!
I’ve got a box of cards that I’m going to buylist, mostly commons and uncommons from a collection I bought in December. Guy came into the shop with two boxes of loose cards asking $20, I snap bought, and got to work picking. (Luckily, I was in the midst of writing up older sets’ pickable commons and uncommons in my PucaPicks series on Thursdays, available to Protraders, so picking was quick for me.) I’ve also got a bunch of Commander 2011 cards that I’m ready to sell, and when I get to the event I’ll know if I want cash from a vendor or store credit, depending on what they have at what prices.
I’ve found that when bringing a lot of things to sell, I want to do that early in the weekend, when vendors have more cash and more time. I’ll have it sorted, unsleeved, and ready to work quickly. This isn’t #mtgblueprint stuff, just a general note about when to sell large amounts of cards.
Individual cards are different, and can be sold whenever. I’d sure be cashing out on Walking Ballista ASAP though.
#2: Pack Lightly!
I’m going to bring one, maybe two Commander decks, and one trade binder, and some sleeves for the main event. That’s it. I want to make sure that my bag isn’t overly full, and while I’d love to play a lot of Commander or Cube, there just won’t be time.
#3: Plan on the unique side events.
Selling a stack of cards is going to empower silly things for me, like Full-Box Sealed, an event which I was at first dismissive of but I have to admit that it sounds more and more awesome. Ridiculously overpowered Sealed, with the possibility of adding value to opening a single box? Sign me up.
Chaos drafts are appealing, or double-prize queues, Frontier events, or single-match drafts…the list goes on. Look at the event website and figure stuff out ahead of time.
I can Cube or Commander at other times, but this event has some stuff I can’t do at other times, and that’s the experience I want to maximize.
#4: Socialize as much or as little as you wish.
This one took me a while to figure out, because I didn’t notice what I was doing. If you can play events with friends, that’s really great and something you should do. Mainly, though, you should absolutely not take any time away from stuff you want to do in order to wait for someone, especially when dealing with food or breaks.
#5: Bring water, and pack food whenever possible.
Self-explanatory. Packing a sandwich and chips is pure value, both in terms of the money not spent at lunch and the time that is saved at the venue. Save your budget for breakfast, dinner, or cards instead.
#6: Sell your playmat, and don’t pick up extra life pads.
If I can get $5 or $10 for the mat at the event, I’ll usually take it. I realize that there’s the potential to make a few dollars more if I wait and eBay it, but unless the playmat is something special (truly awesome card, or double-sided, etc.) it’s not worth the hassle of storing the mat and carrying it around. I do the same thing with leftover cards. I keep rares and some uncommons, the commons I’ll leave for someone else that has the time, energy, and space to pack 5k boxes full of bulk commons. It’s just not worth it to me.
#7: Don’t over-plan!
I learned this lesson when planning vacations. If I plan on doing something every single day, then I won’t have time for appreciation or relaxation, and isn’t that the point? I want to leave time for variation in the things I want to do, or maybe I’m going to go on a tear in the Main Event and I won’t get to any of it. (Is the EV of two extra drafts on Sunday worth the stuff I’m missing out on? I hope to find out!)
Big events can be stressful, but they can be a lot of fun. If you are heading to the GP, use the hashtags and see who else pops up!