I want to start by saying that is going to be entirely opinion based, if I am blatantly wrong on any of this feel free and let me know.

Magic tournaments range from from barely 8 people, to filling convention centers. They also range from cards that have been around for two decades, to cards that have just been opened. What I find so fascinating is the similar draw the two manage to have.

A Grand Prix is a relatively big deal to any magic player that either lives nearby, or plays that format. This is seemingly reasonable, but the actual draw to the event is much more. These events are massive, but the main event loses over half of its competitors by the end of day one. Obviously everyone can’t day two, and expecting to isn’t always reasonable. There is a constant stream of scheduled and on demand events, as well as a bounty of venders. As overwhelming as this can be to a new player, it still isn’t all that these events have to offer. These events are one of the best times to trade, buy, sell, play, learn, teach, watch, do anything magic related. Even after all of that, I still believe what makes these events so significant is the comradery. These events are packed wall to wall with people who are fluent in a game, everyone wants to win, have fun, to make money, and to leave with a sense of reward. Unfortunately, achieving all of the above is rare.

We play a game that is seemingly limitless, and within that it is easy to get lost.

Ahmonket has been relatively kind to me, so far. However I haven’t been able to play the format as much as I would have liked. Going into this event I was relatively familiar with the set, but not with how the games played out. I built my deck, and after round one I realized that three cards should have just been switched. This is a high cost in a Grand Prix, and my valuable lesson came at roughly the same price as my entry fee. All of my games were very close, often either building up to stalled board states, or just stalling out in general. At the end of my game in round four I extended my hand to my opponent, revealed the three lands in my hand, chatted a bit, then checked drop. This is not the worst I have done in an event, but it is a far cry from the best.

It was oddly humbling, and I couldn’t figure out why. I walked around, entered a draft, all while trying to make sense of why I hadn’t rage quit, thrown something, or blamed the Theros gods for the new ones seeming weird. This wasn’t modern, or a brand new standard format, I didn’t get to show up with something spicy, surprise people, and rack up victories off of the surprise favor alone. In this limited Grand Prix I had to play as fair as everyone else with the cards that I had opened. This is where incremental value is huge, and knowing all of the interactions is crucial. I kept losing the tiniest of battles, which cost me the war, and my missteps were summed up by my poor record.

I realized after drafting and then venturing around Richmond that I wasn’t there for limited, I was in Richmond because I am accustomed to playing this game on a high level, even if it is in a format that I am not properly prepared for.

Testing is very important, and in new limited formats it is hard to become truly familiar. If you buy a box to draft, it will not have every rare in the set, it may even be missing an uncommon or two. If you test solely by sealed you may realize that the people in your pre/release may not know what they are doing, and that isn’t adequate practice. I was very aware of all of these things going into this event, and by making the smallest mistakes I made the day much more difficult for myself.

To me all of this sums up the glory of the game. I was able to notice my mistakes, mentally prepare not to repeat them, I was able to travel, I was able to see friends, familiar faces, and rivals, I was granted access to not only magic, but to a gathering. This is truly what makes this game worth while. I fully intend to continue to grow and compete in this game. In the past year I have managed to have a taste of true success, it may starkly contrast with my Richmond performance, but that only opens opportunities for greater understanding, and the potential for greater success. 


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