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Magic: the Gathering Grand Prix

I participated in my first Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix this weekend. (Magic is a collectible card game. Grand Prix are the biggest Magic events open to everyone.) My brother convinced me to go since this Grand Prix was hosted our own backyard, at the Austin Convention Center.

I'm not a professional Magic player. I started playing in 1998 and have been playing casually since then. My friends and I most commonly play vintage with each other. Not too long ago I tried my hand at playing vintage (and standard) competitively, but it was expensive and demoralizing. It did turn me on to drafts and sealed tournaments, though. I won a small sealed tournament at a release event a few years back. Recently, I've been playing a lot of drafts.

All this to say: I'm well-versed in Magic. I know the game, cards, and formats well.

I did not like the Grand Prix.

For starters, it took entirely too long. Nine 50-minute rounds of Swiss means at least nine hours of play. The event started at nine in the morning, and we left at about five. Round six had just ended when we left. We had been there for eight hours and were only two-thirds of the way done.

Even with all that time, I still felt rushed. We built our decks in 30 minutes, which went by entirely too fast. Bustling back and forth from the pairings to the tables ate up a good chunk of the day. There was hardly any time to eat, go to the restroom, or just take a break.

Starting every round with the same deck quickly got tedious. (This isn't a problem with the Grand Prix as much as it is with the sealed format.) After the first game I recognized several problems with my deck, so I had to sideboard at least four cards every round. It may be that I am a poor deck builder, but my brother and our friend had the same issue.

And although the people and atmosphere were great, the smell was not. Calling it con funk is putting it nicely. Every time I stepped outside and came back in, the smell hit me. It was like a locker room. Admittedly, not much can be done about this. It happens any time a large number of nerds get together.

So that's what I didn't like about it. But that's not to say I didn't have fun. I did. I had a great time. I just never want to do it again.