Mark Rosewater is fond of saying that Magic is not one game, but several games under one umbrella.
My trip to Atlantic City started Friday night. I was playing a game of "how late can I stay up and still function in the morning?" I had zero intention of playing in the event. I wanted to go down to cheer of other players from the Twenty Sided Store and just be part of the event. After too little sleep (but somehow still enough) I stumbled out of my apartment, bag filled to the brim on my first quest: coffee.
I live in Park Slope, a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for a sense of elitism. While I can deal without that, it does mean I have some fantastic places to get coffee within walking distance. Sadly, none of them were open when I was getting on the road, which meant I had to settle for Dunkin' Donuts.
The ride down was uneventful until I reached Atlantic City. At that point, my GPS decided to play the game of not catching up to where I actually was. This in turn led me to getting back on the highway and having to pay the toll two extra times - once leaving, and once coming back.
So far, that's two games I lost.
I finally park and make my way into the convention center. The first thing I notice is how nice the staff are. This makes all the difference in the world. I've been to many events where the event site staff are unhappy and mean to the patrons. That was not the case at Atlantic City. Being kind matters.
I quickly ran into the Twenty Sided Crew, testing during their byes. I said my hellos and watched a few games before continuing my trek through the hall. I eventually came to my friend and Pauper Cube compatriot Adam Styborksi, writer for the Mothership and editor-in-chief at Gathering Magic.
Adam is a machine. Writing every two weeks is hard - he writes every week on top of managing a website, holding a full time job, having a newborn at home, and traveling multiple weekends to events. The man is made of energy, and his love of the game shines through. We catch up and he comments on my Twenty Sided shirt, saying he's heard only good things about the store. On our walk, of course we run into Luis (the owner of said store) and I promptly make the introduction. I hope The Stybs will be swinging by Brooklyn soon (fingers crossed).
Eventually, the subject turns to my Pauper Cube. Adam played a huge role in helping me get the Cube started, writing about his own. Adam's feature on my stack of commons at was a high light of my weekend. It is still cool when other people are interested in what I have to say. I hope that never changes.
In the time it took for Adam to take the pictures, a number of his acquaintances sat down at our table and started up a game of Commander. So of course Adam and I joined. Going around the table, in turn order (forgive me if I get the names wrong) was Dave with Gisela, Andrew with Skullbriar, Adam with new Isperia, my Lyzoda, Sida's Kami of the Crescent Moon, and Rob with Orzhov Ghost Council. The game moved at a crisp pace, with Sida applying early pressure with group hug card draw and Iron Maiden. Eventually he was neutralized and Dave started applying pressure. He was able to get his general into play and swung at me. Thankfully, I was able to Corpse Dance a Shriekmaw into play and survive. Dave then promptly died. All this time, Sida was quietly building up his little Jace and won from no where thanks to the combination of Laboratory Maniac and Leveler.
I then went to catch a quick lunch with my friend Andrew. After Andrew led us off into the wilds of Atlantic City, his friend (whose name escapes me) and I overruled him in favor of Applebee's, simply due to proximity to the convention center. Seeing as it was the first real thing I had eaten all day I was not thrilled with the choice, but my stomach won over and food was consumed.
I made my way back to the site and caught up with Nate (of Walk the Planes fame). We chatted about, of all things, sports (and my poor choice in teams). Nate is one of the genuinely great guys in Magic and it's always awesome to see what content he and Shawn put out after events. After a quick chat with Steve Sadin, the man responsible for hiring me at Star City, it was off to play some more. On my way to game, I got approached by multiple Twenty Siders who were bemoaning their fate, including some needing a ride home. Before long, my empty car had two passengers.
I got wrangled into another game of Commander with the same crew as before (less Adam, who was doing written coverage). In turn order, it was Rob with new Niv-Mizzet, Dave with Karador, Sida with his Kami deck again, me with Bruna, and Andrew with Nin, the Pain Artist. This game was epic. We remembered our death by Jace and Sida was an early target. Of course, I became the next biggest target thanks to Bruna wearing Eldrazi style pants. At some point, feature matches were announced and the table contemplated stopping to game to watch. Andrew and I pulled out our phones to try and use the Twitch.tv app to watch. Alas, we were not in a good coverage area.
At some point, Zac from Hipsters of the Coast came looking for me for a ride home, but didn't know I was the Alex he was looking for. The look on his face when he realized it was classic. Lirek also came looking for a ride and Obi-Wan, once empty, was now full.
The game continued, with multiple huge swings, including an Omniscience fueled counter war between Rob (who owned the enchantment) and Andrew. Eventually, After three hours, Andrew realized he could do nothing and gracefully bowed out. Dave cast Living Death and ending up sacrificing a Lord of Extinction to Disciple of Bolas, drawing his library and losing. I was able to cast Bruna again and swung at Rob for the win.
This write up does not do the game justice.
I made my way back to the Twenty Sided Crew and chatted with Luis and others, mostly about how awesome the store is. Eventually, my crew assembled and we made our way through the foggy land of New Jersey back to Brooklyn. The car ride back was full of life lessons, mostly for Lirek (who will be off to college in the fall) and of course, Magic.
I did not play one game of tournament Magic this weeken. My official record in games played was 1-1, and that was against a combined eleven opponents. I might have lost the games of Coffee, Directions, and Food, but I won so much more. I won the games of Chats, Friends, and Memories. I won at Growing my Brand and Networking. MaRo is right- Magic is way more than one game. I wonder if he knows how many of those games aren't played with cards.