Friday, 5 June 2015

Grand Prix Vegas - Casually Disappointed

Grand Prix Las Vegas 2015 was, by far, the biggest Magic: The Gathering tournament ever held.

In addition to the 7,500+ players that played in the regular weekend event, several thousand also came for the side events and general shenanigans that surrounded the event. #Makemagichistory was all over Twitter and Reddit. 

My wife and I chose to travel to Las Vegas for our yearly vacation, with the Grand Prix a nice excuse to make our way south of the border.

Sadly, our experience with Grand Prix Vegas was memorable for all of the wrong reasons. We were part of that not-so-vocal minority that didn't have the "most epic time ever, dude!"

GP Las Vegas ran from Thursday, May 28th, to Sunday, June 1st, 2015.

Thursday and Friday were purely for side events, while Saturday and Sunday also contained the big main event.

We intended to attend Thursday and Friday for the side events, as we're not interested in the large main event and had a trip to the Grand Canyon to make.

We arrived Thursday morning, and were astonished at the pure size of the convention hall and how busy it was already. We thought Thursday would be a fairly quiet day, but I think the attendance on that day dwarfed that of most any regular event.

It seems that the event organizers and judges were also overwhelmed by the unexpected surge, as all events were well behind schedule. Those who signed up for on-demand drafts waited over an HOUR to even start their events, and those are supposed to be the fastest-running.

My wife and I had preregistered for a 2HG (Two-headed Giant event) for US$80. With the exchange rate, it was just over $100 Canadian. Owch! :(

As is the theme of the post, this was a disappointing experience for us, for the most part.

To start things off, the whole event started about 45 minutes late. This was 45 minutes before we even got our packs of cards to build our decks! Add on time to build our decks, and it was a good 90+ minutes before we even played our first game.

Rounds are supposed to take 50 minutes, and they usually run a little long. This time? Each round lasted 75-90 minutes, and this was a 5-round event. We seemed to spend more time waiting around than actually playing. Ugh.

We certainly enjoyed the process of building our decks and PLAYING the game, and we got to meet some pretty cool people from all parts of the USA. Our first round opponents even cracked a foil Tarmogoyf (A cool $300 or so), so we didn't feel too bad for beating them.

For the actual tournament, we went 2-1 and then dropped. The proceedings simply took too damn long, and Vegas had other things to explore. We intended to play all 5 rounds, but not if we're playing the Doctor Waiting Room Experience.

Our pool?

Well, a certain friend of mine said about the cost: "You'll probably make up the value in the cards you open!"

Let's see how we did..

For those who don't play the game (much), the card in the lower left corner is the only card worth more than 50 cents. (It's about $13 now)

That's right, we pretty much got one of the most worthless pools we could have possibly opened. No mythics, and one Surrakar Spellblade, a card so bad that I wouldn't taint my drinks by using it as a coaster.

On the other hand, we actually had a good pool for the tournament. Despite the lack of money, my wife and I had pretty good cards and decks that complimented each other. I think we could have ended up 4-1 if we had played the last two rounds.

My wife played the GOOD deck of the two: Gw Ramp/Tokens.

With limited bombs like Ant Queen, Mirror Entity, and Wilt-Leaf Liege, combined with 3 ramp spells, we finished off the top of the curve with 2(!) Pelakka Wurms and 2 Ulamog's Crusher. There was so much beef in this deck that we could open up a Fatburger franchise.

I went on the support role with a durdly black-blue deck with some random artifacts. My role was to kill and/or bounce creatures, and make sure Sarah's army destroyed the opponents.

Yes, 3 Aethersnipes and 3 Nameless Inversions.

My wife and I make a good team, and our play styles certainly paired well with the cards we got. The only match we lost was due to a Primeval Titan (expensive bomb) that we couldn't quite deal with. I would love to try a 2HG event again, as long as it is well-run.

Two other things contributed to us having a less-than-stellar time at Grand Prix Las Vegas

1. Artist Alley was a nightmare!

We were fortunate to get a bunch of autographs from some of the lesser-known artists, but weren't able to get any from the popular artists.

Long lineups are expected, but many jerks decided to bring 40-50 cards for the artist to sign, and the line would barely move. Is it worth it to wait an hour for autographs? Hardly. I wish the artists told these idiots "I'll sign 12, and then you go to the back of the line".

2. We didn't know anybody else!

Many people attending GP Vegas managed to meet up with friends, have parties, and have a real experience out of it. Nobody we know, apart from a local vendor, made the trek to Vegas. Being casual players, most of the people we play with have never even been to a Friday Night Magic, much less a Grand Prix.

Even the podcasters and writers I correspond with said Vegas was too far/expensive to get to.

Thus, it was kind of a lonely feeling being at a large event where we miss out on the social aspect.


We were certainly happy to travel to Vegas and be part of this experience, but it was definitely not as fun as we expected it to be. We didn't even bother going back on Friday for drafts, since waiting around for hours didn't seem like a great use of vacation time.

Yes, we're the silent minority that came away from this event the same way we came away from the city of Las Vegas: "That's it? It was expensive and overrated"

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