I was lucky enough to attend Gen Con this weekend! This four-day event ran Thursday through Sunday. It is a gaming paradise with so many options for every gamer. If you love games generally, Gen Con is great, offering debuts of so many games. You can try out all kinds of games and buy all sorts of games. If your love of games doesn't go much past Magic, Gen Con still has you covered! Tons of vendors selling cards and boxes. There are playmats, deckboxes, and even original tokens!
Plenty of artists were around to sign cards and sell art. And with 70,000 people there, you could always find someone who wanted to play!
All of this could be a little overwhelming.
Amongst all of this, I found a little top-secret tech to shift the experience from overwhelming to amazing!
While this shouldn't be particularly "secret tech" to anyone reading here, it was an eye-opener to plenty of people who came to the booth looking to sell cards. The team of employees moved quickly and kept any wait times to a minimum. I talked to my friend Omar about his experiences selling cards at Gen Con this year.
He initially sold cards to another store thinking the store credit he got there would make buying their cards a better deal. After selling cards to TCGplayer, he realized that wasn't the case since the buy prices were far better at TCGplayer. Omar felt like the buyers at other booths were estimating their prices while TCG seemed to have an exact price for every card he offered. Rather than be offered some round number for the whole stack of cards, TCGplayer listed the price for each card and paid accordingly.
"I wish I had brought my binder of foils, just to get rid of most of them… that misplay [selling to another booth before coming to TCGplayer] was my biggest regret of the weekend," he explained. "I really feel like I lost money not selling them the other stack."
Gen Con lends itself to big moments. While players were looking for wins in their games, they wanted to see things happen in the most glorious ways.
Altar of the Brood
This game included me, Andrew, Carlos, and Drew. Drew was playing Andrew's Karona deck and on the first turn played Altar of the Brood. We knew the deck wasn't focused on milling us out, so no one was willing to waste removal on the card, particularly when it was helping most of us get access to some cards through recursion. Drew started ramping up each turn. By the fourth turn, he played Collective Voyage and paid eight mana. Someone else added another mana to the mix and we all found nine mana, then milled nine more cards.
The insanity ended on turn six. Drew cast Tempt with Vengeance for 17. I was sure either Andrew or Carlos would take the tokens since someone had a way to sacrifice them for an advantage, so I took the tokens. Andrew also took the tokens and Carlos realized he could survive and likely kill us by taking the tokens so he did as well. This meant Drew got 68 tokens and Altar of the Brood triggered 68 times, running Andrew and I out of cards! Two turns later, Carlos was dead and Drew emerged victorious.
Sometimes, greed is not good!
Grenzo Unlocks the Dungeon
Grenzo hadn't been doing much through the entire weekend. The deck seems to take too long to set up, so I found myself at precarious life totals before I could ever get anything going. This game against Brian, Ced, and Kyle was much the same. Brian was doing what Elves do, and Ced and Kyle were doing their best to control what looked like a pretty scary situation. My life total had dwindled low and Ced had built up his Sram board big enough that he was able to get around the Elves and take Brian out of the game. I wasn't sure if I was going to be next, but I decided I didn't want to wait to find out.
I had Gray Merchant of Asphodel in my hand but not nearly enough devotion for it to be effective. I did have Heartstone and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden out so I decided to take my chance. At the end of Kyle's turn, I tapped all of my mana and started flipping cards from the bottom of my library onto the battlefield in the hopes of getting my devotion higher. After eight activations, things looked a little better but still not enough. On my turn, I worked out how much extra mana I would have and activated Grenzo nine times! I normally try to control what was on the bottom of my library, but this time I was flying blind. I hit several creatures, then played "Gary" for 14. My life total was now in a safe spot, but my opponents were still at reasonable totals. I sacrificed Gary to scry one, then put Gary on the bottom of my library using Canal Dredger. I activated Grenzo again and hit my opponents for 14 more. With Ced down to three life, I used all the counters on a Triskelion that had come into play during one of the Grenzo activations and killed him, then attacked Kyle for 12 more to win!
I clearly need to swing more freely!
Oloro gained a bunch of life.
Oloro played Serra Avatar.
I Swords to Plowshared Serra Avatar, doubling Oloro's life total.
Oloro played Storm Herd to make 177 Pegasus tokens.
Oloro played Crested Sunmare on the same turn.
Oloro then played Infinite Reflections making all his creatures into Crested Sunmares
On the end step Oloro had gained life that turn, so he made 178 horses, which because of Infinite Reflections, turned them into 178 Crested Sunmares.
Carlos, playing Oloro, wins with style!
Gen Con brings gamers together and that was no different with our circle of friends. Friends who love games, but have fallen away from Magic (or just Commander), are brought back into the fold. Eric is a big fan of games decided to come to his first Gen Con. He has a YouTube channel and wanted the chance to demo some new games, so he decided he should be attending Gen Con. He stayed in our room, which was full of Magic players, so he was hearing a lot of Magic discussion. He used to play more than 10 years earlier, but had moved away from the game.
After hearing us talk constantly, he took a recommendation from Adam Styborski and bought the Breya Commander deck, along with a deckbox and sleeves. I expect to see Eric fully back in the Magic fold by the time the next Gen Con comes around!
Kyle was another player who hadn't played Commander in quite a while. He came by with the promise of a draft and getting the chance to hang with friends, and ended the night winning with an Atraxa deck borrowed from Omar. He had a blast with the various interactions and huge swings in the game. It didn't hurt that he was able to end the game with a Genesis Wave for 22! He may have hit the jackpot with that Wave!
With that kind of a result, Kyle will be around the Commander tables again soon!
The last piece of Gen Con Secret Tech is the people. A big part of the Gen Con experience is a chance to see and game with your friends! Most people attend Gen Con with a small group of friends and enjoy the experience together. People show up, check out the Exhibitor Hall and try out new games or just see what there is to see, then meet up with friends to play or share their experiences so everyone else can check it out too!
My experience is a little different since I travel there alone and meet up with friends I've made online; I stayed with a great group who love Magic and just games in general!
Becca and Carlos are an amazing couple who make every moment better for being there. Becca loves games generally and was in her glory this weekend, searching out some great new titles while throwing down in a couple Commander games. Carlos sees the world through an analytic lens that few share, which leads to these amazing decks and wonderful game states that makes #JustCarlosThings something worth searching! One of my favorite moments of Gen Con was seeing Becca's face when she saw a picture of their cats Carlos had commissioned the night before, sitting front and center in the artist's booth!
Eric, the returning Magic player mentioned earlier, was a fountain of information about other exciting games that I can't wait to try out. His floofy pooch Dexter was great to see on Facebook, and he was excited to get back into Magic.
Mike was a Magic player who just loves games generally. He was up for Commander, drafting or heading out to try a brand new game. Gen Con was built for him, and he reveled in it.
Andrew was my guide for my first Gen Con and we've been good friends ever since. I've been to visit him in New York a few times and he has come to my place as well. His decks are always an interesting take on a particular commander; rarely the typical build. Andrew tends to be the facilitator, setting up the rooms, dinners or gaming nights. He was responsible for telling Carlos about the artist, so he could make that moment happen. You'll notice most of the images in the article are from him. He makes the fun time great and is just a good guy all round.
This was a great core group, but there were so many more.
While most of my pictures are from meals, I got the chance to play with so many online friends that I only see at these events, and meet friends of friends and play with them too.
In the end, I played over 20 games of Commander, three Cube drafts, a Conspiracy: Take the Crown draft, and a handful of other games with these people over the four days. Without these friends, Gen Con is just a place where you can buy all sorts of games and not a destination where you can play games with plays to remember with old friends you don't see often enough.