Hello reader! What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.

I was sitting at my desk at work on Monday afternoon last week when my coworker, out of the blue, said the words “there’s been an explosion in Boston.” My fingers almost instinctively pressed Alt+Tab until I was on a Google Chrome window. Then they pressed Ctrl+T to open a fresh tab, an empty blank canvas of unlimited internet potential spoiled only be a few default links provided by Google. Without hesitation or thought, almost as an involuntary action, I typed out the characters c-n-n-dot-c-o-m and Schroedinger’s Chrome tab collapsed into a singular reality in which two bombs had exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon.

The importance of the city of Boston to the gaming community cannot be underestimated. According to a CBS report, nearly 80,000 gamers and industry members descended on Boston only a month ago for PAX East. Only seven months ago nearly 2,000 Magic players traveled to Worcester (an hour west of Boston) to play in a Grand Prix tournament. In total, nine professional-level Magic tournaments have been held in or around Boston. Countless smaller gaming events take place throughout the year in the greater Boston area as it serves as a metropolitan hub for all of New England.

Ignoring the cliche for a moment, home is where your heart is, and for a significant amount of time every year our hearts reside in Boston. It is a city like no other and the character of that place imprints itself upon us when we game there as much as we imprint ourselves upon the city. Whether we’re slinging Magic Cards or eating in Chinatown or partaking in the New England night life our communities collide. The impact leaves an indelible mark.

My first gaming tournament in the Boston area was Grand Prix Massachusetts in 2007, but the first time I gamed in the city proper was Grand Prix Massachusetts in 2009. My best friend and I had driven down to Florida the week prior to play in a Warhammer 40k tournament and then spent a day at Disney with a group from university. My friend proposed to his now wife and then she flew back north with her parents. The two of us got back in my parents’ minivan (borrowed for the excursion) and drove from Orlando to Boston for the Magic 2010 sealed Grand Prix.

I opened Chandra, Ajani and Baneslayer Angel and made it to 6-1, beating Matt Costa in round 7 on a top-decked Baneslayer Angel. A couple years later in Atlanta I played Costa in a grinder and I didn’t recognize him. He was still bitter about that Baneslayer Angel. Anyways, I promptly blew my last two matches to finish 6-3.

But I digress. I spent the weekend in Boston playing Magic. It was the first time I had done so. I had previously only played in Grand Prix events in the New York area, traveling as far as Philadelphia and South Jersey. What I’ll never forget about that trip, besides my best friend getting engaged, was spending the weekend gaming in the Back Bay district of Boston. We stayed at the Westin Copley Plaza, the same hotel we would also stay in for the first PAX East event a year later.

Four years later, two bombs exploded in the same Copley Square. The image at the top of this post features Copley Square and the Westin and the John Hancock building as I remember them. It is a serene part of Boston and in February of 2009 (GP Boston) and March of 2010 (PAX East) it was the metaphorical home of the gaming community. Although there hasn’t been a Grand Prix in the city proper since then, and PAX East has moved on to the larger venue provided across town, Copley Square was once the heart of gaming.

The programs at PAX East have two words on the spine: Welcome Home. Gaming, like any hobby or activity such as marathon running, has many hearts at many different times. Home for gamers and marathon runners alike can be transient at times but familiarity with places is very important for those of us who travel from one event to another. Boston is one such home and it is a home shared between gamers and marathoners alike. This week we learned how vulnerable our homes can be, but more importantly we learned the true value they hold in our hearts.

The world watched this week while Boston came to a grinding halt. Its citizens, the perpetual homemakers in the city, were locked down while a manhunt ensued to capture two terrorists. The manhunt is over. The fear has damaged our home, but it is not broken. It is scarred but it will heal. Boston has been injured, but it emerges stronger. In less than a year’s time more than 80,000 of us will once again return home, to Boston, for PAX East. It will be a better Boston than ever.

The Quick Hits

  • First, a fond farewell to Quinton Hoover who passed away on Friday. He made some of the most iconic art in the game including Wrath of God. [The Examiner]
  • Owen Turtenwald gives some sage advice on how to be prepared better for competitive events. [Owen’s a Win]
  • As I predicted, Global Enchantment beat out Aura for the card type in You Make the Card 4. [#YMTC]
  • Mark Nestico has some pointers on how to write about Magic. One of his suggestions is to ‘perfect a subject manner.’ Nailed it. [TCGPlayer]
  • Here are some posters from the Ravnica Travel Bureau, courtesy of James Arnold. [Gathering Magic]
  • Cube is coming back to Magic Online and this time the prize packs are Lorwyn/Morningtide. [Magic Online]
  • The final part of Abe Sargent’s top 100 multiplayer cards list is here! Sol Ring was only fourth overall. [Gathering Magic]
  • For $1,200 you can own the original art to the Dragon’s Maze version of Gruul Guildgate. [Gathering Magic]
  • Sheldon Menery discusses his personal card collecting habits. [StarCityGames]
  • The new Guild Gates zoomed out are really, really stunning. [Magic Arcana]
  • Natasha Lewis Harrington brings the education this week with a psychological look at competition. [Gathering Magic]
  • Here’s an interview with Magic artist Steve Belledin. [Inside the Deck]
  • Apparently it’s difficult to get back into competitive Magic after a hiatus. Good thing I’m not returning (any time soon). [Channel Fireball]
  • Melissa DeTora learned a bunch from losing a lot. I must be bad at losing since I never learned so much from it. [TCGPlayer]

Wallpaper of the Week

Teysa Karlov needs no introduction.

Grade: A+

The Week Ahead

I’ll see you midnight Friday night for the Dragon’s Maze pre-release. I haven’t played Magic since the Gatecrash prerelease so my odds of going 4-0 in this one are pretty high.

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