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.

Back when I had aspirations of making it as professional Magic player I was always up-to-date on the latest changes to the Pro Player club and how I could possibly get myself into that illustrious group. Times have changed and though I no longer aspire to play in a Pro Tour I still enjoy the challenge of managing life with the Pro Tour schedule. Just over a week ago, Helene Bergeot announced the upcoming 2013-14 Premiere Play Season and with it a series of changes. If you want to get a pro player’s take on these changes, you should read PV’s column at CFB about the topic.

There are a few key changes that I want to talk about, because they have helped to restore what was once the dream of playing Pro Tour after Pro Tour and getting a bit of money to do so. First, making the Pro Player’s Club now comes with a shiny membership card plus an invitation to the next Pro Tour. While that has it’s own problems which I won’t delve into, it’s a really great addition to the system. Second, attaining Gold now comes with a $500 appearance fee at Pro Tours.

Helene even addresses this in her article, when she says, “Another goal was to turn the Silver level into a way to get on or stay on the Pro Tour circuit. The lowest level of the Pro Club should provide a path onto the Pro Tour, and now Silvers will get that first step.” This was, to me, always the heart of the Pro Player’s Club. It is a gateway to becoming a true professional Magic player at the highest level, which is important for the game and players on many levels. The goal now has become very clear. From May 20th, 2013, through August 3rd, 2014, you, the aspiring Magic player, need to collect 20 Professional Points to be awarded Silver status in the Pro Player’s club. Here’s my quick primer to how you can get it done!

You’ll have 14 months to rack up the points, which means averaging 3 points every other month. This is the equivalent of finishing in the top-16 of a Grand Prix every other month. Get it done seven times and you’re set. But wait! That won’t work anymore, because only your top five Grand Prix results will count towards your total Professional Points for the season. This is good and bad. It’s good because it will not force players to get burned out by grinding the Grand Prix circuit. It’s bad, because instead of averaging a top-16 finish across seven events in 14 months, you’ll need to average a top-eight finish across five events.

This isn’t so bad, because it means you can actually make the Pro Player’s club without ever playing on the Pro Tour circuit. It’s easier said than done, but if you can finish in the top-eight of five Grand Prix’s, you’re in! Looking at the Grand Prix schedule, there are between three and five Grand Prix events every month for the rest of the year. At least one of those every month is in the United States (apologies to our international readers). This means you need to make the top-eight of five out of the 25~30 events that will happen over the course of the season. Okay, maybe it is a bit rough.

But hey, you’re a better player than I ever was. You’ll win a PTQ or you’ll make that final four at a Grand Prix, or you’ll get 39 points at a 1,200-player Grand Prix, and you’ll get to play in a Pro Tour event! Congratulations, you’re one step closer to your dreams! Now, if you finish in the top-eight of that Pro Tour, you’re set! Silver status is yours and you can rest at night knowing you’ll have two byes at every Grand Prix for at least a year, along with an invitation to your country’s WMCQ.

In all likelihood, you’re better than me at Magic but not that good. Participating in a Pro Tour is worth 3 pro points. If you got there by winning a PTQ, that’s what you’ve got. If you made the top-four of a Grand Prix then you’re sitting pretty at 8 pro points. The truth here is that unless you can finish in the top 25 of that Pro Tour, and pick up 10 Pro Points, you’re still going to have to grind Grand Prix events to get that Silver membership.

Twenty Pro Points can be divided up plenty of ways. You can finish in the top-eight of a single Pro Tour, or the top-eight of five Grand Prix events, or somewhere in-between. Everyone is touting the changes as a great thing, but I’m going to tell it to you straight. You’re still going to have to work your ass off to win and you’re going to have to grind Grand Prix events. The quickest ways still involve winning two tournaments, at the least, but that path is certainly the road least traveled for a reason.

As the new seasons roll along, I’ll take a look at the upcoming Grand Prix and PTQ schedules in the Northeast USA, where our blog is headquartered, to give you guys the best plan of attack to make it to that Silver level. I won’t be joining any of you for the journey, but I’m more than happy to write the guidebook.

The Quick Hits

  • The fine folks at Gathering Magic have some Ravnica guild-themed wallpapers for your mobile devices. Check ’em out. [Gathering Magic]
  • Greg Collins, the mastermind behind Wizards’ event coverage team talks about the wide world of Magic event coverage. [Daily MTG]
  • Congrats to Nick Coss for running a 150 person pre-release down in South Jersey. One day this will return to NYC. [LegitMTG]
  • MJ Scott dives deep into the world of the White Queen of the Orzhov. [Gathering Magic]
  • This in-depth look at the digital vs. traditional-medium artwork of Dragon’s Maze by Mike Linnemann get’s five gold stars. [Gathering Magic]
  • The Gruul finally broke the 1,000,000 point mark for total planewsalker points gained! Azorius is in the lead with 3.7 Million. [PWP]
  • If you enjoy Guild Champions, Commander, or winning money, you should check out this contest. [LegitMTG]
  • Some MtG artwork was featured at a Seattle museum exhibit about fantasy worlds. [Magic Arcana]

Wallpaper of the Week

Tajic is basically a downgrade from last week’s Vorel wallpaper. We’re clearly in a cycle of guild champion artwork here, and Tajic just isn’t impressive as a wallpaper (no matter how impressive a limited bomb he may be). While the offset hero with guild background seems to be the theme of this cycle, it is making for a poor showing in weekly wallpapers.

Grade: C-

The Week Ahead

Dragon’s Maze is officially constructed playable, which is only exciting in that it means we’re six months away from Innistrad Rotating out and your Dragon’s Maze cards finally having an impact on Standard!

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