For those following at home, I’m rounding on my third week of living in Shanghai. It’s been pretty fun. A lot of food (of both the 50 cent street vendor and ornate family banquet variety) and city exploration (mostly of the getting lost variety). I’ve even supplemented my extremely poor command of Chinese with morning classes at the local university, so I might be at the level of a particularly bright five, maybe even six year old.


Waxy and sweet, tasted like a banana-scented candle. 2.5/5, would not first pick.

Even abroad, I use my intermittent web access to stay active on Reddit. If you manage to sift through the tired jokes, the site’s home to a lot of useful resources. /r/magicTCG is one of the Internet’s nicer, beginner-friendly MtG communities. A few weeks before flying out, I posted in the Shanghai subreddit about the Magic scene here. I was quickly welcomed into a little enclave of Magic-playing expats, most hailing from the U.S. and Europe.

I guess it’s easy to feel a bit adrift in a city as big as Shanghai. But something as simple as buying a pack of cards or talking about the game helped me feel connected to my friends at home, warding off the occasional homesickness and travel burnout. When I was younger, I never really joined communities built around hobbies. Sure, I liked reading and running and video games, but never enough to seek out a book club or something. Magic turned out a bit differently, and I think both the awesome community (you guys!) and Wizards (maybe you guys, too) deserves praise for that. Building something tangible out of a shared interest is pretty awesome.

Fast forward to the Shanghai subreddit’s “Dual-purpose Shanghai Magic the Gathering organisation and Shanghai cat discussion thread“. My two favorite things in the world. Sometimes, when I’m in need of a pick-me-up, I read the title again and break out into this ridiculous smile. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever see anything that perfect again. At this point, there’s an active chat group welcoming new players, giving tips, organizing meetups.

There’s also a brand new game shop I missed during my first few weeks here. Aptly called Cardmaster (I’m told their Chinese moniker is slightly different, but I have enough trouble counting to 10 in Mandarin, much less reading store names), it’s found right off of metro line 9’s Guilin Road station, a few stops from the city’s heart. For those as navigationally challenged as I am, the full address is at the bottom of the post.


Finding my way.

I decided to check it out on a random Wednesday afternoon. Despite the store being closed, the owner Shao was kind enough to let me in and answer some questions about the place. Open only for a month so far, it’s the biggest sanctioned LGS in Shanghai and China—a tall feat, for sure.


Well, uh, oops.

Let me tell you: the place is big. At least three or four times the size of my respectable local store, maybe more. Wrap-around glass cases with an excellent selection of singles, drinks for purchase, dozens of tables and chairs, and a lot of booster packs/boxes/Commander product/sleeves/peripherals in both Chinese and English. Snapping some pictures and browsing the store, I felt pretty giddy. This is what game stores need: large, clean spaces to congregate and relax and play. And this is the kind of place that I’d be excited to bring my friends to and introduce them to Magic.




Another action shot. I’m seriously impressed by this.

You also walk over this really cool mat with all these laminated cards as you enter the shop. That is, I believe, a Black Lotus at the top.


The Pyramid of Power.

It’s also prerelease season! I’m excited to play a few M15 events over the weekend. The cards are all in Chinese, but the store is printing out the full English spoiler for players too. I can predict with like 90 percent certainty that I’ll pick red, build a horrible deck, and get smashed, but it should be loads of fun.


 Yishan Lu 700, Building A1 Unit 203

Guilin Lu Metro Station, Line 9, Exit 4

Tony is the Hipsters’ foreign correspondent/resident scrub. Find him at

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