We take a break from our usual weekly review of Wizards of the Coast and the Magic Community to bring you this heartwarming tale of playing in a team sealed Grand Prix with your family and introducing your young nephew to the large world of high-level competitive Magic for the first time.

A Family Tournament Report

I knew I wanted to go to Grand Prix Washington DC. As we grow the Hipsters of the Coast community and broaden our reach in the larger Magic Community it follows that a larger and larger contingency comes together at events like Grand Prix tournaments. So, knowing that most of the contributors and friends and family would be at this event I decided I had to come and hang out. After all, that’s the best part of Grand Prix, right?

Once I had decided to play in the event the big concern became who I was going to play with. At first I checked in with fellow Hipsters Matt Jones and Dave McCoy but both of them were indisposed with something called “real life.” I didn’t want to play with a competitive team, because frankly I don’t have the time or desire to practice Magic anymore. I draft occasionally online or at The Geekery but I didn’t know the format well enough to be confident that I wouldn’t just be bringing two other players down.

I needed a casual team to have a fun time at a Grand Prix. So I called my younger brother.

My brother and I, perhaps like most of you, used to play Magic all the time in 1996. I was 13, the ripe age for gaming, and my brother was 9, so I could make him play cards with me. He loved Polar Kraken. I loved Force of Nature. It was a great time.

Nowadays I don’t play very much but my brother has recently taken the game up again because he has an eleven-year-old son who plays all the time. You can read up all about that in this Scrub Report series my brother wrote. So I pitched the idea to my brother that we could bring my nephew to his first Grand Prix and we got the ball rolling.

We got into DC on Friday evening. I drove down with fellow Hipster Stefano Black and we got on-site around 5pm. Stefano, obviously, headed straight to the dealers while I met up with my brother and a bunch of other members of the wider Hipsters of the Coast family. We checked out the artists corner which was very exciting for my nephew who would love to be an illustrator one day. Eric Deschamps asked my nephew if he brought any of his illustrations with him and my nephew got very flustered.

We signed up for a team sealed on-demand event. These were four-team events with two rounds and 300 prize tickets to first place. Our pool was okay I suppose but we had a blast. I had only done Oath/Battle sealed once online and my brother hadn’t played a sealed event since Magic Origins. None of us had done team sealed in recent memory (my last team sealed event was the original Ravnica block).

We lost handily but learned a decent amount about the format and the decks in the metagame before we rounded up Stefano and Hipster Lexie and got some dinner at Busboys and Poets on 5th St. Quick aside: if you’ve been to a Magic event in DC and haven’t been to Busboys and Poets you’re really, really missing out on some great food for a good price point. They’re open until midnight on Friday and 1:00 AM on Saturday so even if you’re playing at the site late you can still get a good meal.

Our pool on Saturday was good. Solid even. My nephew played a red/green deck full of landslide and aggressive creatures and a Dragonmaster Outcast. I ran the standard black/white allies deck with all the life gain/life loss shenanigans and double Isolation Zone plus Stasis Snare. My brother had a blue/red Eldrazi deck with Herald of Kozilek and Deepfathom Skulker and double Ruin Processor.

We lost the first round and then we lost the second round. It went about as well as I expected actually and we were having a lot of fun learning the format and playing as a team. Our first round opponents were kind of spike-y. One of them called my brother for slow play which was ironic because my opponent took 35 minutes to finish game one (which he lost). Round three we played against a really nice team who had southern accents (they said y’all a lot) but we went to turns and ended up in a draw. They decided they didn’t want to continue at 0-2-1 and would rather drop for a side event and gave us the win.

A win! We were 1-2 and just five match wins away from day two glory! But we lost round four. This was a tough match where my brother went up against a stellar blue/green Eldrazi deck that curved out perfectly and my nephew could not keep any creatures on the board long enough to mount an offense. With our third loss of the day we knew we only had one more to give up.

Round five of this event will probably become one of most cherished competitive Magic memories (easily beating out the time I crushed Darwin Kastle in a Time Spiral sealed Grand Prix with an Avalanche Riders). I was paired against a black/red aggressive Eldrazi deck with a tough decision to make in game two. I was quickly down to three life but had finally stabilized with double Spawnbinder Mage in play. My opponent had Flayer Drone and Kalitas. I untapped and drew Isolation Zone. I thought for a moment, and while maybe this play seems obvious to a lot of people, I exiled Flayer Drone from the game. If my opponent had a way to clear a path for Kalitas, fine, but I knew I had to rely on my mages to protect me. My opponent ripped Reality Hemmhorage and put me to one life. I stabilized with Ondu War Cleric and won the match.

The really exciting part was that my nephew had won his first game as well with the epic draw of Scythe Leopard into Makindi Sliderunner. Game two was a much closer affair. My nephew was still curving up his red/green dudes while his opponent had a wall of red/white allies on the ground. Then my nephew drew Dragonmaster Outcast and played it. No removal spell from the opponent meant 5/5 flying dragons for days and a real match win for our team!

A win! We were 2-3 and the world was ours! Why not rattle off four straight wins and go to day two? Well unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be and our reality literally came crashing down thanks to Reality Smasher in round six. But it was an absolute blast. We dropped at 2-4 and walked around cheering on the rest of team Hipsters including a few teams that made day two (which you’ll hear about later this week).

After every match I asked my nephew what he had learned about Magic. He’s only eleven but he’s very sharp and knows what’s going on. Still, he told me that he learned he needs to be more patient (a lesson taught to him by Lexie) and that he needs to learn when to attack and when to defend (a lesson taught to him by every opponent who was able to clear his board). I’m sure that in the upcoming years we’ll keep attending the east coast team Grand Prix events and in a few years it will be my nephew sitting in the middle instead of me, telling me and my brother when to attack and when to defend, and when to be patient.

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. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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