2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Magic the Gathering fans. I’m not talking about the return of [casthaven]Nicol Bolas[/casthaven] on Amonkhet, or the release of another Modern Masters series, this one hopefully featuring [casthaven]Snapcaster Mage[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Liliana of the Veil[/casthaven]. No, I’m talking about the premiere-level events that attract fans from all over the globe to descend on cities and revel in the Magic Community.

HasCon

We begin our discussion of the 2017 calendar late in the year with the recently announced inaugural HasCon. You might be asking yourself just what the heck is a HasCon? Well, Hasbro has decided to host a convention to celebrate all things Hasbro including poorly named conventions. Magic will be featured for sure along with the rest of their signature brands like Transformers, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Monopoly, Nerf, and Play-Doh.

So what does it mean for Magic fans? Conventions like this traditionally include panels, industry professionals, and exclusive promotional items. HasCon takes place in early September which means we’ll have just wrapped up Amonkhet block and will be waiting for the new block to release in late October. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an early exclusive spoiler card, or at least a story hint to what’s in store for us. If there are exclusive promo cards released at HasCon they would be similar to the Planeswalker promos we’re used to seeing at San Diego Comic Con.

So those of you who like exclusive promos might want to tentatively pencil in a trip to Rhode Island for the weekend of September 8th to 10th next year. But what if you don’t? I still expect a large contingent of Magic staff to be in attendance. This is, after all, a celebration of all things Hasbro and an opportunity to show off to the rest of the industry. Magic is still the premiere collectible card game on the planet, especially if you just consider physically produced games. Designers, developers, brand managers, and so on will all be in attendance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the creative team members and even some artists in attendance as well.

This won’t be a convention about Magic, but you can be sure Magic will be a big part of it. One big question is whether or not you’ll be able to play Magic at HasCon. I don’t see why not. Hasbro is marketing HasCon as an event that’s for the whole family. They want people to bring their kids and experience all the fun Hasbro has to offer. Without letting people actually play Magic, that might be difficult. Don’t expect any PPTQ-level events but I certainly think you’ll see drafts, mini-masters, and other casual formats firing throughout the weekend.

The Magic World Championship and World Cup

These are still two separate events but I want to talk about them together. As was announced before Pro Tour Kaladesh, the World Championship next year is no longer to be held at PAX West in Seattle, but will be a standalone event hosted at the Castle at Park Plaza┬áin Boston from October 5th to 8th. The castle is an expansive single-room event space with a capacity for up to a thousand people for a trade show or 530 people for a seated dinner. So while it certainly couldn’t host the average Grand Prix it is going to be leveraged as the backdrop for the World Championship.

This all begs the question: will there be spectators allowed? It’s hard to tell but I think the answer will almost certainly be yes. The Hearthstone championship at Blizzcon is an event that draws a pretty decent crowd. Wizards should certainly be trying to capitalize on that kind of publicity and get an audience to show up for the World Championship. Even with all of the event staff, players, and press on hand, there should still be plenty of space.

The Castle is going to serve as a really gorgeous setting for the championship event of a fantasy game. I think Wizards has the potential to turn this into a spectator event the likes of which they’ve never had before, and that could translate into a larger home viewing audience than ever before as well. If you think you can get there, you might want to start planning for a fall trip to Boston next year.

The World Cup will be returning to Nice, France, which hosted the event in 2014. This year’s event, still several weeks away, takes place in Rotterdam. There’s not a whole lot to be said about the World Cup for next year since it’s still 14 months away. Given the vast improvements that are potentially in store, I’m reserving hope for next year’s World Cup to also be a fantastic event, but I’ll wait for this year’s event to pass before we start talking about next year.

San Diego Comic Con

So, is HasCon a replacement for San Diego Comic Con for Magic the Gathering? No, it’s not. I think that SDCC will still command a much larger audience in person and on social media than HasCon will come close to touching. Magic will still be in San Diego next July and they’ll likely still be there with exclusive promos (though those promos may reappear at HasCon). Also, don’t forget that Magic is in the process of making a movie with Fox studios. It seems like having their presence established at San Diego Comic Con and then presenting information on the Magic movie (whenever that may be) is a more natural fit than moving that to an event like HasCon.

PAX and Other Industry Conventions

I do think that Wizards is going to significantly scale back its presence at conventions like PAX. After HasCon, San Diego Comic Con, and the World Championship, there’s only so much information to go around. They need to reserve a lot of that for the Pro Tour. Wizards did not attend PAX East last year and the world did not come to an end. They’ve already decoupled the World Championship from PAX West.

Wizards has in the past used PAX as a platform for launching massive announcements into the community’s collective consciousness (aka Reddit and Twitter). But is that the best use of their resources? I think the answer is no. Hasbro wouldn’t have created HasCon not to make it the marquee event at which Magic information is announced. Does it make sense to use the resources to create a spectacle at PAX West in September and then try to top it or at least match it four weeks later at HasCon? Hasbro likely does not think so.

There will still be Magic played at these events. You can’t get thousands of gamers together and not expect games of Magic to spontaneously appear on the convention floor. However, I think the major announcement panels will be reserved for San Diego Comic Con, HasCon, and perhaps the World Championship.

The Pro Tour

This year the Magic Pro Tour visits Dublin, Nashville, Kyoto, and Albuquerque. Personally I would like to see Pro Tour events evolve into Magic conventions and become spectator events. To be clear I don’t think it makes sense to have a public amateur event attached to them like a Grand Prix. Rather they should be major spectator events like Golf’s masters tournaments or some of Nascar’s premier events. Fans would flock from all around to cheer on their favorite players.

With the growth of team competition over the 2017 season I think we’re going to see a natural progression towards turning Pro Tours into spectator events. However, similar to what I said about the World Cup, I think Wizards’ focus will really be on HasCon and the World Championship. So, 2018 might be the year in which we see the metamorphosis of the Pro Tour into Magic conventions full of artists, designers, celebrities, and of course, the highest level of competitive Magic.

Super Grand Prix Las Vegas

While the end of the year is going to be reserved for high-level spectator events in HasCon and the World Championship and the World Cup, the summer will be home to the Grand Prix to end all Grand Prix. I fully expect at least 10,000 players and fans and more to make their way to Las Vegas to take part in another record shattering Magic tournament, likely featuring Modern Masters 2017 alongside Modern and Legacy. As usual, Grand Prix Las Vegas continues to push the envelope of what it means to have a major Magic tournament.

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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