I suppose I could have waited until after Mark Rosewater makes his Big Annoucnement to write my article for today, but I’m nothing if not a prolific writer so you all get the gift of my normal weekly column plus whatever reaction piece I’ll surely be writing a few hours after this goes live (or went live in your frame of reference).

In the meantime it’s been a busy week for the Magic community and it’s only about to get a whole lot busier. Later this week thousands of Magic fans will descend upon Las Vegas to indulge in five days of pure Magic community bliss. There will be an art show, cosplayers, artists, vendors, pro players, WotC staff, community personalities, and of course some Magic: the Gathering will surely be played.

Grand Prix Las Vegas is more than any other Grand Prix on the schedule. It’s more like Magic: the Conventioning, becoming for Magic fans what PAX is for the larger gaming community. I say “fans” instead of “players” because at this point I think that actually playing Magic is the least important part of Vegas. It’s still important to the nearly 5,000 players who will register decks, but it’s really secondary to the overall experience.

Grand Prix Las Vegas 2017 will be the most important event in the history of the Magic: the Gathering community.

I don’t say that lightly but if you bear with me I think you’ll agree. Close your eyes and think back to your favorite moments from your life in the Magic community. Think about the events that stand out in your mind the most. Now, I’ll share a few of my own and maybe you can relate:

  • Getting up at 4AM and piling in with some good friends. living in the Binghamton area for the 2HG State Championship held at Neutral Ground in New York City.
  • Basking in the shouting and cheering of my friends surrounding me when I ripped the removal spell I needed to win the finals of a GP Trial at my local store.
  • Sharing in the sorrows of all my friends who failed to make day two of the local Grand Prix (myself included).
  • Going to the same stupid restaurant for every single meal with the same five friends because it’s apparently the only place to eat between the hotel we’re staying at and the convention center in Atlanta.
  • Making friends for life.

The Magic community isn’t about playing Magic: the Gathering. It’s about relationships that are built on top of this amazing and stupid card game that we’ve all come to from different walks of life. For many of us the game comes and goes but the relationships are often eternal.

As you get ready for the coming week, whether or not you’re going to Las Vegas, here are ten more thoughts on the Magic community:

1. I mentioned above that there will be a gallery of original Magic artwork at the Grand Prix and that’s an amazing accomplishment which we’ll have plenty of coverage for during the coming week. Appreciation for Magic artwork will hopefully re-open the possibility of more interesting artwork to return. Maybe not as interesting as Stasis, but hopefully somewhat interesting.

2. I was originally planning on spending my article this week talking about the Magic the Gathering MMO but Anthony has that covered today and I’m sure we’ll both have more to say on it later this week after whatever “Magic Digital Next” announcement is scheduled for Tuesday.

3. Has there ever been more anxiety and anticipation over an announcement than the one Mark Rosewater is going to give tomorrow? My bar of success for “community panic” is the fallout from the Sixth Edition Rules Change, and I don’t think we’ll reach that level of stress, but it might not be far off.

4. It’s important to remember that Wizards works two years in advance when we hear tomorrow’s announcement. If it sounds like a rushed decision, then it’s important to remember that Wizards has a new CEO for the past year or so. So, take all of this with a grain of salt and don’t panic.

5. It will be easy to get burned out on Magic this week, so hopefully the next few weeks will be a bit quieter and we’ll have time to digest everything thoroughly. Just kidding, Hour of Devastation official previews begin a week after Grand Prix Vegas ends!

6. Speaking of which, if you’re reading this, Blake, I’d love to preview another card with amazing artwork by Noah Bradley. So if you have one of those, you know where my inbox is!

7. Moving on from the Grand Prix and announcements, the Amonkhet/Hour of Devastation story has been shaping up to be a solid body of work compared to Kaladesh, Innistrad, and Zendikar. However, I give those three a pass because of the changes the two-block paradigm made to storytelling. Hopefully Amonkhet sets the trend going forwards of real character development, conflict, and challenges placed upon the Gatewatch instead of them just powering up for some finishing move.

8. The Story is usually Beck Holden’s area of expertise around here, but I can’t help but talk about my suspicion that a Gatewatch member is going to die in Hour of Devastation. Wizards has acknowledged they have to rein in the total number of major Planeswalkers and they’re potentially adding a new one this set (based on unofficial leaks). Someone has to go to make more room in the story.

9. Last thought on Story, I think Gideon or Liliana are the most obvious choices for victim in the story but from a character development standpoint I would like to see Chandra disappear and see how the rest of the GW struggle with that development over the next few story-arcs. She can always be re-born as a phoenix later.

10. Congrats to everyone who helped see Magic Online through 15 years of existence. That’s an incredibly long time and for all the grief we give Magic Online (myself included), the folks who’ve overseen it including Randy Buehler, Worth Wollpert, Lee Sharpe, and others deserve credit for still being here. When was the last time you played a video game from 2002? Here’s hoping we’re still here in 15 more years (but hopefully able to play on MacOS by then).

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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