I want to write this for all of you beginners who are just taking your steps into Grand Prix and looking to get into competitive Magic, so if you have ever thought about these things and need some guidance, look no further!
Well congratulations! You have just started your journey on Magic The Gathering, maybe you have played a game or few, got to know your local players and are enjoying the game we all love. However as time passes on and you keep getting better and your hunger for more challenges keeps growing and growing. But how to get more challenges and up my game then? Well your first step into a larger world is Grand Prix!
Grand Prixes are open tournaments for all players that are held all around the world, so no matter where you live, you are sure to find a Grand Prix somewhat close to you! Not only do you get to compete for big prize moneys you can also meet some of the Magic’s best players, play in all sorts of side-events and have a chance to buy almost any cards from multiple vendors! Nowadays Channel Fireball hosts Grand Prixes so if you want to check out the locations for next GP’s, it’s here.
They also serve many different formats: Standard, Modern, Legacy, Limited, Team Limited, Team Trios Constructed and Team Unified Modern. So there are plenty of options to choose from. Below are brief explanations of each format:
Standard: Is the format that is the most easy to approach since it uses cards from the most recent sets, to be more exact 4 newest sets are used. Then once a year rotation happens where the 4 oldest sets drop out and new sets replace them.
Modern: Probably the most played and growing eternal format there is, Modern allows all cards from 8th Edition to the current cards to be played, obviously any new sets are also legal, except some supplementary products such as Commander decks and Conspiracy.
Legacy: Another eternal format, but here we have access to all the cards from Magic’s history to be used. Well *cough* some cards are banned since they have been deemed to be too strong, if you want to know more about the banned cards, check here. It shows all the banned/restricted cards for all formats.
Limited: Limited can be 2 different things, Draft or Sealed.
In Draft you sit in a table with approximately 8 players and you each have 3 booster packs. You open the pack, pick 1 card and pass the rest to the next guy, then you repeat this process until all the cards have been picked. Then you add some basic lands to your deck and make sure that your deck contains at least 40 cards, after that you are good to go!
In Sealed you build the same minimum 40 card deck but this time you open 6 boosters but you don’t “draft” with them. Just open up those boosters and make the most out of those cards you get. Limited is also very fun since it doesn’t require you to own any cards so it’s very easy to jump into and it also requires some improvising skills, since you have to make the deck out the cards you get and there is never any guarantee on what cards you get.
Team Limited: Very much like Sealed, but here you have more cards since you have 3 person team, and out of your cards you have to build decks for each one.
Team Trios Constructed: Another 3 person team, however this time each player plays different format, Standard, Modern and Legacy.
Team Unified Modern: Last but not least we have pretty cool format, here you have your regular team, all will play Modern but no 2 decks on a team may not contain the same card. So for example if I want to run Lightning Bolt in my deck, my teammates can’t have them in their deck. So it really challenges deck building.
So now that you know about what formats are available I want to share some tips that will make your Grand Prix experience cool! Trust me, my first GP was a mess. I had no clue where to find pairings, where to find my table, and just overall panic each round. But worry no more, these few tips will help you go long way!
First and foremost, make sure your visa/passport is fine. This can obviously vary to where you live/where you are traveling. For me it’s fairly simple since I mostly travel to European GP’s but if you travel to U.S/Asia make sure that everything is fixed so you don’t get into trouble.
For example some countries require that your passport needs to be valid for an extra 6 months, this is a thing that you might not bear in mind, but just google in case you are not sure. And also remember to change your currency before you travel if you need to do so, it should be cheaper that way.
Don’t go alone.
Should be fairly no-brainer but yes, especially if it’s your first time on GP, have some buddies to go with. I can honestly say that without my friends who went with me to my first GP, my experience there wouldn’t have been that good. Since it’s your first time you are most certainly nervous and can’t know everything so having some friends who know are major help! I’ve been to many GP’s at this point and even today I almost always try to go with my friends if possible.
Food and Beverage.
Another no-brainer but I somehow manage to forget this even today. Yes something as easy as eating and drinking enough to stay focused during the long day. If we’re talking about GP your first day will be 8 rounds assuming you have no byes. And I can guarantee 8 rounds is a LOT even for a grinder like me. Sometimes you might not have time between rounds but whenever you have the chance to grab something to eat/drink, do so. There is nothing worse than playing a super tight game of Magic while being dehydrated and hungry. There should be some decent food available at the tournament site, but if they don’t just bring your own food.
Take care of your stuff.
I want to say that 99% of the people in GP’s are really good and awesome people, however when there are thousands of people in the tournament-venue there can be thieves so never ever leave your stuff unguarded, losing your precious deck or anything else for that matter is very nasty surprise.
Now then of course you’ll need a place to stay, here you have few options. Hotel, Hostel, Renting house or staying at friend’s place. Obviously the cheapest and easiest option is to stay at friends/relatives place if you happen to have someone at the same city.
Otherwise I highly recommend using Airbnb, they offer plenty of different options for a pretty cheap bargain also. So if budget is an issue, definitely check them out. Also since you’ll be staying at someone else’s place the owner can help you with any questions like how to get to the tournament-venue and so on.
Hostel is also fairly cheap and well Hotel can get bit pricey but if it’s not an issue then go right ahead! It all depends on what you want and your budget in the end.
Competitive REL means Competitive.
At your local FNM or casual plays your opponents might let you do what’s called a “take back”, so you make a play, immediately realize you screwed up and can take it back. Not in GP however, when you make a play, you have made that play and that’s it. Also if you happen to miss your triggers, well unfortunately then you have missed it and life goes on. Now don’t worry, this is not meant to scary you, just be wary of what’s going on during the game and communicate with your opponent clearly and then you shouldn’t have any issues!
At any competitive Magic tournament you are required to bring a decklist, same applies to GP. Here is a pretty good decklist form and it should also count the amount of cards in your deck automatically. So feel free to use it if needed!
Always and always call a judge if anything comes up.
Now then this is one of those things that many newer players don’t remember to do. I have heard some say that they are afraid to call a judge since they are afraid what could happen or getting a feel that they are trying to get your opponent to trouble. Now then I want to clear this out, that is absolutely not the case here. Judges are there to make sure that the event goes smoothly and answer whatever questions players may have. So if you made a mistake, call a judge. If you believe your opponent has made an error, call a judge. If you have any rules question regarding some card or rules interaction, call a judge. Or even if you don’t happen to find your table you can ask a judge to help you out.
There is nothing wrong to call a judge if you are unsure about anything, don’t ask your opponent, just raise your hand up and yell “JUDGE” and then some judge will come to help with whatever you had. Also I want to point out that if you need to ask something you don’t want your opponent to know you can have the conversation outside of the table. So don’t be afraid to call a judge and be honest, judges are not there to find flaws and hand out disqualifications to players.
I highly recommend you save few days to do something else than play Magic, so just checking out the city and simply spending time with your friends. There is not too much else to this honestly, I wouldn’t go to GP’s if it would only be about Magic, going out for a beer or few, eating some good food and just having a good time is a crucial thing for me personally when I travel.
If you happen to do well enough to earn money the payment will be done via i-Payout, now only thing you have to worry about is having a valid wizards-account and your DCI number. From there you can withdraw the prize-money so this is fairly easy!
Last but not least, just remember to enjoy your trip and GP. You have payed and planned to get there so even if you happen to lose, don’t let that screw up your experience. You can get manascrewed or flooded. Or perhaps your opponent will topdeck the win. I can speak from experience having had all of the above happened to me. We are all there to compete but in our hearts we are all there to enjoy, have a good time, meet new people and play the this game we all love.
But on the other end of the spectrum, maybe you will get lucky in that critical spot? Or play real well and make it deep into the GP? There is only 1 way to find out, and that is by booking your place for the next GP! So what are you waiting for eh? Up your game and find new challenges while also having an amazing experience! Oh and don’t forget to bring your A-game with a twinkle in the eye!
Lastly I want to let all of you know that during Summer my schedule is fairly busy with other stuff so unfortunately I won’t write as often but keep an eye out here, will post whenever I have time and good ideas to bring forth. So enjoy the nice weathers and until next time!