A Gathering for Magic

by Brook Gardner-Durbin

Over 100 people braved the late-night snowstorm to gather at Rook’s Comics and Games on Friday night to play Magic: The Gathering pre-release.  Some had been there for hours, but most started showing up shortly before midnight.  The newest set, “Born of the Gods”, goes on sale on Friday, Feb. 7, but this tournament offered players a sneak peek at what was coming and a chance to get ahold of some of the newest cards.

“The pre-release is super casual, and a great time to learn,” said Cody Brown, a junior physics major.  “Everyone is seeing the [new] cards for the first time, so its a…level playing field.”

Despite being fairly new to Magic, Brown managed to emerge unscathed in the tournament and also went undefeated on Saturday, when Rook’s hosted two more tournaments.

Edwin Haegele, a senior in accounting, was also undefeated at the end of both tournaments. “I like pre-releases because its a big scene, and feels more like a ‘real,’ competitive tournament, without the huge stakes.”

Magic tournaments have a wide variety of entry fees and potential prizes, ranging from free tournaments with no prizes to a Pro Tour held four times a year where players can win up to $40,000.  Having lower stakes than bigger tournaments, while still having a large number of players, gives pre-releases a unique feel: “It’s incredibly new player friendly,” Haegele said, who has been playing Magic for close to a decade.

Sara Erickson, who owns Rook’s Comics and Games with her husband Lincoln, had to make a late-night trip to get additional chairs for the event.  “We were ready for a 10 percent increase over the last [pre-release],” Lincoln said, “but this was our biggest midnight release ever.  It was great.”

Rook’s hosts Magic events every Tuesday and Friday, as well as most weekends, which have an average of 15 to 25 players, but it also regularly holds larger tournaments like this pre-release.  “We’re hosting States this spring,” Lincoln said.  He is also looking forward to the official release tournament on Friday Feb. 7.

“Born of the Gods” is loosely inspired by greek myths and several players got into the spirit by arriving in togas.  Most players, however, were unconcerned by the storyline of the new cards, as it makes the game more flavorful but does not have any direct impact on the game.

“It’s a fun game that is intellectually challenging,” said Brown, when asked why he played Magic.

“I like the complexity of it,” added Haegele.  “It’s an evolving game.”  While most games are static, Magic releases new cards four times a year, which means there is always something new to try.

Brown and Haegele both emphasized the appeal of the social gathering as well: “I’ve met all my best friends playing Magic,” said Brown.

Rook’s Comics and Games is located at 2740 West Main Street, across the street from the Gallatin Valley Mall.  A complete schedule of their Magic and other events is available at rookscomicsandgames.com and also thier Facebook page.