By Stephen Sedgwick-Williams
Whenever a new expansion to an existing and much loved franchise is released, many fans find themselves waiting anxiously right up to the launch date to get their hands on it.
But for Algonquin players of the popular Magic the Gathering card game, the fun of the series’ newest expansion, Gatecrash, began a week early at the New Tech Store’s pre-release tournament.
“The nice thing about a pre-release is they get these cards a week before the actual release of the set,” said Christopher Kahle, an employee at the New Tech Store and one of the tournament’s hosts. “So these are the cards they will not be able to get anywhere else, until the release day.”
The pre-release tournament, an officially-sanctioned event by Magic the Gathering creators Wizards of the Coast, drew out a whopping 151 players from both within Algonquin and outside of it and brought them together as a community with a common interest.
“There’s so many communities at Algonquin, and it’s really nice to see each of them come together in different ways.” said Faris Lehn, SA clubs and communities coordinator. “It’s great to provide a space for the Magic community, or any other kind of community to exist and grow.”
The event was made possible through a combined effort between the New Tech Store, Magic Club and the SA in which the New Tech Store ran the tournament itself. They acquired official sanctioning, and provided the cards while the Magic club and SA worked together to rent the space.
Magic is a competitive collectible card game that has grown in scale over the years and has developed a large following that transcends age and gender. A massive series of tournaments and pro-tours are held across the world. This particular tournament was what is called a “sealed deck event” meaning that each player that entered for the $25 fee received a sealed deck of cards from the newest Magic expansion, plus a small number of boosters, packs of randomized cards.
Being a sanctioned event, new players also received membership cards and numbers that can be used with other official Wizards of the Coast events, such as the Magic pro-tour and had each of their wins and losses tracked towards their overall standing.
For those who did well in the tournament, adding points to their win-loss record was not the only prize. The New Tech Store had a number of other prizes for the top players, including packs of the unreleased expansion itself for the top eight.
But the competition wasn’t everything in the tournament, as fun and coming together as a community were also highlights for the fans of the game, new or old.
“Sportsmanship’s a big thing for us as well, we want to be able to have people who have just started picking it up being able to come out to any event,” said Jason Rupert, a New Tech Store employee.
While competition was present, there was a lot of cooperation, jokes, tips about building decks and fun in general surrounding the tournament as the day went on.
The New Tech Store also held a release tournament for the new expansion on Saturday Feb. 2, and while much smaller, the tournament still brought out enough fans to fill one of the club rooms in the E building.
The New Tech Store typically holds eight tournaments a year for Magic, including a pre-release and a release for each expansion, which are typically launched every three months.
“We’re hoping to expand, we’d love to be able to bring a PTQ- a pro-tour qualifier- to the area, and bring in people from all over Eastern Ontario,” Rupert said in regards to the future. “And actually, potentially see a champion come right out of this school into a money winning tournament.”