GP weekend is almost upon us once more! This will be my eighth event, and if the previous ones have been anything to go by, it’s going to be an excellent weekend.
The increasing popularity of Arena means that more and more people are picking up Magic and travelling to tournaments like MagicFests for the first time. Even for seasoned veterans, this event is going to be unusual – there’ll be a GP and a Mythic Championship running simultaneously, and for the first time ever the main event takes the form of a prerelease.
Sound intimidating? Don’t worry: I’ve compiled a short list of things that will help you get the most out of MagicFest London.
There’s a huge spectrum of “convention centre food experiences” ranging from excellent to “chips”. If you can, go to a supermarket on the way to the GP hall and buy things to eat during the day – fruit, sandwiches, anything that takes your fancy. Preferably fresh and good for you. Junk food will make you crash.
Bring plenty of water (and drink it!) as well as painkillers and anything else you might need to see you through the weekend. This includes cash – there’s only one ATM inside the venue and there’s every chance it will run out at some point, so if you’re planning on picking up those last few foils for your Commander deck you might want to come prepared!
Look after your hygiene
I’m not going to beat around the bush: there are a lot of people in a GP hall (like, in the region a couple of thousand at least) and it gets hot in there, particularly if you’re attending a GP in the summer. It sounds REALLY patronising, but shower before you leave for the venue, change your clothes every day, and bring deodorant. Not only will you feel better (and play better) but the people around you in the hall will appreciate it.
Make a group chat
GP halls are BIG. Set up a group chat with your friends. Ours are usually just a stream of numbers as we find empty tables and set up a brief rally point. In an enormous hall where hundreds of people are wearing very similar outfits, you’ll need it.
Plan your travel…
Most people will be staying in hotels or AirBNB near the venue itself, but for people travelling from further afield, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the London Underground system. The venue is easily accessible from the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), with two stations serving either end of the venue – Custom House for the west entrance, and Prince Regent for the east. The Mythic Championship will be held in hall N5 at the venue, and the MagicFest is in hall N6 – both of which are located at the western end of the Excel, so Custom House will be the closest station.
Be aware, however, that Custom House doesn’t have any step-free access, so if you require disabled access to the venue you may have to alight at Prince Regent. Also, the London Marathon is being held on Sunday, and the route runs near to the Excel – so traffic diversions will be in place and public transport may be busier than usual.
Plan your weekend
If you’re not playing the main event (and then going on to win the whole thing, obviously) there’s a huge range of side events on offer.
The London schedule is available here, so pick the events you want to play in and schedule and budget accordingly to avoid disappointment!
Know where your stuff is at all times
It’s rare, but it happens: people get things stolen at big events. Minimise this by not dumping your bag behind your seat when you sit down to play – put it between your ankles, or at least under the table. Hook the strap of your bag around the chair leg to make it even more failsafe. And write your name and DCI number on your things so they’re easy to claim at lost property if the worst happens!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
GP staff are customer service first and foremost, including judges. They’re not just there to answer rules questions! Look for one not carrying a bunch of papers, boxes of boosters or a big flag, because they’re likely on their way to fire an event.
Additionally, there’ll be “greeters” wearing Channel Fireball shirts near the entrance to the GP hall – you can ask them at any time if you need help registering for side events, finding your way around or working out where your event will be.
Visit the Mythic Championship!
You don’t have to have qualified for the MC to go along and watch. The best players in the world are all going to be in one room for the weekend, so this is a rare opportunity to watch some of them in action!
Remember that the Mythic Championship (And day two of a GP) are run at Professional REL, which means that as a spectator you’re not allowed to interrupt or pause a match in progress, even if you see something go wrong.
Be excellent to each other
Magic is a game that’s played by millions, bridging gaps of gender, race and age. GPs should, in theory, be a place where people can come together and play this game that unites us. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
If someone – even your friends; ESPECIALLY your friends – is making derogatory remarks about someone based on their gender, sexual orientation or race (for example), step in and remind them that that’s not OK. Tell a judge if you hear someone making offensive comments. As someone who frequently finds themselves in the minority at GPs, we appreciate it.
Whether it’s your first event or your twenty-fifth, I hope your GP experience is as wholesome and rewarding as mine have been. I’ll be hanging around the main event all over the weekend. Feel free to come and say hi!