Well this weekend I did something that I thought I would never do again - I played a couple games of Magic: The Gathering.
Fifteen years ago, way back in 1995, I started playing Magic. Me and my older cousin had a really good time with it, and eventually a couple of my friends picked it up. We never go to heavy into it, just playing around and having a good time. As we moved through high school we eventually quit playing. When I got into college I hooked up with a big group of gamers and we played a bit of Magic here and there, never getting really heavy into it. After this we all just lost interest in it.
I think for us one of the biggest reasons we quit was that we found another expensive hobby - Warhammer - to fill the void. Since then, about ten or years or so, none of us has had any real interest in it. When I opened my hobby shop everything I had read online told me that I HAD to sell Magic cards in order to make any money. It has a very low footprint (a box of boosters takes up like half a square foot), has a really good turnover rate (people who play Magic are always buying new cards), and it gets people into the store (either by holding events or just offering a place to play.)
So far my Magic sales had not been very stellar. I had sold about half a box to one of my regulars who also plays Warhammer. Deciding to try and grow interest in the game and see if it was going to be worth continuing to carry the line, I got signed up with Wizards Play Network and became an official event coordinator. This gave me access to be able to post events on the Wizards Play Network site, and also gives me access to some foil promo cards to give away. The whole process was a bit confusing, but I managed to fight through it and get set up properly.
For my first event I wanted to run something easy, cheap, fun, and relaxed - so I settled on an unranked booster draft. The cost to enter was just for the three booster packs and the prizes would be the foil promo cards that Wizards sent me.
I had the event up for about a month and promoted it a bit in the local forums and on the day of the event we had five people show up. I was quite excited about this since it meant there was interest, and it would be very manageable with only a couple of people. Since there were only five people we had an odd number it fell to me to be the ringer.
Even though I had played quite a bit of Magic back in the day, I had never participated in a Booster Draft. Man, I had been missing out because it was a blast. We had a couple of people there who had played in quite a few so they talked all of us who hadn't through it and we got to it.
We drafted through three rounds of cards and I ended up with a White/Green deck that focused on life gen and weenie creatures with a few big ones for punch. We all paired up and played through a couple of rounds and then we had our winner. Capnwoodrow from the forums ended up winning the day with a perfect record against all comers. We didn't have any problems with the rules, everyone was a good sport, and everyone had fun so to me it was a smashing success.
After that a few people hung around and played a few games and traded some cards. Since you have to know the product you are selling I grabbed a starter deck off the shelf and got in a couple of games myself and had a blast doing it.
Looking at it now, it almost seems like Magic has gotten a bad rap off of the internet. It is kind of the same as with Warhammer and pretty much any other hobby game - you have a very small vocal minority on the internet that can paint the game in a bad light. You see people on Magic websites and message boards complaining and bemoaning that if you aren't running one of five or six very specific decks you have no chance at winning. The same holds true for Warhammer, 40k, Warmachine, and pretty much every other system out there - you have these ultra-competitive builds and a small, but very vocal, minority and it can paint the whole hobby in a bad light.
After playing a few games that day and hanging out with some of the local players I kind of realize I had it wrong, I had let these comments color my view of the game and it really isn't all that bad. I am now quite excited to be selling the product and am actually looking forward to getting in some more games.