The Real Deal – Building Community at Grand Prix: Columbus

Grand Prix: Columbus is next week, and the format is Legacy. With all the talk of Hulk Flash, will the Legacy Community rise to the occasion and champion their format in a positive light? In this week’s edition of The Real Deal, Ben gives some tips about how to make the Grand Prix and the format appealing to non-Legacy regulars!

Plus, in Ben’s Corner: StarCityGames.com is bringing what to Grand Prix: Columbus?

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Real Deal. I’d like to start off this week’s articles with a trio of quotes from the forums of Nick Eisel latest article, which dealt with the Hulk Flash deck. As many of you know, Nick’s column usually focuses on Limited formats, but Nick collected a lot of data about various Hulk Flash decks around the net, and posted them in one handy compendium. Here’s the reactions to that article:

Bstric1: No offense, but data from someone who is by no means recognized in the Legacy / Eternal community might as well be something we read in a thread posted by any random user. Sometimes I wonder what goes through the editor’s heads in selecting premium articles.

Richard Feldman: No offense, but the Legacy / Eternal community is known by the Magic community at large for its petty arrogance and disdain for anyone who is not a part of it, no matter how strongly that person’s words may stand on their own.

This post is not helping.

You should be ashamed of yourself. There are a lot of good people in the Legacy community, and you are giving them all a bad name.

Kevin Binswanger: Can we can the flames in general? I think it’s fair to say that we shouldn’t judge people who play a specific format based on the people who post based on it. The same way not all Legacy players are represented by one person, neither are all Constructed players like some of the people who post in other threads.

I’ve been around a lot of Legacy players over the past couple of years, thanks to our Duel for Duals series of Legacy tournaments. From what I’ve seen, they’ve been a bunch just like any other group of Magic players — a couple of loudmouths, and a majority of cool guys that I’d love to spend my Saturday afternoon slinging spells (or buying/selling cards) with. However, a majority of the people coming down for Grand Prix: Columbus next week aren’t going to have this sort of previous exposure to a large gathering of Legacy players.

Like it or not, there is the perception that Legacy (and Vintage — but please, that’s an article for another time) players are xenophobic, exclusionary, and overly defensive. Comments made by people like Bstric1 help perpetuate this stereotype, and it must be frustrating for more level-headed Legacy players to have to fight upstream to break against stereotypes, when those stereotypes are being perpetuated daily by a vocal minority.

To add to the perceived attitude problems, we have the 900-Pound gorilla in the room — the one known as Hulk Flash. Many have adopted a “the sky is falling” attitude towards this combo deck, and let me say — this also does not help engender people to your format. Protean Hulk plus Flash equals quite a good deck, but there are two facts at play here:

The pre-Future Sight version of Hulk Flash is considerably weaker than the post-Future Sight version of the deck. The lack of Pacts at Grand Prix: Columbus definitely holds the power level of Hulk Flash in check.

The deck can be hated out. Cards such as Pyroblast / Red Elemental Blast, Spell Snare, and Leyline of the Void will be run main deck — and these cards are also good against several other decks in the format. Yes, Hulk Flash will warp the metagame at Columbus, but the question is: Is this shift warranted, or is it a knee-jerk reaction to a deck that, while doing well, hasn’t exactly been dominating the Grand Prix Trial circuit thus far?

Kevin Binswanger wrote an incredible article yesterday entitled “Unlocking Legacy — Flash.” I suggest that each and every one of you go and read that article right now, even if you’re not interested in Legacy, Grand Prix: Columbus, or Hulk Flash. Kevin has put together one of the most well-written and even-keeled diagnostics of a deck that I’ve ever seen, and that article should be the example by which anyone wishing to champion their format should base future writings upon.

It’s that good. [Agreed. — Craig.]

What does Kevin do in this article that makes it such an effective piece of writing?

He doesn’t exaggerate.
He doesn’t talk down to the reader.
He takes a calm, patient tone.
He explains, fully, all the concepts that are needed to understand the article, within the article. This makes his article readily accessible to all.
He portrays his format (Legacy) in a positive, friendly light.

If you’re a hard-core Legacy player going to Grand Prix: Columbus, it’s in your absolute best interest to promote the format. The more people that show up to Columbus, and the happier they are leaving the tournament, the more likely it is for Wizards of the Coast to support (or increase support) for Legacy in the future. How can you make Grand Prix: Columbus the best experience possible for others?

Be polite and courteous to people, especially those you don’t know. Encourage their ideas, don’t talk down to them, and don’t act like you are “better than them” because you are more familiar with the format than they are.

Don’t engender an attitude that Hulk Flash is going to ruin the Grand Prix. It’s not. It will change up the metagame considerably than if it didn’t exist, but the deck will not be the majority of the field (though it may be the most played deck), and it can be hated out or beaten. The past Extended season was one of the most popular constructed formats in the past few years, and the current Legacy format has a lot in common with the past Extended season.

Be inclusive. If you’re going to play Type Four, invite new players to join in. Offer to gunsling games against more casual players, and give them tips on how to improve their decks. Make the Grand Prix an experience where non-Legacy regulars feel invited to become a part of the Legacy community, and not an us-versus-them game of “we must beat everyone else to prove how good we are at our own format.”

I think that Grand Prix: Columbus has the potential to be an amazing event, and one that can convert a lot of people into play the Legacy format. It will take the efforts of the many to make the Grand Prix as palatable as possible to non-Legacy regulars. If you see a Legacy regular being a negative influence at the event, don’t hold your tongue — say something to them! Pull them aside privately, and say “Hey man, you’re being a bit of a jerk there — did you think that what you said might put people off from our format?” Remember — be courteous. Nobody likes to be rebuked, but a gentle reminder about how ones actions are being perceived can go a long way towards fixing a problem, and making the event as fun and inviting as possible.

Ben’s Corner

Did I mention that StarCityGames.com will be set up as a dealer at Grand Prix: Columbus? That’s right — we’re going to be bringing a four-man crew to buy and sell cards all weekend long. In the spirit of Mark Rosewater, here’s our team for the weekend:

Pete Hoefling: The owner of StarCityGames.com, and all your Chicken Tikka Masala are belong to him.

Ben Bleiweiss: Me, myself and I.

Wes Moss: Former Virginia State Champion, and full-time StarCityGames.com employee. A big fan of the Cleveland Indians!

Eric Lewandowski: Special Guest Star, and programmer of Netdraft and the Star City Game Center clock.

In addition to a full spectrum of Legacy, Standard and Block constructed cards, StarCityGames.com will be bringing our full foreign inventory to Grand Prix: Columbus! That’s right — we’re going to pack up tens of thousands of foreign singles to sell at this event. Whether you’re looking for an Italian Tundra, a Zwang from Urza’s Saga (that’s Duress, for the less-than-German-speakers among us), or a foil Russian Niv-Mizzet, chances are we might have just that thing you need to pimp out your deck. We’ll be set up from open on Friday (2pm), so stop on by the booth — even if you don’t buy or sell anything, it’s always nice to meet our customers and readers!

If you’d like to place an order in advance to be picked up at Grand Prix: Columbus, simply place an order in our system, and put the following note in the notes field of that order: “Please remove my shipping costs and have Wes Moss deliver this sucker to Grand Prix: Columbus!” We can take orders to be hand-delivered to Columbus until 6pm on Wednesday, May 17th — all shipping charges will be removed before your credit card is charged, and all orders must be paid in full in advance. We can only deliver singles to Grand Prix Columbus, so please do not order boxes, supplies or anything other than singles, thanks!

See you all next week, either on this site, or at the Grand Prix!

Ben Bleiweiss
[email protected]