Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Eternal Weekend

I'm fresh back from Eternal Weekend, a Legacy and Vintage event weekend held in Philadelphia this year under new sponsorship. Even though I know nothing about these two formats, I did have some things I wanted to share.  I'll keep this weeks installment brief, as I have some serious work to get done.

Legacy and Vintage are NOT Dead
I've heard that Legacy is as good as dead.  You've heard that no one plays Vintage anymore.  We've all heard rallying cries that have appeared in articles and on Twitter feeds.  We especially heard it following the death of Extended as a format.  People (important people with a capital 'P') have said that Legacy and Vintage should be retired.  These 'people' said that the formats are both no longer relevant and too expensive.

I'm here to say that what I saw this past weekend proves one of my founding beliefs.  People are sheep.  In this case, I'm specifically referring to the naysayers who said it was time to retire both formats.  The Legacy and Vintage main events fired with over 600 players in total between the two days.  In fact, the Vintage event on Sunday was record breaking, with more attendees playing this 'dead' format than at any previous event on American soil.  These two formats have a great deal of support in the area surrounding Philadelphia.  Having a pro Magic players like Reid Duke topping out to sit at the semi-finalist Vintage table is further proof that some 'people' are simply wrong.

Legacy and Vintage are far from dead, and holding Eternal Weekend in a new venue is the reboot the format needed.

There Ain't No Party... a Nick Coss party.  It's been heard a few times in our region (actually, more than a few).  The TO of Eternal Weekend 2013 is well known for a few reasons.  The number one reason is he's generous almost to a fault with friends and gamers.

At his pre-release events, food is available to the 100+ gamers that attend.  At his PTQs, he offers some of the most aggressive prize structures in Magic.  And when it comes to creative ways to reward players who come to Eternal Weekend, it's easy to see why Nick is such a big guy - it's so that his heart doesn't burst from his chest.

Nick is generous.  He wants people to come back and play again.  And again.  He is a businessman, don't make any mistake about that...but he wants people to have a great time too.  For a case in point, all one had to do was to look at the creative prizes awarded to those who played Vintage on Sunday with a little handicap:

Budget Bonus Prizes!

Highest placing decks without any of the following cards:
The 'Power 9'
Bazaar of Baghdad
Mishra's Workshop
Time Vault
Imperial Seal
1st: $400
2nd: $200
3rd-4th: $100
5th-8th: $50

If you ever have a chance to attend an event in which you hear that Top Deck Games, Card Titan, and/or Nick are even remotely involved in planning and you pass on it, I don't want to hear whining about it later.

Personal Challenge
I don't have deep pockets, nor have I been playing this game for very long.  So I went to Eternal Weekend for a few reasons, none of which included playing in the main events.

Firstly, I wanted to support Top Deck Games and Card Titan, but that's pretty obvious.  Secondly, I wanted to give my son a chance to play a marathon session of limited.  Once events started firing on Saturday, I think he was in four different events.  The MMA was a bit rough, but he made up for it in Theros drafts.  The last, and most personal reason was I wanted to help with the event as a 'Level 1 Judge Candidate'.  I figured if I could help on Friday and Sunday, I could gain some much needed experience.

Things don't always work out the way you anticipate them to.  Friday was a bit slow - so I spent the better part of my time answering questions the L1s and L2s present felt like fielding me.   The patience exhibited by the Judges there was pretty incredible to me, and I wish I had a suitable way to thank them all.  Instead, I'll simply state that Michael Arrowsmith, Matt Hall, & Min Moldover were all excellent in this regard.

On Sunday, it started much the same way.  I sat in on an early meeting held by one of the head judges.  As the morning progressed, I found myself in another question and answer session as there were no side events fired before 10am.  Eventually, the L2 who had been throwing question after question at me asked if I was testing this weekend.  Leading up to the weekend I had made a decision not to test.  I still felt I had a lot to learn regarding the rules.  But Michael's apparent confidence in me when he asked the question got me thinking that I could do it.  So when he proposed I take the L1 practice test, I agreed.

I'm still not sure what the name of that freight train was that ran me over, but it was big.

Since I hadn't yet passed my Rules Adviser test (a prerequisite for taking a L1 Practice Test), one of the other Judges, Simon Cooper, brought out his personal laptop and helped me log into Judge Center.  I created a RA test and sat down to take it.  Over the next 50 minutes or so, I wrestled with 25 rules questions about card interactions.

The score I received was low.  Aside from me writing about it now, we shall never speak of this RA test again.  I was disheartened and embarrassed.  Thoughts that ran through my head included things like, "Wow, these guys have spent hours with you this weekend and this is how you perform?" to "A (Score redacted to protect the innocent and my already bruised psyche)%?  Go home, loser."  I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and make it all go away.

Instead, I went to get some lunch.  The sun was out, the weather was beautiful and the Reading Terminal Market was around the corner.  I consoled myself with a pulled pork sandwich from Dinic's.  I even splurged and bought a couple cookies from one of the many bakeries.  When I was done, I sat down with Min Moldover, who spent easily an hour going over the questions I missed and helped me to see where I made mistakes.  It was painful - many mistakes were due to simple reasons.   I missed most of the questions by 'that' much - I wasn't far off on any of my answers.  And what was even worse?  Min actually said to me one of my problems with a particular question was, 'reading comprehension.'

Ahem.  ME?  Reading comprehension?  Surely you mean the other Magic Dad, right?

When Min was done with me, I felt again like curling up into the fetal position.  I also wanted to turn around and retake the RA right then and there, to prove I wasn't stupid (which was the way I felt and had no bearing in any way to the way Min treated me).  I wanted to punch a wall.  Instead, I did none of those things.  I grabbed a box of product and fired off the first of a half dozen Theros drafts.

I know Judges talk, so I'm sure that my score...or at least my poor performance was shared with more than a few people who wore black shirts that day.  I'm ok with that.  I'm sure while my performance was shared, most didn't know my name or wouldn't be able to pick me out of a police lineup six months from now.  The people who do matter, the ones who will remember me, won't remember this test, taken on a beautiful fall day during Eternal Weekend 2013.


Because next time I take that test, I will KICK IT'S POSTERIOR PLUMP MID-REGION INTO NEXT MONTH.  And when I take my L1, I'm going to do the same.

A singular screw up is one thing.  But now I know where I'm lacking and I'm working diligently to fix it.  Min and Michael will be proud of me when I'm done.  I may not write much in the next few weeks.  You see, I have a test to study for.


Closing Comments:
Thank you Matt Wall, Liz Richardson, Dimah Eroshkin, Simon Cooper, Nicola Dipasquale and Mike Noss.  Special thanks to Min Moldover and Micheal Arrowsmith, two princes among Judges.

Also, a special shout out to Kate C. on Twitter.  Her compliment regarding my youngest was wonderful to receive.  Players, if you do play against a well-mannered child, be sure to let their parents know.  They love to hear it and it reinforces behavior (whether you see it or not) that we want all young players to exhibit.

Reblogs, Retweets, & Mentions of all kinds are appreciated - as an independent writer I'm only read when others like what they see and share with their friends.


  1. You just made my day :) I'm sorry we didn't get to personally meet at the event, but please tweet and let us know if you're going to be at any other events around---we live in the Harrisburg area so we're around a lot as well. Your son was a great opponent as well---I had to work hard to get around that Chalice of the Void!

  2. Kate, I'm glad I could include you in this story even as an end note. Back in the day, when my grandparents would go out they would try to find one family with a small child they could compliment at any restaurant or event. They'd sit quietly, eat their meal and walk over to the table on their way out. They would point out how well behaved the child was during their meal - even if the kid acted up a bit - just to help reinforce how important behavior is in a public space. The parents face would light up. We need more of that in this world, and I thank you again for your comment.

  3. Just so there is no confusion, the RA exam is NOT required for the L1 exam. Keep studying it took me a few times to pass my L1 exam. That was over 3 years ago and I'm still studying the rules. They are hard.

  4. You'll get there! I too learned the game as a parent. My transition to judging started when I failed my first L1 exam. I got the bit in my teeth and began to study the rules in depth. (Martha, not sure why this is coming up anonymous)

  5. Nick, it is required though to take the L1 Practice Exams via Judge Center, which was what I was referring to. Thank you for pointing that out though, I don't want people to think that it's required either. Martha, thank you for the words of encouragement!