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Appreciation of Casual Magic
By David Bruce
Has anyone looked at the PT and Grand Prix info lately? Good crimeny! What the heck *is* this? Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous?

In all fairness, and to avoid simply throwing slander, let's take an in-depth look at the pricetag attached to attending any of the Grand Prixs this year (which is probably the format favored by a number of Casual Players who perhaps don't work the PT circuit):

Porto, Portugal, September 23-24- 2000
Flight from Parkersburg, WV to Porto, Portugal: roughly $3000 USD
Hotel: About $100/night

Holy mother...okay, that's roughly $3500 not including food and such. For a shot at $1500 USD divided by 32 folks. Which is about $600-and-some dollars. What the heck kind of crack would you be smoking to go for that?

Okay, let's look at Japan...I've always wanted to visit Japan...

Flight from Parkersburg, WV to Sapporo, Japan: No Flights. Hmm. Okay, let's try...
Columbus to Sapporo: Aha! About $1700.
Hotel: About $150/nigh.

Okay, so that's like $2,500+the entrance fee for a shot at $25,000 divided among god-knows-how-many folks. Let's take the previous 32 as an example and we get $782/person. *cough*

Moving on...

We have another Grand Prix at Manchester, England. Being Scots by heritage, I have no great love for the Union Jack, but, hey, Magic is Magic, so let's go for it.
Flights (Columbus to Manchester): $815
Hotel: $70/night

That's not bad! Okay, so it's roughly $885+registration, food, etc. for a shot at $15000 divided between 32 folks. Again, that's about $469 dollars. Well, it's not too bad, if you win. You might break even, you might even get ahead.

Okay, moving on...

Grand Prix at Helsinki, Finland:
Flights: About $1500
Hotel: About $90/night

Again, it's going to be $15000 divided among 32 folks, with a price tag of about $1600. Well, not as bad as some...

Buenos Aires Grand Prix:
Flights: Another $1500 flight
Hotel: Minimum $300 (unless you want to sleep with la cocarocha)

Another $15000 purse divided among 32 people for a price tag around $1800. *sigh*

Okay, let's try right here in the US:

Dallas Grand Prix:
Flights: About $250 (wow what a deal!)
Hotel: About $70/night

Holy cow, only about $350 for a shot at what might be $15000 divided among 32 folks...that's not too bad!

At the risk of running this article into next week, I'll cut off the cost comparison at this point.

So: what have we learned from this exercise? Well, you'd have to be effing rich to be a high-end Magic player.

Seriously! Honestly, I haven't the foggiest idea how all these folks writing for (some other websites) manage to attend all this craziness! Oh, they're rich to begin with...I see...

Well, let's form a little experiment:

Let's say our subject is Tommy Poormagicplayer. Tommy plays Casual. Why? He lives in BFE and hasn't been to a sanctioned event in his life.

However, Tommy is incredibly good.

Tommy manages through a miracle to get offered a ride to the nearest metropolitan area for a sanctioned event with...lets say a travel purse attached to the winnings.

Tommy builds an amazing deck that hasn't been seen in the environment before, totally takes everyone by surprise and sweeps the event, gaining the cash purse that will get him to a Grand Prix or PTQ. (Okay, I'm exaggerating the cash prizes Wizards gives out...let's say it meets him halfway, and his dear old Aunt May fronts him the other half to fulfill his dream of playing Magic with the "big boys." God, that's so depressing...)

Anyway~

Tommy makes it to the Grand Prix or PTQ, again with a deck no one has even heard of, plays beautifully and storms the event, making some cash to get him on the Pro Tour. Go Tommy!

Tommy travels to some far away distant land where "everyone who's anyone" is playing. Third times a charm, and Tommy builds an amazing never-before-seen deck, plays beautifully, sweeps the event, the crowd goes crazy.

Now, Tommy walks out with a definite "I won this!" feeling after investing months of time and money into this silly little card game. Wow. Good job, Tom.

Let's bring reality to bear.

Rewind to the original sanctioned event: Tommy does indeed build a deck never before seen in the environment, plays without flaw, and has everything going for him.

Unfortunately, he looses. Too bad, so sad, don't let the door hit you in the behind on the way out is the only feeling he's going to have.

Why did Tommy loose? Who knows? Maybe his opponents cheated, maybe he got mana screwed, and maybe it just wasn't his day.

And maybe this is indeed a silly little card game and anyone who throws down hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for a shot with no reciprocal value is just plain nuts.

To be honest, you'd get better odds at Vegas.

At the risk of offending the herding masses of PT-circuit players, or aspirees, this is simply a cost breakdown to make folks aware of what they're doing.

Casual play might run you $20 for a couple pack of cards, which is what Richard Garfield originally envisioned: a couple folks get together, crack open a couple packs and throw down. Lots of fun for $20. I'd throw down $20, I will *not* throw down $100 or more unless I'm guaranteed at least a *box* of goodies. Otherwise, I'll take my money to Vegas and have some fun.

Now, to be honest, there are folks out there who just happen to have a number of these things already going for them, or are already rich (at least by *normal* standards!), and can throw away that kind of cash. There are also those who are just plain obsessed, which is peachy, too. It's their money, let 'em throw it away. *shrug*

But, I will not (repeat NOT) let a bunch of kids out there, playing their collective hearts out for ONE SHOT at the "big time" find out this stuff the hard way, and be totally heart-broken.

If a PTQ or Grand Prix is in your town, by all means go. If it's nearby, sure, go, it's a great time. But don't sell your shirt for this game.

I realize a lot of great literature was written on this premise, but really folks, wisdom far outstretches experience when it comes to value.

theBruce58@hotmail.com

Read More Articles by David Bruce!

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