Editor’s Note. CK submitted this a while ago and we editors didn’t post it in a timely manner. I’ve updated some of the language to make sense, but some of it will just feel weird now, a kind of “how we used to look at the future back in the past” type piece. But a lot of the ideas are so awesome that it’s still worth reading now.

This past weekend has gone down in Magic history as one of the grandest, if not the biggest, grandest Magic event, ever. Tens of thousands of players converged upon three locations across three continents to celebrate the release of one of the most coveted sets by engaging one another in high-level competitive play.

Of course, I am talking about GP Chiba in Japan, GP Utrecht in the Netherlands, and the largest of them all, GP Vegas in the US of A. Even as I’m writing this article now (a full week before the events), the attendance for GP Vegas has already shattered the 7000-player mark, and is still increasing.

Amidst this swirling maelstrom of humanity, many of you encountered different players who were there for different purposes – the majority of them there primarily for the main event, for a chance at being crowned one of the winners of GP Vegas (yes, there were two separate GP Vegas’es – such is the scale of the event!), and more/less importantly, for a shot at cracking the riches that rest within the environment-friendly cardboard packaging. Foil Tarmogoyf, anyone?

For the sake of this installment of Lens of Clarity though, I’m going to put aside this major demographic, and instead target the players who were there more for the Commander get-togethers.

Commander Side-Events for GP Chiba/Utrecht/Vegas

GP Chiba: Pick-up tournaments were run on-site throughout the weekend, all of which are sanctioned. Pods fired off as soon as they had four players. For more information, you can refer to the official site.

GP Utrecht: Similar to Chiba, they had four-player Commander events firing on demand. In addition, players interested in duel Commander had access to Swiss-round events. Visit the side events schedule page of GP Utrecht for more information.

GP Vegas: It pains me to tell you this, but there weren’t any Commander side events at Vegas!

Or at least, not official ones.

Our very own Team GDC graced the halls of Vegas (not me; I was away judging at GP Chiba), and you can read Mr. P’s interesting travel diary here. If you have any photos getting down with Team GDC or Mr. P, share them with us!

Also, I came across this Reddit thread, so there definitely was some EDH goodness over at Vegas!

General guidelines for Commander Side-Events

Note: this is based on my experience judging Commander pods at GP Melbourne. I will talk about the pertinent points, but otherwise take everything I write here with a pinch of salt.

Players taking part in sanctioned EDH side-events should note that the four-player pods are multiplayer, casual format. In other words, please don’t try and apply your Infraction Penalty Guide knowledge here. There won’t be any Warnings given for the usual offenses like missing a triggered ability, or tapping the wrong lands for mana, or looking at cards you shouldn’t be looking at; there won’t be Game Losses given for accidentally drawing an extra card. However, this doesn’t mean that you can play dirty. You could still be ejected from the event (and possibly the venue) if you behave aggressively or cheat blatantly.

Official rules are as dictated on the official Commander site (or the Duelists Rules Site), including the official ban lists. If you have Primeval Titan in your Azusa deck because your group allows it…well, it’s time to replace it with another card, at least for the these events.

Since it’s multiplayer casual, the pod may take it upon themselves to implement house rules/bans – this is perfectly fine, but only if the decision is unanimous, and communicated to the presiding judge beforehand. Then again, the judge is there mostly to provide rules backup and resolve potentially fractious disputes (according to how such a dispute would be handled at the Regular REL, or the FNM level).

Vegas players responding to the EDH rallying cries got no such “official” judge help; hope everyone played nice!

Personal Tips and Guidelines

Know what the rules are for when a player leaves the game. You might even want to read a previous Lens of Clarity installment (To toot my own horn a bit) to learn the intricacies of how this plays out.

Now, some other tips for those of you planning to play EDH at these mega-events:

  1. If you’re going to bring your bling deck, take good care of it! I can’t stress this enough, especially if you know your library is going to be constantly manhandled (Bribery, I’m looking at you). My personal tip for you is to bring a less tricked-out deck, so that (touch wood!) even if you misplace one or more cards, you don’t feel that much of a pinch.
  2. This is a general application of #1 – please, Please, PLEASE…watch your belongings!
  3. Understand that not everyone is going to be as nice (or as naughty) as you. In the ideal world, everyone in the pod is on the same wavelength. In a slightly-less ideal setting, not everyone knows what to expect from one another; maybe this gentleman on your left is a “I’m here strictly for the prize, nothing else matters” Spike, maybe this lady across you is playing a tribal Angel deck with Avacyn leading the choir. Whatever it is, adjust your expectations accordingly!
  4. Politicking and/or teasing can be funny and all, but watch the terms you use. Remember, you’re playing in a sanctioned event, you’re bound by the code of conduct that players are expected to follow at such events. Just be respectful and sensitive.

As mentioned, I was judging at GP Chiba during this momentous weekend. I’ll was tweeting about interesting stuff I see via the official Magic Judges account (@MagicJudges). If you saw me and came up to say “Hi,” awesome. Thanks! Sorry if I missed you. I was probably busy scampering from one task to another but I really did want to talk to you!

And that’s all from me. I hope everyone had a great weekend. If you have great photos or stories to share, we want to hear them!