This Isn't the Day Your Article Is Supposed to Go Up
I know, I'm sorry about that. I have a good reason, I swear.
I Need Your Article to Make Tuesdays Bearable
Are you just saying that because you're not actually a representation of my average listener but a projection of my ego?
Don't You Mean "Id"?
As a projection of my ego, you should know that I don't know the difference and the Wikipedia article about it was confusing.
Hey actual readers, the ones who don't talk back, I'm sorry my article was late this week. Normally when someone's article is late, they don't draw attention to it. It goes up a few days later, they pretend that was the plan all along.
I can only assume afterward they drive off in a convertible wearing sunglasses with a hot girl in a bikini riding shotgun to go drop ecstasy at a secret warehouse rave or drink champagne while screaming at people from a limo, or whatever it is cool people do when they get away with something.
I'm not about all that. The coolest thing I can do is cop to getting my article in super late and not trying to pretend I always go up a different day because I have a super good excuse.
I was in Montreal partying my ass off.
At the GP. I was at the GP. And the plan was to go up there to be social, not play in the event. But my intentions for making the trip nonwithstanding, the point I want to emphasize applies to any trip you make for this children's card game of ours. That point is that there needs to be a plan.
Would you like to know the best part? You don't have to come up with the plan or even take an active role in its creation. You don't even have to know the plan. My article is late because I didn't know the plan and other than that, nothing bad happened. Mostly. More on that later.
Canada is really big, guys. Despite the fact that 75% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border, Canada is still quite large latitudinally. That isn't a word. Longitudinally is a word and latitudinally isn't? Laterally? Canada is long, y'all. Like as long as or longer than the US.
So when you hear an event is in Canada and you live in Michigan, you might think "score, let's drive." That works out really well if the event is in Toronto. Such was the case last December and that was totally the play.
However, this is not then and once I arrived in Toronto, I was not able to spike it in the end zone and proclaim, "bring on the poutine and bitches," because Montreal is way east of Toronto.
I had a few options when I got to Toronto. I could keep driving, which would require me to keep driving. This did not appeal to me. Another option was to take an expensive flight from Toronto to Montreal. This also did not appeal to me.
Luckily another option arose when both "plane" and "automobile" were eliminated from the running.
GP Drunk Train
I am possessed of enough self awareness to fully comprehend that no one over 16 is impressed with other people's drunk stories. People in their 20s pretend to care but they are really waiting to tell their own drunk stories because they think theirs are more interesting.
People older than their 20s (me, soon) aren't impressed. People older than their 70s probably don't like hearing about drinking because it reminds them they have to pee every 45 minutes. Seriously, what's up with that?
I am going to tell you about the plan anyway, because while you don't care about drinking stories, probably, the plan was to draft the booze cube on a leisurely train cruise from Toronto to Montreal with members of Brainstorm Brewery, The Eh Team, Heavy Meta and their friends. Ryan and I picked up podcast cohost Marcel at the airport and drove to Toronto.
Stay In Toronto Thursday Night
Planning - 6.5/10. The plan was to stay at the house of QS writing alumnus and Toronto native Ryan Abcede. Ryan lived outside the city, so we'd have to leave his place pretty early to make the train to Montreal and that sounded loose. Ryan wanted to take us to his favorite breakfast spot before the train, which required getting up even earlier. Planned by Ryan Abcede.
Execution - 3/10 I didn't sleep that night so I was ready to drive at 6 AM since I was still awake. The diner had pretty poor poutine and service, but apparently the apple pie milkshakes Ryan recommended that no one (even he) ordered probably made the place worth it and it serves us right for getting poutine for breakfast like a tourist.
GP Drunk Train
Planning - 9/10. Sounded awesome. I like the Booze Cube, and was looking to avenge my third place finish in the original challenge for a playmat. We even got a special mat to give away as a prize on the train ride. Planned by the Eh Team's Jeremy Schofield.
Execution - 1/10. We were not allowed to drink the beer that was brewed for the occasion.
Also, only one block of seats faced other seats and the car was filled with other people who had no interest in our shenanigans. The train was charging $6 for a can of beer. The tray tables were too small to game on.
Also, the seats could totally be swiveled to face each other, but we didn't realize that until there was a half hour left on the train ride back to Toronto on Monday. It was a blowout on wheels. Still, we had a plan, and a plan is better than a shotgun blast to the face.
Dinner at Pied Du Cochon
Planning - 9/10. Awww yiss. Sweet Montreal-specific gourmet food. The Eh Team's KYT planned this, so obviously it was going to be the jam.
Execution - N/A. I was too tired to go to the restaurant, so Bushard and I durdled in the hotel room. A late luncheon at 3 Brasseurs had left me feeling sated.
That excursion was planned by Montreal native Martin Brunet and while it was no Pied du Cochon, the poutine was better than the breakfast joint and the A&W at a rest stop on the highway. Letting Canadian people plan this trip and not arguing with them was getting there.
20 minutes of sleep on the train punctuated by people laughing at me was not enough, and while others feasted on tete du cochon and visage du cochon and probably even pieds du cochon, I slumbered in a hotel bed like a boss.
Play EDH and Sell Cards Instead of the Main Event
Planning - 10/10 Planned by yours, truly.
Execution - 10/10. It was starting to look like going with the flow was getting there.
Lunch at Pho Restaurant
Planning - 5/10. Magic players playing in a ton of different events and getting involved in stuff when a group wants to leave is like herding cats. Finally, a group of three trekked to get Pho and left everyone else to their own devices. Planned by Quebec native and Podcast listener Dominic Luong.
Execution - 9.5/10. Dom, despite not living in Montreal, has visited frequently and his Vietnamese father has taken him out for Pho in town so he knew exactly where to go. I don't remember the name of the place, but I remember how to walk there so I guess it's for me to know and you to never find out. Tag along with me next time. No, I didn't take a picture of the Pho. What is this, Instagram?
Mana Deprived Party
Planning - 8/10. DJ Spruke spinning in a hot Montreal Nightclub, Mana Deprived fans and Magic Pros everywhere? Bottle Service? Should be fun. Planned by KYT.
Execution - N/A. Wait a minute! I don't want to go to a nightclub. Luckily for me, they took one look at how Ryan was dressed and gave the whole group a "no, sir". Martin Brunet apparently got everyone in after Ryan, Marcel and I bounced, but I didn't hear any stories that made me wish I'd gotten in. I could hear Spruke from outside, anyway.
I managed to find Montreal's (probably) only Mexican restaurant and ordered the first rocks margarita they have served since they opened a decade ago. Seriously, who gets a frozen margarita? Pair that with the sick carnitas burrito that wasn't on the menu and I taught a room full of Montreal residents how to order Mexican food. Very douchebaggily.
Eat at Subway
Planning - 9/10. Shit yeah. I love Subway. Planned by yours truly.
Execution - 10/10. Subway in Canada has these weird multicolored peppers that are way better than the regular banana peppers in American Subway.
Actual Execution - Loose/10. Canadian Subway is super expensive. They have a $5 footlong, but it's just lettuce. I paid way too much for Subway, and literally seconds after I finished eating my sub, Marcel, Scotty Mac from the Eh Team and Matty Studios from Heavy Meta finished winning their team sealed event.
They wanted to celebrate winning nine boxes by going out to dinner.
I am not pictured in this group shot of the victory dinner at La Banquise because I ate an $8 footlong. I broke my number one rule of travel, which is "Don't eat somewhere you can eat back home," and suffered a major blowout.
Stick to the plan, guys, even if you don't know the plan, you have no cell phone service in a foreign country and therefore can't be apprised of the plan and want to make your own plan. You'll end up chowing down 12 inches of failure by yourself.
Drink a Bunch of Beer in the Hotel Room
Planning - 9/10. We didn't really know about bringing beer back with us and wanted to share it with our friends, anyway. Planned by unanimous.
Execution - 9.999999/10. Hotel maids hate this plan.
Karaoke on St. Patty's Day
Planning - 7/10. St. Patty's Day? This has a 30% chance of ending with me fending off a crowd of angry sorority girls who didn't like my "sarcastic" and "mean-spirited" rendition of "All the Single Ladies" with a broken beer bottle. Planned by KYT.
Execution - 10/10. Beer was expensive compared to America but cheap compared to Toronto. Montrealers bought me beer all night. I didn't head out intending to be cheap but people kept handing me beers and encouraging me to imbibe them.
I've learned to go along with plans by this point in the weekend. Martin Brunet and I have a very pleasant conversation about hockey for two people who are essentially screaming at each other to be heard over a version of "Hot Hot Hot" being slurred by a guy in a Hollister t-shirt. Someone threw up.
Someone was hoisted bodily and physically excluded from the establishment. It was an awesome night.
Eat at a Place Called "Hockey Sushi"
Planning - ?/10. Ryan Abcede hadn't steered us wrong yet. When everyone disembarked the train in Toronto, we went to a sports bar called "Real Sports" which was expensive and had terrible service. Ryan decided to audible and told Marcel, Ryan and me to order an appetizer instead of an entree and we'd jam some all-you-can-eat sushi near his place.
Execution - 11/10. Hockey sushi is named poorly, but that is literally the only complaint. This was the most reasonably priced meal I got in all of Canada and it was also the best.
Those are Tempura fried bananas in that ice cream. This is how food is done.
Run Back Hockey Sushi
Planning - 10/10. Planned by Marcel who wanted to run it back and check out the half-price all you can eat lunch menu.
Execution - This was the play, and a great capper to our trip.
Trips of Years Past
I have done a GP in Montreal before, and it was so bad I swore I'd never go back. All of the restaurants near the convention center close at 9 PM and there seemed to be little to do but go back to the hotel. It would have been nice to stay in Toronto on the way back so we didn't have to Iron Man a ten hour drive, but spending money on a hotel Sunday night never felt like the play so the drive turned into a horrible slog.
Compare that with this trip where we had an exciting place to go to eat two meals a day, a few comfortable train rides in between Toronto and Montreal, plenty of people to hang out with and Montreal locals making suggestions about where to go instead of flying blind with no knowledge of the city and no internet access. GP Montreal 2012 was legit dildos and the major difference this time around was having a plan going in.
Trips of Years Future
The QS forums have a section for "QS meetups" and I feel like the section is under-utilized and to poor effect. Stop not posting there, folks. If there is a GP or SCG Open or otherwise major event coming to your city, post in there with suggestions.
People want to go eat at cool places, they want to do some sight-seeing occasionally, they want to know places to avoid and places to avoid avoiding. Schedule something and people will come, because being in a strange city without a plan is no fun and it's much better to be with a group, even if no one knows any better than anyone else.
Too many Magic trips have been spent where I only saw the inside of a hotel and a convention center despite being at major North American cities that are cultural hubs. If you're traveling to Kansas City to eat Burger King and not BBQ, going to Indianapolis to eat Buffalo Wild Wings and not grilled tenderloin or going to Montreal to eat a Subway $%&*ing sammich instead of getting Montreal's best poutine, you're doing it wrong.
Want some help getting started? Fine.
GP Cincinnatti is this weekend. Are you going? Great. I may or may not go, but regardless, Saturday night after the last round of the main event assemble a group of my readers at the judge's station. You're going across the river and eating at the Pepper Pod and you're ordering the goetta and then you're going here. Then you can go to your hotel room and durdle.
It literally took me five minutes with a computer to figure out, but I bet a few of you do it, because why not? It's easier when someone makes a plan. I don't even have to go to the event to make a plan.
Talk about how you'll identify each other in the "GP Cinci" thread in the "meetups" section of the forum. QS writer Sigmund Ausfresser will be there and after you've introduced yourself you can ask him if he has any recommendations. Go see the city you're in a little bit (ironic because I mentioned two places to go in Kentucky, across the river from Cinci) and meet some other insiders.
Another recommendation I have is using social media to find out who else is going and make plans. The Twitter hashtag for the event is a good place to find people asking questions and talking about the event, and Facebook is another great resource.
An empty seat in your car, unclaimed pull-out couches and floor space in your hotel and empty spots in a taxi are waste and waste is literally lost money. Find someone from your local area who needs a ride (there will be people) or a place to crash and get full value out of the trip.
Make some new friends, go to dinner with strangers, play EDH with someone you barely know, meet some QS Insiders or people who like the same podcast as you. We're all part of the same big community, after all, so it's not like any of us are truly strangers.
Not after we've all seen each other's buttcracks.