Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You…
Along with sharing my own Magic: the Gathering journey, I would like to share what's going on with others in the community. Not just the players, but the people that provide a place to gather. The Greater Cincinnati/Dayton area is fortunate to have a lot of options when it comes to Magic and gaming in general. Here's a glimpse into one of them.
Come On Down!
What's your name, the name of your store, and where are you located?
I'm Luke Browning and I'm a supervisor at Mavericks Cards and Hobbies in Mason, Ohio.
How long has Mavericks been around?
We began as Game Swap selling movies and video games about 10-11 years ago. The store then started hosting Magic events in 2013, so we've been fortunate to be around for a long time. In 2020 we updated and changed our name to Mavericks.
When are you open?
Our normal business days are Tuesday through Saturday. We do open on Sundays for special events.
What gaming experiences and events do you offer?
Of course, Magic: the Gathering, but Pokemon, Digimon, Warhammer 40k, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and D&D events. We also host a special group called DMs Anonymous where that group helps teach those that want learn more about 'DMing'.
What Magic experiences do you provide?
We run weekly events for Modern, Pioneer, Canadian Highlander, and drafts on demand. We also have a Legacy event every other Saturday.
Do you host any special events?
We currently host a tournament series called 'The Mavericks Cup' once every other month. They are larger and can be of a higher caliber depending on attendance. The minimum is a $2k payout up to 5k. So far, we've had Modern and Sealed. We've got two more coming first thing in June. They'll be Modern and Pioneer events.
What are your most popular formats currently?
Currently, our most popular competitive events are Modern. Commander is the most popular in the more casual arena. We fire about 6 pods of Commander on a Friday.
How did Mavericks deal with and adjust to the pandemic?
Like most game stores and other service-related businesses, we were terrified. We lost 'the Gathering' of Magic. After a few months, we saw that people adapted their gaming styles as needed. Commander became even larger since someone would come in, grab what they wanted, and play at home with their close friends.
Now that we're (hopefully) coming out of the pandemic, how have things been?
Slow, but steady. There were some players that sold out of the game, but we are seeing more and more people attending our events and it feels great.. Commander has been and is still huge. The competitive events took a little longer to start back up. It is exciting to see more people come out and hopefully get back to where we can play together again without worries.
How do you draw in and incorporate new players?
Magic has a pretty high learning curve. A lot of moving parts. One thing that we do is we'll give them general information on what we offer, but we try to get to know them and see what their interests are. That way we can help direct them to what they would enjoy.
How has Magic: The Gathering Arena affected in-store play?
Arena has been a great resource for people that are learning the game or are new. I'm sure it's helped people continue to play through the pandemic. Unfortunately, it has really supplanted the in-store Standard environment. With pandemic considerations included, we haven't fired a standard tournament for quite a long time.
Arena has also changed the dynamic of drafting. When a new set releases we still get a ton of interest and people come out for the set pre-releases and we'll fire off a good amount of draft for a few weeks, but with Arena in the mix, the numbers don't last as long throughout the set. Another factor is people still love to draft in person. Sometimes they're just tired after a long week, so they play at home to relax.
Arena has definitely provided more options for the customer in general and we have received some new players through them playing on Arena, but it's still a work in progress.
What are your hot sellers for Magic?
Not knocking anyone, but I would say we have one of the largest card inventories in the area. We have just about anything a customer would want, but our hot sellers are mostly Commander cards that can be hard to get. If someone comes in with a 100-card decklist that needs filling we usually can take care of the whole thing.
What do you personally enjoy playing?
I enjoy most formats, but I've been having a lot of fun with Pioneer lately. Mostly online in my off-hours though. That's the irony of working at a game store, you don't get much time to play in your own events. I was super excited to hear Wizard's pro-play announcement that they're going to support the format. Due to that, I'm starting to see people show more interest in Pioneer lately.
What's one of your favorite Magic cards?
I don't actually have a favorite card per se, but My favorite character is Tamiyo.
My favorite creature type is spirit, and my favorite Magic artist is Alayna Danner.
To finish up, is there anything else you'd like to share, maybe how you started?
Through my close friend Kyle. He wanted to share in the fun and I kept telling him I'll give it a try sometime, but never did. After some cajoling, he finally convinced me to try it with the 2017 precon Commander decks.
I chose the 'Cat' deck and we played a couple of games. They were fun, but I didn't believe that I would really get into it. Of course, six months later I'm traveling with him and another friend to Atlanta, Georgia to play in the StarCityGames team event where we made it into the Top 4! Here I was, brand new to the game, playing on camera. I was hooked. I enjoy the competitive aspect of the game very much and I am looking forward to seeing more major events.
I want to thank Luke and Mavericks for providing us a glimpse into their daily Magic lives. I hope you enjoyed the visit and look forward to the next.