The Magic 30 celebration in Las Vegas is less than one month away! After registering for the event, I proclaimed my intention to attend across Twitter and Discord social media platforms. I inquired eagerly, “Who will I get to see while I’m there?”
The response admittedly had me scratching my head. Not too many people responded to my initial posts, and I quickly learned there are some differences between this Las Vegas Magic event and those of the past. The main one is the fact that it’s behind a paywall—in order to visit the venue in person, one has to pay a baseline ($60) entry fee. Previous iterations of this event were all open to the public at no cost.
The other difference, I recently learned, is that there are allegedly no on-demand events. To play in an event, one has to register online and pay in advance. One of my favorite activities at a Grand Prix back in the day was registering for a one-off draft or side event when my schedule allowed it. This maximized my flexibility and gave me full control over my day. This won’t be the case in Las Vegas.
Despite these inconveniences, I’m still extremely excited to attend the event! This week I’m going to share some of my preparations and will highlight some of the research and activities I hope to conduct while I’m in Las Vegas at the end of October.
My first and foremost purpose for this trip is business—I’m traveling to Las Vegas under sponsorship from Quiet Speculation, and as such will prioritize the site’s and all its subscribers’ interests while on site.
Questions I’ve already received include understanding what the supply and demand currently looks like for old (pre-2000) sealed product. I’ve also been tasked with asking vendors about their inventories of said products.
Naturally, as I converse with each vendor, I also intend to get a broader feel for the overall secondary market. Are certain cards selling particularly well? Is the slowdown in the economy a threat to business? Is the strong U.S. dollar creating a shift in market dynamics due to international arbitrage?
Since I’ll be spending a good deal of time interacting with the vendors on site, I wanted to ask the question of my readership: are there other Magic finance areas you’d like me to focus on while I’m in Las Vegas later this month? Are there any questions I should ask, any supply I should take note of, any buy and sell prices I should observe, etc.? This is the time to maximize the value of my trip there, so please send your questions my way!
While I’m in Las Vegas, I also have some personal business to attend to. Namely, I hope to do some major card selling if the market is favorable enough. The strength of the market is yet to be seen though. On the one hand, I am optimistic that this will be a massive event attracting numerous vendors. Those vendors will want to maximize the value of their trip to the venue, and one way to achieve this is by bringing sufficient cash to bolster inventories. With so many vendors present, I’m hoping for ample opportunity to liquidate a portion of my collection, opportunistically infusing cash into my kids’ college funds while the stock market is weak.
On the other hand, I’m nervous that vendors won’t be so keen to stock up on high-dollar inventory out of fear they will run out of cash too early. If they spend a decent fraction of their cash on Friday morning, will they run out by Saturday evening? I remember this happened back in 2015 at the major Las Vegas Magic celebration, and it created quite the buzz. Major Magic shops were running out of cash on site, forced to offer trade credit in lieu of the green stuff. This was quite suboptimal for all parties involved.
(As an aside, this did enable me to acquire my first piece of Power, an Unlimited Mox Jet, for $700. I'd like to think I got a deal because the vendor was fairly desperate for cash).
Fast forward seven years, and card prices are far more expensive than they were back then. Does this mean vendors will run out even more quickly? Will they anticipate this risk and bring even more dollars to the celebration event? Will the fact that there’s a cap on attendance (the event is already sold out) mean that the number of prospective sellers will be capped, generating greater selling opportunities for those in attendance?
These are all the questions I’m wrestling with in my mind. Because I don’t have any of the answers, I’ll attend with an open mind. If the selling situation is favorable, I’ll take advantage. If not, I’ll sell enough to make the trip worthwhile and bring home the rest. By keeping my expectations low, I’ll avoid any major disappointments.
Either way, I’m going in prepared. That means I intend to do my homework ahead of time, mapping out what I am willing to sell, the condition of said cards, and the estimated amount I hope to receive for selling them. I’ll also do some research just before the event, browsing online buylists from top vendors, so I am fully aware of how much my cards could potentially fetch me. This way, if I see the opportunity to sell for a comparable or greater amount, I’ll know it’s a good deal.
I’ll organize this data in a spreadsheet of sorts, which I’ll print out the day before the event so I have the most up-to-date numbers I can gather. Preparation is key, and I’m sure the vendors will appreciate a streamlined buying experience.
Time to Play
In addition to selling some cards, I also hope to play in at least a couple of events while on site. As I mentioned before, I don’t believe there are going to be on-demand events that weekend. To ensure I’d have at least a small dose of competitive play each day I’m there (Friday and Saturday), I pre-registered for one event each day.
On Friday, I’m registered to play in the Vintage for Vintage event. On Saturday, I’m registered for the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Sealed event.
For the latter, I genuinely enjoyed Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Limited and I wanted the chance to experience it in paper. I initially attempted to register for the Friday Draft of the set, but it had just sold out. I settled with Sealed, hoping to put to work the experience I gained drafting this format over and over again on Arena. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was the first Limited set where I achieved a diamond ranking on Arena, so it’s become one of my all-time favorites.
Keep your fingers crossed with me that I open a Colossal Skyturtle and Season of Renewal so I can do loop-de-loops. This combination will ensure maximum fun. I will also plan to play every copy of Imperial Oath I open!
For the former, Vintage has always been one of my favorite formats. A few years ago, I decided to make the leap from Legacy to Vintage in order to experience the thrill of casting Black Lotus in a sanctioned event. It did not disappoint. Since building the deck, I have been able to play in two side events along with a couple of casual games on webcam. It’s been a while, however, and I am really excited to shuffle up the old list and give it a spin.
Unfortunately, I think the metagame probably shifted some since I built my deck; my list is probably a bit obsolete. You know what? I don’t care! Vintage is about the thrill of casting broken cards and I hope to accomplish this regardless. My list is designed specifically to play all the broken cards, as I play a Tendrils of Agony Storm list!
Knowing I’m registered for this event, I’ve already purchased a couple of ancillary cards in case I want to make some updates before the tournament. Purchases include a Bolas's Citadel as an upgraded Aeronaut Tinkerer target (I guess Blightsteel Colossus goes in the sideboard now) and a Wishclaw Talisman as another tutor effect.
I know Bolas' Citadel from Historic on Arena, but I don’t think I had ever seen Wishclaw Talisman before. I guess I have some research to do if I want to be completely caught up with the metagame. Most likely, I’ll just have to read my opponents’ cards if they were printed after 2018!
Wrapping It Up
Magic 30 is less than four weeks away, and my anticipation is starting to climb! Despite some of the inconveniences associated with this particular event, I can’t help but look forward to the experience. I’ll be on the ground researching the health of the secondary market while networking and jamming a few side events. Any chance to play paper Vintage is a special occasion nowadays!
I’ll reiterate here that if anyone has any questions, any market research, or any requests while I’m onsite, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter (@sigfig8) or the Quiet Speculation Discord. I want to make the most of this event for our subscribers and avid readers, and that’s only possible if the community engages.
While I’m on site, I intend to also conduct a live Q&A session in the Quiet Speculation Discord. This means I’ll be there at the venue taking questions from anyone who happens to be hanging out in Discord at that moment. Stay tuned for schedule details as the event gets closer.
Lastly, I look forward most to networking. One of the best parts of a large Magic event is the chance to interact with and meet the many great personalities I interact with on social media. Despite the underwhelming response I first received when I announced my intention to attend, I still have a short list of people I cannot wait to meet in person for the first time. I’m hoping that list will grow as more people are aware of my travel plans.
If you are reading this article and will be in Las Vegas for Magic 30, please let me know so we can meet up! I’ll have decks to play, cards to trade, and fun stories to share. The event will be a lot of fun, but connecting with amazing folks in the Magic community is what will make it unforgettable.