5 Great things to do at GP Birmingham if you’re not planning on taking part in the main event
It’s the final round of the MTG Grand Prix (GP), 2000 players have come and only you and another remain, it’s your game to win, your opponent is tapped out and wide open for the finisher. $10,000 rests on a single card draw, the crowd holds their breath as you draw, you smile to yourself as you cast the one card that you needed to secure the first place finish.
For some, it’s a dream to win a GP, taking down the main event, rising to the top of the field and setting your sights on the Pro Tour. For myself however, and many other people, that’s not my dream and playing the main event is not my intention at this year’s MTG Birmingham GP.
The Birmingham GP will be my first ever GP event, so I’m planning to take in as much as I can away from the main event stage. I did a lot of research to ensure that my first GP experience is as memorable as possible, and I’d thought it might be helpful to share them with those who could be in the same boat as me. So, here I present 5 things to do at GP Birmingham that’s not playing in the main event:
1. Get a “Fanatic Package”!
Available in four different formats: Standard, Modern, Legacy (£80 each) and Limited (Amonkhet Block Sealed £120) provides the following:
- Grand Prix Birmingham Playmat
- Exclusive 2017 Grand Prix Foil Promo Progenitus
- ChannelFireball Sleeves (80 ct)
- ChannelFireball Deck Box
- ChannelFireball Lifepad and Pen
- Entry into the 6 scheduled events (2 Friday, 2 Saturday, 2 Sunday)
Going by GP London scheduled events listings, each event will play four rounds with the following prize structure. Please note, monetary values have been calculated at 10 Prize Tix = 1 booster pack and 1 booster pack is worth £3. Also, note that other prizes on the prize wall may have a better or worse ratio and the following is just a guide.
- 4-0-0 (12 Match Points) – 500 Prize Tix £150
- 3-0-1 (10 Match Points) – 350 Prize Tix £105
- 3-1-0 (9 Match Points) – 200 Prize Tix £60
- 2-1-1 or 2-0-2 (7-8 Match Points) – 110 Prize Tix £33
- 2-2-0 (6 Match Points) – 20 Prize Tix £6
This means that If you have a really good run, scoring 10 or 12 points in one tournament, you should have already broken even and in the money for any other results of 2-2-0 or better.
Included in the fantastic package is the double up event, theses are the first side event of the format on the day and offer double prizes, this means that the prizes change to the following:
- 4-0-0 (12 Match Points) – 1000 Prize Tix £300
- 3-0-1 (10 Match Points) – 700 Prize Tix £210
- 3-1-0 (9 Match Points) – 400 Prize Tix £120
- 2-1-1 or 2-0-2 (7-8 Match Points) – 220 Prize Tix £66
- 2-2-0 (6 Match Points) – 40 Prize Tix £12
You can preregister your ticket on the Birmingham GP website, here.
2. Take part in side events that you’ll only find at a GP
Ever looked at a booster box and gone, “you know what, I want to play a sealed games using all of the boosters for myself”? Well, at GP Birmingham you can.
The GP will feature a wide range of different events that you will be queuing up to jump into:
- Last chance time trials
- 2-Headed Giant sealed deck, 2 people build 2 x 40 card decks from one booster box of Hour of Devastation
- Full box sealed deck, build a 40 card deck from a box of Hour of Devastation
- Foiled again bounty event, win games, and pick up assorted foils and defeat a CFB pro and win an addition 100 Tix
- Old block sealed, such as Mercadian Masques, Invasion and Onslaught
- Revised chaos sealed deck
- Pro Tour lxalan qualifier
If you’re not entering the main event or one of the side event packages then you will be sure to find something to enjoy. There is plenty of both Limited and Constructed scheduled events on offer, which are always interesting, particularly the throwback historic drafts and sealed events as you may not have done those formats before, and they’re hard to find outside of GPs. If you enjoy the competitive spirit more, and just didn’t fancy the main event, the PTQ should be a great chance to have a few good rounds of competitive Magic.
Besides the scheduled events, there are also on-demand drafts of the current set, on-demand chaos drafts and on-demand Legacy, Modern, Standard and Vintage events. These fire when they have a minimum amount of people and you can enter whenever you want throughout the day. Really, the only limit to how much you can play is what’s in your wallet! To take the best advantage of these kinds of events, you can have a look on the main GP Birmingham website to find out if they offer a kind of ‘challenge badge’ or ‘side event entry’ which may reduce the amount you have to pay if you plan to do back-to-back on-demands or many scheduled events throughout the weekend.
3. The VIP Party
If you have already purchased a package, (main event or Fanatic Package) you can upgrade your weekend with the VIP package which gives you access to the following:
- Invitation to the VIP Party (Friday @ 9:00 PM)
- Access to the exclusive VIP lounge
- VIP drafts in the VIP lounge
- Friday – 3 PM
- Saturday – 6 PM
- Sunday – 3 PM
- Grand Prix Birmingham Playmat
- ChannelFireball Water Bottle
- ChannelFireball Drawstring Bag
- ChannelFireball Sleeves (80 ct.)
- ChannelFireball Deck Box
The main attractions of the VIP package is the VIP party on the Friday night, which ChannelFireball has described as:
“The exclusive VIP party is your best chance to mingle with our pro players as well as other Magic celebrities. Anyone who purchases the VIP Upgrade to their registration will be invited to this event, which will feature food, an amazing roster of personalities for our VIPs to meet and talk to, and a LIVE episode of Magic TV!”
So if you fancy rubbing shoulders with some of the pro players from CFB and other celebrities, as well as myself, this package is for you.
4. Check out the vendors, and flick through the special goodies that you will not find on MTG websites!
One of the other main attractions at a GP is the range of different vendors who travel from around the world to set up shop and help provide you with the Magic cards you are looking for, may that be a pack fresh piece of Power Nine or a foreign foil Commander card to finish off your deck. There is always a spectacular array of cards; if it’s at all playable, they’ve probably brought at least three playsets in regular and foil. They will also buy cards if you are looking to offload things that have been in your binder since the beginning of time, so it could be a good opportunity to trade in the cards you have for the cards you need! The current list of vendors is:
- HiDeHo Magic
- JK Entertainment
- Magic Corner
- Magic Madhouse
- Magic World
- Tales of Adventure
- Troll Trader
- Union County games
5. Meet up with friends! (added my Kerry Meyerhoff)
Finally, one of the most important things about Magic: the Gathering: the friends you play it with! Though there is always a lot going on at the GP, bar right at the beginning of the main event on Saturday, there is almost always free table space for meeting people, playing Commander or casual games, or trading. I’ve found that if I sit down somewhere at a GP and whip out a binder, sooner or later I’ll attract a small crowd of people who want to trade and we end up forming our own little corner. It’s a brilliant way to meet people you would never otherwise have known, or to catch up with old friends you haven’t seen in awhile.
There’s always something to do, even if you are on a tight budget!
So, even if you don’t plan on playing the main event, you should definitely go and check the GP out. There’s a fantastic atmosphere at every one, with thousands of people all there to celebrate and play the game that connects us all. There will ALWAYS be something for you to do, even if you don’t have that much money, and at the end of the day, as long as your friends are there, you can all sit down together in the midst of a great throng of people and play Commander like you would at the kitchen table. GP Birmingham is definitely not one to be missed, and I hope to see you there!
GP Venue information:
National Exhibition Centre – Hall 11
Birmingham B40 1NT
Grand Prix Birmingham will be held in the award-winning National Exhibition Center (NEC) in Birmingham. The NEC is a 10-minute walk from Birmingham International Railway Station, where direct services run all day.
Events schedule and preregistration page:
John Stanko, Greg Staples, Pete Venters
What are you looking forward to doing the most at GP Birmingham?
Thanks for reading,