The First Rule of Magic Open House: Tell Everyone About Magic Open House!
Way back in 1993, when Richard Garfield created the game of Magic, he and the development team at Wizards of the Coast had a vision: a game which brought people together, united those who would never have spoken with a common interest, and above all was a source of fun and enjoyment for everyone in a community. As Magic goes from success to success, and has now grown into a vast franchise which now has over 20 million players worldwide, it’s important that we never lose that vision, that spark which ignited Magic and made our game and our community what it is today.
To that end, recently stores have been holding a fantastic new event: Magic Open House. It premiered with Amonkhet and has been a part of each set release since. It’s an event designed specifically to introduce new players to the game and bring them into the wider local community at the store. Even if they’ve never seen the store before, or don’t know anything about sanctioned formats or DCI numbers, they can come in and be given a deck which can be immediately shuffled up and played with others of their skill level.
Why do we need Magic Open House?
Traditionally, people will learn about Magic from their friends. Someone they know has a deck or two, and at some point during their acquaintance they will play together. The second person enjoys it, buys their own deck and is soon teaching their friends how to play as well. It’s how I learned; in fact, because of just how kitchen-table my MTG education was, I thought Commander was the only Magic format for months! It’s a great chain that has been the basis of how Magic, at its roots, has grown for a long time.
Now, we have the chance to make our game even bigger and even better. The problem with the way people are generally introduced to Magic is precisely what I struggled with when I first grasped how the game worked. You learn what your friends play, and you perhaps buy some cards off the Internet (which I guarantee is the first place you will naturally look without instructions otherwise), and your friendship group will play that format when you meet up for movie night. If nobody in your group has the time to visit the local store, or nobody you play with even knows about organised play (which can happen!) it’s really easy to miss the other side of Magic, the one which gets you meeting new people and experiencing the ‘real deal’ at Friday Night Magic.
I actually have a friend who I recently brought into the game. She is in her mid-20s but has never played before, so I gave her my whole collection apart from my decks and binder when I moved to Spain. She’s had fun making casual Commander decks and playing whenever we get the chance to meet up, but until recently, she never could bring herself to take that extra step and go into the MTG store. She was concerned that nobody would help her, or that she would be in the way and wouldn’t know what to do. I couldn’t go with her, being in Spain, so I constantly encouraged her, telling her it would be fun, and she’d get to meet people, and eventually she took my advice and has been completely hooked, going back every week since. The people in her store are as friendly and welcoming as I have always experienced our community to be, and she is now building her own Standard deck.
Bridging this gap between ‘casual’ and ‘organised’ play is why Magic Open House has come into being. It is designed to be that platform for new people to come in the door and see what’s up. It’s about learning together and extending that community which is at the core of Magic‘s growth as a game.
Why is it better than playing with my friends like always?
Well, for starters, if you come along to Magic Open House as a new player, you will be given free cards!
The format of the event is like a league. Each person is given a 30-card Welcome Deck, which consists of commons and uncommons from the latest sets in a single colour of their choosing, and comes out of the box ready to play. Then you play your matches with it, and record the result. It’s a great way to have everyone starting on the same level playing field and a good way to find out which kinds of cards you enjoy the most in Magic.
The best part? You’ll also get a second Welcome Deck of a random colour, which you can give to your friend to play against them at home, or you can combine it with your other 30-card deck to make a Standard-legal brew that you can bring to the next Friday Night Magic! Although the deck is made of commons and uncommons, a lot of them have been inherently playable in the past, and there is a good chance you could win a prize with it.
If that wasn’t enough to get people through the door, there is also a foil promo Walk the Plank which will be given to each player. Even putting aside the beautiful art, and the fact that this card won’t even be released for another two weeks after Magic Open House weekend, being from the new set Ixalan, this is an excellent addition to many decks and will be one of the premier removal spells in the new Standard format. It’s a great chance to pick up a stunning version of the new card. (Although bear in mind, it’s not legal in Standard until Ixalan releases, so don’t pop it in your mono-black deck for next FNM!)
More importantly than the free loot though, is the fact that you can become a part of a much wider community. Though kitchen-table Commander with your friends is a blast, there’s a whole world of unexplored formats and cards out there that until now, you’ve barely dipped a toe into, and which you might like even more! Through Magic Open House, you can experience it without feeling like you’re out of place. It’s an event designed for teaching and learning, and hopefully you can leave feeling like you’re ready to go back for proper organised play, having made new friends and discovered even more about the game you love in the process.
That all sounds great, but I’m an experienced player. Why do I need to go?
Well, even if you’re an experienced player, you’ll still be getting all the same swag that the new players get, including the foil promo. If you have a friend who’s new, you can use it as a chance to bring them along and introduce them to everyone at the store and how it all works. You will also very likely have never played a 30-card mono-colour format before, so it’s a chance to test your adaptation skills with a completely new deck made out of different cards than you’re used to, on a level playing field with everyone else.
The main draw for people who regularly attend events, though, is to be the mentors that bring the new players through the door. If someone comes alone and doesn’t have any friends that attend FNM, or someone doesn’t even know how to play Magic, or a child has begged and begged their clueless parents to let them to go the Open House weekend, you can be the person to take them under your wing and say ‘OK, let’s teach you!’.
Knowing you’ve helped someone out and brought them into the game for real is brilliant; when you see them come back for their first FNM, the seed of pride in your chest from knowing that they learnt and enjoyed it is incredible. Besides that, you’re doing your part to bring more and more people into the store, helping it thrive; and as you will know, the store is always the heart of the local Magic community, and we should all be doing our utmost to keep it beating.
It’s a chance for you to meet people, help people and get free loot for doing so. For me, that’s more than enough reason to spend a few hours of my weekend down at the store. I will be taking my aforementioned new friend along (who is out here visiting!) so she can start to learn more about Standard, and offering my services as a judge to those who need it throughout the day. It’s really important that we all do our bit to help our community, and you can go home knowing you’ve made a difference.
Actually, it sounds really fun. How do I get involved?
Magic Open House Ixalan is this coming weekend 16th-17th September. It’s a whole weekend-long event, so you can go one day or both. It’s like Game Day in that most, if not all, local stores will be participating, so it’s very easy to just turn up and play. Look on your store’s website for more information about start times and duration.
I would implore players both new and old to take part – for all the reasons I mentioned above – but most importantly of all, to have fun and keep our community growing. Magic is a social game at its heart and soul, and events like this can make a huge difference to people, if we all give it the chance to. I hope to hear plenty of stories next week about how Magic Open House brought in tons of new faces, and that they left with a smile.
Please keep a weather eye on the horizon this Thursday for an article by my colleague Joseph Dunlap, which will include more detail about the cards in the Welcome Decks and detailed information about the Magic Open House weekend. Additionally, I’m very excited to tell you that you will get a sneak peek at an exclusive bit of preview content – one piece of a map, which combined with the other exclusive previews, you can piece together to discover untold treasures on Ixalan!
Magic Open House Ixalan is this coming weekend 16th-17th September. You can find your nearest participating store here.
I will be following up with a post-event report next week about how it went for me and my friend in our local store, and I would love to hear your accounts as well, so please, go along to your local event, help out your community, and feel free to get in touch and let us know how it goes!
Thanks for reading,