Friday, August 19, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 15)

[This is part 15 in a series, and assumes that you've already read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, and Part 14.5]

Random WER advice: Run the WER on your computer the morning of the event, well before it is scheduled to start. You never know when an update to the software may be coming, and you don't want to have to deal with that while you're trying to get set up for your event!

August 15, 2011: Major plot twist!

So, today I called my WPN rep Brian (after emailing him last night to ask about the Core Level situation). As I am leaving a voice mail for him, I also was opening up the WER. I notice that Beyond Comics is now noted as a Core Level store. IN THE MIDDLE OF MY MESSAGE! Talk about embarrassing! Let this be a lesson to all: get your facts completely straight before making a whiny phone call!

He got back to me very soon via email (he's much better with email than phone, which is absolutely okay with me), and explained the following:
The system takes time to process events and update your level so you can schedule the “next level’s” events..  rated events are updated once per week but casual events update immediately.  Your statistics update nightly for casual events, but only update the night after events are processed for rated events.  I answered your question based on your email which said you were going to run the event by 8/13 which then on 8/14 your statistics would update so you could be scheduled for a prerelease.
So, it seems, if the Saturday event had taken care of things, then on Sunday we would have shown as Core Level, and I could have registered for the Innistrad prerelease (my initial question to him had asked if the Saturday even would count, so he was answering based on that information). The overnight processing thing was the crucial missing piece of information.

His next few sentences made me almost dance for joy (not a pretty sight, believe me):
I will see if I can get a late exception made for a prerelease event for Innistrad.  You can schedule 2 events.  Please let me know which format you would like them to be run as and which distributor you want to purchase your product from.  I will then see if I can get this done and let you know how it goes.
Oh, my goodness! There's still a light of hope! I of course sent him the information as quickly as I could (even called up the shop, and had an employee there call up the owner) to find out what distributor they use (I had no idea). I told him we'd like to run on the Sunday (September 25) and would like to run Sealed Deck.

In the meantime, I have registered for Friday Night Magics for the month of September! I can hardly believe it. In under two months of running events at this store I will be able to hold our first FNM, on September 2.

Earlier in this series (in Part 5), I explained the information needed by the WER when one registers for an event:
For those who have never used the WER to schedule an event, here's the information I had to provide: Organization (I only organize for Novel Places so that was easy); Game (MTG, D&D or D&D Miniatures); Sanction Rule (this is where I chose the M12 Launch Party); Play Location (if we were holding it off-site I would have options here); Dates; Format (Sealed Deck in our case); Pairing Method (I chose Swiss as that's the only one I know about - I really need to research what the other options are!); Email (I gave mine); Phone number (I gave the store's); and URL (I used Novel Place's web page).
This could use some updating and additional info. To whit:
  • I now organize for two sites, so there's a drop-down menu choice when I go to register (and I need to make sure I pick the right organization!);
  • Depending on which organization I pick, there are different choices now for Sanction Rule. Since Beyond Comics is now at Core Level, more options are available. FNMs are denoted by month (and one can only sign up for one month's worth of FNMs at a time). So when I went to register today, I was able to pick Friday Night Magic - September as a Sanction Rule.
  • When you get to the Dates field, another drop-down menu is provided. If you're just scheduling a normal Magic sanctioned or casual event, a wide variety of dates await you (at Core Level you can even schedule a sanctioned event the very same day you run it, as opposed to at Gateway Level where you need to schedule at least 7 days in advance; you can schedule casual events the same day at either Level). But when you run a special event (Launch Party, Prerelease, FNM, Game Day, etc) there are only certain dates available. In this case, only the 5 Fridays in September are given as choices. And as you register one FNM at a time, the offered list of dates shrinks with each registration (at Core Level you can only schedule one FNM per Friday).
  • The Format issue was a challenge. What would be good for FNMs? I settled on:
    • September 2: M12 Sealed Deck
    • September 9: M12 Draft
    • September 16: Constructed Standard
    • September 23: M12 Two-Headed Giant Sealed
I don't know if these formats will prove popular, but by the time I get to running them I will have run every one of them except the Two-Headed Giant format. As I enjoyed playing it with my son at an FNM before, I figured I would choose to run one of these like that.

Eagle eyes will note that I did not schedule a FNM for the last Friday of the month. This is because we already have an Innistrad Launch Party scheduled for that night, and there was NO way I was going to try to run two events simultaneously (not that we'd even have room for that). The time slot for the Launch Party will be the same as the FNMs, so hopefully we'll get some regulars attending FNMs with us who will just come along for the Launch Party instead on that 5th Friday night.

I don't know how many FNM promos get sent to a Core Level store, nor when I can expect to have them arrive. I'm anxiously awaiting getting my first batch of them in. This kind of thing excites me far more than it probably should :-)

Also exciting: going to the Wizards Event Locator and putting in my zip code (20874) and selecting FNM - and seeing Beyond Comics show up. So gratifying!

While I was at it, I also signed Beyond Comics up for the Buy-a-Box promos for Innistrad. This is another great benefit that only Core Level (or higher) sites can participate in (we were far too late to order the From the Vault product this year, but should be able to next year). In case you're unaware, this promotion gets the store X copies (probably 30?) of a special alternate art promotional card to be given out only to people who purchase an entire box of boosters of Innistrad in the store (or order online for pickup in the store). It is a special promotion WPN does to try to get customers actually physically into the stores instead of just ordering online and having their boxes shipped. The deadline for this promo is next Sunday, but I didn't want to risk forgetting it, so I signed them up.

August 16, 2011: Today was the opening of registration for October FNMs, so I loaded up the WER and got to scheduling. Here's what I settled on:
  • October 7: Innistrad Sealed Deck
  • October 14: Innistrad Sealed Deck
  • October 21: Innistrad Booster Draft
  • October 28: Constructed Standard
My logic on choosing these is as follows: Innistrad will be brand new (the release date is the week before these begin, remember), and as I understand it, there's a few weeks' grace period where people enjoy Sealed Deck with a new set, but then the itch to start drafting sets in. By a month after the release, people have adjusted to the new Standard environment and hopefully have a good idea what decks they want to use, so I'll hold off on the Standard event until the end of the month.

Finally, I signed them up to run an Innistrad Game Day. Yet another Core Level or higher event, this is a one-day only event (Saturday October 29 in this case), which must be Standard Constructed format. There are special full art (or "extended art" depending on who you ask) promo cards for participants & winners of this event. The deadline for registering for this one is a ways off, and I hope I can get Novel Places up to Core Level in time to run this as well (although that will mean running two events in one day).

August 18, 2011: Today I had a minor moment of panic, as Patrick from Novel Places tweeted the following:
This Magic stuff is getting out of hand! I'll have to talk to Don "The Organizer". Sounds kinda mobster, doesn't it?
As I don't have Facebook (I know, I know) I was unable to use the link. I didn't know what this might be about (I was afraid maybe someone had defaced his wall with anti-Magic sentiment or something), so I called him up. Turns out (for those who haven't followed the above link) that he was just posting a picture of the gigantic stand-up advertising poster that had been sent to him to help advertise the Magic Celebration event on September 10:
Seems a tad out of place in this rustic environment. But cool!
This is all part of the amazing promotional package that WPN has put together for this event. They are also providing T-shirts as giveaways for the first 4 people to purchase a Deckbuilder's Toolkit that day, and special promo codes for unlockable items in the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 video game. They even provide three boxes of M12 booster packs to use during the Mini-Master format event. An outstanding amount of support for stores who sign up for this event.

While I was on the phone with him, he mentioned that he had not yet received the Magic 2012 rule books that he was supposed to get. So I sent another email off to my Brian to ask if he could dig up any further info on those.

August 19, 2011: Brian got back to me today, and said that he was going to look into the rule book situation, and try to get it resolved today, as he was going to be out of the office next week. I emailed back and thanked him, and slyly added:
Also, just to be certain, I assume from the lack of any positive response that you were unable to get an exception made for Beyond Comics - Gaithersburg regarding the Innistrad prerelease? I appreciate your trying nonetheless.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got his reply:
My apologies!  I was able to get you the prerelease as we discussed…
You read that right, folks - WE GOT AN INNISTRAD PRE-RELEASE!!!!!!

Absolutely amazing. I was so ecstatic, and fired off a thank-you email to Brian. He sent me further details later. It turns out that at Core Level you can actually schedule 2 prereleases, not just one. So he scheduled both on that Sunday, and both as Sealed Deck. He let me know that if I want to change the format of one he can do that for me.

So now the question (which I have discussed with John at Beyond Comics) is whether we want to run two on that one day or not. He'd be willing to open the store early, and maybe keep it open late (they're normally open 12-6 on Sundays). I think there may be some advantage to running one prerelease as a Sealed Deck event, and one as a Booster Draft event. I'm just not sure. Your opinions in the comments about this would be greatly appreciated.

Later on today I got a call from WotC Customer Service letting me know that the rule books had shipped on Tuesday, so Patrick should receive his shipment of them soon.

On a final note, I'd like to offer a plug on Patrick's behalf. For the first time, he is trying something new: presales on Innistrad booster boxes and cases. If you ever preorder boxes or cases of MTG products, please consider ordering from him. His is a new, small business, and could certainly use the help in these tight times. I think he's offering incredibly low prices for these things. He will be shipping on the day of the release (September 30). Here's what you need to know:
  • Boxes are $90;
  • Cases (6 booster boxes) are $500;
  • Up to 4 boxes will ship via USPS Medium Flat Rate Box (~$12 I believe);
  • 5 boxes or a case will ship via USPS Large Flat Rate Box (~$15 I believe);
  • In order to fit 6 boxes (1 case) in the Large Flat Rate box he will need to open the cases; but you will get all 6 boxes that came together in a case shipped as a unit;
  • In-store pickup (free shipping) is available, and you can pick up your order on or after the release date (Friday September 30); Patrick has his Launch Party scheduled for Sunday (Oct 2) so that would be a good day to pick up - Party with us, then grab your boxes! [If you order a case for pickup, it will NOT get opened up in advance - you get the fun of that!];
  • The page to order is
Please, if you know of anyone else who may be interested in preordering boxes or cases, let them know about Patrick's site.



    pureval said...

    My LGS runs one sealed event and one draft (usually midnight) and they do very well. That way you hit everybody. You could also run the draft immeadiatly after so people who are still hooked will hang around.

    That poster would make a cool giveaway, hint hint.

    Don said...

    I'm thinking Sealed followed immediately by Draft (as you suggest) may end up being our best bet. We'll see.

    The poster will, most likely, end up being a giveaway - in store. Maybe a drawing at the Magic Celebration. It depends on how quickly Patrick gets tired of having to move it around his store :-)

    gbjmtg said...

    I've really enjoyed reading this blog, Don. And it's given me plenty of ideas of things I could be bugging our WPN rep about ;). Only one more event until Core for us!

    Don said...

    @gbjmtg - I'm glad I could help in any way whatsoever! Good luck in your own quest for Core!

    Anonymous said...

    Congrats Don!! I got hooked on your journey last week. Stayed up til almost 2 am to read everything. And have been anticipating any new updates! I hope you continue bringing updates when you start FNM and for the Innistrad Pre-release as well as the release. Best of luck, and if I'm ever in Maryland and not just driving through, I'll try to stop by.

    Tommy M. From Boston Ma

    Tommy M. Boston Mass.

    Don said...

    Tommy: Welcome aboard. 2 am?!?! Now THAT'S dedication! :-)

    I plan to continue these for a while yet. There's still plenty of firsts for me to document (first FNM, first prerelease) and I still need to get Novel Places up to Core Level - so I don't think we'll be done for a while yet :-)

    Bruce said...

    Congrats! My only recommendation is that you doublecheck your address with Wizards. While I'm sure the rule books are in transit, if your zip code is off, that could be the problem. You really don't want your prerelease promos not showing up in time for your event.

    I never received my prerelease promos for New Phyrexia, but instead used the Launch Party promos as a last second fill-in.

    I'm looking forward to Part 16!