Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 24)

[This is part 24 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, Part 14.5, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, and Part 23]

September 28, 2011: Today I heard from the DCI that last week's FNM (the Two-Headed Giant event that only had 6 players) had also been invalidated.

Brian got back to me later in the day to confirm my suspicion that this event (as well as the second prerelease event from Sunday) were both invalidated due to being under 8 players. Fortunately, he was able to allow me to submit two casual events in their place, and at least get people credit for having played.

The answer, it turns out, to how do you create a casual 2HG event is: you don't. I have finally managed to get this fact through my thick skull: for a casual event the DCI and WPN does not give two hoots about who played against who, or how many games each player won/lost/drew. They only care about who was present. That's it. In fact if you submit a casual event, you're supposed to check the box labeled "player list only" to make it even easier. To me that seems rather sad, but there you have it.

September 30, 2011: Tonight, instead of running an FNM, we had the Launch Party for Innistrad at Beyond Comics. Throughout the day I was keeping tabs on our preregistrations. We had hit 14 early in the day, but two wrote to me to let me know that their circumstances had changed and they needed to cancel. We had planned on capping at 18, since that's the number of chairs we have available normally (extra tables and chairs had been brought down from the Frederick branch of Beyond Comics for the prerelease last weekend). So, I figured with 12 signed up in advance, that only had us at 66% capacity, and we should be fine.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

I arrived at the store at around 5:40 this evening. The posted start of registration was 6:00, with the event scheduled to start at 6:30. I always try to get in 15 to 30 minutes before registration even begins to get set up. I arrived to find that John had already started processing people in - without knowing who had preregistered and who didn't (or even how many preregistrations to expect). He was asking folks if they had preregistered, but as we weren't requiring prepayment for this one it didn't really matter.

This proved to be a bit of a problem, however, because there were WAY more people waiting to sign up than I had expected! By the time the dust settled, we had 15 present and paid for, 2 still on the preregistration list, and 5 more who wanted to sign up! We waited until 6:30, the posted start time, for the final 2 preregistered people to show up. One was a name I didn't know (and who reported in their signup that they needed a DCI #) and the other was Roger, a regular. I felt bad giving up both slots. Roger had proven to be a solid supporter of what I'm doing, even advertising the events among his play group. As for the other person, I would hate to have their first experience with us be showing up despite preregistering only to find that his seat was gone.

However, we needed to start, and we had 5 eager people willing and ready to pay (some of them even willing to STAND for the event) there in-store. So I finally made the decision to sign up the 5 people waiting in the store. That brought us to 20 people, 2 more than we had chairs for (and making it the largest event I've run to date). Many of these had never played an Beyond Comics before, and 4 were attending their first event (and needed DCI cards).

While the 5 were paying John, Roger did make it (traffic was awful, it seems). It wasn't a total wasted trip for him, as he had placed an order from me he was going to pick up that evening, but I still feel bad that there just wasn't room to fit him in. If you're reading this, Roger - my sincerest apologies yet again!

The lessons to be learned here are:
  • I should have contacted the store and let John know how many sign-ups we already had (and sent him a list, so he could check people off);
  • John should not have started processing people in until I had arrived to give him said info.

So, we finally got started around 6:45 or so, and after 4 rounds of play we ended at around 11:30. My warmest thanks to Jawhara, who had to stay that late on a Friday night to man the store (her shift would normally have been done at 9!) - I don't think anyone had warned her that this particular event would go extra late (FNMs usually run at most an hour later than normal closing time).

So, why was this event so well attended? I'm not sure. My best guess is that since Friday is the first day one can hold a Launch Party, and (to the best of my knowledge) none of the local places were doing so, we were the "only game in town" for anyone who wanted to attend a Launch Party today. I had originally thought this would be our only Friday night Launch Party (since we run FNMs now) but now I wonder if it may be worth sacrificing an FNM each time to do this instead.

On a side note, I'm a bit concerned. The FNM promos for October I would have expected to arrive by now, but everyone at Beyond Comics reports that there have been no such deliveries. We need those promos starting next Friday, so I hope they come early next week!

October 2, 2011: Today was Novel Places' Launch Party for Innistrad. It was scheduled to start at 1:30 (with registration to start at 1). We only had 4 people signed up in advance (two had gone through Patrick's website and gotten the 10% discount; 2 had signed up through my web form just to reserve a space). And two others (Serg & Vish, who have become regulars) were there when I arrived.

I actually got there a bit frazzled today, as when I was packing up this morning I discovered that my netbook was missing. The only thing I could figure is that I somehow left it at Beyond Comics on Friday night. Unfortunately they don't open until 12 noon on Sundays (unless they're opening early for a prerelease!) so I couldn't call them to check. And if I was going to head south to Gaithersburg to pick it up, and then head back north to Clarksburg for the event, I would have to leave at 12. So, I left (my two sons along with me for the afternoon), hoping it wouldn't turn out that the computer wasn't there after all.

Fortunately it was sitting there right where I had left it, so I grabbed it and skedaddled, and arrived at Novel Places around 12:30, when I had planned to get there anyway.

When the time came to start the event, we had no others show up, so my two sons joined the 6 we had to make it 8 for the event so as to allow it to run as a competitive event. With only 8 players, I set the event for 3 rounds and the playing began.

While the event was running, I borrowed Patrick's camera as our household one has been acting up, and I needed to get pictures of the cards from Innistrad from my store. Thankfully my netbook has a built-in card reader so I could extract the photos from his camera card for processing later. I didn't get everything photographed (the commons and uncommons will have to wait for later - I'm just going to buy a new camera to use exclusively for store work).

October 5, 2011: I called in to Beyond Comics to check and see if the FNM promos had arrived as yet, and was told that nothing was there. So I used the WotC customer service system to ask if they had been delayed, or could be tracked (past experience has taught me they ship these things with tracking numbers).

Later I heard back from them, with a FedEx tracking number. That shows the package having been delivered last Thursday, signed for by "CCOHEN". Now Jon Cohen is the owner of Beyond Comics, and usually works in the Frederick store. But last week on Thursday he was manning the Gaithersburg one (where I TO events - the Frederick store has since started running events of their own). Unfortunately he is on vacation this week, and no-one else has any clue where he may have stashed the package of promos after he signed for them. I'm going to have to get there extra early on Friday and help tear the place up looking for them...

October 6, 2011: Today I got the weekly WPN newsletter, and it linked to an article detailing some changes they're making to prereleases starting with the next set (Dark Ascension, releasing the first weekend of February next year). There are some interesting changes, namely:
  • Sites at Core Level will be able to run THREE events now (up from two for Innistrad);
  • Booster Draft will no longer be an allowed format at prereleases (only Sealed Deck and 2HG Sealed Deck).
So that removes the question of whether to run a Draft event next time (if you recall, that was the event that only had 6 attendees). But it adds in a complication factor. Can I realistically run 3 events at each of 2 sites in 2 days? Single-handedly, I don't think so. But, my good buddy Craig may be willing and able to help. We'll have to figure out if there's a way to schedule events such that he can run two of the 6 events for me (I think I can pull of two each day that weekend, so if he can manage the other two I'll be set).

The only questions that remain are:
  • Which store gets which events on which days? Since Beyond Comics is closer to the "big fish" store (who runs the HUGE events on Saturday), it would make more sense to let Novel Places get the Saturday events (especially since we will have established a pattern of Saturday events at that location by then).
  • Just because we CAN run three events at each store, does this mean we WANT to do so?
  • What format(s) to do? Two-Headed Giant didn't work so well as an FNM, but there were many mitigating factors, and perhaps the prerelease would be different.
The two possible schedules I have come up with are:
  1. Novel Places runs two events on Saturday (am and pm), and Beyond Comics runs just one. Craig runs the one at Beyond Comics.  Then, on Sunday, Beyond Comics runs two events (am and pm) while Novel Places runs just one. Craig runs the one at Novel Places.
  2. Each store runs two events on Saturday (am and pm). Craig would run both events at one of the stores. Then each store runs a single event on Sunday (one in the morning, one in the afternoon). I'd run both of these, going from one store to the next like I did for Magic Celebration.
The first option requires Craig's help on two separate days, but only for part of each day. The second option requires his help on only one day, but for the WHOLE day.

And, of course, I'm not so sure how his wife Misty will feel about this!

On another note, Patrick got the new batch of WPN Gateway promos in today (and Beyond Comics got theirs later) and he kindly took photos and sent them to me. So, starting with his event on Saturday, I'll be able to offer these lovelies as additional prizes:
I actually prefer the promo Neonate to the original!
So cool! I just love getting new promos in!



Justin D-Z said...

Personally, I dislike the death of launch party drafts. I usually do pretty well in those drafts and the prize support is awesome. However, that early in the format I definitely got the sense from others that they weren't comfortable with drafting because they didn't really know the cards.

Not everyone listens to Limited Resources and has most of the commons/uncommons memorized by the time of the event. People are less confident in draft and therefore don't want to "throw their money away" I suppose. Sealed is high variance, so they feel like they can do well even if they aren't a zen master or something.

So it makes sense, whether or not I'm a fan for my own selfish reasons.

For what it's worth, I have no idea how popular 2HG is as a format. Personally, it has 0 competitive relevance and none of my friends play it at the kitchen table, so I don't bother. I'd save my money for drafts where I am more likely to learn something useful. Or just buy singles from you. Which, incidentally, I failed to do last night before falling asleep.

See you this evening!

Tom D said...

Sorry I haven't been around as much! Work's been heavy, and I've been planning for Ireland at the end of the month - I'll try to be there next Friday!

Also, if you need/want extra help for Dark Asc (pre-release), I'd be willing to throw my name in. Cheers!