Journey to Nowhere: Traveling to Magic/MTG Events


With Magic 30 looming around the end of this month, a lot of us are looking forward to the return of large Magic events. I'm aware that there has been the commandfest, but I was not feeling the motivation to go and there just seemed to be a huge difference between them and GPs (Grand Prix) pre covid. There was just something magical about the desperation and determination of the tournament grinders hustling and bustling to finish up their decks in preparation for the big tournament. The effort put in to win was admirable and was something that added energy to the playing field. They make for great magic memories from all the goofiness that happens inside the event and in preparation for it. I will never forget the time that me and my friend were practicing for a standard GP and cops raided a room in our same motel, good times.

I've been to a couple of GPs over my decade tenure as a Magic player and they all have been fun trips. I live over in the west coast and mainly did those GPs. I love going to them. It is one of the few times that you'll be spending time with die hard Magic enthusiasts from all over the world. For myself, it was one of the first times I've seen people trading for Black Lotuses, seen over hundreds of people playing MTG, people hunting down miscuts/misprints before that became more common, and organized wacky formats like 10 person FFA sealed. There's also a different culture and magic norms that occur at these events that get mashed into the different Magic culture from across the world. Maybe I'm just a voyeur for Magic, but watching people do Magic things is fascinating and these events are an overload of Magic activity.

Unfortunately, I did notice that the events were declining when Channel Fireball took them over. I don't know if it was because of player fatigue or poor event organization, but the last GP I went to was GPLA in 2018. The crowd was definitely smaller than I remembered it and the excitement wasn't as fervent, but there was still a lot more enthusiasm for Magic. 

For this post, I want to provide ideas and considerations for your next trip. I'm not planning to go into detail about the general traveling stuff, but I will do so for the Magic related things.

As you plan each of your adventures into these events here are some of the things to consider.


  • How are you getting to that location?
    • Car or plane?
  • Once you are there, how many locations do you plan to visit?
    • If you're planning to primarily stay in the Magic area, you might be fine with just using ride share to get around the area
    • If you plan to hit up multiple spots, maybe renting or bringing your own car might be more convenient. 

What to pack for travel

  • Enough clothes for the trip, typically 2-3 outfits for a weekend
    • less if you plan to buy clothes out there or more for longer trips
  • Solid pair of shoes
  • 2-3 pair of socks 
  • 1 Set of Sleeping Clothes
  • Toiletries (Shampoo,Soap, Toothbrush, Toothpaste)
  • Deodorant
Magic Stuff to Pack
  • 2-4 Decks
    • Will vary base on intended events and intended games
    • If you are planning to enter a constructed event make sure you bring along your intended deck
    • In addition, I would bring 1-2 commander decks for that weekend for social games
    • Do not bring too many decks to better keep track of your stuff. I see people losing decks all the time and it hurts. Also unfortunately, theft is still prevalent and harder to keep track of.
  • Draft Sleeves, Deckbox, and Dice
    • For limited events, make sure you got the accessories to make playing comfortable. 
    • If you don't play with sleeves, you're a monster and I'm judging
  • Trade Binder
    • Since this event will have a larger variety of Magic players, these are easily some of the best events to trade at.
    • Vendors are also looking to buy cards at these events and it might be a good time to sell some of your collection.
  • Playmat
    • This will help keep your cards and sleeves clean at the event table. 
    • This will also help you keep your cards organized within a confined space at the tables minimizing your chances of losing them.
    • When it comes to trading, you can use the mats to keep cards from touching the tables.
      • There is some etiquette when it comes to trading cards and playmats will help facilitate that
      • Also will let you better organize your trade session with other players.
Things to do at the Events/Conventions

Okay, now you planned and packed everything, you get to the event. What do or can you do?

  • Play the Main Event
Most Event are centered around a competitive main event. These events will take up the entire day and might be a solid time killer. Even if you're no longer in contention for a prize, you are still able to continue playing for fun and get more practice. This is also a good way to talk to people at events and save a bit of money since if you're occupied you're less likely to spend money on other things. The main issue is that this is a competitive event and the rule enforcement is stricter. In addition, the attitude is different since the main goal is to win and some people will do whatever it takes. 

  • Play Side Events

If you opt to not play the main event or choose to drop out, there are always side events to join. They still will cost money to play, but you are also earning prizes. The side events offer significantly more variety than main events and you can play some weird formats like Chaos Sealed with cards from Homelands. You do need to bring the appropriate deck for constructed.These are fun, but they do get pricey. These normally distribute tickets as prizes which you can exchange for an item at the prize wall. The other neat thing is that the prize tickets have trade and monetary value to other attendees, so even if you don't like what's available, you have trade fodder. The prizes for these events include packs, singles, and other oddities like an oversized Black Lotus.
  • Pick Up Games
Find random people to play whatever format you have. This is free and staff will leave you alone unless they need the tables for an event. This is cool because as players are wandering around the convention, they might join whatever you are playing out of curiosity. Good time to teach them about the formats you like to play. Here are some ideas on what kind of pick up games can happen.
    • Battlebox
      • You just need players if you're the one curating the Battle box
    • Cube
      • This is a solid option as only one person has to have a cube. 
      • You need to be concerned about theft or accidents if you use real cards
    • Commander
      • Almost everyone plays
    • Judge's Tower
      • Someone at my LGS actually plays this, it's why I bring it up, no idea to how actually play or what it is
    • Paper MoJoSto
      • Figure it out with the power of Google

  • Trade

Engaging in trade is probably one of the more rewarding parts of playing Magic outside of actually playing the game. There's a larger variety of players at these events meaning cards that have been sitting in your binders for years might find them useful to whatever purposes they had. Miscuts and other oddities are better appreciated at these events. This is a two way street as now you're getting access to a larger variety of cards as well. One of the best ways to get the most of trading is to just find an empty table to start trading. As with pick up games, the wanderers will start drifting in asking about binders and what not. You'll eventually form mini marketplaces where people are trading cards. One last thing, the event tickets that you get as prizes from the side events have equity inside the Magic hall and you can use them as part of your bargaining power. Normally the value is based off the price of boosters if that is the cheapest thing you can get. Also be aware that demand for certain cards are higher than they might be outside. I had a friend who traded his promo Batterskull for 4 Staff of the Death Magus, which is nowhere close to each other in value, but he wanted to win the main event.
  • Buy/Sell

Vendors are where I have the least experience, but they typically function as they should like a buyer/seller. What I have notice is that they carry a larger inventory of cards that I don't see that often at my LGS. Much like the random traders you meet, they will carry unique items as well as old product that players may not know existed or haven't seen in years. Foreign language cards are more readily available too, though they aren't as rare as they used to be. The bigger attraction to vendors is that they typically buylist cards at a higher rate than what I've seen from LGSes. The rates I've seen have been as high as 80% but typically averaging around 60%. This is great if you are looking to cash out of MTG (We'll miss you.) or looking to liquidate some of your collection. Vendors are also more open to negotiation especially on high value transaction like reserved list. Lastly, I have talked to people at events, who manage to arbitage cards between vendors, which I find funny, though I'm not sure how feasible this is anymore. Overall, vendors are different from your locals and they are worth interacting with at these events. Also be aware that demand will change how vendors are pricing cards, I had a vendor try to sell me 4 Scouring Sands for $3 a piece (I refused and got clapped but Hornet Queen with Monored :'( btw).
  • Talk/Hangout with people

Probably the cheapest thing to do is just talk to people. You don't need cards, you don't need money, just some time and random people who are down to talk to you. Magic players come from all walks of life and everyone will be at an event for a variety of reasons whether it be competition or someone dragged them there. It's a good opportunity to network with people whether for business or just to meet people. Who knows where this goes.

Finale of Promise

I hope a lot of the information presented here was useful to you as it would have been to me when I was traveling to these events. It's been a while since I've been to a large Magic event with more of my recent excursion being at conventions that just happen to be running Magic. There will probably be things I'm missing as I'm drawing mostly from my own experience and what has worked for me. Don't worry too much about how you're trip will turn out as there will be something for every Magic player to do. Just enjoy the trip, especially since the last thing you want to do is complain about how much you spent and not have fun. This isn't the normal cube stuff and I am not wanting to draft away from it, but I do want to touch on other topics once in a while.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'm not accustomed to writing about this topic, so if you found this useful, let me know in the comments.  If you want to support me and want to purchase some cards , please consider using my link for TCGplayer. If you want to stay connected, I left all of my socials on the sidebar including my email list and Facebook Page. Though if you're traveling to an event anytime, highly recommend, saving that money for yourself to enjoy those events. If you ever run into me, come up and say hi, I think I'm friendly enough.