Weekday Warriors

The U.S. East Coast has opportunities every weekend in most states to play competitive Magic: the Gathering. The downside to this is that stores are bound to conflict with each other or skip some weekends to avoid hurting their neighbors. Steve LaManna of Get There Games in Staten Island, NY had to have more than one StarCityGames.com Invitational Qualifier rescheduled because a Pro Tour Qualifier was eventually put on the calendar for the same date, but with an idea from the head of StarCityGames.com In-Store Programs, Steve came up with a successful solution to his problem. He ran the first-ever weekday SCG Invitational Qualifier and had attendance close to the minimum guarantee for a Super Invitational Qualifier.

Get There Games has been running Magic tournaments for almost two years now and Steve has played in Invitational Qualifiers since before the store opened, and knew “they would be a key element in the competitive Magic scene.” In the past year and a half, Get There Games has run over ten StarCityGames.com Invitational Qualifiers, with several of them being Super IQs. With this experience, coupled with some disappointing reschedules and cancellations due to scheduling conflicts, we knew Steve would be a good candidate to try a weekday SCG Invitational Qualifier.

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Learn to Play, Love to Play

Pulling up stakes and leaving a store in Montana to start a new business in Tampa, Florida can’t be easy, but Todd Schreier of Learn 2 Play Games makes it look that way. Within four weeks of opening, Learn 2 Play reached Advanced on the Wizards Play Network and regularly hosts successful Invitational Qualifiers. While Todd attributes some of his growth to StarCityGames.com In-Store Programs, much of it is due to his abilities as a tournament organizer and store owner. Read on as he shares some of his secrets and tips with me.

Todd’s first store, Good Games, opened in 2009 with a tournament that drew players from all over Montana for a foil playset of Baneslayer Angels. He ran a series of tournaments offering Moxes when Learn 2 Play opened. Running tournaments with high-profile prizes is invaluable in getting a new store’s name out to the players, but Todd also said, “Implementing the Invitational Qualifiers in Tampa, Florida is the best decision I have made for tournament play. I went from basic to Core in four days, Core to Advanced in four weeks. Each tournament the turnout keeps on getting better.”

With a second Learn 2 Play location opening soon, Todd told me, “We are moving up to have four IQs a month. I trust the brand and the team behind all that is StarCityGames.com.”

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EV Heroes

Ask any competitive Magic player how a tournament’s EV (expected value) factors into deciding between which tournament to attend, and the higher EV tournament will win every time. Matthew Rubio of Game Heroes in Arvada, Colorado, knows this and has had great success by increasing the minimum prize payout at his store’s, StarCityGames.com Invitational Qualifiers. By increasing the prize pool (and thus the EV of the tournaments), Game Heroes has had more than 80 players at a Regular IQ! That’s more than double the average attendance for an IQ, that’s 80 potential customers in the store, and that’s more valuable exposure for Game Heroes.

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Gamers Giving Back

You may have heard of this month’s featured store on Daily MTG back in November. Derrick Sheets of Game On Chattanooga was able to take some time out of his busy Prerelease weekend to answer some questions about his store, his Grub for Gamers event, and how to keep players coming back.

I asked Derrick how long his store has been running Magic tournaments, and he was proud to tell me that not only have they been running tournaments since they opened their doors but they had run fourteen booster drafts that day! Derrick has played in (and won) Invitational Qualifiers before and said, “We have a good, solid competitive core of players in our area; it only seemed logical to run IQs.” Read more

Preparation for Profit

How does a store that’s been open for only a month get over 70 players at their first Invitational Qualifier? How did that impact the store running the event? I asked Jennifer Dery, tournament organizer at Comics and Gaming — Culpeper, these questions about their recent super-successful Invitational Qualifier. The Culpeper location opened up exactly one month before their first Invitational Qualifier and had more than double the average Invitational Qualifier attendance with their first event.

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The Nomad Way

A StarCityGames.com organizer that does an amazing job of publicizing itself is the Nomad Game Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I interviewed Dino Boni about some of the awesome things they’re doing at this store. Nomad opened in March 2012 and made it up to Advanced level in just a few months.

One of the most noticeable features in the shop is a 6×4 foot banner with the store’s logo and the Invitational Qualifier’s logo that features information about the next Invitational Qualifier. Using the high-resolution graphics provided in Organizer Tools and Photoshop, Dino had two vinyl banners printed from eSigns.com for only $40 each. Dino said, “They can take dry erase markers with ease and wipe clean with Simple Green. Perfect for repeat use!” Nomad Game Center uses one hanging from the ceiling and another under their exterior sign.

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The Art of Running a Successful Store

If you’ve ever done some research online about obtaining original Magic artwork, you’ve probably already heard of StarCityGames.com Organizer and avid art lover Mark Aronowitz. When I interviewed Mark, he had recently returned from “hanging out” at Melissa Benson’s house. In addition to having impressive business relationships with several Magic artists, he has also run several successful StarCityGames.com Invitational Qualifiers.

When I asked about his store’s history with Magic: The Gathering, Mark told me that they started selling cards “two weeks before The Dark came out” and he was sorry to have missed out on buying Alpha through Legends at regular price. His relationship with Magic artists stretches back eight years, when he first started selling artists’ prints and books with original drawings added by artists.

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Success in the Southwest

This month’s Store Spotlight focuses on Black Gold, located in Littleton, Colorado. Owner Carl Van Laethem talked with us about running successful Invitational Qualifiers and keeping up with a busy store. He started his business in the mid-90’s, focusing solely on sports memorabilia. Around the time Mirrodin was released, Carl had so many requests for Magic cards that he decided to devote a section of his shop to the game. Carl noticed the drawing power of the game right away, and within six months his store reached Advanced status with the Wizard’s Play Network. As Magic began to take over his sales, he made the move to a new location across the street from his previous one to devote “all of my energy to Magic.” Carl prides himself in maintaining a safe, clean, and fun environment for all of his customers.

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Masters of the Open Trials

Bienvenidos to our first Store Spotlight, tournament organizers! Each month we’ll share the experiences and insights of veteran StarCityGames.com tournament organizers. We’re going to begin with the store that has run more Open Trials than anyone else so far: Comic Town in Columbus, Ohio. They have scheduled an amazing 22 Open Trials in addition to a steady stream of Invitational Qualifiers. I had the opportunity to interview the owner and tournament organizer, Ryan, and pick his brain about Open Trials, building a Magic community, and the value of advertising.

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