Say Uncle!

Uncle’s Games was founded almost twenty years before the first Magic: The Gathering card was designed. Its customers include Mike Elliot, Mark Rosewater, and Richard Garfield. With locations in malls all over Washington state, Uncle’s Games is a natural fit for the Invitational Qualifier program. Of course, mall locations also have their limitations; what do you do when you want to run a large event? I asked Patrick Day, tournament organizer at the Uncle’s Games Bellevue location, about running large events, Premier Invitational Qualifiers, and the new Creature Collection Retailer Bundles.

As any organizer in a mall location knows, there can be space limitations within the store. Patrick’s solution? Use the biggest common space in the mall: the food court. “If you’re finding resistence from the mall management, I would encourage you to recruit any food vendors to help make your case. Nothing is better for a food court than 100+ Magic players all trapped in one location for a day.”

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Planning for Success

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell

The world has changed a lot since Mr. Bell, in part because his preparedness led to successful inventions that revolutionized our lifestyles. With our modern ways of convenience and immediate gratification, the need to prepare has become an unnecessary task in a lot of our daily activities. So what does preparation mean for a Magic tournament in today’s world? At worst, preparation is scheduling the event and hoping that everything goes well; at best, it is a string of responsible decisions with the ultimate goal of marketing yourself to as many players as possible and creating an environment that has new players telling their friends ‘YOUR STORE NAME is the best! You HAVE to come next time.’ In our experience, the difference between just another Invitational Qualifier and an experience people want to share with their friends is all in your preparation for going the extra mile.

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How do I run Game Night in my store?

By design, running Game Night is very easy for you and your players. Follow these simple steps and you will be all set to begin Game Night when it debuts in September:

  1. Visit Organizer Tools and you will see a large “Click to Enroll” button in green.
    • If you are not already an organizer, you can sign up here.
  2. Once you’ve clicked to enroll, a notification will pop up letting you know your enrollment was successful.
  3. Our system will then automatically create your events every month. When they are ready for the event fee to be submitted, you will receive an e-mail letting you know.
    • Events will be auto-created two months in advance and you will have six weeks from that date to submit your event fee.
  4. Once your payment has been processed you will be all set to run Game Nights for that month.

Note: You will receive your Game Night foils and pins about two weeks before the first event of the month. The entire month of Game Night prizes will be sent together, so please remember that eight foil tokens and two pins are to be given out each week.

Game Night is now open to local game stores worldwide! If you have any questions, please visit our Game Night page for more information or send us an email at

See you at Origins! and its In-Store Programs team will be at the Origins Trade Day on June 12 leading up to the Season Two Invitational in Columbus, Ohio. Coupled with Organizer feedback and expert brainstorming, we have some exciting changes to announce that evening at 6:00 pm. Join us at Origins at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to hear all the details. It’s a can’t-miss event, and we hope to see you there!

6-Headed Giant

One of the most important goals of In-Store Programs is working with local game stores to improve the Magic playing community. When local stores start working together to host events, we start to see amazing things happen. This Store Spotlight is not about one store, but six across the state of Nebraska who have joined together to host events from SCG Super Invitational Qualifiers up to the Spring SCG State Championships. They call themselves the Midwest Championship Group (or the MCG), and they do their best to provide Nebraska with top quality events.

According to Ryan Foxworthy, our main contact with the MCG, “It all started with Gary Lemburg from GI Card Shop coming to me in May of 2013 and saying how cool it would be to give out 6 boxes of Modern Masters.” During that event, Ryan and Gary met with two more stores and planned on hosting an event with all four stores participating. Then, a fifth store was added for the next tournament and a sixth after that. The MCG now consists of Ryan Foxworthy at The Troll’s Den, Gary Lemburg at GI Card Shop, Shawn Mohrmann from EZ Gamer, Daniel Schmidt of Hobbytown USA, Tom Gibbs and Louis McNichols at Underground Gaming, and Rick Poehling from Krypton Comics.

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Pre-Approval Check List

Due to the rising popularity of Magic: the Gathering, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of competitive events of all kinds across the country. To assist you in getting your request approved as quickly as possible, we’ve put together some tips to help you avoid requesting unavailable dates.

Following these guidelines will help you get your event approved and accelerate the process.

How do you recommend I compensate my judges for Invitational Qualifiers?

Properly compensating your judges is extremely important because if it weren’t for them, there would be no event. Most judges have an expectation of their compensation being valued at the equivalent of a box of the most recent set. Being flexible in your judge compensation is going to create a better relationship between you and the judge and make them more willing to come back and judge more of your events. You can offer them store credit, cash, or maybe you even have some rare cards they are looking for. For Super IQs and Elite IQs, we recommend the above compensation plan for all judges with the expectation that you will provide a little something extra for the Head Judge.

Don’t forget to email us at with your mailbag questions!

Weekday Invitational Qualifiers Now Available!

Greetings from In-Store Programs! As you probably have noticed, we have been making some big changes here in ISP and we are excited to announce another one! On a case-by-case basis we will now be approving weekday Invitational Qualifier events. Last month, Get There Games in Staten Island ran the first weekday Invitational Qualifier with a great 53-player turnout. If you are interested in running a weekday IQ and are confident of its success, please email us at

On another high note, the power of IQs was on full display at the Season One Invitational in Charlotte. Derrick Sheets, owner of Game On Chattanooga, made time to play in and win an Invitational Qualifier at another store in order to secure his seat at the Charlotte Invitational which he then went on to win! Congrats to Derrick!

August is now open for event scheduling, so sign up today!

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 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 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 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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The Facebook Bump

Social media should be any local game store’s No. 1 advertising vehicle. While there is plenty to do leading up to a Invitational Qualifier or Open Trial, make time for social media during and after the event. The In-Store Programs team will be happy to post your event pictures on our Facebook page, but we should not be the only ones posting those pictures! Players love the recognition at any level of event, and putting up pictures of players enjoying your tournament and letting them tag each other only increases your online visibility.

During the event, you can post pictures and updates so that people can see how their friends are doing. You can post about door prizes that have been given out, display pictures of players with their swag, or upload a picture of a player with a cool playmat. The goal is to give the players not at the event a reason to come to the next one and give the players that are there some recognition.

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