All that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.
– Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 2
I’ve been to PAX West eight out of the past nine years, venturing specifically for Magic: The Gathering (the only one I’ve missed when my daughter had surgery). I feel like I have some expertise when I say this: This year was by far the worst effort put forth by Wizards of the Coast to do anything Magic related at PAX West. The only major event they produced was one panel about the worldbuilding of Ixalan for an hour. And that was it. How you found it was a blurb in the main schedule, not even a mention on DailyMTG.com.
It was embarrassing.
Let me amend that:
I was embarrassed for Wizards of the Coast.
When I’ve written these After PAX pieces, I was trying to give you a little bit of the atmosphere of Magic-related PAX. They aren’t really reviews as it’s not something that one can experience again. I tried to examine what was WotC doing to promote their latest set and their actions at the convention itself.
For years the draw was the Magic Party where they would debut cards with music, food, drinks and a bunch of people including WotC employees. Over the past few years the party was toned down but the increased presence of Magic was there. Two years ago there was a huge Eldrazi arm crushing a police car on the street. Last year, they took over a whole theater for Kaladesh and the huge street wide banner hanging on the skybridge displaying Saheeli Rai for all of the PAX attendees to see.
This year, an hour long panel with two preview cards.
And as much as it would be easy to blame WotC for this, it’s not their fault.
There’s one clear reason for this complete drop off, but I have a feeling that there were to other factors that contributed to this choice that made it a bit easier. The elephant in the room:
I haven’t done a Friday PAX before, but luckily it’s mostly the same for all of the days. With my cousin in tow, who was enjoying PAX for the first time, we waged war against lines, and more lines, and even more lines for our only day at PAX.
Now the actual PAX party is tomorrow night where we’re going to get a huge amount of previews but I thought I would share some photos and a few of my thoughts.
The MTGO Community Cup is at PAX for the first time this year, but it’s blocked off and put into a corner. I get why (You need better audio for streaming), however I feel like this is an opportunity missed to display what awesome things Magic has going. Every other streaming sport has a ton of people around it and were actively engaging the crowd. Twitch.TV had a huge booth next to the WotC booth, and there was the huge League of Legends that had whole section devoted to it. None of them had people who made them game playing against fans and pros of the same game.
Just a quick reminder (and to test out this Aside function on WordPress), I will be at PAX Prime all day Friday and will be at the Magic Party Saturday night (7:00 PM Pacific time). If you can’t be there, you can follow me on Twitter (@mtgcolorpie) as I’ll be taking photos and trying to get more information about Theros; feel free to tweet me and I’ll do my best to answer those burning questions. Maybe I’ll do some quick blogging too. At PAX? come find me and we can hang out. I’ll have two Commander decks with me as well as Planechase and Vanguard.
Probably the most entertaining portion happened later in the night. The Rakdos dance floor was packed as the DJ was spinning song after song. A larger member of the Gruul guild had climbed up onto the stage and started dancing, exposing the tattooed Gruul symbol on his chest. The Rakdos faithful went wild. The eyes of the Azorius, Boros and Selesnya were watching from their higher ground\ trying to decipher the madness below them. The Orzhov were behind the stage, playing games; Golgari were the gate keepers to who came in an left the party. Meanwhile, the Simic were trying their hand with new drink concoctions, the Izzet were steampunking around and the Dimir, hidden from view, were trying to assassinate everyone.
This was the Return to Ravnica PAX party. And I honestly wish you were there.
I’m not gloating that I got to go and you didn’t. I happen to live in the area that both PAX and WotC make their home so it is shear luck that I’m able to do this. I kept getting requests for a link to a live stream of the party so they could watch on their computer, but there isn’t one. It’s a party, and even though I’m a fan of people watching, staring at a computer screen of people dancing, talking while music pumps in the background isn’t much fun. This isn’t a panel where people speak and there’s a Q&A afterwards, this is a full blown party.
So PAX has come and gone and new spoilers for Scars of Mirrodin have been, um spoiled (I was notified that WotC doesn’t call them spoilers, but previews). But besides the awesome party and the new cards, I was fortunate enough to talk to several WotC employees. If you had been following my Twitter feed like I suggested (@mtgcolorpie), you would’ve read what some of the higher ups thought about the new set.
Luckily, for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter will see a majority of those quotes here as well. This is not going to be a review of PAX nor the party (both really good times), but what I thought about certain things and who I talked to and what they said.
Please note: I am not a journalist. I’m not like Bill Stark and my life isn’t based reporting news so I don’t want to get quotes wrong. While I don’t want to misquote people, so I’m going to do it form the twitter quotes earlier. The short interviews I conducted throughout the day and the night will be told in brief here. If any of the parties feels I misunderstood or twisted their words please feel free to contact me and I’ll correct it.
I also want to thank my many readers and followers on twitter, without them, I don’t think that I would’ve been able to get some of the responses out of these great people. I want to thank them too for being so nice to allow me to talk to them. Of course, every time I’ve interacted with them they’ve been nothing but nice and helpful, and not just me but to everyone they’ve talked to when I watch. It may be just me, but I seriously doubt it’s an act.