I don’t want to sound too complain-y here; the event was professionally run, gorgeously produced, and left in the dust the nearest organized-play program behind it (WizKids, I’m looking at you). That said, for the first world championship held in the States since what I interpret as the game’s rennaissance in this country, it was underattended and… there just wasn’t much for people like me to do. I mean, my DCI judge friend gave me his one-free-draft coupon, but as a lapsed player with no knowledge of the current card set, all I would do in a draft is lose and piss seven people off. I spent my time on Saturday just hanging out with other people in my shoes: players from years back, been out of the game for a long while, not up for tournament play.
Where was the section where new players could get an introduction to the game from an experienced volunteer? Where was the “nickel tour of the current Type 2 environment” seminar? Where was the “game library” section where you could borrow, I dunno, some Spanish-language 5th Edition starters and play Two-Headed Giant with them? [And where, for the love of Mr. Suitcase, was the preview of Unhinged?]
Casual play is the elephant in Magic‘s living room. Still. Casual events like these, well-publicized ahead of time, could have been a watershed event for all that dark matter in M:tG’s market. However, I will grant that Wizards’ event staff is in the business of running tournaments, not conventions. That part they have down pretty well; it was a trip and a half to witness the setup for the finals first-hand, earpieces and all. (Not that the earpieces really work. They’re there so you can sit in the audience and listen to commentary the players shouldn’t hear… which is mostly, again, keyed on intimate knowledge of the current card set… and you can only see the cards on monitors anyway… and the earpieces fed back a lot… on the whole I began to wish I were watching the webcast at home. But it was still neat.)