Introduction to Origins
By Omeed Dariani
Games, games, and more games. Everywhere you look, there are games. You see miniatures sprawled across Styrofoam scenery. There are players maneuvering starships in Starfleet Battles. The origins guidebook lists war games, railroad games, racecar games, even a card game called Pornstar (for mature audiences only, of course). In one corner of the hall, players are leaning over keyboards playing Everquest, Doom, and the latest release, Diablo II. Meanwhile, in the Exhibit Hall, science fiction fans are getting signatures from Julie Caitlin Brown who played the part of Na'Toth on Babylon 5 as well as guest roles in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nearby, Tony DiTerlizzi is signing Magic cards, of which he's illustrated 100 of them. MLB, or Major League Baseball, the new collectible card game from Wizards of the Coast, seems to be catching on, as rows and rows of players are assembling there favorite baseball legends to try and defeat their opponents. And of course, there is Magic: the Gathering.
There was some question as to what effect the lack of a major event like a Pro Tour or US Nationals would have on attendance, but any fears seem to have been unjustified. While there may be less professional Magic players present, there are more than enough players to fill up the Sideboard Team Challenge, the Pro Tour Qualifier, and the various side events that will be occurring all weekend. The Team Challenge was a big success, despite the fact that it occurred at the slowest part of the convention, Thursday morning. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) supplied four teams to this non-sanctioned event and they competed against dozens of other teams for the better part of a day. At one point, Scott Larabee, who was playing on the DCI team, mentioned that they were looking for a fifth team member in the early morning. Scott suggested picking up Mike Long, who was at the convention trading and selling cards. In light of Mike Long's recent one-month suspension from the DCI, the team name would be called "No Hard Feelings" (or perhaps, "Strange Bedfellows"?), but this idea was quickly vetoed by the rest of the team. In the end, it turns out the DCI team could have used his help, as the only WotC team to make the top 4 was Research and Development (R&D).
By Friday afternoon, the Pro Tour - Chicago Qualifier is in full swing, with well known players like Jason Opalka, Joe Weber, Brian Kowal, and Lauren Passmore battling for the invitation to the Pro Tour with their Masques Block Constructed decks. Unlike most PTQs, however, there is still plenty to do if you don't make it into the top 8. Those that have been eliminated are playing in side drafts or eagerly preparing their Standard decks for the Amateur Championships on Saturday, the winner of which will receive Magic for Life, a box of boosters of each new expansion from the day the tournament ends until the end of time. What decks can you expect to see in the Amateur Championships? Who will end up on top? Stay tuned to the Sideboard for ongoing coverage of the event.