MagicFest New Jersey: Not for the Casual Players

Last weekend, I and many others flocked to the Meadowlands Exposition Center to partake in what is known as Magicfest New Jersey. MagicFest was the new re-branding of what has the Magic Grand Prix. The goal was not only to cater to the competitive Magic The Gathering scene with a high-level tournament but to also encourage casual players to enjoy the game. This promised various side events and booths filled with MTG related funfair. Basically, it became more like a convention that celebrates Magic The Gathering, or it should have. I as well as many other attendees found the event much less welcoming. So sit back as recall my brief experience with Magic Fest NJ.

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The Experience

This was not my first MagicFest at that location. A previous year I had preregistered for an event and got to play but my second event had my group waiting for over an hour before we called it quits and left. That day was fun but we wanted to play more magic. Jumping back to the present, A friend and I decided to go Mid-afternoon on Saturday. We had hoped to sign up for an event or two. What we arrived to that day was an events line at a dead stop. Due to lack of space, side event registration was halted completely with reports of it opening back around 6pm. People were still lined up with hopes that space would open and they would be ready to sign up for the next event.

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that line did not move one bit while I was wandering around

Mismanaging Your Events

This is a prime example when event planners don’t recognize the growth of there event. Sometimes there is no way to accommodate everyone, but this was an issue last year that should have been addressed for this year. It has become apparent that convention space itself has become small for the number of participants. The main event (which has its own timing issues) took priority on the floor after that was vendors and special reserved areas. This leaves only a set amount for On-Demand Events. On-demand means as soon as there enough people for an event (like 8 person draft) then the event starts. In bigger convention, you can see these events firing off in waves 10-20 min wait max. Well, the demand was certainly there just not the tables. This was definitely troublesome for those that spent $150 for a Fanatic Pack that included vouchers for these overbooked events.

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Some may say, Isn’t this high demand a good thing? The answer is Yes but if you don’t make an attempt to accommodate this need then you are just turning down money. Players are paying (or at tying to pay) good money to sign up for events. There are players that traveled from afar, booked a hotel for a weekend filled with games. There wasn’t even space to play a pickup game. This discourages people and many have found that there time there was wasted. So unless your plan is to discourage people from attending your event you need to reconsider how you do things.

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These tables reserved for the Main Event
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The only place in the Expo Space to just play a game… the lobby floor.

What Can be Done?

Channel Fireball organized this event and they should be looking into this and consider how to address this issue. The obvious answer might be to move to a bigger venue. Atlantic City would be a good candidate as it has hosted Magic Grand Prix before. Considering the ever-growing community of players looking to play they should not worry about the location being out of the way. What I do know is if nothing changes than MagicFest NJ is not meant for casual players, but it should be

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Let us know

Having Never been to a Magic Fest outside my area I can’t compare it to others. Have you been to other MagicFest? Were they better handled or have you had similar experiences? Those of you that did go to MagicFest NJ, how did it go? What changes would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Michael Chen

    tl;dr the space issue affected competitive players as well (so all players…get a bigger venue CFB!)

    This also hurt the main event. When they made the announcement in rd 1 that meant everyone who went 0-2 in the main had no incentive to drop. This not only continued the issues with limited space but it caused a bigger backlog than normal so the turnaround times between main event rounds were a nightmare until late in the day. On top of that, the PTQ events ended up being capped around 180 (when they were advertised at 512).

    • roguepanda89

      That is surprising, I knew they capped the main event but I didn’t know they capped it so low. I had figured it would be at least a 300 man tournament. Forgot that yes the lack of side events meant that player in the main event that wanted to drop were stuck because there was nothing better to do.

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