Friday, 23 February 2018

Notes From A Small Convention, by Brother Stebbo

Some diary entries from one London-based Old School obsessive...

Early January 2018, some weekday evening…

GP London is fast approaching, barely three weeks away. Excitingly this means that the thrill of the GP fair (i.e. vendors and artists) will be hitting up London town! 

GP London has been pretty good to me over the years. In fact, if I remember back hard enough……..

GP London, August 2015

Back in 2015 I was lucky enough to win some 1996 product (I had to endure many rounds of Modern, if it’s any consolation). I was 10 prize tix short of a third pack…

Long Suffering Friend, Samy (LSF): “What are you gonna spend your tix on?"

Brother Stebbo: “I think I’ll go for some Alliances”

LSF: “What’s in Alliances, just that rare card, Force of Will?”

Brother Stebbo: “Exactly. But it’s an UNCOMMON. There are about 2.6 per box of Alliances!

I know - I’ll get three packs - I’m bound to get one.

But i’m ten tix short... so gimme ten of your tix!”

*LSF rolls eyes*

Never tell me the odds!

GP London, October 2016

GP London came back a year later, which saw me snag several collectors' items: some swag from Old School artist Pete Venters (pictured below, kindly altering my playmat) and perhaps the rarest of all - a win over Brother Ben in a competitive Old School event! 

 Here’s Pete, and some pics from the side event...
Back to some weekday evening…

Disaster! My hopes of a clean sweep of GP London fun this year have been dashed!!

Brother Stebbo, reading the GP side event schedule…

A quick check of the GP website tells me that there are no Old School artists in attendance, and there is no Old School side event! Sadly the days of winning Alliances boosters are long gone, but I won’t even get the chance to compete for some Ixalan this time round…

Luckily we have COPcon V that weekend, which offers plenty of Old School. And, whatever the shortcomings of the event schedule, at least there will be vendors to trade with.

I then turn my attention to my phone. Brother Jonas is messaging me from the desolate surroundings of the GP venue. He is busy giving up this weekday evening to scout a venue for COPcon V, which is being hosted near to the big event to help those wanting to attend both.

Jonas has met with some early failures, with one of the pubs 'in contention’ resembling something from the set of Neighbours, c.1991. But persistence prevails and a suitable venue is eventually found!

 The COPcon back-up venue

Saturday 20 January 2018 (1 week before the GP)

Our Facebook group receives an unexpected surprise - legendary collector, personality, and vintage Magic expert Daniel Chang is going to be attending the GP and might even drop by COPcon!

I’ve done some business with Daniel over the years, but we’ve never actually spoken. Luckily for me this is all about to change. We are able to fit in a Skype conversation and make plans to meet up in London!

Thursday 25 January 2018 (1 day till the GP starts!)

Work commitments have kept me busy all week. This means I’ve not been able to prepare my loot of foil legacy and modern staples for the vendors at the GP.

The responsible thing to do would be to dedicate my final waking hours that evening to sorting my cards and constructing a price list, outlining what I’d like to get for certain cards, etc. Naturally what I actually do is waste several hours reading about Old School on the internet, before going to bed far too late!

Friday 26 January 2018, GP day 1!

I wake up late, and hastily scramble through my collection to assemble a veritable horde of shiny wares. My plan is to dazzle the vendors with my shiny cards, and in this moment of blindness and confusion, convince them to trade them for some Old School cards at good prices!

I get to the GP site just after lunch. The commute down highlights the quirks of the London Docklands location: I share my train with a mixture of City workers, fellow GP-goers, and the middle-aged attendees of a mechanical engineering exhibition...

The GP hall itself is enormous, but on day 1 and with the main event not kicking off until tomorrow, it’s only half-full and is easy enough to get around.

An artist’s impression of the GP London venue

I take a moment to stroll around the vendors. There are some real gems for sale, including a Richard Garfield-altered Balance! I also find probably the only bit of Alpha power available for less than £1,000.

 I then settle in for a mammoth three-hour trading session with my friend Benedict who works for one of the vendors. But it’s all worth it - as I come away with some '93-era multilands! 

 Many Foils died to bring us this information

That would probably be enough excitement for one day, but as they say: you sleep when you’re dead. Thus, I'm off to my next engagement: meeting up with Daniel.

Even having come all the way from the US, Daniel is kind enough to give up his evening to hang out and play some games of Magic. It’s a real blast to exchange stories about Old School collecting, community and strategy, amongst many other subjects of conversation. It's also really great to hear a little about some of the icons of Old School and Vintage Magic to whom I've always looked up, such as Steve Menendian and Brian Weissman. 

 Somehow I get the feeling my next spell isn’t resolving…

Saturday 27 January 2018. GP day 2 and COPcon!
Despite only having about six hours' sleep, I'm buzzing with excitement. Firstly I have some trading to finish with Benedict (which will be the subject of a future article…) before rolling over to the COPcon venue.
It's so great to see how far the London Old School scene has come. Two years ago, I organised the first meet, to dovetail with a Legacy/Vintage event at a local games store.  Back then, we were a bunch of fanatics meeting up in a South London pub. Now we're a much bigger bunch of fanatics meeting up in an East London pub!
It's the biggest event yet in the UK.  We have players from across Europe and even Daniel representing the US.  As well as those coming from abroad, we are joined by a host of UK players from outside London.  Some of them claim to be here for the GP, but we secretly know the main draw is COPcon…
At the end of the day I wind down by playing a relaxed Parfait mirror match against Brother Ben, which leads to this lairy boardstate…
Don’t mine if I do! [sorry…]
Credit has to go to Jonas and the Brothers Of Fire for organising a sick brand of Old School, played with relaxed vibes and great beers.
Sunday 28 January 2018
I wake up with a Juzam-sized hangover!...

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