What do almost all Magic players have in common? Backpacks. On the convention room floor we swerve and bound to avoid deck box-packed backpacks and sling-bags as we scurry to our assigned seating. With that said, let’s talk about how to pack that bag, the do’s and don’ts of packing for a Grand Prix, and figure out how to best prepare ourselves for Face to Face Games’ Grand Prix Toronto starting on July 14.
In order to properly break this down, I’m going to focus on four categories. My unhealthy obsession with deck boxes, bags, snacks and sleeves. I’ll take you through my preferences and opinions and give you some options so you can customize your set-up to best meet your style. And don’t be mistaken, this is serious business.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go to sleep every night waiting for the day that I finally got to write about my undying love affair with deck boxes. There are just so many to choose from, so many styles, designs and colours. Choosing a deck box has got to be the most important non-game-related decision you make before a Grand Prix.
In my opinion. the key decision point here is size and weight versus carrying capacity and accessories. Your deck box can simply hold your 75 card deck and some tokens, and it’ll be easy to carry and fit in your bag. Or it can come with a tray for dice, and sometimes fit multiple decks. I tend to lean toward the former, I prefer my deck box to take up as little room as possible and hold just the bare minimum of what I need. As you’ll find while reading this, I try to pack as light as possible when heading to an event because you don’t want to be lugging around a huge, boxy bag all day.
The Pro Tour staple seems to be the Legion flip-up boxes like the ones that Face to Face Games gave away last year at GP Toronto. These are light, compact and degrade fairly quickly, but it’s seems to be the cool thing to have a beat-up deck box these days. The Antithesis to this is something like the Ultimate Guard Twin Flip’N Tray that can hold multiple decks as well as dice. What you want to avoid are the Ultra-Pro 80-count deck boxes, those plastic ones that all the promotional art gets printed on and cost $3-5. They’re awkward and hard to get your cards in and out of.
For me, however, there is only one love. The Ultimate Guard Sidewinder deck box. It’s easy to carry, fits all of your cards tightly, easy to get into and just looks sick. It allows me to carry just my deck box on the GP floor without even needing a bag.
The first decision here is whether or not you’re a matte person or a glossy person. I’ve found the glossier the sleeves, the quicker they start to feel gross in your hands. For that reason I use exclusively Dragon Shield Matte sleeves. Colour-wise, I gifted myself the mantra of “Sky Blue guy,” but have been known to rock pink or black on occasion as well.
Dragon Shield aside, I’d say the top-tier of sleeves is KMC Hyper-Matte followed by the new Ultra-Pro Eclipse matte sleeves. Hyper-Mattes feel great but tend to break a little easier than Dragon Shield. The Eclipse are new, but I’ve got friends who swear by them already and they have the unique fact that they are matte on both sides. I can’t stress enough how important it is to spend that extra couple bucks on good sleeves when playing a GP. In such a long event, you’ve got to avoid broken sleeves, marked sleeves and your hands getting all grimy.
Despite how much this will sound like self-promotion, the sling bags Face to Face Games is giving away with your entry to the Grand Prix are perfect. I understand that a lot of you will want to haul your three-compartment backpacks with your Commander deck and trade binder and that’s fair. But if you’re looking to keep it light and be mobile or your feet while traversing the treacherous world of the convention room floor, use a sling bag or my personal favourite, a fanny pack (ed. wear it like a backpack so as to not look like a total dweeb).
Luckily at Grand Prix Toronto you’ll be getting a cookie and a water bottle with your entry, but that’s the base line you’ll need to keep your mind right. A lot of this article is supposed to playful and fun advice, but this is serious. Make sure you’ve got something to eat with you, or grab some on-site food. In order to compete at the highest level, you need to be operating at a high mental level. There are just too many people who grind out Day 1 without a bite to eat (I’m even guilty of this). Power bars, granola bars and handheld food are optimal in my opinion because they’re quick and easy to pack.
See you in the trenches next week! Make sure to pre-register for the event at gptoronto2017.com.