November 10, 2014 / by Joe Olk

gammaray-games-groot-actionfigures

The cuteness…it is melting my brain!


Ok, I’m sure when Funko says they’re releasing Guardians of the Galaxy figures they’re going to release all the main characters. But, I really don’t see the point. Look at this cute little motherf&#%er! At this point I’m buying them in bulk and covering my entire apartment in dancing Groots. They are successfully filling the dark and cavernous hole I have in the very core of my being. These guys are MAGICAL.

But, for sake of argument, I suppose I should show you some of the others. Because apparently you’re so jaded you can’t be swayed by the platonic ideal of cuteness.

gammaray games rocket racoon actionfigures

You’d be cuter if you weren’t so angry, Rocket.


gammaray games star lord actionfigures



On top of all the Guardians mandness Funko lkeeps putting out the good stuff with the Big Lebowski and Adventure Time sets.

gammaray games adventure time
gammaray games big lebowski
That little Walter may have to find a place amongst the sea of dancing Groots. He seems like a pretty rad dude to have around in a crisis…unless it’s Shabbos.
Now, do as I have and fill your life with Groots!


-Joe

July 24, 2014 / by Eric

While we wait for the Washington State Liquor Board to approve our liquor license adjustment to allow the the Lounge to become all ages so we can move the shop into it we’re still going strong at both locations.

Which means it’s another great weekend filled with great special events!

It all starts off on Friday with our monthly Indie Dev Meetup, a night to see and show the city’s hottest in-development games when host Alex Schearer invites the brightest and best designers to, “Put down your keyboard […] grab your laptop […] and get feedback from other game makers.”

On Saturday, our indie game design weekend shifts from computer to tabletop when we host Seattle’s very first Unpub Event featuring completely brand new games from some of our region’s top designers. Our legendary weekly Magic drafting will still be in effect (M15, $15 buy in, prizes for top 3) but will be limited to 1 pod of 8 at noon and 4pm to make sure that we have room for this important event.

On Sunday, we shift back into our classic schedule with all of our regular weekly and bi-weekly events like Star Wars X-Wing with Rebel Leader Dylan Holmes and Elder Dragon Highlander with Legendary Commander Arcades Sabboth.

Y-Wing Attack

So again, come on down to the lounge for a beer, some pizza, and the best tabletop gaming experience in Capitol Hill.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

-Eric

July 03, 2014 / by Eric

The lounge is just shy of its two year anniversary (the shop just turned five!) and, as promised, we continue to listen, learn and adjust as we go. And now, based on your feedback, input from the Washington State Liquor Board and feedback from the King County Department of Planning and Development, we’re unveiling our three biggest changes to date:

1) By the end of the month the Raygun Lounge will be an all-ages space(!) with significantly expanded operating hours. Yes, we will still be serving a range of beer, cider and wine. Yes, we will be crafting an expanded menu of lite bites and snacks to serve our new daytime crowd. And yes, we will continue to host a growing range of weekly, monthly and special events.

That’s right. The lounge will be

All Ages 1

2) At the same time we’re moving our retail shop – Gamma Ray Gamesinto the Raygun Lounge space. Starting Tuesday, July 15th we’re bringing back the synchronicity of the original shop so you will no longer have to walk up and down the street and split your tab in order to get your favorite gaming supplies while you’re playing, drinking and eating with your friends. By combining sites there will be a dedicated management team on site, in one location, to ensure better & easier access for improved service and faster response times.

3) And, maybe most importantly of all, WE’RE RENOVATING THE BATHROOM! Twice!! First on a preliminary level in July, and then a complete overhaul in October.

Altogether it’s going to be the biggest, most exciting expansion we’ve ever taken on. And I am thrilled about it.

Thank you for a great past 5 years. Thank you for the great next 5 years.

And remember, kids…
seriously, every time

See you soon,

-Eric

August 20, 2013 / by Eric

With Summer gliding gracefully into fall (it is, don’t fight it, Autumn’s beautiful too), I thought it was time for a quick update- in 4 parts (what can I say, we’ve got a lot going on)!

PAX

PAX is right around the corner and we will again have a booth in room 305 loaded with indie RPGs and story games to support our BFFs, the Games on Demand crew. We’ll also have convention exclusives & specials and limited edition free beer coupons so come on down and visit us!

And speaking of free beer, we’ll be holding special events at the Raygun Lounge all PAX Weekend long, including our 2nd Annual PAX Pink Party (remember last year’s party where we didn’t have lights installed yet? Epic.) and a Monday night event featuring special guests like Supercommuter that we’re putting together with the Cipher Crew that I’ll talk more about soon.

Kickstarter

We’re still grinding away on fulfilling all of our Kickstarter rewards and are currently in the process of finalizing the Wall of Awesome and the personal lockers. If you’re in town for PAX and would like to pick up your rewards, we have your cups, pint glasses and some of your shirts and underwear ready. Strangely, the custom D20s have turned out to be the most difficult thing to try to obtain. If you know of any companies or individuals willing and able to make a few hundred custom dice, tell them to email me (gammaragamestore at gmail.com, feel free to use it yourself!) because we’re not getting anywhere with the usual suspects.

Gamma Ray Games

With the seasonal transition (seriously, you’ve just got to accept it. Yes, it was the most beautiful summer we’ve ever seen, but this Autumn really is going to be beautiful too. Remember those long September evenings? Yeah…) comes our annual personnel turnover. And this year that turnover involves our very own Andrew taking his sword and and wandering into the mysterious wilds of the Commercial Real Estate Kingdom.

I don't why all of our employees look like samurai when they leave. Probably has something to do with our awesome training methods.

Which one of you bastards misplaced my TPS reports?

Though we’ll miss Andrew, we’re pretty stoked to not only have Aric step in, but with the lounge and Kickstarter finally coming together, I’m particularly excited to announce that I’ll be coming back to the counter on a regular basis as well.

Starting in September, I’ll be behind the counter at least every Tuesday and Sunday and probably more depending upon Aric’s school schedule so come on in and see me some time. I’ll be the one in sweet ass blue cape.

Did you miss me, baby?

I mean, seriously. Have you seen this thing?

The Raygun Lounge

Though it’s taken us almost a year (I’ll announce our September anniversary plans soon), we’ve stabilized the lounge, built a kitchen and got a consistent, awesome, team in place.

Lest you have any doubts about their awesomeness, here is lounge team leader Kerry as he appears in the EMP's LARP exhibit. Say, did I mention the Seattle Weekly's award for 'Best Place in Seattle to meet Single Men'? Just sayin.'

Lest you have any doubts about their awesomeness, here is lounge team leader Kerry as he appears in the EMP’s recent LARP pictorial. Say, did I mention that we just won the Seattle Weekly’s award for ‘Best Place in Seattle to meet Single Men‘? Just sayin.’

Now we’re in the process of ensuring that everyone get equal access in a way that allows us to grow and expand our hours and offerings.

To that end, we’ve implemented our new paid reservation system. If you or friends would like to reserve one of our massive 8 top tables for your personal gaming, they’re available for $20/hour minus the cost of any food or beverages purchased by you and your party so reserve space with confidence and throw yourself your own private party.

And that’s it from me. I’ve gotta get back to work but I look forward to seeing you soon,

-Eric

June 06, 2013 / by Eric

Being the accessible, well-liked man-about-the-neighborhood that I am, I often get approached by well-meaning, supportive people asking, “how are you/how’s it going at the shop/with the lounge/with kickstarter?” and no matter what I answer lately, I feel like it just doesn’t do the question justice. My off-the-cuff answers always seem, in hindsight, to be too short and, frankly, misleading out of context. So I’ve decided to finally come clean once and for all and tell you the REAL story of how things are going with the shop and the lounge and how I actually feel about them. In detailed context.

The True History of Gamma Ray Games – A Fable

When I first opened Gamma Ray Games I’d been unemployed for months. I was a stay-at-home-dad with little chance of re-entering the job force any time soon. When I first opened the game store, I imagined it as a little fishing boat. I figured I would spend my days eking out rent while trying to figure out how to get people through the door. But that seemed better to me than spending my late thirties sitting at home playing video games and reading the internet all day.

Well, it's a living.

Well, it’s a living.

But from the very first day something different happened. Something else entirely. People came by. They just stopped by. Every day. They came to see what was going on, to talk about games and gaming, to share ideas. Almost instantly my little boat of a game store was drawing an engaged, diverse community to it.

Before I knew it, my metaphoric fishing boat had an outboard motor. A big one. By the time Dominic came on board, we were skipping off the water so often and for so long that we decided to add wings just to see how much air we could actually catch. We never expected to actually take flight.

Staying aloft and gaining altitude in a built-out rowboat presented a number of new and unexpected challenges for us. We built our solutions from scratch, keeping what worked and dropping what didn’t. Sometimes quite literally. Given all the holes in the hull at that point, it wasn’t hard to do. I’d like to apologize to any of you that had an odd wrench or partially built mechanical system come flying through your kitchen window during that period. I hope no one was hurt and, if it’s any consolation, I’m pretty sure that they’ll all be collectibles someday.

crash clock

You’ll want to hold onto that, kid.

By the time we reached the stratosphere we knew we were onto something and the discussion, when we weren’t trying to desperately patch the hull or jerry-rig new equipment became “what next?” And though “fly out into space to look for the gates” was a popular option, we eventually decided to build a second ship. From scratch. Inside our hand-built stratobomber. And launch it, untested, from high altitude. Without landing for parts.

Yes. This is what we would do. The more we considered it, the clearer it became. This was exactly what our unique backgrounds had prepared us for. We would go for it. All in.

Though survival was our primary concern, our commitment to style never wavered.

Though survival was our primary concern, our commitment to style never wavered.

So, using only materials donated to us by our fellow sky captains, we constructed a self-inflating dirigible inside of the hollowed out frame of our stratobomber and modified the bomb doors to fit it.

When it came time to let it go… it dropped like a lead bullet. Straight down. Like we shot it from a gun. You could hear it whistling as it dropped. And everyone watching from the ground knew it would crash. They wouldn’t say it over the radio because they didn’t want to hurt our feelings, but the rumors were out there. Misguided. Doomed. Naive. My personal favorite, straight from a hater’s piercing email, was “profoundly overreaching.”

But the people on the ground didn’t realize how much we’d learned about DIY aeronautics. How brave we were. How willing we were to climb down the snapping connection cables, climb into that untested zeppelin hull and kick those inflators ourselves until they finally came on, scrapping and rebuilding from scratch any that wouldn’t.

I'm so goddamn proud of every one of the crew.

I’m so goddamn proud of our crew.

Now we’re months into this expansion and though the connecting cables have held and the wings of the stratobomber haven’t snapped off entirely yet and all 4 engines are running most of of the time, we’re closer to the ground then we’ve ever been.

I can hear treetops snapping under me as I type this. We lost 3 crew members in as many weeks last month and are still subject to occasional reaver attacks. And I can still hear the critics who want me to crash and the concerned onlookers who want me to land. And now, more than ever, I know that I’m right where I want to be and I’m doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. I’m an adventurer. And this is the adventure of my lifetime. And I’m not giving up this ragtag armada for anybody.

I’m still not sure where we’re going. But I don’t care anymore because I’ve come to realize that the journey itself is amazing. And I want to bring as many of you as I can right along with me. Because I love my life and how I spend it and I’m going to do all I can to ensure that you love yours too.

Post Script

So there you have it. The honest truth about how it’s going at Gamma Ray Games and the Raygun Lounge and how I feel about them both. Please try to remember all of this the next time you hear someone who hasn’t read this post ask me how it’s going and know what I really mean when I say, “uh… pretty good… today… I guess… I just need to get that damn fire put out,” as I run off to go find where we moved the circuit breaker so I can shut the power down to the burning section before rushing in with a fire extinguisher.

May 29, 2013 / by A. J. Asplund

A few Sundays ago, I had a gaming opportunity that not everybody gets a chance to experience. It was crazy! It had costumes! It had demons! It had possession! It had well-known game designers! It may have been the craziest four hours of role-playing in all of Seattle that weekend! Well, maybe not the craziest role-playing…

Bacon Roleplay?

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little bit. A few months ago, I was commenting to Rob D, one of our D&D Encounters DMs, that I should do a 13th Age introductory session sometime. You see, 13th Age is this new fantasy role-playing game by Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo, two of the mighty lords of modern Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a wild mix of story game, indie RPG, and classic D&D. Thinking nothing of the conversation, I went home thinking about cool ways to promote the game at the store. I was quite surprised to find that DM Rob had emailed Rob Heinsoo personally and suggested my plan to him.

Surprise!

This was my first lesson: You never know who people know.

After getting over the initial shock, I realized this could be an interesting opportunity. I began a dialogue with Rob Heinsoo and the fine folks of Fire Opal Media (the creators of 13th Age). Doing introductory 13th Age events at the Raygun Lounge seemed like a really solid idea. Everything seemed to be going well. During the discussion, Ash Law, the fellow responsible for the 13th Age organized play program, made the following comment: “We have been working on some Gamma Ray Games exclusive stuff for you.”

GAMMA RAY GAMES EXCLUSIVE STUFF?!?! WHOOOOOHOOOOO!

Gamma Ray Beholder?

I know that Gamma Ray Games has been “secretly” featured in role-playing games before, but this was officially designed content! At this point, I felt like we’d hit the victory condition. Not only had we decided that we’d be the only folks in town doing intro sessions of 13th Age BEFORE ITS RELEASE but that there would be some sort of game content exclusive to Gamma Ray Games. It’s like that moment of elation when you realize the only positive outcome in Gary Gygax’s classic adventure Dungeonland was to never play at all.

Fast forward a month or two. After some more discussion, the 13th Age organized play coordinator, Ash Law, sent me the Gamma Ray Games exclusive content: Lair of the Ludomancer. Here I had an adventure chalk-full of thoroughly entertaining references to Gamma Ray Games, fully prepared to be unleashed upon players at the Raygun Lounge. But, shortly after sharing it with me, Ash made this comment: “I’d like to pop by GRG and run it for you.” Wade Rockett, the 13th Age social media guy, responded with, “I’ve just confirmed that I’m also free this Sunday, and would love to play.”

Seriously. Gamma Ray Exclusive.

At this point in the story, I found myself scheduled for a session of an upcoming fantasy RPG that I am super excited about with two of the people that work on it in an adventure specifically designed for my local gameshop. It’s like a nerd fanboy fantasy. I suppose, at this point, it could only be more exciting if the actual guys who make the game showed up. But, of course, that is ridiculous. Either way, I was ready! I was excited! This was going to be a real thing and I was going to be part of it! WHOOOOOOOOO!

Very excited!

Eventually, the big day arrived. We all gathered around the table. We chose pregenerated characters. Ash looked at each of us and asked what our “One Unique Thing” was. It did not take long for it to get serious. There was the dwarf cleric who was haunted by the demon that killed his necromancer parents. I played the half-elf fighter who had been given a magical clockwork heart after losing his in an unfortunate tavern brawl. There was the dark elf sorcerer that gave him the magical heart, also the runner-up in the ever-popular Mr. Known World competition. Rounding out the group was the human paladin, the last living paladin in this part of the world, and the gnome bard who was on a secret mission for the Elf Queen… but couldn’t remember what it was. After laying some more groundwork, Ash handed out props to some of us.

The adventure commenced as the party proceeded into the Bitterwood. It did not take long for me to realize that we were not actually going to Ray’s Tavern, the popular venue run by Ray and his wife Gemma in the town of East Pine. Yet, it did not bother me. We were pursuing a goal relevant to our characters, and it did not take long for us to come across a pack of vicious gnolls in the night. Well, to be honest, two of us were quite convinced that we were hearing ghosts, but that’s a question up for debate at another time. We had found these gnolls and their repugnant master, a filth demon. Well, more appropriately, a poop demon. An Excremental, if you will. The party engaged these horrible monsters and fought bravely to drive off the vile beasts.

The Excremental

At one point, the cleric blasted the Excremental with his Javelin of Faith. The player, Rob D, had missed, but was close. Ash asked if he’d be willing to make a compromise: the attack would hit and do a lot of damage, but it would hurt another character. He agreed, of course, and the blast was so powerful that it ejected the Excremental’s demonic heart, throwing it across the battlefield and into the face of the brave paladin. Quickly, the demonic heart squirmed its way down the paladin’s throat, beginning a demonic corruption that would spell certain doom for our brave friend.

Another important lesson learned: Keep your mouth shut when fighting poop demons.

As the battle neared its end, a new person approached the table. “Hello, Jonathan!” Wade and Ash seemed to know this new fellow and welcomed him to the table. It did not take long for me to realize… This guy was Jonathan Tweet, one of the creators of 13th Age. He spoke to Ash briefly, offering to take the part of whatever silly-voiced NPC was available. It did not take long for that character to be Werdna, the demon that haunted the dwarven cleric.

Jonathan Tweet the Demon

The Paladin’s fate required an exorcism, something only the priest could perform. Quickly, the situation descended into madness as Werdna the Demon (as played by Jonathan Tweet) provided nefarious direction. After poor choices by both the sorcerer and the cleric, things had run afoul. Before anybody could realize what had happened, the party had descended into an infernal hellscape, with the demon Werdna now residing within the body of the dark elf sorcerer. Trapped in a hellish arena and surrounded by the spirits of countless lost paladins, the heroes found themselves engaged by flaming demons content to tear them asunder.

The demon Werdna began offering the characters an opportunity to change fate. At the table, this was represented by Jonathan Tweet allowing us to reroll our attacks. Although it was difficult, it did not take long for the battle to end in victory for our adventurers. However, the deal with the demon had a price! We each had to roll a twenty-sided die, hoping to roll a number greater than the number of times we had invoked the demon’s favor. Unfortunately, our sorcerer, who had called upon the demon nineteen times, did not make it. Neither did the dwarf cleric who had tricked him. With the gnome bard gone (Wade’s character, who escaped into the underworld as Wade had to leave slightly early), only the half-elf fighter and the paladin managed to wrench their soul’s from this maniacal hellscape.

From this, several of us at the table learned another important lesson: Jonathan Tweet is our personal demon.

Isn't that... the other guy?

So, that was my 13th Age experience: over-the-top, collaborative storytelling with exciting battles against vicious monsters where the heroes get to truly feel like heroes. Players contribute to the narrative in ways rarely (if ever) seen in popular role-playing games. This is the game that accomplished from the start what took my own Dungeons & Dragons game years to reach. I cannot recommend it enough.

May 22, 2013 / by Margot Martell

I am at home in filth.

Not in the sense that I’m dirty. I’m not a slob. I hate being sweaty and I hate grime and trash, and I’d never let my apartment devolve into literal, physical filth. By all accounts, the bachelor pad I share with my roommate is delightfully free of grossness, and I hold that as a point of pride.

But I am at home in filth. I fear sterility; the idea of perfectly manicured lawns is truly frightening to me. I’m drawn to Seattle precisely because of its dinginess. I find comfort in the litter-laden streets, in the droves of homeless people, in the light haze of smog that permeates both rainy and sunny days. That is the filth I’ve grown so fond of in the seven years I’ve spent in the Emerald City — the filth that reminds us all that nothing is perfect, that wear and tear is natural, that blemishes are beautiful in their own way.

In that sense, I must say I was quite unimpressed by this last weekend’s trip to Portland for GPPDX; Portland was decidedly not filthy.

Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places, but the City of Roses just felt a little too well-kept for my tastes. The streets were largely devoid of refuse; the punks and the bums and the general riffraff were quarantined to very specific, out-of-the-way locations; the people were quiet and well-behaved. Perhaps what they mean when they say “Keep Portland Weird” is: keep Portland less city-esque than every other city.

Put a bird on it!
But at least they know how to put a bird on it?

I promise I’m going somewhere with all of this, so just bear with me. I’ll talk about Magic: the Gathering for a bit now so you don’t all leave in disdain.

So, this weekend for me as a Magic player. Well, I made top 8, so that’s pretty awesome.

… not of the main event. But it was still a top 8.

I made top 8 of the free DGM Mini Masters tournament that was included with registration for the main event if you showed up early enough Friday morning. And I did so precisely because a friend and I accidentally practiced the format the weekend before.

Gamma acquired a box of Japanese Dragon’s Maze during release weekend, and I naturally bought a bunch of packs because I’m a whore for weird foreign things. A friend of mine ended up crashing at my place for a few days the week before the GP, and she wanted to crack said packs with me, so we decided doing Mini Masters was going to be far more fun than simply opening and sorting them.

So I went into this completely fake format with six different pools worth of experience, making me strangely favored against the field, since I knew the four-color special with infinite Cluestones was completely and totally the right way to go.

So I built said four-color special (UWRB), and I somehow, more or less inexplicably, finished 8th out of 307 participants. I ended up losing to the Ral Zarek, double Unflinching Courage, double Warleader’s Helix, Progenitor Mimic UWRG special because he mimicked my Ascended Lawmage. It was pretty brutal, but my friends and I all agreed he very much deserved the win — not because his deck was the stone nuts (it was), but because his wizard beard was far superior to mine. Apparently he’s a Tacoma-ite (IS THAT EVEN A WORD????), so hopefully I’ll see him again soon and worship at the altar of his Merlinliness.

(Quick aside: that is the most strangely homoerotic sentence I’ve ever written.)

Gaaaaaaaaaaay

As for the main event… well, I scrubbed out. Hard. My final record was 1-3 drop. After reviewing all my options, I settled on a homemade four-color monstrosity that was high on raw power but a little low on consistency (you can view the list here). In keeping with the Buddhist undertones of this particular tournament report, I’m going to deliver my mostly uneventful match-by-match recap in the form of four haikus. Because I fucking can.

Round One vs. Brandon Remley
Faced UWR Twin
Many creatures were exiled
I died to a Geist

0-1 in matches, 0-2 in games

Round Two vs. Tyler Loomis
A Grixis homebrew
Attempted to grind my mind
The mind persevered

1-1 in matches, 2-2 in games

Round Three vs. Taylor Harris
Played against Scapeshift
I never drew Countersquall
Was promptly melted

1-2 in matches, 3-4 in games

Round Four vs. Michael Woods
Faced down Gruul aggro
He drew many Tarmogoyfs
I drew only one

1-3 matches, 3-6 in games, drop

And that was the end of my tournament. I was mostly devastated, but I had three friends who were X-0/X-1, so I stuck around to cheer them on, as well as to play a 2HG sealed event with my friend Jen, who missed the main event after unfortunately contracting food poisoning the night before. The 2HG tournament was also disastrous, as Jen was still recovering from a rough night of food intoxication and I was just playing like a total donk. We punted an unlosable round 3 because we didn’t take the four seconds it would have required for us to re-read Guardian of the Gateless. It was incredibly embarrassing.

Fortunately, three of my friends made day two at X-1, X-1 and X-2, respectively. My friend Travis’s only losses on the day were to Paul Rietzl and John fucking Finkel, so I’d say Team Gamma performed pretty exceptionally on the whole. We crunched the numbers at one point and determined the team win percentage for day one was something like 63 percent. That’s pretty respectable by most standards.

This is a photo of a man you do not envy.
Travis McKinney, I do not envy you in this photo.

I capped off day one by taking a cold shower — wherein I curled myself into a ball for five minutes as the water crashed over me — before hitting the bars for the night. I realize now it was something of an unconscious homage to the Buddhist film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.

From Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring
MFW I scrub out of a big tournament.

In the film Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?, the viewer learns about the nature of filth. A significant portion of the movie is devoted to exploring and ruminating on the ontology of shit. My favorite quote from the film relates to precisely that issue:

I became a hermit to free myself from the dust and the dirt of the world, looking for perfection. But I realized that it was impossible without loving the garbage and the dust of the world, even life’s passions.

This is truly how I feel about life most of the time. The idea of personal cleansing — of metaphorical self-immolation in order to burn off personal impurities — can be ever so tempting sometimes, but the actualization of that notion comes at the real cost of no longer being able to fully wrestle with vile, base pleasure.

Until mid-March, I had spent the last two and a half years of my life working a job I absolutely despised because I had no sense of direction and no understanding of anything outside of work. Except Magic. Magic: the Gathering was my means of escape; it was the thing I did to interact with friends, the game I played to feel validated as an intelligent human being — since I certainly wasn’t feeling that sort of fulfillment from my dead-end job.

I was laid off from said job on March 19. Some would argue the loss of such a long-term, time-occupying life fixture would be accompanied by a profound, overwhelming sense of sorrow and directionlessness, but for me it was quite the opposite. My layoff prompted an understanding that my purpose was renewed. For the first time in two and a half years, I had something to aspire toward. I finally had a real goal, a tangible raison d’être. The socioeconomic poverty of unemployment instilled in me a feeling of spiritual richness I had long assumed I’d never feel again. In many ways, the five weeks I spent unemployed felt more like a dream than reality.

The night before the Grand Prix, seven Gamma Ray regulars (myself somewhat obviously included) decided to go to Henry’s (the Henry Weinhard restaurant) in downtown Portland for dinner. Suffice to say, when you take seven people who regularly congregate on Capitol Hill and foist them upon a bizarrely sterile city, the conversation flows in fascinatingly fucked up directions. We discussed goat blowjobs; how a certain bisexual male friend had terrible taste in men; what we would list as “previous accomplishments” were we to top 8 the Grand Prix; and so, so many other things I can’t even fully recall because I was too busy laughing hysterically to trouble myself with the details.

After 1,000 days without mirth, I laughed until I cried. The experience was cathartic in a way and on a level I’d never experienced before. And I realized during that dinner that Magic — the activity I had used for almost three years as a means of escape from the mostly miserable reality that was my life — had become so, so much more than simply a scapegoat for my sadness and personal frustrations; Magic had become my home. Gamma Ray regulars are my family; Gamma and the Raygun are my shelters; and Magic will always feel like an old friend.

This was all brought home to me by a message I received from one of my best friends, Kevin Kwong, shortly after scrubbing out of the Grand Prix. I had contacted him to whine about my poor performance in the main event, expecting something resembling sympathy re: my run-bads, and instead I was presented with the following response:

“Dude, don’t be like that man. Look on the bright side: you have a sweet new gig. You’re hanging out with friends, playing your favorite game. You’re young, you’re healthy. Just relax, have a good time. Losing sucks, sure. But you can’t let it get to you.”

This pep talk plus the Buddhist waterfall shower was precisely what I needed to put me back in my place. I wasn’t really tantrum-ing or tilting after my poor GP performance, but I was undeniably defeated.

And he’s right. I had just been hired on for a great new job. And I was with all of my best friends. And even as I was losing horribly, I was playing my absolute favorite game.

Kevin’s reality check and the amazing, hilarious, unforgettable dinner I shared with my best friends the night before really brought home the absurdity of my mood at that time. Who gives a fuck that I did poorly? Pros scrub out all the time. Luis Scott-Vargas is probably the most technically proficient player active in the game, and he’s only day 2’d one pro tour in the last YEAR. Sometimes you run bad; you get mana screwed or mana flooded or you draw the wrong spells or you face your worst matchup all day. But who really gives a shit? Even when you’re a hardcore spike, there’s so much more to Magic than winning.

And in that sense, I actually feel like I won the GP despite going 1-3. Congrats to Sam Pardee for his actual win, but I don’t believe for a second that his friends are better than mine. And there’s no way in hell his local game store is better than Gamma Ray. Gamma Ray is a conglomeration of a bunch of people who are best friends who have no basis for being best friends. But they’re best friends precisely because they all met at an amazing place, playing an amazing game they all love. I’m hard-pressed to believe there’s anything better in the world than just that.

… oh, right. I also traded in all the slag in my binder for a prize payout of my own that weekend:

VALUE.

Everything I’ve ever abandoned or given up on in life, I’ve abandoned or given up on because it just didn’t feel right anymore. Relationships, hobbies, classes, jobs — I’m a man guided by feelings and emotions. I quit Magic for SIX YEARS because it ceased to be a meaningful thing to me. But I’m back now, and I realize — thanks to the connections I’ve made through this phenomenal game — that it’s without a question the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done.

There’s an old Buddhist proverb that goes something like this:

“The Buddha left home because he no longer felt at home. The Buddha returned home because he was always home.

I quit Magic nine years ago because Magic no longer felt like home. I returned to Magic three years ago because I realized Magic was always home. And I absolutely cannot imagine that feeling of home changing any time soon.

Matthew is Gamma Ray’s resident Magic snob. Follow him on Twitter and Google+!