October 12, 2016 / by Eric

No matter what your scene is this October…

…whether you’re a Magic player (Modern Tournaments every Wednesday night, drafting on Saturday at noon and four, EDH on Sunday afternoons), an artist (Stranger Things art opening on Thursday, Oct 12th, biweekly Cosplay Drink&Draws every other Monday), a roleplayer (D&D Encounters every Wednesday & Sunday, Grrrls D&D every other Thursday), a cosplayer (Rocky Horror Picture Show live screening with special guest, Morgue Anne, Thursday, October 20th), a woman (Grrrls Game Nights Out every other Thursday), gay (Gaym Nights every other Monday, Playing with Bears on Saturday, Oct 15th) or some amazing combination of those things and more (Donatella vs Humanity, Oct 21st), we have got you covered!

All while playing weird stuff like our freaky new Halloween mix on both of our TVs!

Featuring special guest star… Doctor Who!
Yes! That one.

So whatever you’re into, however you’re into it, and whoever you’re into it with, come check out our constantly updated Special Events Page, find the event that’s right for you and come meet your people.

Or, to put it another way, come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab.

You’ll be so glad you did.

See you soon.


August 31, 2016 / by Eric

Whether you’re visiting from out of town or a local with or without PAX passes this year, we are always your Capitol Hill home away from home for all things nerd, geek and pop culture. We are an easy walk from the Convention Center, have great food and drinks in an all ages environment, and are hosting five days of special events just for you so come on up and see us while you’re in town.

Thursday, Sept 1

7:00 PM
Geek Out Trivia

The hosts of Nerdhole and A Podcast for All Intents and Purposes come together for one night a year to challenge you and yours to a trivia night like no other. Free entry, the geekiest questions the world has ever known and prizes galore await you!

trivia screen

Friday, Sept 2

8:00 PM
Game Jolt Indie Arcade

For one night only, those indie madmen, Game Jolt transform our space into a free arcade to demo, play and discuss this year’s newest, hottest, and indiest computer and console releases.

game jolt

Saturday, Sept 3

Noon & 4:00 PM
Conspiracy Drafting

Come experience Magic’s latest sensation for yourself. $15 buy in. Pods of 8. Smart, competitive, friendly players

1:00 PM
Hearthstone ‘One Night in Karazhan’ Official Release Party!

Orcas Distributing presents and hosts Blizzard Entertainment’s Karazhan Release Party and PAX PRIME Tournament. Registration begins at 1:00PM, tournament proper at 2:00. Come see what all the excitement is about!

6:00 PM
Pink Party Prime Preparty

Though PAX’s gayest, queerest, afterparty, Pink Party Prime kicks off at Neumos at 9:00, we are the Pink Party’s only official preparty for you to prefunk, test your costume, win prizes (including tickets to to the event itself) and have a generally grand time in between events.

7:00 PM

Those fervent Critical Role fans, the critters, are in town for PAX and they’ve chosen us to be their official crawlspace. The last time they did this, a bunch of surprise special guests showed up. This time? Who knows. But it is PAX…

Pink Party

Sunday, September 4

Noon & 4pm
Conspiracy Drafting

Come experience Magic’s latest sensation for yourself. $15 buy in. Pods of 8. Smart, competitive, friendly players

6:00 PM
Mark Dago & the Red Bennies
High Score Tour

Nerdcore Superstars DJ Shanty, Lord British & Jade Knight join Mark Dago for the last leg of his legendary High Score Tour and you’ll be there to personally witness the mayhem!
Red Bennies

Monday, September 5

6:00 PM
The Book of Starry Wisdom Release Party

Strix publisher and collection editor Simon Berman and illustrator Valerie Herron invite you to join them for the release of their latest kickstarted work, The Book of Starry Wisdom: Apocrypha of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu.
Starry Wisdom

You can always learn more about these and all of our events on our Special Events Page. We look forward to seeing you while you’re here, whether it’s for a day or for a lifetime.

June 23, 2015 / by Eric

Then we’re the place for you! Conveniently located at the corner of gender and sexuality at the gateway to Seattle’s legendary Capitol Hill neighborhood,

Now with rainbow crosswalks!

Now with rainbow crosswalks!

we’re right next to the action and just off the beaten path.

With our full barcade of classic titles like Street Fighter II & Turtles in Time,


we’re the perfect pop cultural respite for you should you need a little nerdy or geeky time in the Emerald City.

Welcome. Welcome.

Welcome. Welcome.

We’ve even got 3 special events for you while you’re here! Starting on Thursday night with our very gay edition of our weekly Geek Out Trivia Night. Come out, meet some people, and test your geeky mettle as local fave Philip Seymour challenges Iron Quizomancer Andrew in our unique Iron Trivia format that at least one person has taken to calling, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show of Trivia Nights.”

Come on up to the lab.

Come on up to the lab.

Then on Saturday, we’ve got Magic Drafting at Noon and our weekly Standard Tournament at 4pm, both of which are welcoming to guests and boast a healthy GLBT population.

Both on and off the table.

On and off the table.

And finally, on Sunday, you are invited to join us for our Queer Geek boardgame meet up. It’ll be a great afternoon to relax and play some games with friends new and old as you wind down from your crazy weekend and try to remember what exactly did happen last night.

You can learn more about these and all of our other events on our Special Events Page. If you have any additional questions about Seattle, the neighborhood, the scene, or anything else while you’re in town, don’t hesitate to call or come by and we’ll get you sorted.

See you soon,


March 12, 2015 / by Eric


You know it’s busy around here when the last event update was a season ago and the monthly update comes out two weeks into the month! Be that as it may, we’ve got a lot coming up for you so let’s dive right in!

First up, we’re thrilled to be hosting our first poetry reading since the AWP was in town, Luke Bloomfield and Mike Young’s Western Snowmelt Tour!

Western Snowmelt

After that, it’s all about the Dragons of Tarkir.


We’ll have Prerelease Events on Mar 21st & 22nd ($30 buy in, events at noon and 6pm, preregistration is now open in-person or over the phone) and Release Drafts on March 28th (Noon & 4pm, $15 buy in, registration opens on day of event).

But the big news around here in March is always Emerald City Comicon. Which means that we’ll have very special episodes of both our monthly Party Games Night and our Queer Geek Boardgame Meetups for you. We’ll also be running our Indie Press Revolution booth at the entrance of the North Galleria for Games on Demand. And we’ll be hosting our Second Annual Rat Queens After Party as a fundraiser for Gay City.

Rat Queens

So come on out and see what we’ve got going for you! We’ve got open gaming tables, a well stocked game library and a calendar full of great events for you when you do.

See you soon,


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.


May 08, 2014 / by Eric

May is upon us. And with it comes 4 new great special events for you and your friends to participate in.

FRI MAY 09 Learn to play Magic with Queer Geek Seattle

That’s right. Seattle Met‘s favorite Queer Ladies Night has invited Ben Hayes and a few of his co-workers from Wizards of the Coast to come in and teach you how to play magic in an inclusive environment for LGBT-friendly female-identified individuals and their friends of all genders.

Entrance is free, supplies are provided, and the crowd is awesome so come on out and try something new!


FRI MAY 16 Save Clara! Doctor Who Costume Party and Fundraiser

Our resident Dalek, Clara, has taken some wear and tear during her year of convention appearances and lounge guest photo ops and, with her creator living on an income so fixed it’d make your head spin, it’s up to us to save her! So we’re holding a night of special Clara themed viewing and gaming, hosting a Whovian costume contest (Come in as a Doctor, companion or villain and have a drink on us! Best costume per category wins prizes!) raffling off an array of door prizes and donating $1 from the sale of every item sold to funding much needed repairs, improvements and upgrades for our beloved cybernetic organism.

Costumes are optional, a love of having fun supporting local creative pop culture is required.

Dalek Clara supports all loves.

Dalek Clara supports all loves.

FRI MAY 23 Old School New School Console Gaming Tournament

Our pals over at Video Game Break are hosting a video game tournament featuring Balloon Fight and Bombsquad.

Preregistration is available through their website, spectators are welcome, and we are assured that it’s going to be one hell of a show.

old school new school

FRI MAY 30 Rice Sniffing Gangster Party with Amanda Chan

Raygun Netrunner Team Captain Amanda’s mother got her a new rice cooker and to celebrate we’re throwing down a double feature of the finest rice-fetishizing-Japanese-gangster movies the world has ever known; Branded to Kill and it’s gender-swapped remake by the same director, Seijun Suzuki, Pistol Opera. Amanda will be on hand to serve sticky rice balls from the cooker that kicked it all off and maybe hand out some of the custom t-shirts and underwear we’re talking about commissioning for the event.

Mmmmmm… rice.

All of these events and more can be found on our lounge event page and that great new calendar that Skylar just put up behind the bar.


So come on down for some great gaming and some great company this week. We’ll see you soon.


April 15, 2014 / by Eric
Are you ready to rock, Seattle?

Are you ready to rock, Seattle?

The Journey into Nyx Prerelease is right around the corner. And, as always, we’ve got a range of events available to meet all of your hectic Magic scheduling needs! Including our classic Midnight Draft, as well as Noon and 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday with all-ages overflow events upstairs at the shop.


Fun for the whole family!

Fun for the whole family!

Preregistration is available in person at either the shop or the lounge and is highly recommended as our preregistration events do sell out.

In other Magic news, all of our Mondays over at the shop are now Magic Mondays!



That’s right! Every Monday at Gamma Ray Games, all MtG singles are 20% off.
(Longer if you drink some orange juice.)

And every Wednesday Night at the Raygun Lounge is the New Modern,

Are you into it?

Are you into it?

our long standing ongoing weekly Modern tournament. Entry is only $5 or TOTALLY FREE with a receipt from Gamma Ray Games from the same day for $10 or more.

So come on down to Gamma Ray Games and the Raygun Lounge for all of your Journey to Nyx, Modern Magic and Single Finding needs.

October 03, 2013 / by Eric

Want to play some of that “Magic game” that your friends have all been getting back into lately? Great! Because we just streamlined our Magic schedule for the first time in… well, ever… to make it even easier for you to do so.

We now have 4 weekly events for you.

Wednesday Night Modern

Our Wednesday night event is an unsanctioned modern format tournament that evolved out of several of our players’ private testing league into a friendly weekly event. Tournament begins at 6pm, has a $5 buy in, prizes for top three, is overseen by our resident judge, Jen, and features players such as our very own Drunken Planeswalker and Nick of Vashon,

pictured here building the place only a year ago.
Nick builds

Friday Night Magic

Our take on the Wizards of the Coast’s perennial favorite occurs in our shop’s upstairs game loft so we can include the all ages players required for official sanctioning and prize support. This sanctioned standard format tournament begins at 6pm, costs $5 to enter, is capped at 8 people to ensure room, is overseen by T.O. Aric and includes all of the standard prize support that one would expect from such an event.

October Prize

Saturday Drafting

Our legendary unsanctioned booster drafts occur every Saturday at noon and 4pm. Each requires a $15 buy-in which gets you the cards that you’ll need to play plus an opportunity to win more. Each of our drafts has room for up to 24 people in ability-tiered pods that are overseen by T.O. Jen and feature the kinds of great, sexy, available 21+ players that earned our shop the Seattle Weekly’s coveted ‘Best Place to Meet Single Men’ award for 2013.

Oh yes they did.
Matt Wins

Sunday EDH

And for our more low key, slower playing magic enthusiasts, there’s always Sunday’s 5pm Elder Dragon Highlander game. We always draw just the right crowd to keep it intimate while still letting the goofy fun of a crowded table unfold.

It usually looks something like this at the end.
magic pile

In addition to these events, we have general casual play, occasional special events like Gordie’s Make Your Own Card drafts and are in the process of putting together a women-only Magic event soon so find an event that works best for you and come check it out. We’d love to see you some time.

Actual staff in their native environment.

July 12, 2013 / by Margot Martell

Friends, Romans, countrywalkers, lend me your eyes! Because you probably can’t hear a blog post. And if you can, that means you’re either a.) synesthetic, b.) using some sort of text-to-speech program or c.) on a ton of drugs, and I’ve got some serious issues with all of those.

I’m here to talk today about some of the standout cards from Magic 2014 Core Set — Blue Gets the Shaft Like You Can’t Even Imagine OKAY FINE THAT’S NOT THE ACTUAL EMDASH-SEPARATED DESCRIPTION OF THE SET BUT IT’S VERY CLEARLY THE SUBTEXT HERE.

Ahem. Anyway, because I like easy symmetries and weak themes, I’m going to spend this blog post talking about 14 cards from M14 that I think are worth drafting, trading for, investing in, etc. Please do bear in mind that a lot of this is purely speculative, and I will not be held responsible for you forking out several hundred pocket clams for Archangels of Thune if they eventually end up in the dollar bin (though let’s be honest, they’re a silver bullet in modern Birthing Pod lists so they’ll probably retain decent value).

Since there’s a pretty significant disproportion between colors, I’m just going to run down the list alphabetically (you can tell I’m not being biased with this particular organizational schema because a white card tops the list and there’s no blue cards in the top three).

Oh, and for those who don’t know/don’t care (SHAME ON YOU), Evolution — the biggest fighting game tournament of the year — is this weekend. And in honor of that TOTALLY HYPE occasion, I’ll be revising my FGC tier card rating system from my last set review for this article. Tiers are as follows:

SAGAT TIER – Completely bonkers and OP. PICK SAGAT HE’S TOP TIER.
Akuma Tier – Pretty damn insane, but not quite as godlike as SAGAT TIER.
Bison Tier – Solid normals, lots of bad matchups. A thoroughly decent card all around. Also, PSYCHO CRUSHER.
Chun-Li Tier – This isn’t Third Strike, so Chun Li stands for C-GRADE. Passable, but often just barely.
Dan Tier – The SHIT TIER of this review. Poor lil’ Dan…


June 25, 2013 / by A. J. Asplund

It’s commonly understand in the gaming industry that Magic: The Gathering is one of the biggest games around. Magic: The Gathering booster packs, singles, and other products remain a staple of any friendly local game store. Nearly every day of the week, there’s an official Magic tournament somewhere or another. Beyond that, there are any number of “unofficial” variants and ways to play. Let’s face it: Magic is a big deal.

Magic. It's kind of a big deal.

Magic. It’s kind of a big deal.

But I’m not here today to talk about Magic. We’ve already got a guy for that. Besides, the last thing anybody wants is for ME to start talking about Magic cards. That would be a disaster. I’m here to talk about that OTHER trading card game that has been making its way into the Gamma Ray community:



No. Not that one. The reason we have any Yu-Gi-Oh in the store at all is a story for another time.

A goblin with a pompadour on a rocket?

Now with pompadoured goblin on a rocket!

World of Warcraft TCG? “You’re out of your mind,” you say. And although that may indeed be true, it’s not what I’m here to tell you.  I’m here to tell you that the World of Warcraft TCG is actually a fun game to play.

The WoW TCG has been around for nearly seven years. Designed by Magic: The Gathering Superstar Brian Kibler, the game has some of the feel of Magic but also has some notable differences. A big one being that every deck is built around a specific hero (represented by a card). So you don’t just play some nameless, ambiguous planeswalker, you play Thrall the Orc Shaman, Arthas the Human Death Knight, or Rawrbrgle the Murloc Warrior. Further, like EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander, for you non-Magic folks out there), your choice of Hero limits the kinds of cards you can put into your deck due to both your Hero’s class and faction.

This could be your Hero.

This could be your Hero.

In addition, as it’s based on an already existing intellectual property, the people at Cryptozoic focus less on silly story and more on the game. Sorry, but you’ll see no “Jace Beleren and the Implicit Maze of Guildpacts” nonsense here. But, if you’ve ever played a game with “Warcraft” in the title, you’ll probably see things you recognize: Uther the Lightbringer, Sylvanas Windrunner, Deathwing the Destroyer, and even Human Peasant.

Job's done!

“Job’s done!”

At it’s core, the WoW TCG is a one versus one game where you assemble a party of allies (creatures, if you will), ready your equipment (artifacts), and use your class abilities (instants and sorcery spells) to defeat your opponent. One thing that makes it a bit different is that alternate play formats were part of the design from day one. In the game’s first year, they introduced the Onyxia’s Lair Raid Deck, a “one player versus many” deck. Since then, each year has brought a new deck that challenges players in a way that is very different from classic one-on-one play. Iconic dungeons like Molten Core, the Black Temple, the Caverns of Time, and Shadowfang Keep are part of the WoW TCG cooperative experience.

Are you ready for the ultimate challenge?

Are you ready for the ultimate challenge?

Many venues that run WoW TCG events (including our very own Raygun Lounge!) routinely run these team and cooperative style events. These alternate formats promote very different deck construction than your typical one-on-one slugfest. Maybe you’re not the best at crushing your foes. That’s okay; you can be the party healer. Or the tank. These are all possibilities in the WoW TCG.

There are other notable differences from Magic but I’m not here to rattle off technical differences between one game and another. I’m here to let you know that the WoW TCG is fun to play and invite you over to the Lounge to give it a try. We play every Sunday at 1pm and we even have free stuff(tm) to give out for new players.

And if you’re really lucky, you may even get to hear somebody play a Leeroy Jenkins card sometime.

Yell it, Leeroy!

Yell it, Leeroy!

June 20, 2013 / by Margot Martell

Have you ever played Dark Souls?

Dark Souls is one of the most incredible video games I’ve ever beheld. It’s gruesome and stark and hopeless and so ego-crushingly difficult it’s almost a wonder it was popular enough to warrant a sequel.

Run-of-the-mill enemies can kill you in two or three hits. With bosses, a stray nick from their weapon is often just lethal. Levels are designed with the express purpose of crushing you under boulders, hurling you into bottomless pits, smashing you against spiked ceilings.

Everything about Dark Souls is brutal. The architecture of every facet of the game has a singular, monomaniacal purpose: to completely and totally fuck your shit up.

The tagline for the game is, simply, “Prepare to Die.”

Full Disclosure: I have yet to play Dark Souls myself. My love of the game comes merely from watching it be played many, many times.

I would tell you that I don’t want to sound obtuse with what I’m about to say, but if you read my previous post, then you know damn well that I am absolutely, undeniably obtuse.

So here’s the obtuse statement of the day: Competitive Magic: the Gathering is a lot like Dark Souls. It’s exhausting; it punishes the smallest mistakes; grinding is a bleak, miserable process, and every loss is crushing.

But the mark of a talented Magic player — perhaps even more so than technically tight play or a penchant for correctly deciphering constructed metagames or the ability to read opponents — is an unwillingness to quit. To play Magic not despite your innumerable losses, but perhaps in fact because of them; that is a skill only the most talented of players have.

This isn’t just poetic bullshittery I’m spewing at you right now; the best players in the world all average to about a 60 percent win record. The best players in the game still lose just shy of HALF of their matches. And this is very likely the thing that makes them better than the rest; they’re willing to lose almost half the time in order to find success and enjoy meaningful wins.

In other words, the best players in Magic history have always been the ones who are the most prepared to die.

Wrapter is NOT afraid to die.
This is Josh Utter-Leyton. He’s arguably the best player of 2013 (and actually player of the year). His win percentage is just over 60 percent.


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.)


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:


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+!

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