Want to take your Magic games to the next level? Throw a sealed deck party! Before you roll your eyes and click off the page, take a moment to think about it. Invite a bunch of your friends, pick the card set, make some food, and you’ll all have a blast. Of course, you can order pizza and eat leftover hamburgers from two days ago, but why not make this a full fledged party? Celebrate in style.
Depending on your group of friends, you can do this one of two ways: You could either just invite the hardcore Magic friends you have or open it up and invite experienced and new players. If it were my party, I’d invite both people who knew how to play and those who didn’t. It’s your call on this. My rationale for inviting people who don’t know how to play is to find those people who might be new blood for your group.
Now before anyone gets all upset, let’s take a step back and break the party apart into various age categories:
- Young teenager who lives at home. Still living with mommy and daddy and don’t have the funds to pull this off? Sit down with your parents and ask them if they would host the party for you. Be honest with them. Tell them that you want to invite 6 of your buddies over and you want to order some pizzas and have some fun. With parents worried about their kids doing drugs and knocking back the old moonshine, I bet they might be impressed with your asking for help to pull off a party. (And if your parents won’t house the party, then maybe one of your friends’s parents will.) If your funds are limited, then make the best of it. Make your own pizzas, buy the packs of cards in advance, and have a blast. Poor and out of luck? Grab those commons you and your friends have sitting around and play some Peasant Magic. Remember, use your imagination and have fun.
- College student who lives at home or in a dorm. Sure, hanging out playing Magic isn’t considered cool, but it’s what you like to do. Gather your friends together and make a go of it. You’re coming together to have fun. But instead of doing the same old thing and playing the same decks you saw your friend have last week, throw a party. Make the food (more on that later), decide on the card stock, and go to town. You’ll have a blast.
- Live on one’s own and are single or married. If you have your own apartment or house, then you’re good to go. Send the invitations out, buy the cards in advance, and make some food. You’re in an excellent position to host a great party.
Do it up right: Don’t just send out an e-mail or give people a phone call for your party. That’s lame. Send them an invite through e-mail. Here is a list of sites you can visit to send out (and keep track) of your invitations:
If you don’t like any of the sites listed above, then perform a Google search and find another or make up your own invitation as a .jpg attachment with a cool picture.
When you invite people to your sealed deck party, tell them exactly what they need to know. For example, if you’re covering the cost of the cards, then you ask that they pick from a list of items that you need brought to the party (soda, beer, dessert, etc.). The cool thing about online invitational sites is that some of them will keep track of who is bringing what. But if your party is small enough, you could keep track by hand. Just be sure that you’re direct and clear in your invitation:
- List the date, time, phone number, address, and directions to the party. Be sure that you list an approximate time for when the party will be over.
- Inform your guests that they will either need to bring their own unopened packs or whether you will pay for them (or they need to bring you a specific sum of money and purchase the cards off of you at the party). Again, this all depends on your financial status. If you have money, buy a box of cards and split them up among your guests. If you have no money to spend, tell your guests specifically what they need to bring. Make sure this is all worked out ahead of time. You don’t want to waste time the night of the party with gathering cards: “But I thought YOU were going to be bringing the Blue pile of commons….”
- Be specific on what you’d like people to bring: favorite drinks, food, desserts, supplies (paper plates, napkins, etc.). I’d suggest that you ask people to bring different types of drinks and desserts. This makes things easier for you in the planning of your party. Remember, be specific: “John, let me know if you could bring an apple pie.”
- RSVP date. In the invitation, be sure to tell your friends when they need to reply to let them know if they’re coming to your party. Give yourself plenty of time so that you’re not stuck with having bought too many packs of cards or food. Product, Product, Product
- Eating, socializing and cleaning up about 1 ½ - 2 ½ hours
- Ripping open the packs and building decks 50 minutes
- Playing 4 rounds of Magic (40 minutes a round): Round this off to 180 minutes. That’s 3 hours.
What could you use for your sealed deck games? I’d suggest that you hold a tournament of Ninth Edition. Why that? It’s the basic card set and prices for boxes can be had for cheap on the internet. Again, a good party is planned in advance. If you think your friends would laugh at playing Ninth, then go for Saviors of Kamigawa. Try to pick packs that would have a good resell value if you have any left over. Or at least go for a set of cards that you’ll want to have after the party. Again, it’s your call here. If everyone is bringing their own sealed packs, then pick whatever set your group would like the most. If you’re buying the cards, pick what you want.
Buying cards online would be your best bet, unless your local store has a good deal on packs. I hate to stress this, but spend your money wisely. If a local store is selling old Fallen Empire packs for under a dollar, buy them. Shop around and plan in advance. Don’t just buy any old thing.
Food and Stuff
No matter if you’ve hosted a dozen parties or none, organization and ease of setup will make the party a success. If you’re hosting a Magic sealed deck party, you’re going to want to play cards so make certain that you’re not tied up in the kitchen all night long. I would suggest that you make food that could be done in advance or easily on the spot.
Here are a few suggestions:
Make Your Own Pizza
You can go to the store and buy pre-made pizza crusts and some jars of sauce. Or, if you want to do a white pizza, be sure to have some fresh garlic and olive oil. For the toppings: put together several bowls of chopped onions, peppers, some bacon, sliced pepperoni, three different types of cheese, broccoli, and sausage. When your guests arrive, show them the fixings bar and then take some time to have them make the pizzas in advance. Try to get the cooking and the eating out of the way so that game time won’t be interrupted later. If you’d like some advice on more complicated pizza recepies, be sure to visit this site.
Fresh Pasta Galore
Pick up a few different types of pasta and cook some up. If you’ve never cooked, it’s simple. Boil some water, throw the pasta in with a pinch of salt, and then take the pasta out when the instructions on the box tell you (usually about 10-12 minutes). A pound of pasta could easily feed 4-5 hungry adults. To spice things up a bit: Make some fixings on the side (onions, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, sausage, small chopped pieces of ham, fresh basil, and garlic) and leave them out in small containers. Cook the pasta fresh when everyone is ready to eat and then have a large frying pan filled with hot olive oil (for you young players, have your parents do this!). When a person is ready to eat, take as much pasta as they would like, put it in the oil, along with their toppings, and cook them up for a few minutes. You’re only looking for the vegetables to be cooked slightly. Have some salt, black pepper, fresh basil, grated cheese, and hot pepper as seasonings and you’re done. Add some fresh parsley or chopped basil to the plate for garnish. Buy a few loaves of freshly baked bread and you’re set. If you’re really into cooking, throw together a side salad. For a Magic sealed deck party, I’d suggest this Greek salad recipe by Rachel Ray. The preparation time is about 10 minutes and cook time is 2 minutes. Not bad.
So you get the idea? You put together a bar of toppings and allow your guests to put together their own meal. You basically provide the ingredients and they do the rest. Another recipe by Rachael Ray is a taco bar recipe. Find out what your friends like in advance and be sure that you tell them in the invitation what type of food you’re having so they’re not surprised. Having a taco bar can be a great way to allow people to eat at their own pace. If a guest is hungry after a round, then he can go serve himself. You just have to worry about keeping the meat warm. All the vegetables can stay out and might only need to be added to as you run low.
My thoughts on dessert are pretty clear: Ask people to bring it. If one person brings the ice cream and another a store bought pie, then you’re set. You won’t have to worry. I would suggest that you ask for people to bring several types of desserts. Fruit pies, chocolate cakes, ice cream, or cheesecake are all good choices. Remember, you want something simple. You slice it, put it on a paper plate, and forget about it.
Finally, be sure that you have enough drinks. Poll your guests in advance: Do they like diet soda, lite beer, or no special drinks at all? If you don’t want to worry about it, tell people to bring their “favorite” drink when you send them the invitation.
With these few tips, you can have a great and relaxing party.
Once you decide what the card choices will be (and who will provide/bring the cards), set out the structure for your tournament. If there are under 8 of you, limit rounds to 40 minutes. for any group over 8 I would suggest shorter rounds of 30 minutes to help speed things up. You can organize the pairings however you want. If you need some help, I would suggest using modified Swiss rules.
You’re not in a serious tournament and have come together to have fun. And if you have people who’ve never learned how to play Magic before, then I would suggest three games of teaching people how to play. I would also suggest that you pair up an expert player with a novice. That person can help a newbie build a deck and then teach that person how to play. Sure, games with newbies aren’t going to be as much fun for the experts, but that’s your call. You can invite a mix of advanced and new players or just the pros. It’s your party! [Feel free to cry if you want to. -Ed]
But here’s an important thing to consider for your sealed deck party: Judging. Make an agreement among the group that all decisions will be worked out with sportsman-like conduct. If there’s a disagreement, go to a computer and type up your question for the MTGSalvation Rulings forum. Questions are typically answered within 5-10 minutes. If you’re short on time or don’t have an Internet connection, make a decision that the group will vote on the ruling. Granted you don’t want to have to agree on a ruling that’s wrong, but to keep problems from happening, make sure that the ruling details are squared away in advance. You want to do everything in your power to avoid a big argument at your party. Everyone is there to have fun and not to fight over how the stack works.
If you know someone who’s a certified judge, invite him/her over and let them do their job. But for the rest of us, make sure that you work out the details in advance. Most rulings can be solved fairly quickly between looking up the card’s Oracle text or posting the question on the Q&A forum.
Friends of mine used to make their own “World Wrestling” belt when they had their wrestling party so think big. Make a goofy trophy or something that would be funny for the winner to take home. You can have a t-shirt made that reads: “I won Joe’s 1st Annual Magic Sealed deck tournament and all I got was this stinking t-shirt!” Or you could put together cool prizes: CD mixes, give away packs of Magic cards, etc. Again, the purpose is to have fun. You could even buy a cool frame for under $10 and then put a cool Magic card inside. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on the prizes, but I would focus on at least one prize and then throw in a few sealed packs.
In the prize department, depending on your resources, you could spend as little or as much as you like. Just take a few moments to think of something creative and funny as the prize.
A successful party is a well-oiled machine that goes smoothly. To help you keep on track, here’s a couple of time estimates to keep in mind:
I’d be sure that you start your party early enough so that players weren’t going home at 4 a.m. Give yourself plenty of time and make sure that you overestimate time. Don’t expect the dinner to be finished exactly when you thought. And set out dessert in between rounds. This gives all your players a chance to relax, freshen up, and eat!
If you have the room for it, make sure that you have a secondary room setup for overflow. Players never finish games at exactly the same time. But if you have a room with an Xbox, Play Station, or Atari 2600 (my personal favorite), players will have something to do while waiting for the next round. Put some tunes on, have some other games available, and you’ll be in fine form.
The Day After
Clean up: No one likes to do it so be sure to put out a few large trash bags in your kitchen. Tell your guests to dump recyclables in one bag and other trash in the other. On the day after the party, you won’t have much to clean up. Make your guests help you. Asking them to throw away their plate into a bag isn’t that big of a deal. It’ll save you time and keep your place looking nice.
Putting together a Magic sealed deck party can be a lot of fun and people will surely remember the great time they had. Coming together with a bunch of friends to eat, drink, play Magic, and just shoot the breeze is a great way to spend a Saturday night. Depending on your group of friends, you can make this into a blast of a time if you get them to cooperate. Think out of the box and show some class: Magic isn’t just for sweaty teenage boys at huge tournaments at a convention center or hotel. Break the stereotypes of your typical Magic gathering and throw a sealed deck party!
(Thanks go to Iloveatogs for the artwork and Goblinboy for editing.)