Dragon’s Maze Prerelease

Waiting to play the Dragon"s Maze Prerelease at Anime Kat.

Waiting to play the Dragon’s Maze Prerelease at Anime Kat.

The Dragon’s Maze prerelease has come and gone.  By every measure, the three prerelease events were a huge success.  The Dragon’s Maze Prereleases were some of the largest events we have ever had at Anime Kat.

There were some new parts to the events compared to previous releases.  First, each player got a guild kit.  In the kit, each player got: one Return to Ravnica Guild Booster Pack, Four Dragon’s Maze Booster Packs, and One Gatecrash Guild Booster Pack.  The second new part was the Implicit Maze.  Players worked collectively to advance their chosen guild through the Implicit Maze each round.  The first guild to the end of the maze won a special prize.

The first event we had was a Sealed event on Saturday.  We had a total of 16 players and played 4 rounds.  As a reminder: in a sealed event, each player get a number of unopened packs of cards.  Players then open the packs and have a set amount of time to build decks using only those packs of cards.

Dragon's Maze Prerelease winners 1Dragon's Maze Prerelease maze 1

Sunday is always the bigger of the two days, and the Two-Headed Giant game at noon is always our largest event.  In a Two-Headed Giant at a prerelease, players participate just like a Sealed event but face off in teams of two.  For this prerelease we had 30 players with a total of 15 teams.  Because of the very limited supply of each guild choice (we only had 3 of each for the Two-Headed Giant), many players lined up at Anime Kat before we opened at 11 to make sure they received the guild they wanted.

Dragon's Maze Prerelease winners 2Dragon's Maze Prerelease maze 2

The final event we had for the prerelease was another Sealed event.  To finish our almost 11 hours of prerelease events on Sunday, we had 19 players for the final event.  The players fought for a total of 5 rounds during our last Sealed event.

Dragon's Maze Prerelease winners 3Dragon's Maze Prerelease maze 3

We would like to thank all of the players that came out to Anime Kat to make this a very successful series of events.  Without you players, there are no events!

Playing the Dragon's Maze Prerelease at Anime Kat

Playing the Dragon’s Maze Prerelease at Anime Kat

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From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You: Part 3

By Drew S.

In the last article, I explained what I work on to get everything ready for the prerelease and release.  Now, I explain what I do during the big days.

First up is the prerelease.  The prerelease always happens the weekend before the release.  The prerelease is a chance for Magic players to play with the new cards before they are official on sale.  For both prereleases, my day starts earlier than normal.  I arrive at least an hour earlier than I normally do.  That gives me the time I need to clean up from the previous day’s events (Friday Night Magic for Saturday’s prerelease or Saturday’s prerelease on Sunday.)  Typically cleaning up involves taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom and tables, and vacuuming.

When I’m done cleaning up, I put up any extra decorations I have for the event.  Frequently, I try to get balloons to place around the store.  For the Return to Ravnica prerelease, I got combinations of balloons in the guild colors.  I try to use the last bit of time before opening the store to set up the additional tables and chairs.

At 11am, I open the store.  For most of the prerelease, there is a small crowd waiting to get in.  As the players wait for the event to start, I work on registering everyone.  All players need to have a Duelists’ Convocation International number (more commonly called a DCI number).  Repeat players typically already have a DCI number.  For newer players, I work on having them registered.

Once everyone is registered, the event is ready to start.  To actually run the event, I use the Wizards Event Reporter.  WER is Wizards Event Reporter: the event scheduling, running and reporting tool for the Wizards Play Network.  The WER makes it easier to run Magic events.  The software suggests how many rounds to run based on the number of players.  Each round, the software determines the new round pairing using an algorithm I don’t fully understand.  The WER also determines the player’s standings based on a large number of factors.  For those interested, you can read the full manual on Magic tournament rules.  The WER is what determines tiebreakers determines pairings.  This is what the players should be mad at if they drop in standings at events.

After all of the rounds are played, I get to give out the prizes.  That is my favorite part of the event.  I try hard to make sure at least 1/2 of the players get to leave with what they would consider a good prize.  Once in a while, I’m not able to do that.  At the Gatecrash release event, we had almost twice the number of players that I was expecting.  I was only able to give out prizes to a few of the players.  I used that situation as a learning point and revamp how we give out prizes.  Now, more players should receive prizes.

When the last player leaves our last event on Sunday, I’ve been at the store for about 12 hours.  I will lock up the store and worry about cleaning it on Tuesday.

During the week leading up to the big release on Friday, I receive my shipment of cards.  Before Friday, I will put all of the new items into our inventory.  Then,I will spend several days re-pricing all of the current card binders.  I like to have the most current card prices.  When that’s done, I will open between 1 and 3 boxes of the new cards, organize them into common, uncommon, and rare/mythic, and them price out the cards.  This way the cards are ready to be sold on the release day.

The release is always Friday.  The event is ran similar to the prerelease events (I use the same procedure of registering and using the WER), but the release event will last longer than most of the other events.  When the last player leaves, I will be at the store for about 13 hours.

The prerelease and release events are very time consuming for me.  However, I enjoy running the events.  For many of the players in the area, the prerelease or release event is the only time I get to see them.  I bet you thought I was done with a new set of cards after the release.  Not yet.  I still have a few events to organize after the release.  I’ll explain them in my next article.

From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You: Part 2

Magic: The Gathering card back

Magic: The Gathering card back (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Drew S.

In the last article I explained how the store level determines what we can and can’t do before the prerelease and release even happens.  Now, I’ll explain what happens during the lead up to the prerelease and release.

A day or two after the last release I will know when the next one will take place.  It is normally three months later.  At this point it is too early for me to do anything other than post that there will be prerelease, release, and Magic Game Day events on the correct days on our calendar page.  The listing only states what days the events will be.  I don’t have any other information at that time.  Even though I run the Magic the Gathering events, I don’t receive any information faster that what is released to the general public.

I typically find out what our allocation for the prerelease is about 6 weeks before the event (read about allocations here).  This is also when I find out what extra prize support I’ll get to use during the event.  Once I have that information, I work on creating posters for the prerelease and release that announces all of the important information.  It takes me a day or two to make the posters and a few days to get them back from the printers.  I also use this information to update our calendar page.

Four weeks before the release date, I will learn what my allocation will be for the release day.  Now I know how many boxes of cards I will be able to sell when the cards are officially released.  That also means I can start taking preorders.  I’ve heard of businesses that presell more cards than they received, because they took orders before they found out their allocation.  I choose to only resell 1/2 of my allocation.  That leaves plenty of boxes to sell after the presold boxes are picked up.  The store also offers a nice discount on presold boxes.  I also start taking preregistration on the actual events during this time.

At some point between one and three weeks before the prerelease, Wizards of the Coast will contact me.  They will explain any peculiarities with how the prerelease or release will run (such as the Helvault or Implicit Maze).  I will also receive my in-store display kit.  The kit will include posters, signs,  promotional cards, and any other special items the store may get for the release.

The Thursday before the prerelease I will receive my prerelease card shipment.  In the cases such as the Return to Ravnica block, I will spend time organizing the prerelease material into guilds.  The Friday before the prerelease, I will spend extra time after that night’s Friday Night Magic cleaning the store extra well.  Not only am I proud to have a clean and fresh smelling store, but I know that I won’t have time to do it Saturday morning before the players arrive.

Before the first player checks in the Saturday morning of the prerelease I have already spent about 30 hours working on the events.  But, when I see everyone having fun I know that the time was well spent.

Check the blog in a few days for the next part of “From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You” where I discuss how I spend my time during the prerelease and release.

 

Sakura-con 2013: A Weekend in Review

Sakura-Con logo.

Sakura-Con logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Drew S.

Every year during Easter, Sakura-con fills downtown Seattle with all types of anime, manga, Japanese culture, nerd culture, and everything else of an otaku might light. My wife and I were fortunate to be able to go this year. For those unable to attend (or simply want to know what I did while I was there), I’m writing about the panels and events I went to.

AMV

An AMV is an anime music video.  Editors cut and paste scenes from different anime set to music.  This year I went to the yearly AMV contest and the AMV Sing-A-Long.  I had almost the most fun of the convention at the Sing-A-Long.  Every song chosen Robynn and I know well.  The pairings of anime to music was hilarious, and there were several Disney songs that were very well done.  However, I want to give a special high-five to the version of Bohemian Rhapsody using Azumanga Daioh.

Funimation Industry Panel

Funimation was kind enough to host a panel that showcased some the current, popular anime they are working on.  Anime New Network has a very nice write up of the panel.  The write up is so nicely done that I would basically be copy their article.  So, instead, I’ll link to the article (which even includes all of the Q&A) and only write feelings about some of the shows that were showcased.

I’m really happy to see the release of Baka & Test season 2.  However, it was a different anime that caught my eye: Is This a Zombie?  The plot is hilarious and confusing, so I’ll steal from Wikipedia: “Ayumu Aikawa is a zombie resurrected by a necromancer named Eucliwood Hellscythe after being killed by a serial killer.  As he tries to make the best of his undead life, he encounters a Magical Garment Girl named Haruna and inadvertently takes her magic powers, being forced to become a Magical Garment Girl (and thereby crossdress) in the process. With Eucliwood, Haruna, and a vampire ninja named Seraphim living with him, Ayumu helps battle demons known as Megalos while trying to figure out the mystery behind his own death.”  I think this will be an anime worth watching if you like a little weirdness and confusion thrown into your violence.

Do You Really Wish Your Life was Like a Videogame? (“Glitch” web series screening)

I was able to attend the screening of the first season of the web series Glitch.  From the website: “Glitch is a mild-mannered, ordinary decent nobody, who is going through a something of a quarterlife crisis.  In a classic storytelling cliche he makes a wish (that his life was more like a video game) and it comes true – only instead of something awesome and actiony, he is instead plagued by video game glitches. Hi-jinks and the premise of the entire show thus ensue.”

I found the show charming and funny.  There were plenty of video game references throughout, but it didn’t feel over done.  The pacing was even. Without giving away a major plot point, I really enjoyed the “Deus Ex Machnia Achievement” pop up when the plot point was solved by a deus ex machnia.  If you have a couple of hours to kill, I’d watch the first season on YouTube.

Otaku 25 and Older the Third

This is one of the panels I went alone to (Robynn’s not 25 yet).  This was a pretty cool panel with an older group of anime lovers than I’m used to being around.  We discussed our favorite anime, newer anime, cosplaying and talking about the younger crowd.  They group that organized the panel actually recorded the whole thing.  You can find all 7 parts on one of their YouTube channel.  However, I did get to get up and talk about three of my favorite anime.  Check me out starting at about 8:50.

Charity Auction

Each year Sakura-con has a charity auction.  I was able to attend and bid on items to help the Make A Wish Foundation.  There were many great items, most of which were out of my price range.  The keynote item was a one of a kind, done at Sakura-con, signed, stamped, illustration by Toshihiro Kawamoto (the character designer and animation director for Cowboy Bebop) of Spike and Faye.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love Cowboy Bebop.  However, the piece went for $3,100.  Even Robynn said no after bids at that point, and she’s an enabler for me when it comes to buying one of a kind piece.

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I could have been mine…for the cost of a used car.

However, the piece I was really interested in was a poster of the anime Blue Gender that was signed by the original English voice actors.

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Am I the only one that likes Blue Gender?

 

We had to leave the auction early, and I was hoping they would get to it before I had to go.  It was the last item before we took off.  When the auctioneer asked, “Does anyone like Blue Gender?” Robynn and I were the only ones to yell out.  He actually looked around, shrugged, said, “OK,” and then walked over to Robynn and me to address us personally.  The bidding started at $35 and both Robynn and I raised our hands.  The auctioneer asked if we were bidding against each other.  I loudly exclaimed that no; we are married.  The whole room laughed.  I almost got the poster for $35, but someone in the back room raised it to $50.  I ended up getting it for $75 which was half of what I was willing to pay for it.  You can check it out hanging up in the store.

Check me bidding for my poster in the upper right.

Check me bidding for my poster in the upper right.

Sakura-con 2014

There was much more that Robynn and I saw and did at Sakura-con.  However, I tried to write about some of the things I remember really well.  We are already looking forward to next year’s Sakura-con.  For 2014, Robynn may get a booth in Artist Alley, and I’m going to see about running a panel called “So You Want to Own an Anime Store.”  We’ll keep you posted on if we manage to do either of those.

From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You: Part 1

Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Drew S.

About every four months a new Magic the Gathering card set is released.  Around that time, I have people asking me what it takes to organize everything the store needs to do to have a successful release.  I’ve decided to write a few posts chronicling what the store does every time a new card set is released.

Before I start, I’ll explain a little about what type of Magic the Gathering store Anime Kat is and why it matters.  There are 3 different levels of stores:

At the Gateway Level, we could only do:

  • Magic Leagues
  • Host Casual events

Anime Kat is currently a Core level.  At Core level, we can have:

  • All Gateway content and benefits
  • Friday Night Magic
  • Magic Prereleases
  • Magic Game Days
  • Buy-a-Box promo cards
  • Access to From the Vault product
  • Same-day scheduling for both Casual and Rated events

For us to beget to our current level we had to:

  • Report a minimum of 4 events
  • Have a minimum of 30 unique people playing in your reported events
  • Run and report a single event with 12 players or more
  • Maintain a delinquency rate of less than 20% (be late submitting paperwork online less than 20% percent of the time)
  • Introduce 6 new players to WPN events

Advanced Level is the highest level.  At Advanced level, retail we get:

  • All Gateway and Core content and benefits
  • One additional event for all Core-level programs (i.e.: two FNMs each Friday instead of one)
  • Access to Wizards Play Network Premium Tournaments
  • Access to Magic Grand Prix Trials
  • Access to Wizards Play Network Championship Qualifiers
  • Access to additional From the Vault product
  • Post-scheduling (Advanced-level retail locations can schedule both Casual and Rated events up to seven days after the event has taken place)

To qualify to participate as an Advanced retail location, your Anime Kat needs to (in the preceding 12 months):

  • Report a minimum of 20 tournaments
  • Maintain a delinquency rate of less than 10%
  • Have a minimum of 100 unique people playing in your reported events
  • Run and report a single tournament with 32 players or more
  • Introduce 20 new players to WPN events

Now, why is Anime Kat’s level important?  Well, it basically says what we can and can’t do.  If we were not a Core Level, we would not be able to do Friday Night Magic.  We also would be able to have official, or “sanctioned” events.  Our store level also impacts how much products we can carry.  Before each release of a new product (booster packs, fat packs, intro decks, event decks, etc…) we get what is called an allocation.  The allocation is based on what level store we are, how long we have been part of the Wizards Play Network, how many players we typically have for events, and some other (magical?) levels that I don’t really understand.  The allocation limits me on how much of a new product I can order for the store.  For example, during for the release of Dragon’s Maze, I’ve been allocated 24 boxes of cards.  That means for at least the first few weeks, I will only be able to sell 24 boxes of cards.  If Anime Kat was an advance store, I would have a higher allocation.  The allocations are actually a good thing.  It makes so stores larger than ours don’t buy all of the products before I have a chance to order some.

I said that if we were an Advance Level store we could have more events and products.  It would even be fairly easy to reach that level.  We need one event with 32 players.  We have already had 2 events with 31 players.  But, I’m in no rush to jump to the next level.  Why?  One word: money.

I’ve already explained that there are allocations every time a new product comes out.  I’m not required to buy my full allocation.  I can only buy part of it if I want.  For example, I am usually allocated 3 or 4 cases of Intro Decks.  However, I know that those do not sell well so I typically only buy 1.  However, for some releases (like boosters) there are incentives to buy the full allocation.  I receive free shipping on my order by buying my full allocation of booster boxes.  Anyone who has several binders of cards knows how much they weigh and can recognize the savings of free shipping.  More importantly, if I buy my full allocation from my distributor (the company I actually buy my cards from-Magazine Exchange) will provide prizes for my store.  A large portion of the prizes for our prerelease events are provided to me for free.  This allows me to give out even more prizes than I would be able to otherwise.  As you can see, I try to get the full allocation.

However, buying the full allocation is expensive.  The combined cost of products for the prerelease and release of a new set is about $3,000-$4,000.  Obviously, I don’t sell all of the booster boxes the day they come out.  It typically takes about a month to sell all of them.  In retail, products are not worth anything until they are sold.  Unsold products cost stores money.

What does this have to do with being an Advance Level store?  If Anime Kat was an Advance Level store, we would have a larger allocation.  One of two things would happen. One: I would not order the full allocation, because I know the stack of booster boxes would be behind the counter for a couple months.  However, I would not get free shipping, and I would have fewer prizes to give out. Two: I would order our full allocation.  The extra booster boxes would sit under that counter for a couple of months (because I can’t sell them fast enough) and the money spent on them would not be able to go to stocking other or new products (anime, manga, Warhammer 40K, etc…).

Currently, we are not selling booster packs fast enough to push us to Advance Level store.  However, I know that we will be one day.

Check the blog in a few days for the next part of “From Wizards of the Coast to Anime Kat to You” where I discuss what needs to be done before the cards even arrive at the store.

Welcome to Anime Kat’s Blog!

Welcome to Anime Kat’s blog.  For those of you not familiar with us, Anime Kat is the oldest anime & manga store on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. We’re located in downtown Port Angeles at 110 W 1st Street about 1/2 a block west from the iconic downtown water fountain. We offer many goods and services for any anime, manga, or gaming fan.  We try to carry anything related anime, manga, collectable card games, and tabletop wargames.

We already have a website and a Facebook page.  So, what’s the deal with the blog?  Well, this is our informal place to post anything related to the store.  We’ll have multiple authors writing posts about their favorite anime, how do you run a magic tournament, and how do you paint Warhammer 40K models.

Do you have a topic you want to write about?  Send a message and we may make you a featured author!