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Gen Con – Part One – or “Why do these things always happen to me?”


So, I know I have been doing a lot of trip reports lately, and not a lot of “business talk” about Magic, but more than anything this column is about my life in the industry, and what I see through my eyes and experiences, and these happen to be the experiences I am having right now. It’s also my hope that during these times I will also gain a funny story or two to tell you to illicit a chuckle or laugh, but most of all I want you to see the world through a different perspective than you normally would, and maybe get some interesting insights out of it.


For Gen Con this year, my original intention was not to go at all. I was having more and more difficult times finding a babysitter for each trip I made, and was going to miss Worlds this year as well. But when Mike Guptil called and asked me to work for Upper Deck in the first Pro Circuit, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to get more interactive with Upper Deck, and try to smooth out some of the things with them.


For those of you that don’t know, I have a very off again/on again relationship with Upper Deck. I think Versus system is an excellent game, and like it quite a bit, but I have a lot of complaints about their organized play system and the things they are doing, and being a Premier Tournament Organizer for them means that these complaints often turn into conflict with the Organized Play management of Upper Deck. It’s rather sad, because whether it be Jake Bales, Alex Charsky, Scott Elliot, Ian Esterin, Jeff Donais, Eric Bess or Andy Fletcher, I like each of these gentlemen in their own right and would always love to sit down with them and have a drink and talk about things. But because I tend to be a bit vocal about my advice and thoughts about the industry in general and their policies specifically, I find myself at odds with them more often than siding with them.


So, this weekend I was there to show my support. I was going to head down and do everything in my power to make them look as good as they could for the first Pro Circuit. I was there to be their “bitch,” so to speak, and gladly. Officially I was down there to team lead on the Pro Circuit, and help train their less experienced judges on how to handle players at a professional level, but really, whatever I ended up doing was fine by me.


Packed and ready to go, I headed to the airport Wednesday night. My plane was going to be arriving late, so I wanted everything to go as smooth as possible, so I could get at least a little sleep before reporting to duty on Thursday morning. Of course this was not meant to be.


Due to excessive winds, the plane stayed on the tarmac for over an hour before taking off, and because of those same winds, the plane never had a way to make up that time, and in fact, arrived in Indianapolis almost two hours late. I headed down to the baggage claim area unsure how I was going to get to the hotel. I knew the hotel I was going to was a Hilton downtown, that had until just a couple days ago been known as the Adams Mark hotel. So, while waiting for my baggage, I checked out the hotel courtesy phones, and sure enough, there was a button for the Adams Mark. I hit the button and asked the gentleman who answered the easiest way for me to get to the hotel.


I was in luck! The Adams Mark Hotel had its own courtesy shuttle, and would send it out immediately. I just needed to head out to the exit of baggage claim area two, and they would have the shuttle there. Fantastic!


I then waited for my luggage, which took about 15 minutes to show up, but no problem because I had heard from a guy on the plane that the hotel was about 15 minutes from the airport, so it should work out perfect. I walked out of the airport to the courtesy vehicle area by baggage claim two, and waited.


And waited.


And waited.


After a half hour of waiting (which now was about 1:30 am by the way), I decided something must be wrong, and pulled out my itinerary, and called the hotel phone number on the itinerary, reaching a lady named Antoinette. I told her I was waiting for the courtesy shuttle, and I must have missed it the first time, for which I apologize, but could they send it back out.


At this point Antoinette explained to me that there was no courtesy shuttle, and she had no idea what I was talking about, although she was very nice about it. I said that was weird, because I had hit the Adams Mark Hotel button on the courtesy phone booth in the airport, so there is no way I could have misdialed earlier. It then becomes clear, as she mentions that there is another Adams Mark hotel on the airport property, and I probably got them instead, an she was sorry, but they had no shuttle, and I would have to take a taxi to the hotel.


I thanked her for her help and spent a few minutes trying to find a cab at the airport at 1:30 in the morning. Thankfully the guy I found was sober and pretty good for a nighttime cabbie, getting me there in record time and for a reasonable price. I went to check in and who would be at the desk but Antoinette herself.  I introduced myself and told her I needed to check in, and I was the one who talked to her before.


She apologized again, and I told her not to worry, it was hardly her fault, and by the way, has my roommate checked in yet? She looked at the screen and said that she was sorry, but according to the room schedule I had no roommate. That’s not so good, but I would work it out tomorrow. Tonight I just needed sleep. She then asked me how I was planning on paying for the room. I said I wasn’t, the room should be pre-paid by Upper Deck. She looked through a few screens and then said that no, sorry (once again), but there was not payment for the room. I sighed, gave her my credit card, and waited for a room key.


Somewhere in that whole episode, she must have taken pity on my predicament, because my room was amazing. I think its square footage was the same as my house. As I walked in, I noted a full bathroom to my right, and then a small hallway straight ahead followed by a full living room area. Past the living room area was an office area to the left, and beyond the living room area was what I will affectionately call a draft table, as it was a large round table with 8 comfy chairs around it. Following that area around to the right led to another room with a bed the size of two normal beds, a waiting/meeting area, and another full bath.


The bed was so huge that even if it turned out that I still did have to share this room with someone, it would be a miracle if our bodies ever touched on this thing.


Tired, cranky, and just mentally exhausted, I went to sleep at roughly 2:30 am, only to have my good friend Jay Webb (who would be playing the Po Circuit) call me a few scant hours later, waking me up and telling me to meet him on site.


Weary, but raring to go, I dressed and headed out to the site, ready to do my best for UDE and share my experiences with other judges in hopes that I could help the event run as smooth as it possibly could.


Tune in for Part Two as we talk about what I really ended up doing at Gen Con (it wasn’t team leading at the Pro Circuit), and some of the more interesting anecdotes of the weekend…



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