rand Prix Seattle-Tacoma was not the Magic event to attend if you were a fugitive from justice. There were cameras everywhere. Rashad Miller and the guys from GGSLive made it easy for Marshall Sutcliffe and me to watch Owen Turtenwald (as well as more than 1,100 of his closest friends) en route to his 11th career GP Top 8. It should be noted that puts the young player into the Top 20 in terms of lifetime Top 8s, alongside some of the biggest names in the history of the game. It was Sutcliffe's first full weekend of coverage and he knocked it out of the park.
You might remember the amazing videos Nate Holt and Shawn Kornhauser put together in the wake of Pro Tour Philadelphia and last year's World Championships. They were seated at the ever-expanding coverage table for this past weekend and had the cameras rolling from start to finish.
They were far from the only cameras in the room, though, as the guys from LoadingReadyRun.com were continuing their Friday Nights series. I got a chance to play a little Magic with Graham Stark, James Turner, and Jeremy Petter over the weekend, as they were preparing to play in the main event itself. They were also capturing their GP experience on camera, wandering all around the hall. While Marshall and I were chronicling the event in extreme close-up, focused on one top-table match at a time, all these guys were getting the bigger picture.
I am eager to see this event through the LoadingReadyRun lens—as well as through Nate's and Shawn's—but in the meanwhile, I thought it would be fun to catch up with all the new faces on the coverage scene, find out a little more about them, and capture their fresh impressions about last weekend's event.
BDM: Kick things off by telling us something about yourself and what you do when you are not playing, covering, or filming at a GP.
Marshall: My name is Marshall Sutcliffe and I'm from Seattle. I love to draft on Magic Online, record my podcast Limited Resources, and play card games. I also love hiking, photography, motorcycles, auto racing, basketball, and dinner.
Nate: I'm an actor/producer in the Philly theater and video scene and am spending a few months in Providence, currently, with my fiancée, while eating baked goods and talking about clinical psychology.
Shawn: I am usually asking Nate what "Hovermyr" is and why he is so upset about it. I also draw quite a bit and watch an unhealthy amount of NBA basketball.
Graham: When we're not playing Magic, we're making funny videos that are frequently about Magic. Well, not really, but we produce a variety of comedy video series for sites like The Escapist and Penny Arcade TV, as well as our own site, LoadingReadyRun.com.
Jeremy: After spending a couple years as a professional web video personality, I'm presently back in school finishing my English degree. This more-or-less entails barely fulfilling the requirements of that program and taking as many Theatre courses as possible. With LoadingReadyRun, I'm still semi-regularly involved in various weekly video series, and more intimately involved with Friday Nights, our new spinoff pseudo-sitcom about our group's Magic habits.
BDM: How did you get drawn into Magic in the first place?
Nate: I collected baseball cards obsessively. My best friends were into fantasy games on gaming consoles now considered "classic." Magic was a great intersection of these two passions and gave us a lot to do. 1994 baby, yeah!
Shawn: My first exposure to Magic was when Nate told me Magic had a competitive touring circuit and their next stop was our home—Philadelphia. After a long weekend of filming at PT Philly, I was drawn in.
James: I think it had a lot to do with the social aspect of the game. Obviously, it's fun to collect cards and build decks, but the reason I keep playing is to meet new and interesting people. And if that's not happening, then at the very least hanging out at my friends' houses, drafting.
Graham: It was when we realized Magic was not only a game we all enjoyed, but was something we could easily play casually when we had some downtime during our hectic shooting and production schedule. As James says, the social aspect is a big draw.
Jeremy: In grade five, my friend David told me about a cool game that was "Like D&D with cards." Even though my working knowledge of D&D was sketchy, this sounded cool, and I was soon as deeply invested in the game as an eleven-year-old can be. My first starter deck was from our local game store's first shipment of Unlimited. Like most of LoadingReadyRun, I got back into Magic after playing with the free demo decks distributed at Penny Arcade Expo in 2010. There were a lot of lines to wait in, so a lot of Magic was played. We've been hooked ever since.
Marshall: I was drawn in by some friends around high school. I remember loving Wasteland and hating Maze of Ith. I had no concept for the strategic side of the game at that time, however, and was much more into the flavor and fun of it. I didn't play for about ten years, then came back to the game around Lorwyn block.
BDM: How would you describe yourself as a Magic player?
James: Before this weekend, I would have answered a casual Timmy/Spike, but after the GP I might have to reconsider the casual part of the equation.
Graham: I'm a pretty casual player, but I do frequently enjoy FNM-level competitive play. That said, I had an absolute blast at the GP. I guess I'm casual in tone, but not in frequency of play.
Jeremy: I'm a Johnny with a pretty heavy Spike streak. I like to brew, but prefer to use proven decks in competitive settings. I like Limited because it gives me the opportunity to scratch both itches simultaneously.
Marshall: Nuts and Bolts Spike. For me, there is nothing more fun than winning, and doing so while playing the best I can. My biggest concern after a match is how well I played and what mistakes I might have made. I really enjoy reviewing my games and finding the little plays I did correctly and the ones I missed as well.
Nate: Casual Timmy when playing with friends. Competitive Spike when drafting among other Spikes.
BDM: What is your competitive Magic experience like?
Jeremy: I play in two FNMs per week–one Limited and one Standard–and manage to do well enough to sort of chain them. Beyond these, Game Days, and Prereleases, I have very little tournament experience. GP Seattle is the first competitive REL (Rules Enforcement Level) event I've attended.
Marshall: I have played in three GPs and around ten PTQs. I have never qualified for the Pro Tour, and my best GP finish was 51st in Austin. I also got 2nd in an SCG Draft Open in Seattle.
Nate: I have 3–0ed some pods at the LGS. Each one feels like a PT win to me.
James: Our competitive Magic experience extends to this past weekend at GP Seattle. Before that, the biggest event I had played in was our local Prerelease events.
BDM: What was the first piece of Magic media you created?
Marshall: The first piece of real Magic media I made was Episode 1 of Limited Resources, a podcast about improving your Magic game with a focus on Limited play.
Nate: PT Philly video.
Shawn: PT Philly.
Graham: Our episode, "It's Magic!" is really what started it all for us, Magic-wise. Since that episode, we've produced podcasts, recorded Magic Online videos, appeared at the Magic Online Community Cup, and more. James and I also stream live Magic Online drafts weekly, on our TwitchTV channel.
Most recently, and most excitingly, we partnered with Wizards directly to produce a spin-off of "It's Magic!" as a four-episode miniseries called Friday Nights. We're thrilled with how well it's been received, and hopefully we'll get a chance to do more!
BDM: What drew you to creating media about Magic? What was the goal of doing it and how well did you stick to that plan?
Nate: Shawn and I had made silly/artsy videos together in the past. We were interested in reviving our collaboration in some capacity, and a video at PT Philly seemed like a fun project. The goal was just to have fun. We're easily achieving that goal so far!
Shawn: Nate suggested I check out PT Philly with him and bring a camera in case it looks like we could put something together. We are three videos in and are now working with Wizards on creating content for the rest of 2012... I would say we've quickly passed our original expectations.
Graham: Our content has always been about what we enjoy. We put a lot of ourselves into our videos, and when Magic started to take over our group of friends, it only made sense to make videos about it. Turns out, we have a lot to say about the game.
Jeremy: We started incorporating Magic into what we do—as we have done with D&D and any number of video and table games—because it's a thing we like, and we want to express that. Because most of us now play far more Magic than any other game, it has come out a lot more in our work. We realized while filming "It's Magic" we had more material than could fit into a single five-minute video, and Friday Nights has given us a platform to show off some of that.
Marshall: The original pull was to give my friend Ryan Spain an outlet to talk about Magic and game design so the Magic community could hear his ideas on game design and thoughts on Limited strategy. Our main goal was to create the best content we could, and create it on a regular basis. The podcasts we enjoyed at the time were intermittent and we wanted to be consistent. I feel like the show has stuck to the original plan.
BDM: What was your GP Seattle experience like? Was it a successful tournament for you?
James: It was an incredible experience. I had the opportunity to meet some great new people within the community and play Magic with some really nice people. It was definitely a little nerve wracking walking in to the event hall on Saturday morning and staring out at 1,000-plus other Magic players, but after the initial shock subsided I had a fantastic weekend.
Jeremy: My pool for the main event was excellent and full of on-color bombs, so naturally I scrubbed on lands and went 0–3 right off the bat. It was a bit of a learning experience as well, as a mistake in registering my deck cost me a game-loss, and ultimately the match, in Round 2. I finished 4–5, which seems fine given my start, and I got to chain some drafts on Day Two to renew my confidence. We got to meet and hang out with a ton of awesome people, though, and to cheer on the rest of Team Victoria.
Marshall: GP Seattle was crazy and awesome. Being my first time doing video coverage, it was pretty daunting. I was able to figure it out, though, and had a really great time with BDM and the GGSLive coverage crew. I feel like it was a successful tournament as I got a chance to learn a lot from one of the best broadcasters in Magic, and I also got to get the first event under my belt without horribly punting anything.
Nate: A ton of fun. I still have fits of the "fanboy giggles" when talking to my favorite players.
Shawn: GP Seattle was great. I had only been to Pro Tour events, so I was excited to see what a Grand Prix situation is like. I was startled by the high turnout.
Henry Romero vs. Ian Bartolonei battle in front of a growing crowd.
BDM: What Magic content are you currently working on and when will we be able to see it?
Nate: We're editing the GP Seattle footage. It will debut during coverage of GP Nashville and be viewable on DailyMTG.com as well!
Shawn: Nate and I are about to begin working around the clock on editing our Grand Prix Seattle video—so as soon as we finish this.
Graham: Right now we're airing our four-part mini-series, Friday Nights. They air Thursdays at LoadingReadyRun. If this season does well enough, we'll follow up with another—hopefully longer—season, later in the year.
Jeremy: We have two more episodes of Friday Nights in the can and set to premiere on March 8th and 15th. Beyond that, I expect Magic will continue to appear in episodes of Commodore Hustle, as it's still a large part of our lives. James and Graham have started streaming weekly drafts on Thursdays, which I've been present for as much as my school schedule allows. We have some other ideas for projects but they are, at present, secret.
Marshall: I just did another installment of my weekly Limited Resources draft videos for Magic Online Academy and am recording a Limited Resources podcast with Jon Loucks.
BDM: How much—and what type—of Magic did you play over the course of the weekend?
James: I played the main event; all nine rounds. Then on Day Two I entered into two side-event drafts.
Jeremy: Outside of the main event, I played some side drafts and a couple after-hours casual drafts as well. I got to play a bit of Commander between rounds, but would have really liked to play more.
Graham: We also stayed up drafting until about 2 a.m. the night before the GP, which might have been ill-advised.
Marshall: I didn't get to play as much Magic as I normally would during a GP weekend, but I fit it in. I played almost entirely Limited—as it should be! I played in a GP Grinder on Friday with a red-white aggressive sealed pool and was able to win it. I also did some side drafts with the coverage team, and playtested a little Modern as well.
Nate: Played Commander with BDM and then later with a really cool group of judges. Then I taught Shawn how to play Magic with some Intro Decks at the Wizards office in Renton. This was an instant all-time-Top-8-Magic-Kodak-moment for me.
Shawn: I just played my first game of Magic two days ago with Nate at Wizards of the Coast headquarters. Jealous?
BDM: Finally, what advice do you have for someone at home reading this who has the desire to get into the Magic content side of things—podcasting, streaming, etc.?
James: Just do it. Figure out what you want to do and do it. If you have an idea and you think it's good and you can execute then go for it. And beyond that, keep doing it. Don't get discouraged if your first video/podcast/stream only gets a handful of views. Building a following takes time and if you stick with it you'll have something to show for your hard work.
Jeremy: Just go for it. LoadingReadyRun was started on the principle that doing a sketch comedy video every week would be a hard goal to achieve—and therefore a worthwhile one to pursue. The Internet has made the tools available to you, so if you have an idea just get out there, try it, and see what happens. Even if it doesn't become the darling of the Internet overnight, you're sure to learn something and get that feeling of accomplishment. Once you've overcome inertia, continuing is that much easier.
Marshall: My advice comes in two pieces. First, have a direction. I chose to do the podcast about Limited because it is what I love about Magic. Anyone can do a podcast or video series about Magic in general, so get specialized! Second, focus on the content. A lot of people put a big percentage of their effort into yelling from the rooftops about how cool their show is and how you should come "CHECK IT OUT!!" The fact is, if the show has really compelling content, you won't need to tell them to come listen. Focus on what is most important and the rest will work itself out.
Nate: Do what you love. Have fun. Have patience.
Shawn: Jump in. Grab whatever equipment you have available to you and go for it. Watch a lot of other content and learn from it, and figure out how to set yourself apart. Also, learn how to trim the fat.