Wednesday, March 16, 2016

GP DC 2016: Getting Started

At around this time last week, I was looking forward to venturing a few hours north for GP DC. It was shaping up to be pretty big, even as far as GPs go. From my comfy seat in the present (which is a couch at a friend's house), it turned out to be exactly that: more than 3.000 players teamed up with their friends to wade into Battle for Zendikar Sealed.

Somehow, I have a habit of finding myself at giant events, which works out: they're way more interesting than smaller events.

The Challenges were my domain over the weekend: along with Meg Stephens, I was on Swiss sides scorekeeping. As was the case in Philly a few weeks ago, we were doing this in WLTR (except for the Two-Headed Giant events, which you'll hear more about later - a lot more).

Meg is fantastic, so I was prepared for this weekend to be relatively easy despite the player count. We had a spot on the side of the Customer Service stage with one seat facing front and one seat facing the side. This gave us enough spaces for laptops, printers, notes and elbows. Meg took the front of the stage on Friday and Saturday, and I took the front on Sunday (because there are only so many times you can tell players that their slip also goes in the box before you go crazy).

Splitting Events

Because no one gets byes in Team Sealed GPs, there weren't any grinders to run. Star City Games filled that spot on the Friday schedule with flights of Team Sealed events and Team Sealed Spectaculars for prize wall tickets. Those events were run from the GP stage, as was the Two-Headed Giant event.

Additionally, the Super Sunday Series events and IQs on Sunday were run from their own mini-stage on Sunday, with Jeff and Kristen scorekeeping. That left Meg and me with the Challenges all weekend, including the team events on Saturday and Sunday. We divided them up between us. On Friday, my event list looked like this:

I swear those last two events are done. Really.

There was some method to the madness: we alternated launching events. I took the first event of the day, which started at 11 am (doors opened at 10), and we went back and forth down the list until we got to the 6 pm Foiled Again event.

SCG's schedule was packed with Challenges, and multiple events were firing at the same time in the busiest parts of the day. On Sunday, Meg had to start two events at once (more on that when we get to Sunday), but we otherwise managed to avoid that.

Splitting Paper Colors

I love colors. If you couldn't tell that by the number of colored pens I have at an average event, you can probably tell by the number of colors that tend to show up in my notes.

Colored paper is the sweetest tech for scorekeeping multiple events. It makes it super easy to distinguish slips from different events, which is extra crucial with how inconsistently WLTR prints match result slips. We had four colors (pink, yellow, green and blue). I had pink and blue on Friday, because cotton candy. Meg had yellow and green, because daisies.

There was some overlap throughout the day. For example, the 1 pm Sealed event was still going on when the 4 pm Standard event started, and they were both on pink paper.

Turns out that the second-sweetest tech for scorekeeping multiple events solved this problem pretty handily: a highlighter stripe down the match result slips for the Standard events until Sealed was finished.

If you don't have a highlighter handy, a sharpie or marker works just as well--anything that can make a bold line will do, and it doesn't necessarily have to be colorful. Unsurprisingly, this also works amazingly well if you only have white paper for multiple events.

Some Technology Stuff

Dropbox Files

This was a fun one! I prefer to scorekeep on my own laptop rather than using one of the admin laptops provided by SCG. It's familiar, I know where my files are, and the keyboard is awesome. It's also a little bit faster than the admin laptops, which I find pretty important. At the beginning of the day, Meg and I needed access to the Dropbox folders that SCG was using for each event.

That sounds way easier than it turns out to be*. See, you have a couple of options when you're sharing files with someone by email with Dropbox. One of them, the one we wanted to use, actually adds the new user to those folders and files, which means their changes and additions will sync across all the computers with access. The other just creates duplicate versions of them for that person's Dropbox that they can see and edit but that don't affect the original files.

Guess which one we started with? Hint: it wasn't the one that let anyone else on stage see my tournament backups or exports. Whoops.

We figured that out, and Kali, the event manger, shared the root folder for tournament files with us. That folder is enormous. It was too big for Meg to add to her Dropbox without going over her storage limit, so Kali made a new folder, with just the files we needed for the weekend, and shared that with us instead.

*Okay, it isn't really that hard. We just made it extra hard, because why not?

I moved this sticky note around in 
my notebook all weekend :D

RIP Shift

"Shift" is the name of one of SCG's printers (they're all named to make it easy to figure out which printer you need to set as your default), and before there were event players in the room on Friday, I killed him.

Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. There was still some hope for him last time I checked. (I should have prefaced this story by pointing out that I have a miserable track record with printers.)

We had an all-hands meeting at 8 am, two hours before doors opened. It lasted about an hour, which gave me two hours to fiddle with laptops and printers and paper and whatever else I needed to fiddle with before the first event of the day started. Most of that time was spent updating software, which had to download on super-slow Internet, but I also had to get my computer to print things to Shift.

I succeeded at that, by the way. I installed drivers and set him as my default printer and printed a test page and everything. I was set.

And then I opened the paper tray.

And it wouldn't close again.

And now Shift is dead. Maybe. At the very least, his paper tray is still recovering from having gotten very, very stuck.


Next up: Friday, featuring pairings board signage, events that start on time (and some that don't), and three stories.

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