Zendikar Pre-Release Event

2009-September-28

This past weekend, I went to the Zendikar pre-release event in Phoenix this past weekend. The festivities started upon waking up at about 3 a.m. (It’s funny how in the transition from being in my 4th year of high school to my 4th year at a university, 3 a.m. transitions from bedtime to wake-up time) at which point we performed morning chores (equating to getting Ally, getting Glenn’s other friends Andrew and Catherine, and then hitting a gas station) and were on our way to Phoenix.

In Phoenix, we had a very slight amount of stress while we found a parking spot then worked on getting into the convention center, which, being as I love buildings, I think is going to be the biggest focus of this post. We parked in the parking garage, which except for the stark shadows and blinking red lights wasn’t particularly futuristic after any fashion, and then moved on to the elevator, which on its own wasn’t too fabulous beyond belief, but once we were on the main ground level of the event, it was clear we were in a very well-maintained future facility.

Walking around before anyone else got to the event, it was as though we were in a fabulous but dystopian future where the infrastructure exists to support hundreds of thousands of people, but it all ends up supporting just about six or seven people. The five of us walked around and I’ll admit that it wouldn’t have felt any more well-populated if maybe even three or four more people were with us, and we did indeed meet maybe one or two more people before Andrew, Catherine, Ally and myself headed out to get some food.

The restaurant was fairly well-populated, sporting a moderate number of other patrons and a full staff including three or four roaming the floor, and however many may normally have staffed the kitchen. Breakfast was, to that end, great. I just had a fairly simple ham and cheese omelette, with toast and some awesome potato stuff.

The entire building is admittedly really great. Everywhere near the convention center is really well maintained, and it seems like through traffic is really frowned upon, that or it’s just not very busy at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The carpets in the building are clean and plushy, and the hard surfaces are all either chrome, nice stone or really shiny polished stone. Chairs are littered everywhere in an attractive and useful fashion, and in general, I guess the way to describe it would be to say that it’s a convention center. The San Diego Convention Center was set up similarly, except I believe it may be a few years older than this one, and may have had a few fewer or different amenities, such as retail establishments serving food.

My wonderment is at what created such a dystopia. I imagine that it stemmed from some kind of massive event that caused everyone to leave voluntarily, however the group left behind is a small group of stragglers, remaining likely because nobody told them what was going on during the exodus. I don’t know if there’s some sort of latent danger, or if the danger has ultimately passed. The remaining group, less than ten people at first, potentially growing either as more people are gathered from the surrounding areas or as they pass through, having decided to leave from their own home bases, is left to their own devices, ultimately needing ot ifgure out how to sustain a small number of people in an area with facilities capable of and meant for sustaining potentially thousands or tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, depending on the total area affected.

... Anyway.

We got back into the area to see Glenn sorting lands, and at that point started working on getting everybody registered for the event and it was also the point at which I busted out my computer to start writing this post. (Among other things that I can or should do on one of my computers without Internet access.)

One of the random happenings from the beginning of this particular event is that while Ally and I were setting up and she was opening her Zendikar starting deck I had noticed that a lot of the younger folks playing Magic in Phoenix seem to be into a certain style of clothing, much of which involves dragon patterns sewn into the rear of people’s pants. This observation caused me to utter the following:

Unfortunately for her, this counts as Ally’s formal introduction insofar as my blog, at least in this iteration (of the blog, not of Ally,) goes.

After that, my interactions with Glenn and Ally involved saying hello, and moving out of the way whenever somebody needed to use the table or seat I was occupying at the time. It worked out well for me, as vacations go, because I was able to simply sit around on my computer the entire time, albeit without access to the Internet, it’s been a bit more boring (although a bit more relaxing) than an average day at home or work may have been. Unfortunately I didn’t think to bring any print materials (such as Catcher in the Rye or the third book in the Wicked Cycle) to read. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything else I needed to do at the time.

Other highlights of the day involved Mexican for lunch in the convention center food court, and making the transition from sitting at a table inside the room with the event, to an alcove with couches in the hallway.

At about 8 when the event was done we finally started to head home, and admittedly, navigating through Phoenix at night is like… terrifying. Glenn was far more on edge than he needed to be, and I’ll admit that I think if someone else had driven the entire thing would have worked out very slightly better. My new theory is that it’s not very useful to yell at the person who has the maps (which in this case was me.)

At 9:30 or so we got to Denny’s in Anthem and had some dinner before heading back to finally get home at midnight, after a 21 or so hour day, I apparently fell asleep within minutes of hitting the bed, which is rather unusual for me.