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The Weekly Grinder - A Grinder at PAX PRIME

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Sheldon is a competitive Magic: the Gathering player commonly referred to as a “grinder.”  He attends countless events and plays thousands of games to compete at the highest levels.
This is an insight into his journey of traveling the competitive scene.

A Grinder at PAX

This week, I was lucky enough to have some time off from the normal grind to enjoy the gaming convention that is the Penny Arcade Expo. While there are Magic oriented events held at PAX, these events are catered more towards casual players and don’t really appeal to me. Between that, and the ban my friends have put on me from engaging in anything Magic while there, I get to spend some time enjoying other games. I rarely get the chance to play many other games these days, as between grinding Magic, and living an “adult life”, my time is pretty stretched as it is. However, there are certainly some things I’m looking forward to.


I signed up for an appointment to test the Rift on Monday, with the intention of being able to avoid the line. After waiting in a line for about an hour after my appointment, I finally got to try out this new piece of hardware. I was a bit concerned that between needing to wear glasses while playing, and the loud volume of the hall in general, that the experience wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of the hardware’s capability. These concerns were easily quashed when I began my demo. I played a space flight simulator and was easily completely immersed within a couple seconds. My only complaint would be that the demo was so short, as I felt like I had only got going before it was over. I do think that immersive pieces of technology like these could be where most video gaming will be going in the future, and I for one am excited. If you have the opportunity to try one of these out, I highly recommend it. I will definitely be picking one up for myself once they are released.


Magic: The Gathering: The Board Game

So, while I was banned from playing traditional Magic, I did get the opportunity to try out the board game. The rules for the game itself are based on an older board game called Heroscape. I have played that game in the past, but it didn’t leave a particular mark on me, which could be for any number of reasons. This game was a bit more fun, as getting to play as Planeswalkers from the game I know so well, and cast spells from the game was quite entertaining. It felt like an interesting cross between battle type board games, and Magic, and in the end, felt like playing a game of Magic in general. While to some people, this may be appealing, but I suspect only people who play Magic: The Gathering will actually enjoy this game as much as I did.


This is a card game based in the Shadowrun universe. It’s a cooperative deck building game, which by itself was quite intriguing. While I usually grow bored of deck building games eventually, I love Shadowrun, and am always looking for new cooperative games. That said, I found this game to be a bit lackluster. The rules were easy to figure out, but there were still a ton of little tokens and such, and it felt like the game itself was too easy. The demo I had was quick and basic, but I can’t imagine the game having much more depth, but I could be wrong. I would likely try it again, but I would not pick it up myself from the demo.

So, my weekend at PAX was crazy and fun like it always is. I had a lot of fun, but now it’s back to the grind, preparing for the WMCQ and more. Worlds was also this weekend, but you have to be careful using that tournament to inform any decisions going forward, as the meta game there is always extremely skewed. Since getting back, I’ve been jamming almost non-stop on MTGO to prepare for my upcoming tournaments. After the WMCQ, I don’t think there’s anything major coming up before GP SEA/TAC, so it’ll likely be just grinding some PPTQs locally and such until then. Will be good to have some weekends in town for once.

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