Hunt for Innistrad-Look what crept back in the night....

Hunt for Innistrad-Look what crept back in the night....

by Ben Calica Innistrad Midnight Hunt, MTG, Prerelease

Iinnistrad is back, so it is time to see what goes bump in the night! Welcome back to Innistrad, a chilling plane of werewolves, vampires, and other things that go bump in the dark. Wanna read up on all the Innistrads and Outistrads of the plane? You can check out the Planeswalker's Guide from our first visit right here. Sealed event using the prerelease kits from the latest Magic Release.  Players can get their boxes of 6 packs to open and get to build their decks starting 1 hour before each event.  (we provide the land and stuff, so you don't need anything more to play.)  We pride ourselves that  no one here will make you feel anything but welcome (we all started from scratch at some point).   https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/innistrad-midnight-hunt-prerelease-primer-2021-09-15 https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/innistrad-midnight-hunt-mechanics-2021-09-02    

D&D Epic One shot, Modern Horizons 2, and return of THG Fat Pack wars!!

D&D Epic One shot, Modern Horizons 2, and return of THG Fat Pack wars!!

by Ben Calica D&D, Modern Horizons 2, MTG, Store news

Hey folks... This weekend we have 5 most excellent events that we are gonna hold in as safe a way as possible and with all sorts of bonus goodies for those who attend, including a Special D&D event one shot event on Sunday.: Modern Horizons 2 "Prerelease" (Sealed event using the prerelease kits that we've been holding since covid started), $60 in advance, $65 at the door.Friday 8/27 @  6:30 Sat 8/28 @ 10am Sun 8/29 @ 10 am Two Headed Giant/Fat Pack Wars returns!!!  Sat 8/28 @ 3pm (We bring out the mystery box, and each team has a player reach in and pick a surprise pack for whatever Fat pack/bundle they get to use to build their decks together.) $30 in advance, $35 at the door D&D Epic One shot, Lair of the Dracolich (up to three parties at different tables come from different places to try and survive to defeat something that will take all of them cooperating.)  $60 in advance, $65 at the door.  Extremely limited seating (only 18 max)   13+ and Vax cards required for all(and masks still) As we've bemoaned earlier, a whole mess of people who've been talked into proving they have the freedom to lemming off of a cliff, have put us back to needing to be ultra careful.  To attend events here safely, you must bring proof of vaccine (and still wear masks).  I don't mess with this stuff at all, so we will be very strict about this.  And I hate it means that the 12 and under kids can't participate yet.  Really hate it. (probably why I'm extra grumpy about this.) I know for me, going out to an event felt fairly nerve wracking, in delta land.  So we really will be extra careful.  Therefore, we're gonna treat snacking like smoking....need to step outside if you need to breath outside a mask.   The good part...Goodies (10th anniversary style) So everyone who attends events this weekend (and for as long as I feel like it), will get a ton of bonus goodies, from special promo magic cards for the magic folks, to mystery dice sets for the D&D participants.  

Need to put 12 and under (unvaccinated) events on hold.  (GRRRR)

Need to put 12 and under (unvaccinated) events on hold. (GRRRR)

by Ben Calica MTG, Store news

A sucky decision to make: I've been struggling with this for the last week, but a call with my competitor (friend) over at Games of Berkeley finally settled it.  It really bugs the hell out of me, but we have to put doing in person kid events (12 and younger), on hold for a while.  (I mean it really bugs me..it isn't fair at all. We are still doing the 13+ vax events. ) The big problem is that the kind of events we do are designed to get people face to face for a while.  It is why we are having an extremely strict policy of proof of vaccination to attend the events, and even than, making the events smaller so there is more space between folks.  The numbers are that the breakthrough cases that end up in hospitalization or worse for the vaccinated is less than .004% .  The number of cases for the 12 and younger is way higher, but still small.  The problem is that the Delta variant is both insanely more infectious and delivers way more bad stuff per punch. (Like those scientific terms?) Not inviting Covid to play. And then there is the Antibiotic factor.  So remember how your doc says it is super important to take all of your Antibiotics when you have an ear infection or whatever of a thousand things that is good for?  The reason that they say that ain't for you...at least not today.  It's because they need to make sure that none of the bad guys are still sticking around, because they reproduce at an enormous rate, and in among those that survive are some that learned to thumb their nose at that antibiotic.  So next time they show up in someone, the meds don't work anymore.  You don't wanna give them time and body to reproduce enough to learn. In this case, the body is the whole country/world. The more people who let covid have a place to grow and transmit, the more chance for mutation occurs, and suddenly something shows up that can get past the vaccination protections.  That is why getting vaccinated if possible isn't just about the person, but not helping the virus a breeding ground for more, scarier versions.  The delta variant is, unfortunately, a perfect example of that. Blowed up plan: I thought that by separating the kids from the adults, and making sure the kids wore masks, that we'd be able to make sure that D20 didn't do anything to provide a way for the virus to get more hosts to party down and grow in.  But the Delta variant changed all that.  It all but guarantees that if we have a set of unvaccinated kids sitting close enough to play, that it will show up and it will spread.  So we are thrown back, at least for the unvaccinated kids. It is totally unfair and sucks, and is unfair.  I'm gonna cancel and refund all the kid friendly events for now.  But I will do this as what I can do to make up for it.  Any 12 year old or younger who wanted to play in any of the "prerelease" events can buy a kit to take home to play with their buds, and I will add an extra prize pack to the order, as well as a random promo card that they might have won if they were here. You guys know how I feel about you, and this is making me equally sad and angry to have to do this.  I'll get you guys back in as soon as we can do so safely.... (grr)

D20 Games 10th Anniversary Events start Aug 6th...

D20 Games 10th Anniversary Events start Aug 6th...

by Ben Calica MTG, Store news

Ok, somehow, some way, we not only made it to 10 years of me having the store, but we also managed to survive last year!!!  So in August, we are gonna party like it's... (ok..a little like it was last year, cause we are having to go back to masks indoors).  Big note...we're gonna keep the events sized nice and small to make sure everyone has plenty of room, so sign up fast, cause these will go quickly once everyone knows they are there. If we have a lot of people who can't get in, we'll add more events if we possibly can. Oh...and one more thing before we move onto the "what are we gonna do for the 10th anniversary month".  We did finally get the bigger loan (eep).  But that means that we are really in need of some great people to help us do some major improvements for the store.  That includes installing a serious skylight/vent in the place, a great interior design/set design person to help us make the place interesting and gorgeous, and an electrician that can handle a very confusing bit of upgrade on an ancient system.  (If you know of any great electricians that also love magic, I'm willing to do some amazing bits of barter so we can make it happen.)  We also are looking to do some high quality after-school programs, so we are looking for great people who can run D&D adventures for kids, and someone to potentially run a chess program.  These are D20 kids we are talking about, so we are really looking for top notch folks, and we will be doing full livescan/background checks.   So what are we gonna do?   Magic--Every weekend is a prerelease that we missed last year.  (we have more than we can stick into only one month, but this'll get us started.  We are gonna do 13+ events, Jr. events, and events that are carefully mixed.  Fun, sure...but also keeping safe.  And we are gonna do giveaways for just a ton of promo cards...all winners this month. We are gonna bring back one of our all time fav events, Two Headed Giants.  This team version of Magic is perfect for buddies, couples, and parent-kid combos.  It is a great way to get to share something that you (or your potential partner) loves in a very low pressure kinda way. These will be Saturdays, Starting at 3 pm.  These will be with each of the "Prerelease" events till the last of the month when we do the higher cost Modern Horizons 2 events.  For that THG Sat, we are gonna bring back one of our all time most popular events, Fat Pack Wars.  (Each team has a member reach into the mystery box and pull out a pack that matches with a Fatpack from up to 7 years ago.  We make sure the number of packs reaches 10, and they open all of those to make their two decks to play together.  These could be Born of the Gods to Strixhaven...its all up to the fickle fingers of whoever pulls the pack.) (we will be bringing back single sales in the next week or so.  We are also looking to start playing modern, commander, and standard as well, but those will start in a bit.)(Oh yes...in terms of FNM...we are gonna hold on drafts until the safety settles down.  In its place will be the sealed events.) Pokemon...We are just working on getting packs in stock for the kids to buy that aren't snapped up by the adult collectors.  We will bring back the Pokemon league in a month or two when it is safe.  D&D..we will start doing regular events again after this month, but we will do some special events for the anniversary, including a special all day event on the last Sunday of the month.  This will have 4 tables of adventurers all working to an epic battle together at the end of the event.  We did this once before, but it was back in 2013, so I think we are good to repeat it. ;-)  We are also extremely well stocked on dice and D&D goodies that have been sitting there, waiting for people to come back in the store and find them, including full dice made of actual gemstone/semi-precious stone.  Board games... oh my do we have a bunch of games we've saved up.  We will have some serious quick sales on games from Cover your Assets to Gloomhaven.  Keep an eye on Facebook and the D20 Twitter feed for our equivalent to Blue light specials.  (if you're a kid, ask your parents.  If you are a parent and don't get the reference, don't tell me so I won't have to admit my age. ;-)  We will also be having a used board game mega sale, as well as a return of the mystery game loot bags.   All kidding aside, we are incredibly grateful for people having helped us make it through all this.  Now we will really need your business on the regular as much as possible so we can truly survive, and pay off the loans etc that let us make it through. And it really is important to try and keep the family/friend game night as much as you can.  For those of us who are fighting the battle of keeping people face to face, not face to screen, it was a tough year.  But there were some cracks in families starting to see each other again, so I'm a big advocate for turning the night you toss the cel phones into a basket and play together into a regular habit.  (If you need to make room at home for more games, consider donating them to the women's shelter or any number of the hospitals, etc.) I've missed the hell out of seeing you all! Warmly, Ben (yer store owner dude) Here are some of the events coming up this Month...       

Sooo Rusty (mini opening this weekend! Yay!?!)

Sooo Rusty (mini opening this weekend! Yay!?!)

by Ben Calica MTG, Store news

Oh my god are we rusty at this! So we are trying to do a dress rehearsal reopening for a prerelase of the new Magic set (the first blend of Magic and D&D).  Not only will this be the first time we are open beyond the length of a phone booth on end,  (Ha, figure that one out, ya rascally youngsters.) but it will be the first live/face to face events we've done since the shut down, sometime in the early '50s.  Turns out that we have a new system that doesn't work as well at the events as we thought, and the guys from Wizards had that new tournament system that came out after we closed that we have NEVER had a chance/need to use before.  We are working on getting the events for the weekend up and ready to go, but the first attempt did not work so well. Opening Slooooowly (Practice open on the 16th...real open later in the month) : We've been extremely slow to open, because what we do is perfectly designed to be bad for a pandemic. The soul of the store is getting people to play face to face, not face to screen.  But sitting down across from someone else 2-3 feet away, is kind of the very last thing that should reopen.  We closed early and never tried to push the limits because I knew that if someone came and said "you could keep your mom alive if you close your store for a couple of months" that I'd do that in a heartbeat. And if that was true, how could we not do the same for others.  I was very zen about it in the beginning, but became decently cranky when the time got extended because people where being willfully stupid. (I stay fairly neutral in my politics, but if anyone has been anti-mask, anti-vax, I'm more than slightly grumpy about that.*) Yeah..right...I guess we didn't say which year... The other thing that slowed down our reopening was ironically the same loan that pretty much saved us.   We survived..(thanks to life rings tossed)  I won't lie...it was a very close thing.  You guys kept me alive for the first 4 months or so with some awesome support via the loot bags.  Our landlord helped big time by cutting us a big break in the beginning  and then taking a hit by reducing our rent for most of the rest of the year. (Pain spread out between all of us made it possible for us to survive). Keeping safe with curbside... Right after Xmas was the closest moment.  I remember thinking that I didn't know if we had enough money left to declare bankruptcy.  (That is something they never talk about...saving the money you need to declare you are out of money...sheesh.) We got two grants, one from the county that I didn't even remember applying for, and another from the state, that meant we were probably going to be able to make it to the beginning of summer.  I'll be honest...my zen started fading big time.  I started feeling depressingly depressed, to the point where I went for help. (Pretty hard to find a therapist.  For some reason they were in high demand at that time. )  I was diagnosed with "Adjustment Disorder, which basically means things are so spectacularly sucky that it finally really gets to you.  It was particularly good to go to the weekly meeting with the other small business owners in Alameda, if nothing else to know that all of us were feeling this way.  We were seeing something that we really loved and spent years building get chopped up like a Lego tower under the crashing butt of a falling baby brother.  Can I pay you Tuesday, for a remodeled store today?  (adventures in loan land.) At the beginning of the year, the big lifeline came, in the form of a pretty good loan from the SBA.  It is sort of exactly the opposite of a retirement account, but I knew that right before the pandemic hit, we were starting to have our best year ever, and I might actually be able to turn the business into something that didn't just need love, but something great that might actually be able to give me some of that love back.   We put together some plans to do upgrades for the store.  And then the worst best (best/worst?) thing happened.  In the new relief bill, there was a provision that would let us take 4x the original amount of the loan.  That changed everything, so we threw away the smaller plans and started working on the big upgrade.  I carefully responded within an hour of getting the letter saying I could apply for the added amount.  I found out a few weeks later that the email they sent had a bad mail to link that added a period and keep the response from getting to the right place.  It made me grumpy because it could be almost a month before they got to it instead of a few weeks.  The "nope...keep waiting" sign every day. ;-( That was April 6th.  (For those counting at home, that is over 3 months ago.)  Turns out that those folks who got their applications in on those first couple of days, got their loans approved within a couple of weeks, but anyone who's request came later got in line with what turned out to be 35 million plus overdue refunds, and a massively understaffed IRS who couldn't actually do so much at home as everyone thought.  I call every week and try to be nice to the SBA folks just in case something actually gets sent.  What it has meant was that the big remodel that I was(am) planning to do is on hold, waiting...waiting...waiting.... (sigh...see, zen returned..sort of). What's next? So this weekend we are going to (try and) run the events for the new Magic set.  And we are gonna have a few changes while we wait for the big upgrade to happen. More events with less people in each.  (No more maxing out how many people we can have sit on the shelves with the elves.)  Specific times for us to buy cards so we make sure we have enough people around to do it. More specific events, including regular after school events. (Looking to add chess tournaments etc, more D&D, etc.) We know we need to charge more appropriate prices (combo of costs going up and making sure this place is making enough $$ to survive and thrive.) I've been struggling with this, because I know for some people the last year is hard, and I don't want to make something that gives them joy too expensive. They thing I think I'm going to try out is this.  If, for example, we raise the price of FNM to $20, if someone just can't afford it, they can just say so and pay the old price.  If you can afford it, we need the the income, particularly since we are going to be making sure the events are smaller/more comfortable. We will try this for the next 3 months and see what happens Keeping the place/world safe.  There may be (probably will be) folks who disagree with this, but I'm using my prerogative as a store owner to say no shoes, no shirt, no vax or mask, no service.  For events, for the foreseeable future, anyone over 12 will need to bring vax card to participate in any event. (We will have special events for those under 12) Having unvaccinated people interacting in public, creates a lovely little breeding ground for more dangerous variants. Anyone is welcome to disagree, and we will happily bring things to the front door.  But I just almost lost my business, and a whole lot of people died in pretty horrible ways, or are left functionally disabled with long hauler symptoms, because of what I can only account as willful ignorance.  As I said, if you disagree, we can do so respectfully, but not in my premises.[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="980"] We agree with this Bar...[/caption] More to come...gonna go back and dig into the event listing hell....                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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