Once again the Magic community has come together in the wake of another incident. However, in this case, no person was exposed.
A post on the “Magic: The Gathering” subreddit entitled “An open letter to Wizards of the Coast about Pastimes’ handling of GP Chicago” has made it’s rounds and even ended up on the desk of Helene Bergeot, the Director of Global Organized Play for Wizards of the Coast. If you recall, she is also the person who people went to during the incident at GP Richmond.
In the open letter, posted by Reddit user “ajzinni,” several points are made about overall dissatisfaction from the event which was run by Alan Hochman, owner of Pastimes Comics and Games in Niles, Ill. The first point they complain about is about the “uninformed staff.” According to the letter, the user complains that whenever a staff member was asked a question, they would redirect people to other staff members who, in turn, would still not have an answer.
Another major complaint was in regards to the promotional items players were set to receive upon preregistering for the event. The user states that some people failed to get their promotional card while others received multiple copies.
Grand Prix Chicago 2014 hosted over 2400 players. However, in the “open letter” the user says that the location that the event was held at had one restroom. In addition to that, the convention center, had inadequate food and refreshments available for guests. There was only “one concession stand and no immediately surrounding options that would be [possible] to visit in between events or rounds.”
The other major complaints the user had were in regards to “increased entry fees” and “unacceptable wait times.” According to Redditor, they had to wait, “over [an] hour after the end of a round within [their] grinder for the next [round] to start.”
As of today, June 25, the post had over 500 comments. Many of those comments agreed with the user and called for the attention of Bergeot. While Bergeot did not publically respond to the situation, she did retweet a post from Pastimes. The response was titled, “Response to GP Chicago & event challenges @Pastimes – as well as Batterskull resolve.”
In their post, via Facebook, Pastimes first addressed the issue regarding the handling of the promotional card each player was set to receive.
“Our goal at every event is for everyone to have a great time playing and just being around Magic. Due to an unfortunate series of events, the promo Batterskull card did not make its way into everyone’s hands at Grand Prix Chicago. This does not meet our goal, since this great promo should be shared with everyone who participates in the event. We apologize for the mix-up, and have been working hard at a way to fix the situation.”
As a quick remedy, a form has been provided for people to fill out in order to get their promotional card. Pastimes went on to say that “Grand Prix Chicago was a great event, but it was not without challenges.” They stated that they have heard the complaints through various forms of social media and e-mail, and have begun work on addressing the issues brought to their attention. One of the changes they have made is to their staffing. They have hired Steven Briggs who is a Level 3 Judge and the Midwest Regional Coordinator.
Furthermore, Pastimes has added more members to their full-time event staff and on-site team event teams. Their goal is to be able to “redirect their training to focus more on timely operations and quality customer service.”
Sources close to Pastimes have said that the store has been known for its slow queue times, and that they need more help. To see this kind of response should help ease the tension between player and Tournament Organizer. With time, there may be improvements in the problems areas. Still, the damage has been done, and it seems like people have had enough.
The next major event for Pastimes is Gen Con in August. For those of you who don’t know, Gen Con is the longest-running gaming convention in the world. Pastimes is the Tournament Organizer who usually runs the organized “Magic” events at Gen Con. Here’s hoping that some of these changes are made in time for the next crowd of gamers or else there may be a follow-up entitled ” An open letter to Wizards of the Coast about Pastimes’ handling of Gen Con ‘Magic’ events.”