Here at Worlds in Chiba there are a lot of games being played. The Standard portion of the main event is doing its thing, while side events are going crazy, with hordes of Japanese players coming down to the venue to play. While the coverage team largely has to leave its game playing to the evenings after the main event is done (last night we had a hot game of Bill Stark knows over sushi), every now and again a game comes up that we just can't wait for.
Japan has embraced computer games in a way that sends this kid who grew up on Nintendo crazy. Getting off the plane, as a legion of phones turned on, I felt like I was on a bonus level for the number of power-up sounds that came from all the incoming messages. The arcades here have games that go beyond anything I've seen anywhere else. Beyond the Street Fighters and Mario Karts, there is one arcade game that has transcended the computer gaming world, and got a little bit of Magic going on.
Lords of Vermillion II features an innovative control system where the band of monsters one takes up against a friend, or the machine itself, is controlled by using cards. Your squad is each represented by a card, and you can send them in various directions of attack by moving the cards in the appropriate fashion. Even better, this game now has some characters from Magic as key players available to battle with.
Ignoring the obvious language barriers, there was no way that this battle was going to pass me by. My team consisted of my character card, plus Nicol Bolas, Shivan Dragon and Air Elemental, and I got to experience a whole new level of turning creatures sideways, using a pincer motion to try to trap hapless enemy monsters between my army of dragons. I would be lying if I said that I fully understood what was going on, but things worked out pretty well nonetheless. Best of all, at when the dust settled, I had won myself a sweet Sengir Nosferatu card - one of the 10 Magic characters in the game in total.
One of the Magic Online World Championships competitors, Bing Luke, has already managed to get eyebrows a-raisin’ and tongues a-wagglin’ by coming into this event with a lifetime total of a mere four sanctioned Magic matches under his belt.
What people might not know about Bing, is that he appeared on Jeopardy in February last year. While he didn’t win the show, he did put up a good fight, and we’re sure he’ll bring that same fire to the table here in Chiba this weekend. Those players with Actual Ratings (i.e. everybody else) had better be on their toes.
The worldwide Magic community is gathering in Chiba, Japan with visions of world championships in their eyes. In roughly 24 hours, we'll be shuffling up for Round 1 of 18 individual rounds (plus four National Team rounds) before we make the Sunday cuts.
But it's a long road to travel before we get to the Top 8...we have six rounds of Standard, six rounds of Booster Draft, six rounds of Extended, four team rounds (featuring Standard, Extended, and Legacy decks on each team!), the 2010 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the Magic Online World Championship, countless public events, Magic-themed game shows, Massive Magic pitting the Mirrans vs. the Phyrexians, and much more over the next five days. So stay tuned to this blog and DailyMTG for complete coverage! Until then, here's a shot overlooking the Makuhari Messe convention center (and the Chiba Lotte Marines' baseball park) on the edge of Tokyo Bay.