Jeff Zandi is a four time pro tour veteran who has been playing Magic since 1994. Jeff is a level two DCI judge and has been judging everything from small local tournaments to pro tour events.

Jeff is from Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where his upstairs game room has been the "Guildhall", the home of the Texas Guildmages, since the team formed in 1996. One of the original founders of the team, Jeff Zandi is the team's administrator, and is proud to continue the team's tradition of having players in every pro tour from the first event in 1996 to the present.



Card Price Guide

MTG Fan Articles
Single Card Strategy 
Deck Tips & Strategies 
Tourney Reports 
Peasant Magic 
Featured Articles

Featured Writers
The Dragon's Den
The Heretic's Sermon
Through The Portal

Deck Garage

Message Board 
Magic League

Contact Us

Pojo's Book Reviews



March 19, 2004  Getting There is Half the Fun: Magic Travel Etiquette

by Jeff Zandi

Tomorrow morning, my Magic day starts pretty early. At not one minute later
than 5:30am on Saturday, my Toyota Avalon will pull away from the curb in
front of my house. Hopefully, I won't be the only person in the car.
Starting late is not an option. You see, tomorrow is a early morning mission
to Houston for my last chance at a seat at Pro Tour San Diego. Hopefully, it
will be another fun Magic trip. There have been many, many before this one.
My team is great at traveling, you have to be when the average drive to a
pro tour qualifier is three hours one way. My first Magic road trip included
six people driving five or so hours to Lubbock, Texas, for Regionals in May,
1996. Two weeks ago, it was me and Brent Kaskel driving five hours to San
Antonio for a PTQ for San Diego (Kaskel won). When you invest a lot of hours
traveling to Magic tournaments, you need some rules, or at least some
guidelines, so that you and your traveling companions can STILL be friends
AFTER the trip is over.


Most tournament trips involve a car trip. The longer the car trip, the more
important that travel etiquette becomes. Generally speaking, travelers will
have to follow the edicts of whoever the car belongs to. Car ownership will
have a lot to do with whether food and drinks are allowed in the car,
whether or not smoking will be okay, and what music will be played.
Dictators usually have a hard time getting anyone to ride with them, so if
the team is using your car this weekend, try to have a heart and consider
everyone's needs and desires. Everybody has their own preferences for music,
eating on car trips and just riding in cars in general. The more people you
have in your car, the more of these differences you can expect. It's a
really good idea to be Semper Gumby (always flexible) when it comes to your
trip. Long car trips are a bad time to be Mister High Maintenance. You might
need to go along in order to get along. In other words, if everyone in the
car but you wants to stop at McDonalds, then you should probably go along
with it even though you would much rather get your Wendy's on. But let's
start from the beginning of a typical Magic car trip.

First of all, its pretty important to show up on time. Wherever you are
starting the trip from, everyone in your party needs to know ahead of time
when they are supposed to be ready to get into the car and go. If your team
is traveling on the night before a big tournament, you might have more room
for error here. Lately, my team routinely makes three or four hour trips the
same day as the tournament. This means we have very little room for error.
Tomorrow, registration begins at Midnight Comics in Houston, Texas, at
9:00am and ends at 10:00am. Houston is every bit of three hours from my
house, maybe a little bit further. Making the trip on the same morning as
the tournament means everyone has to get to my house, the Guildhall, the
Deployment Facility, at exactly the right time, or else you just plain get
left behind. Cell phones are cool, and since just about everyone on your
team has one, they should certainly be expected to call you with some last
minute trip updates if they find themselves running a tiny bit late.

Have you ever seen a tree full of red plastic containers full of high octane
gasoline? Me neither, I guess that's because GASOLINE DOESN'T GROW ON TREES.
The point is that everyone in the car needs to pony up some dough for the
gas. Sometimes, because they are the Coolest Magic Player in the World or
because they are broke, some of the guys in the car will fail to offer some
coin for the gas. It's regrettable, but the driver should probably lift
these persons up by their feet and shake them until some of their treasure
falls out of their pockets. It's only fair, everyone needs to share in this
expense. If you ARE totally broke, then break out some of your valuable
Magic cards and MAKE IT RIGHT with whoever is paying for the gas.

Whether or not there will be smoking in the car is usually determined by who
the car belongs to. If smoking is allowed in the car, be a pal and try to
allow for some ventilation on behalf of your non-smoking friends. If the
driver is an anti-smoking nazi, then one stop an hour for smoking is a very
doable compromise.

When it comes to food, your whole team has one thing in common, they all
need to eat. Usually, because you are usually in a hurry, some eating is
going to take place in the car. Of course, this is another thing usually
decided by the car owner. If you are going to eat anything in anybody's car,
make sure you go out of your way to make sure you remove all of your garbage
from the car the moment that you stop anywhere. It doesn't matter if the car
already has some trash in it when the trip starts, you shouldn't assume that
the car's owner is interested in adding any of your food-related rubbish to
his collection. It should go without saying, but which I'll say anyway, you
shouldn't spill or lose any part of your food in the car. Also, try not to
puke in the trip car, even if you are the owner or even if the driver is
Dale Earnhardt Junior. The rules on trip vomit are very simple. Make sure
there isn't any. If it does happen, it is primarily the duty of the sick
individual to clean up the mess. Unless you are traveling by school bus,
there probably isn't a bucket full of sawdust or kitty litter in the vehicle
to soak up the regurgitant.

Sometimes people smell bad. Smelling bad is usually a personal drawback, but
on a Magic trip, one smelly guy can make everyone in the car less happy. On
the other hand, everybody smell like something, and that can't be avoided.
All that should be expected is that everyone attempt to begin the trip as
clean and odor free as possible. Traveling home after the tournament will
probably be more smelly than the morning trip. Your whole party has spent
the entire day in a crowded, often poorly ventilated facility rubbing up
against Magic players that don't have the high standards of personal hygiene
that you and me do.  This is nothing to get into a big fight over, it will
only be embarrassing. If things get bad, roll down the windows and don't let
Stinky ride with you next time.

You know that guy that falls asleep the MINUTE that he gets in the car for
the trip and stays asleep until you arrive at the tournament. Nobody likes
that guy. This is sort of rude behavior on the morning trip to the
tournament. On the ride home late at night, being sleepy may be more
understandable. Either way, it's very bad for everyone in the car to fall
asleep leaving the driver with no one to talk to during the trip. If you are
the driver on a night trip, and everyone else in the car falls asleep, they
deserve to be thoroughly punked, so feel free to pull off at a truck stop,
drive right in front of a giant parked truck that has its lights on, then
scream and slam on the brake like you're in a head-on collision. If you do
this, hopefully you won't need the bucket of sawdust again.


Back in the day, I used to create a trivia game based on Magic to take along
on the long trips. I would create seven different categories with titles
like Does This Card Suck or Stat Geek. We would come up with a prize for the
winner. You can't believe how many hours would disappear "magically" because
we had a game to play in the car. I don't recommend drinking games or risqué
games like Truth or Dare or Strip Poker. Even if your team is into it, it's
simply not safe motoring.


Finally, our team likes to reward everyone who travels on the trip by
agreeing to a split of all Magic product won by all the players in the car
at the tournament. Not only does this produce a greater feeling of teamwork,
but it's really only fair. Even if you made the top eight and your friend
didn't, he still has to be inconvenienced with a later return trip thanks to
your top eight heroics. Cut everybody in for part of the product prizes, and
everybody gets to feel like a winner.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single laugh. Remember to have a
good time and getting there truly will be half the fun of your Magic car

As always, I'd love to hear what YOU think!

Jeff Zandi
Texas Guildmages
Level II DCI Judge
Zanman on Magic Online

Copyright 2001

Magic the Gathering is a Registered Trademark of Wizards of the Coast.
This site is not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast and is not an Official Site.