Inside the Labyrinth

Posted in Feature on January 24, 2017

By Corbin Hosler

The first thing that Charles Boebinger noticed was the window.

It was a normal window, open to the world beyond, dividing the stresses of everyday life from the escape into the Labyrinth.

Just outside that window stood the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, both within shouting distance. The White House wasn't much farther down the road.

There's plenty to catch one's eye, but it was the window that stood out to Boebinger. The sun streaming through in a dazzling array of colors, the careful design filtering Avacyn's light to those within. It was the stained glass of Shadows over Innistrad that Boebinger had discovered at the center of the Labyrinth.

Labyrinth Games and Puzzles, that is, a small store in Washington, DC. It's just a short walk from the store to the nation's Capitol Building and essential offices where leaders make important decisions about global matters.

But come Prerelease day, inside the halls of the Labyrinth, nothing is more important than Magic.

A life-sized recreation of the iconic stained glass of Innistrad is just the beginning for the store, which has been upping the ante ever since it was named the Wizards Play Network's "Best Prerelease" for Kaladesh, as voted on by fans.

You can thank store owner Kathleen Donahue and manager Alex Smith for that. Smith has led the store's effort to go above and beyond for Prerelease events, and never has that been more evident than the Kaladesh kickoff that brought the store some well-deserved recognition.

"With Shadows over Innistrad and the stained-glass window, it really started as a whim," Smith explained. "But I got such good feedback about it. Even the artist for the original stained-glass window [Ryan Yee] commented and said he thought it was a great idea. It was such a fun thing to do, so I decided to start doing it for more events."

That culminated in the Kaladesh event, where Smith went above and beyond to truly immerse players in the Inventors' Fair. That meant hand-painted decorations for tables. It meant homemade consulate pins for players.

Consulate pins were a hit among inventors at the Kaladesh Prerelease.
Consulate pins were a hit among inventors at the Kaladesh Prerelease.

It meant an achievements list for inventors making their way into Kaladesh. It meant Kaladeshi battleships and Thopters buzzing overheard.

Consulate skyships buzzed overhead throughout the Prerelease.
Consulate skyships buzzed overhead throughout the Prerelease.

It meant using gears rather than dice to represent counters—a rather flavorful way to send creatures into battle.

Nothing says "My creatures have a bunch of bonuses" quite like a stack of gears.
Nothing says "My creatures have a bunch of bonuses" quite like a stack of gears.

It meant filling an "Aetherflux Reservoir" with acrylic ice rocks—an ingenious way to solve the problem of the set arriving without energy counters.

Players dipped into the Aetherflux Reservoir whenever they needed some energy.
Players dipped into the Aetherflux Reservoir whenever they needed some energy.
Remember: always use aether responsibly.
Remember: always use aether responsibly.

More than anything, it meant a great Prerelease for all involved.

"It definitely makes the Prerelease an event," Smith explained. "It's not something you get to do all the time, but when you do, players really appreciate it. Everyone is energetic because they already get to play new cards, and between that, the Masterpiece Series, the new mechanics, and the things we did, it was such a great experience for a lot of players. Being able to play up the world of Kaladesh was really quite fun.

"Our community plays a big role in it. Part of the reason we were voted the best is that our community rallied and voted for us. All of this would be nothing if not for all the smiling faces—that's really why we do this."

And that community has repaid Labyrinth over and over again. The store recently upsized to accommodate growing demand, and events like the Kaladesh Prerelease are exactly why Boebinger is happy to find himself sitting behind that window, playing Magic at a store that goes above and beyond to build a true community.

"They foster the best sense of having a community that treats each other well," he said. "They've done such a good job with the Prereleases; I honestly thought the blue crystals were something Wizards of the Coast had provided. They really add a lot to the events; it's always an experience when you go in on a Saturday morning and see all these packs that haven't ever been opened, and the store really makes you feel welcomed.

"At Labyrinth, they foster the right community. In an era where people can just play online without having to interact socially, it's nice to not feel any of that negative pressure at the store; it's a place I actively want to go to. When people talk about supporting your local game store, places like Labyrinth are why."

Latest Feature Articles

FEATURE

May 18, 2022

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Mechanics by, Jess Dunks

The beloved adventure of Dungeons & Dragons returns to Magic once more in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. This set visits one of D&D's most iconic settings, introduce...

Learn More

FEATURE

May 17, 2022

Collecting Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate by, Max McCall

Editor's Note: We wanted to provide a clarification that the card Faceless One does not come in the foil-etched or traditional foil treatments. Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gat...

Learn More

Articles

Articles

Feature Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All