Magic at Gen Con 2019

Posted in Feature on July 24, 2019

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

In 1993, Magic showed up at Gen Con. The convention was one of the first places Magic debuted—it made a huge impact on the show and began its quick ascent to become a beloved game like no other.

Now 26 years later, Magic is still making a huge impact at Gen Con!

I'm incredibly excited to be coming to the show for my tenth Gen Con, and this year, Magic is doing some pretty big stuff.

You want to play competitively? Well, we've got qualifiers all weekend leading up to a truly one-of-a-kind event that will surely generate plenty of chatter.

Art and story more your thing? Well, how about live painting with some of Magic's great artists!

Would you prefer to focus on Commander? We have panels, play space, and even the Commander Rules Committee around!

Oh, and did I mention there will be Commander (2019 Edition) preview cards? That's right—previews for Commander 2019 kick off at Gen Con!

And that's just the tip of the Iceberg Cancrix! I'll be your host for much of the weekend, moderating a good chunk of our panels and hanging around for many events. In fact, there's going to be tons of excellent Wizards and Magic luminaries there, and I'd like to show you pictures of several of us as we go along so you know who to look for. As you see us, feel free to stop us and say hi! For example, here's me:


Now, let me run through what you can expect.

The Commander Connection

I'm the Commander architect here at Wizards, and that means I'm always thinking about neat things we can do with Commander. Conventions are no exception—and I worked along with Chris Tulach, our events team, and many others at Wizards to craft a pretty exciting lineup!

Chris Tulach
Chris Tulach

First of all, this is where Commander (2019 Edition) previews kick off! We have three Commander panels throughout the weekend, and each one of them will feature some brand-new cards! It all begins at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, as I walk through Commander with three members of its design team: Ethan Fleischer, Mike Turian, and Scott Larabee!

Then, on Friday, we have a real treat for you. You may have heard a lot about the Commander Rules Committee, the people who manage Commander: Sheldon Menery, Scott Larabee, Gavin Duggan, and Toby Elliott. But being spread out across North America, they pretty much are never all at an event together.

But Gen Con is a pretty special place. And, for the first time in as long as I can remember, all four of them will be at an event together!

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Seldon Menery
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Scott Larabee
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Gavin Duggan
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Toby Elliot

So, we're bringing them together for a panel—hosted by yours truly—plus some preview cards to showcase as well. I am so excited to have them all in one place and can't wait to see them all play a game together at some point. That'll be a spectacle for sure!

Finally, if you want to hop on the Commander bandwagon, come visit our panel on Saturday about how to build a new Commander deck, where me, Scott Larabee, Sheldon Menery, and Ethan Fleischer will talk about how you might do it—using some brand-new legends!

And, of course, on top of all this Commander 2019 and panel goodness, there will be plenty of Commander happening around the hall all weekend. Feel free to join events or just play casual games. It's going to be a blast, and I'll be playing with you there!

Cube for Keeps

Yes, you read that right.

Cube Draft is many players' favorite format, where you draft from a powerful pool of many of Magic's strongest cards. Normally, a cube is curated by someone and then you have to give back your mix of dual lands, mythic rares, and hard-to-find cards from days long past. Because if you got to keep them, it would be ridiculous, right?

Well, exactly. So we're doing just that!

This is the Mythic Convention Series, and there are eight trial qualifiers in a variety of formats across Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The winner of each qualifies for the big event on Sunday: a Cube draft where you get to keep the cards.

But it's not just about those cards. This is a Big Deal. On the line for the winner? A sealed booster box of Legends and an invite to Mythic Championship VI in Richmond this November.

Yes, that's right—you could be the one to qualify for the Mythic Championship through Cube Draft.

For everybody playing along at home, this final is also going to be livestreamed to the world beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 4, on and Follow along and check it out!

And speaking of playing along at home to celebrate this, the Legacy Cube is coming to Magic Online! Although you don't get to keep those cards, it still brings the fun of the Cube experience into your home. You can check more about this out here.

Finally, Cube is one of my favorite formats, and I wanted to invite a few Cube aficionados to chat about the format—so if you want to learn more about Cube or ask questions, come join me and community members Justin Parnell and Matt Kranstuber for our panel on Saturday as we chat about Cube. (More on panels in just a moment.)

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Justin Parnell
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Matt Kranstuber

Interested in joining? You can go learn more about these events over on the Pastimes website.

Savor the Flavor

Magic has such rich art and story, and we wanted to make sure to bring that to life as well!

Creative Director Jess Lanzillo and Creative Producer Meris Mullaley will be out and about at Gen Con. They're both absolutely incredible, with great minds for the deep worlds and flavor Magic has to offer! Keep an eye out for them on the show floor, and feel free to say hi.

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Jess Lanzillo
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Meris Mullaley

Each night, we'll also have a live painting event where artists use a cosplayer as a model to create a brand-new piece right in front of your eyes!

We also have a variety of D&D games featuring a mix of well-known players across our Magic planes. Join us as things get planeshifted. Anything and everything can happen!

Maybe you want to hear about how we mechanically returned to one of our fan-favorite planes. Well, we have a panel for that too, as we detail how we designed the first return to Dominaria in over a decade with designers Ethan Fleischer and Melissa DeTora.

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Ethan Fleischer
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Melissa DeTora

And last, but certainly not least, is our cosplayers panel, where top cosplayers take you through the process for creating their incredible costumes. See what it takes for some of your favorite characters to come to life!

Full Panel Schedule

I've mentioned a number of pretty exciting things so far . . . but there's still plenty more on the list. From live painting sessions every night to a You Make the Card live event with me, Melissa, and Ethan that kicks everything off, you'll want to be there! (And if you can't make it, Pastimes will be broadcasting nearly all the panels live on

Check out our full panel schedule below!

(All times listed are Eastern Daylight Time)

Thursday, August 1

11:00–11:50 a.m.

You Make the Card Live

Participate in a collaborative, audience-driven creation of a Magic: The Gathering card! See the card come to life right before your eyes and be prepared for something strange, silly, cute, or all the above.

Panelists: Gavin Verhey (moderator), Melissa DeTora, Ethan Fleischer, and Steve Argyle

12:00–12:50 p.m.

Creating Magic Art

If you've been wondering how the artists make all those wonderful illustrations for Magic: The Gathering, look no further! Dive into the creative process of Magic card art and bring your questions.

Panelists: Jess Lanzillo (moderator), Aaron Miller, Chris Seaman, and Tyler Walpole

6:00–6:50 p.m.

Commander (2019 Edition) Preview

Learn all about the design of the newest Magic: The Gathering Commander product and be the first to score some sweet previews!

Panelists: Gavin Verhey (moderator), Ethan Fleischer, Mike Turian, and Scott Larabee

7:00–9:00 p.m.

Live Painting with Magic Artists

Stop by and see a cohort of artists painting their take on a popular Magic: The Gathering character depicted live by a cosplayer!

Host: Kat Oertli; Artists: Steve Argyle, Drew Baker, and Ralph Horsley; Cosplayer: Kat (@TarmoKat)

Friday, August 2

11:00–11:50 a.m.

Cosplaying Magic

If you've wondered how to get into cosplaying some of your favorite Magic: The Gathering characters, this is the panel for you! Cosplay experts discuss their journey, tips, and advice. Bring your questions!

Panelists: Sydney Stafl (@TappyToeClaws) and Olivia Gobert-Hicks (@goberthicks)

12:00–12:50 p.m.

Teaching Magic

Are you eager to bring others into Magic: The Gathering but seek advice on how to maximize your learners' interest? Stop by this panel, and we'll go over tips to help make Magic "stick" and leave new players ready for more!

Panelists: Mike Turian (moderator), Chris Tulach, and Ethan Fleischer

2:00–3:30 p.m.

Planeshifted D&D Live

Join Renee, aka Fate from Fate, and the Fablemaidens (@RaeDeAnnR on Twitter) as she DMs an original Ravnica adventure, "The Lost Woods." Featuring players from Stratticus Academy—Scratticus (@scratticus_), Alice Cleaver (@WhiteRabbitPic), Avery Andruszkiewicz (@matte_bat_), and Sarah Godfrey (@serasomatic).

4:00–4:50 p.m.

Meet the Commander Rules Committee

The personalities guiding the rules of the most popular fan-created format are here! They'll share their stories, crack wise, and give you a chance to ask them your burning questions about Commander. Also, check out some Commander (2019 Edition) previews!

Panelists: Gavin Verhey (moderator), Scott Larabee, Sheldon Menery, Gavin Duggan, and Toby Elliott

7:00–9:00 p.m.

Live Painting with Magic Artists

Stop by and see a cohort of artists painting their take on a popular Magic: The Gathering character depicted live by a cosplayer!

Host: Meris Mullaley; Artist: Drew Baker; Cosplayer: Oliva Gobert-Hicks (@goberthicks)

Saturday, August 3

11:00–11:50 a.m.

The Joy of Cube Draft

Find uses for all those extra Magic cards! Learn about this build-a-set format, why it's so popular, and get some tips on how to develop a fun cube for your playgroup.

Panelists: Mike Turian (moderator), Gavin Verhey, Justin Parnell, and Matt Kranstuber

12:00–12:50 p.m.

Tales from Dominaria

Hear the behind-the-scenes stories from Wizards of the Coast as they talk about what it took to return to Magic's first setting after an eleven-year hiatus. Bring your questions!

Panelists: Gavin Verhey (moderator), Ethan Fleischer, and Melissa DeTora

2:00–3:30 p.m.

Planeshifted D&D Live

Join the Venture Maidens' DM Celeste Conowitch (@cconowitch on Twitter) as she runs a group of the show's guests through an adventure set on a Magic: The Gathering plane! Players include Dan Dillon (@San_Dillon_1), Josh Perault (@XiroxisTheBeard), Ted Sikora (@nerdimmersion), and Greg Leatherman (@whitewig).

4:00–4:50 p.m.

Building Your First Commander Deck

Want to jump into Magic's most popular social format but need some help? Come chat with Commander luminaries as they walk you through the ins and outs of building a great first deck.

Panelists: Gavin Verhey (moderator), Scott Larabee, Sheldon Menery, and Ethan Fleischer

7:00–9:00 p.m.

Live Painting with Magic Artists

Stop by and see a cohort of artists painting their take on a popular Magic: The Gathering character depicted live by a cosplayer!

Host: Kat Oertli; Artists: Scott Murphy, Aaron Miller, Tom Babbey, Steve Argyle, Tyler Walpole, and Drew Baker; Cosplayer: Sydney Stafl (@TappyToeClaws)

Conventional Methods

It's going to be a packed weekend. They don't call it the best four days in gaming for nothing!

If you're out there, feel free to come say hi! I'd love to chat about Magic or play a game with you. And if you're at home, fire up a Legacy Cube draft, watch a stream, and stay tuned for all kinds of Commander (2019 Edition) previews to hit your social media.

Have any thoughts or questions in advance? Please hit me up! You can always get in touch with me by sending me a tweet, messaging me on Instagram, emailing me, or asking a question on my Tumblr. It's always great to hear from you!

See you in Indianapolis,

Instagram: GavinVerhey
Tumblr: GavInsight
Twitter: @GavinVerhey

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