My first Magic event was a long, long time ago, and I know exactly when it was, because it was on my birthday: January 5th 1997. I was fortunate enough to be working part-time in a games store back then, so it was the first of very many Magic events for me. Christchurch being the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, we had a population of around 400,000 to draw from, so our events were reasonably well attended, as far as things go. But not all towns are as big as Christchurch.
For example, Leeton is a town in the Riverina region of New South Wales, some 550km West of Sydney and 450km North of Melbourne with a population of around 7,000 people (thanks, Wikipedia!). There is no official card store in Leeton, but a local video store sells Magic on the side. With a Magic community of around 12 people though, there probably isn't much call for one, either.
"I think we had 12 players at John's birthday," Byron Black exclaimed cheerfully, while his friends nodded, "but we usually only get between 3 to 6 people playing at a time."
Cory Schmidt, Jack Robbie, Byron Black, and Brayden Heffer all travelled from Leeton to enjoy their first ever Magic event.
For such a small community, it was heart-warming to see so many of them here this weekend.
"There aren't any Prereleases near us, I think the closest is probably in Sydney? That's a 7 hour drive. This is the first event for all of us."
"It's pretty funny, going from 6 players to a thousand," Jack Robbie added with a grin.
"I'm a big fan of Modern," Byron continued. "The other guys don't play it, mostly we draft and play a lot of Commander, but I'm looking forward to playing my first Modern tournament tomorrow."
It's like these guys have just discovered Disneyland, or something. I certainly can't claim my first time was as memorable as theirs will be this weekend, that's for sure.