With all the travelers here at Grand Prix Vegas, there are some who pack up, and travel in groups, but there are many who go it alone. The environment is amazing for meeting people, gaming out, and making lifetime friends. Stories about Magic players who met on their airplane to Vegas abound. Magic creates camaraderie and can teach us tons.
Adrian Camilleri understands the camaraderie and teaching aspects of Magic well. In addition to being one of those souls who flew here on his own, he has a distinction—he is the only attendee from his entire country. Camilleri hails from Malta, a tiny island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. If you feel like you’ve read about the country recently, it’s because Malta made Magic news not too long ago. The isle of 400,000 was recently added to the World Magic Cup.
I did an Aaron Sorkin–walk-and-talk with Camilleri through the tournament hall, discussing what brought him here, what he loves about Magic, and just about everything in between. And I learned about some Magic-al things happening on the beaches of Malta.
As with some travelers, Camilleri strategically set up a business trip to the United States that just so happened to coordinate with the Grand Prix. “The head office is in Phoenix, so I can plan accordingly.” Adrian smiled. He has an affable demeanor and a soft British accent.
“Malta has a strong Magic community, and it’s exploded since the World Magic Cup announcement,” Camilleri said. “People are streaming the game constantly, and trying to get as many points as they can to qualify.” He said there was even one Malta resident who flew from Oman to Utrecht this weekend for the chance to edge out the competition.
“Basically whoever finishes with the most Planeswalker Points at the end of this month will be the captain.” He said the everyone in the Malta Magic community has been clamoring to get the edge. But Camilleri’s plan is different. Instead of going to the 1,200 miles to Utrecht, he instead went the 6,500 miles to Las Vegas instead. Why? Because it’s there, of course.
“I’m not in it to be team captain; I’m in it for the bragging rights. I went to Vegas!” He continued, “It’s Vegas. How could you not come?!” He was bubbling with excitement as we weaved through the convention halls, passing by a cosplay Avacyn, endless vendor booths, and Magic players telling their friends about their wonderful and terrible Sealed pools.
Camilleri finished his business trip, started gaming, and hasn’t stopped. His flight to London leaves at 9pm tomorrow, and he’ll be packing in as many games as possible until then. But for Camilleri his role in Magic doesn’t stop when he gets back on the plane. He’s found himself the center of an developing Magic community.
Back in Malta, he had been teaching his son the game to help him with math, and it was going swimmingly. “He’s the top of his class in math!” Camilleri said and flashed another smile. But then a funny thing happened that changed his role in Malta Magic from personal to more communal.
While playing with his son on the beach—“because that’s what you do in the Mediterranean,” he said—another child approached them and inquired about the game. Camilleri and his son explained the game and built him a deck. It had worked so well for his son, Adrian thought “Why not?” He kept the deck mono-colored and straight forward, and though he warned that the game was complex, learning it was a snap.
Camilleri then found himself talking to the parents about the educational benefits of the game. “I love the Tolarian Community College videos for parents, and I’d share them on social media and e-mail for any interested parents.” As a father, he became an advocate for the game to a generation of people with limited experience.
One thing led to another, and now on weekends, parents drop children off at his house and he hosts Magic weekends. Ranging in ages from 8 to 13, kids come from all over to start the next generation of Magic players in Malta. Now with a World Magic Cup team, Malta Magic has a strong interest in introducing the game to the next generation. The kids game all day, and make those same friendships that we’ve all held on to for years and years.
This role wasn’t something Adrian Camilleri expected, but he loves his newfound place in the game. Just as Magic helped to educate and bond with his son, he’s been using the game to the same effect for more families in Malta. “I’m the guy who has all the kids. Hm. That sounds weird out loud.“ Not only does it benefit the kids, but there are also some side benefits. “It gives the parents a free day when they need one. They really enjoy that.” Camilleri laughed.
Not only has the game spread outside his family, but Camilleri’s daughter has started showing interest as well. Adrian is excited to introduce her to the game and create even stronger bonds through the family.
Camilleri made a Magic vacation for himself in Vegas, and now has bragging rights across Malta (unless he really embarrassed himself on camera in the feature match area during the third round). But it looks as if he had some bragging rights already—being a mentor and a Magic generational ambassador is one of the coolest things there is to brag about. At least, once you get to parenting age and your perception of “cool” greatly shifts.
There are many people who are responsible for making Magic thrive in Malta, of which Camilleri is one. But he wanted to make sure I gave due credit to the two Alberts and Eric, who run Forbidden Games, the only game store on the densely packed island.
Adrian Camilleri came here to play cards, but it’s clear that really he came to experience the event. “This is a huge convention, really; it’s quite amazing!” We finished our walk through the thousands and thousands of players, said our goodbyes, and Camilleri sat down against his next opponent and introduced himself.
Magic is a game of infinite experiences. Some are big and some are small, but they all end in connections—connections between father to child, parent to parent, gamer to gamer. It’s easy to understand why people can fly to Grand Prix Vegas by themselves. Because when you’re playing Magic, you’re never really by yourself.