Your First Open Weekend
New to the SCG Tour? This guide will get your ready for your first Open, whether you're ready to play or you just want to see what it's like.
Why Attend a StarCityGames.com Open?
Play in a big tournament close to home. StarCityGames.com® holds Opens in major metropolitan areas of the United States. You don't need an invitation, just a legal deck (Standard-legal for Standard Opens, etc.) and the entry fee. Check our event schedule to find an Open near you!
Meet new people. StarCityGames.com Opens draw hundreds of players from across the region. You'll get a chance to make new friends, trade for cards you've always wanted, and test your game against strong competition.
Win great prizes. Each Open pays out $20,000 in prize money with prizes down to 64th place. Make the Top 8 and you'll receive an invitation to the next StarCityGames.com Invitational, which offer $100,000 in total prize money and $20,000 to first place!
Enjoy a whole weekend of Magic. In addition to the StarCityGames.com Open, each Open Weekend has side events galore, including two Classics that qualify four players each for the next Invitational and multiple four-round Challenge Events every day. There are also on-demand eight-player drafts and Constructed tournaments, plus four-player Commander games all weekend long. All played out? Most Opens have at least one Special Guest for more fun.
Decide on your deck. Remember to make sure that your deck is legal for the format of the event - Standard, Legacy, or Modern. Want some inspiration? Visit our Decklists page to get inspiration from successful players on the SCG Tour.
Find an event near you. Our Event Finder lets you search for StarCityGames.com Organized Play offerings in your area, including Open Weekends. The event schedule also lists these event months in advance, giving you plenty of time to plan. Once you find the name of a city close to you, click on it to get to the weekend's fact sheet.
Online Registration. We take online registration by credit card or PayPal via links on our event schedule and on each Open Weekend's fact sheet. Online registration closes at 5pm Eastern time on the Friday before the Open Weekend. If you reregister online, there is no need to check-in with the events stage. Thanks to our Show Up and Play! system, simply show up to the player meeting at 10am.
On-Site Registration is available on Saturday from hall opening until just before the player meeting at 10am.
Before You Go
Plan your travel and lodging. Figure out how you're getting to the tournament and where you're going to stay. Each event's fact sheet has a travel section listing the tournament venue and hotels where StarCityGames.com® has reserved a room block for better rates. Know where you'll park and how much it costs.
Your DCI number. If you don't have a DCI number yet, you can sign up for one in the tournament hall. If you have one, double-check that it is valid at the Wizards of the Coast Planeswalker Points page. We can look up your DCI number on-site, but this adds time to your registration wait.
Your entry fee. We accept cash or credit cards on-site. Online registration allows payment by credit card or PayPal.
Pen and paper to keep track of life totals. A written record is essential for settling life total discrepancies, and over a long tournament, they will come up. Note you are not allowed to use electronic devices or apps for life total tracking in tournaments.
Card sleeves for your entire deck and sideboard. Matching sleeves will protect your cards from excessive wear and reduce your chances of getting a penalty for having marked cards. Leave holographic sleeves, sleeves with art all the way to their edges, and potentially offensive sleeves at home; the Head Judge will disallow them. Don't have sleeves or need new ones? You can buy sleeves from an authorized vendor.
Dice and tokens to represent +1/+1 counters, creature tokens, and other game elements.
Your deck(s). Realizing you left your deck at home is one of the worst feelings at a Magic tournament.
Don't pack a lot of extra stuff. While StarCityGames.com works to combat it, theft is a possibility at Magic tournaments.
Doors open at 8am.
Reregister online if possible. StarCityGames.com's Show Up & Play! Registration means you won't have to wait in line (just be on time for the player meeting) and you won't have to bring cash for the entry fee.
Register as soon as you arrive. The registration line gets long as it gets closer to tournament time.
Have your entry fee and DCI number ready. We recommend saving your DCI number on your cell phone for quick access.
Enjoy your free stuff. At the player meeting, each player in an Open or Classic receives a voucher for an exclusive playmat and a commemorative token featuring a recent StarCityGames.com Invitational champion!
Fill out your deck registration sheet. StarCityGames.com offers an interactive deck registration sheet that automatically counts maindeck and sideboard cards. No more accidental 59-card decks! Using the interactive deck registration sheet also makes sure judges can read your deck list. Just print a copy out and take it with you to the tournament venue. Deck registration sheets are also available on-site.
Sign your publicity release. The back of the deck registration sheet includes a publicity release for the SCG Tour and other StarCityGames.com media efforts. Without a filled-out publicity release, you will not be able to participate in a StarCityGames.com Open.
The Tournament Hall
The main play area is where you'll play most or all of your matches.
The main stage is for registration, turning in match result slips, and signing up for side events.
The pairings boards along the walls or just outside the tournament hall are where seating assignments for the player meeting and rounds appear.
The feature match area is where the on-camera feature matches and others play their rounds. Spectators are encouraged to watch in the designated areas.
The commentary and coverage area is where the staff and SCG Tour commentators work.
The StarCityGames.com® dealer booth (and other dealer booths on certain weekends) are the only authorized place(s) to buy and sell Magic cards. Trading is fine, but buying and selling are not. Offering to make cash transactions outside the venue is also a violation of StarCityGames.com policies.
The Special Guest tables are where the weekend's Special Guests are set up. These may include alterists, artists, and others.
Playing in the Open
Know your pairings board. Because a StarCityGames.com Open is such a large event, seating assignments are broken up among several pairings boards by last name. If your last name is Smith and your best friend's last name is Jones, you shouldn't be going to the same pairings board Round 1. Each round we also post pairings to pairings.starcitygames.com. Use your smartphone and skip the crowd!
Pay attention during the player meeting. This is where you'll turn in your deck registration sheet and waiver. Even if you think you've heard it all before, there may be specific instructions or reminders that are important to your event, so pay attention.
The Rules Enforcement Level (REL) is Competitive. Players are expected to know the game rules of Magic: The Gathering and the Magic Tournament Rules. Any errors will be handled according to the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide.
You have 50 minutes to finish your match. Stay focused on your games and play at a reasonable pace to avoid running out of time. Your fellow competitors thank you!
After you shuffle your deck, present it to the opponent. Your opponent will then shuffle your deck, and you will shuffle your opponent's. This helps protect the integrity of the tournament. Make sure you shuffle your deck thoroughly before presenting it to the opponent; one or two riffle shuffles won't do.
You might get deck checked. To help protect the integrity of the tournament, judges do "deck checks," reviewing decks to make sure they match what was registered. If you are deck checked, your deck and your opponent's will be taken to the judge area to be reviewed. Stay at your table. If there are any issues, the judges will let you know. You will receive a time extension for the match.
Never try to randomly determine the outcome of a match or bribe an opponent into conceding. To protect the integrity of the tournament, doing either, even jokingly, is an instant disqualification and could lead to a suspension from all competitive Magic play. If your opponent offers to do either, call a judge immediately or you could be disqualified too.
Communicate clearly. Make sure you and your opponent have the same record of life totals. Be clear about triggered abilities and where in the turn you are (main phase, combat, etc.). Takebacks are not part of Competitive REL; you are not entitled to them, but neither is the opponent.
If in doubt, call a judge. Judges are at the tournament to make sure things are run fairly. If you have a question about how a card works, call a judge. If you and your opponent disagree on life totals, call a judge. If someone breaks a rule, even by accident, don't try to fix it yourself. Call a judge.
Never lie to a judge. The flip side of not being afraid of judges: you have to be 100% honest with them. If you make a mistake, don't try to hide it. Getting a game loss isn't fun, but getting disqualified from a tournament and possibly suspended from all competitive Magic play is worse.
After the match, fill out the match results slip. List each player's games won and sign on the appropriate line. Make sure everything is correct before you sign; we may not be able to fix an error discovered later. The match winner will take the result slip up to the scorer's table and turn it in.
If you don't want to play in the tournament anymore, drop. Just mark the "Drop" line next to your name. If you decide to drop after the match slip is turned in, stop by the main stage and put your name on the drop list. Leaving without dropping is treated as a match loss penalty and tracked by the DCI. Help keep the tournament fun for everyone still playing.
Fill out a tax form if you're doing well.You will hear announcements near the end of the tournament for players with a certain record to fill out a W-9 tax form (international players fill out a W-8 tax form), which asks for your name, address Social Security Number, and related information. This is a legal requirement for StarCityGames.com® to pay out prizes to Top 64 players.
All Open players will be paid by check. Checks are mailed after the tournament is over. If you have not received your prize check one month after the event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You don't have to play in the Open. If you just want to come for side events, we'd love to see you. As long as you're not actively competing in the Open, you can join the Side Event fun.
On-demand side events run all weekend long. Win-a-Box Constructed tournaments and Booster Drafts start as soon as eight players are signed up for them. Commander games start once four players join.
Check the Fact Sheet for scheduled side events. Each SCG TourÂ® stop features two Classics on Sunday and a number of scheduled Constructed Challenge events and Limited side events throughout the two days. Check your event's Fact Sheet for dates and times.
Visit a Special Guest. There are two main types:
Artists have contributed at least one illustration to an official Magic card. Artists will sign cards on which their work appears, so pick out a few of your favorites (no more than ten) to get autographed. Artists usually have prints of their work, white-backed artist's proofs, and occasionally original paintings or sketches for sale. Check your event's Fact Sheet to see if there is a Special Guest artist.
Alterists may paint on Magic cards, create 3-D versions of them, or perform other alterations. Usually they will have examples of their work for sale and take commissions. Remember that alterists are vendors at SCG events and not employees of StarCityGames.com®.
Watch a Feature Match. What's cooler than watching top SCG TourÂ® players on Twitch? Watching them in person! Two things to note:
Only Feature Match players and judges are allowed in the actual Feature Match area. Usually this will be marked off so that players have room to breathe but spectators can still follow the action.
Don't comment on a match in progress. Spectators who distract players or violate Magic tournament rules about giving advice will be asked to leave the venue.
Still Have Questions?
Contact us and we'll be happy to answer your questions. Good luck and we hope you enjoy your first Open!