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Event Preview of UMass Lowell’s fall 2021 Magicon: All about pizza and games

(Photo courtesy D6 Dice are often used for Magic The Gathering games and tournaments, as well as other MGK games

Evan Sisler
Connector Editor

Starting this Friday Nov. 19, UMass Lowell’s Master’s Gaming Konnection (MGK) will be hosting their once-per-semester gaming convention, Magicon. A free, fully in-person, three-day gaming event, Magicon will take place in the University Crossing Club Hub, on the second and third floors.

The host of the event, MGK, is UMass Lowell’s gaming club, dedicated to boardgames, card games, tabletop roleplaying games and videogames. They host meetings Thursdays at 6 p.m. and welcome new members.

Magicon is an event focused on gaming of all varieties but primarily on board games and card games.

Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, the club will host an eight-hour Warhammer 40k Killteam tournament, open to UMass Lowell students and alumni. Warhammer 40k Killteam is a wargame–a tabletop board game where players control a group of soldiers in a mock science-fiction battle.

Saturday at 12 p.m. there will be a Yu-Gi-Oh Sealed Structure Deck tournament, followed by a dice tray building event 4 p.m. and a late Halloween D&D one-shot starting at 7 p.m.

Sunday there are two Magic the Gathering ‘cube style’ tournaments, at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.

As well as the scheduled events, Jake Scalfani-Lowe, who is an accounting student, MGK officer and host of fall 2021 Magicon, said there will be other events. “In addition to our scheduled games we also have events and games that aren’t scheduled constantly happening. Jackbox Games, Smash and other board games from our massive collection are some of the things we play while we wait for a new event to start.”

John Mercer, UMass Lowell alumni and MGK president from 2020 and spring 2021, spoke about Magicon’s history, “Magicon, from my understanding, has always been about the same thing … Friday afternoon to Sunday night just hanging out, playing games, watching movies sometimes. It’s a great excuse to play some longer games like Starlight Imperium.”

Magicon is open to all UMass Lowell students and alumni. “Often a lot of alumni come around during Magicon. Maybe less this year than usual because it’s the year after virtual break. At least one alumni is running an event this year,” Mercer says.

In addition, Magicon is free to all attendants. Mercer mentions free pizza and games. The funding for the event is secured through the club’s budget and fundraising by selling snacks and drinks at meetings and Magicon. Buy-ins for events or tournaments are up to event organizers. “For instance the Yu-Gi-Oh sealed cube you practically pay $10 for the deck you’re using during the tournament and there’s usually a prize at the end for whoever wins… Most events are free,” Mercer said.

Anna Schmidt, a freshman computer engineering major and member of MGK, expressed interest in the Yu-Gi-Oh tournament, but wasn’t sure she’d participate due to the ‘sealed structure deck’ nature of the event.

A structure deck is a premade selection of cards meant to be played right out of the box “It’s just gonna be those decks sealed, and you get a random one from the pool of those sealed decks.”

For students wanting to participate in tournaments or events there’s no need to sign up in advance, with events traditionally being on a first come first serve basis. “Even if none of the events like appeal to you, if you like games, video games, card games, whatever, come by… just check it out,” Mercer says.

Schmidt said she has both hopes and worries regarding the fully in-person nature of the event, “In past years I’ve heard from others that it’s gone pretty well… I hope it goes well this year as well, but with everything going on COVID-wise, it’s a little up in the air”.

This is MGK’s first in-person Magicon since the fall 2019 semester. Mercer said he hopes there will be good turnout and is not overly worried about COVID-19 impacting the event. “I don’t think COVID still being around will have too much effect on the attendance since a majority of attendees are part of the school and will be vaccinated and stuff like that, taking usual precautions that they would take during normal class periods… It might have some effect on alumni but most alumni I’ve talked to are fully vaccinated.”

Mercer mentioned the goals for Magicon, “It’s really just: have fun, play boardgames. If you have a good weekend, it’s just like, mission accomplished.” He continued on to talk about the importance of the event for newer students, “I know for my freshman year it was one of the highlights of my year. It was really fun that year.”

Scalfani-Lowe seems excited for the event, and says it is welcome to all: “Magicon is an event all about pizza and games!… No events are mandatory, and you could simply show up to play board games if you wished.”

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