Spreading the Love - EDH Scavenger Hunt!
It's (Almost) That Time of Year!
Happy November Everyone! Kya here once again!
I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their opinions on my last article. It was an interesting topic to cover, and I have to say I was very happy with the maturity of everyone's input on the subject. As fun as it was, though, it's time to get back to work! The year is wrapping up fast and I can't seem to keep up! I was originally going to make a segment on creating an EDH Cube, but that will have to wait. It's already November, which means the annual EDH Scavenger Hunt is already upon us! In one month our favorite EDH related event is going to hit Orlando, and it's going to hit hard! We in Orlando take pride in our EDH community, and a few thoughtful individuals take it upon themselves to make sure EDH gets the special treatment it deserves. I wanted to spend today's article covering what this Scavenger Hunt is so others can replicate it in their own area. I know I'm not giving communities out there much time to prepare, but December is closing in and there is no greater time to join in on the holiday spirit!
The EDH Scavenger Hunt
So what is an EDH Scavenger Hunt? Well, it's a yearly event we conduct to give back to the community and hopefully get new players into the fold. It's a fun event just for adventure's sake where players look for hidden land cards and trade those cards in for amazing donated Magic: the Gathering cards! After decks are assembled, it's time to duke it out for even more cards!
Now I know you might be wondering: donated cards? From who exactly?
Some people might remember a previous article in which we discussed how to create an EDH League. In case you haven't seen this article, go give it a look! Anyways, the same individual who created one of the biggest EDH Leagues in the country is also the leader behind our annual EDH Scavenger Hunts. That's right ladies and gentleman, Luan Pham is at it again to bring a little joy into each EDH player's hearts! He and several others donate their bulk and spend their own money yearly to ensure there are fantastic goodies in store for those who participate. They've found that keeping cards they don't actually use brings little pleasure compared to brightening someone's day.
So what is this Scavenger Hunt I keep talking about? Well, to quote the man directly:
This annual event is an opportunity for multiple community driven initiatives to come together as one. On the one hand, newer EDH players have an opportunity to come out and not only experience the format they love in a fresh new way – but also to acquire some useful, underplayed cards and build their arsenal. On the other hand, this is a great way for veteran players to put some of their trade chaff to good use – cards that may not be worth cashing in or just sit in the trade binder indefinitely will find purpose here. Ultimately, the goal is to bring EDH players of all varieties together for a fun time to experience chaotic, battle royale-esque experience culminating in some really crazy games of Commander.
There have been a lot of interesting twists and tricks we've thrown at our players in the past; but the core concept of the event remains the same. Players all arrive at a common location with defined boundaries / play area limits. Once everyone has arrived, we exchange some of the necessary bits of information regarding safety, play area restrictions, and misc rules for event-relevant mechanics.. We also hand out packs to every player – they can use this towards their overall pool of acquired cards when it comes time to deck build, or they can trade the cards in the packs with other players or leave the pack unopened (as some quests require you to have unopened packs).
Afterwards, we release the players into the play area and the scavenger hunt begins. What they are looking for are specifically marked envelopes scattered and hidden around the designated area, each of which contains a different assortment of cards ranging from each basic land type to custom quest specific cards (we prefer not to hide actual cards aside from basics in the envelopes as it would run the risk of damaging the cards). Players who stumble onto these envelopes can take only 1 card from that envelope per trip. While they can continue to move around the play area and take no more than 1 card from new envelopes they find, they must return to the “shop” and trade in those basic lands before going back out to those same envelopes and grabbing more.
Players can trade in a basic land for some amount cards matching the color of mana that land would tap for (so trading in a mountain would net you 10 random red cards for example). Players can also trade cards they have acquired here with other players, including the basic lands they found. There are similar interactions we use for shop rules which might be easier if I just list them;
- 20 cards → 10 cards from any one color.
- 10 Cards → 5 nonbasic lands
- Basic Waste → 5 artifacts
- 10 Cards → One Commander (we keep a separate display of commanders available at the shop)
Ideas we've tried (to varying degress of success)
- Using basic Full art lands and basic foils for more powerful / higher value trade ins
- Allowing players to turn in special cards to let them pick and choose the cards they receive or to scry and draw from the top of a random deck
- The use of Storm Crow as a Wild Card – allowing you to go 1 for 1 with any card in the shop you want or trading in for an absurd amount of cards 1 for 2 on commanders (We kept this one).
It should be noted that each quest card and basic land we use for the event that we hide in the envelopes are marked with a number system that allows us to check that players are only pulling one card from an envelope at a time.
On the note of quest cards, these are cards that have no immediate trade in value, but will have the player do some sort of task before turning in the cards / proof that the task is done at the shop for a reward. Quest task may include but not be limited to:
- Find the rest of the cards in the quest chain contained in other envelopes
- Solve a riddle
- Solve a physical puzzle
- Solve a magic related puzzle (similar to what you might find in Duels of the Planeswalker games)
- Create a deck list meeting certain specifications
- Taking pictures with other participants
- Writing a poem
- Finding a specific NPC roaming around the play area
Players embarking on quests must take the first card in the quest chain, and may not take quests cards that they are not currently embarked on. Additionally, each player may only have one active quest at a time. Rewards for these quests are often a collection of very synergistic or powerful cards, and is almost always worth the effort to complete the quest.
We give players about 3 hours to roam the play area and gather cards, after which they are given time to sort through their cards and create a deck of 65 cards and 1 commander. Then, players test what they have made against other players! We have not tried a tournament structure, and currently prefer to just have players make their own pods and test their brews at their discretion – but we do hand out prizes and do raffles at this point.
This year, we were able to team up with a local group from UCF (Gaming Knights) to increase our play area and the number of volunteers that will be helping us run the event – which translates to more players getting more cards and hopefully having more fun that prior years.
Those are the basics! Of course much more goes into this, so let's break down!
Getting Started! Collecting the Collection!
So how does an EDH Scavenger Hunt start? Well it all starts with you! If you want to make a larger impact on your community to grow your EDH base, take it upon yourself to wear the mantle of commissioner! Now the first step to organizing an EDH Scavenger Hunt is getting the pieces together. This might be difficult or easy for some, so we always recommend seeing if you can get a team of like minded individuals to join in as well.
So first thing is first! We need to have a large enough card pool to donate to the players! It's ironic that I'm making this article before my EDH Cube, because realistically this is going to be the biggest cube of all. Everything helps and everything is welcome! Of course you can't forget to add in plenty of commanders. In terms of value, there isn't a set expectation. However I personally would recommend adding in a few valuable cards to really sweeten the pot! Nothing brings a happier reaction then someone pulling out a Demonic Tutor out of no where! If you don't have those kinds of spare cards lying around, start up a collection fund for it. $5.00 here and there will quickly add up to giving a little spice to the donation pile.
Remember, although you're working with donations, you still need to make sure there is enough color distribution. Make sure you have enough cards of each color! In addition, you'll want to make sure you have a strong balance of creatures vs non-creature spells. Mana rocks and lands can't be neglected either! It's up to you and your collection on the details, but being neglectful of these things could spell disaster!
Clementine the Watch Cat makes sure the collection is safe until it's opening day! Small disclaimer, you might need to pry your Watch Cat's claws away from the boxes when it's time to leave.
Location, Location, Location
Now that you have your collection set, it's time to find a place for your event. The most important thing when it comes to a Scavenger Hunt is that you have a large but safe location for people to look! Ideally you'll want to use your store's location if you can and they're willing to help host the event. Cool Stuff Games was kind enough to have us last year and was a tremendous help! When it comes to the boundaries being set for your event, safety comes first. Just so we're clear, there are a few ground rules you need to think about when hosting something like this.
- Avoid Crossing the Street. The last thing you want is someone to get hit with a car!
- Don't harass other shops. Your LGS might be down with this event, but hiding cards in other stores is a huge no!
- Don't put card packets hidden in dangerous places or areas secluded from public sight.
I feel like a lot of these are common sense rules, but Clementine the Lawyer Cat insisted this be said. Since last year ended up being a large turn out, we had to switch locations this year. We expect and are preparing for 100-200 people this year, so we're going to be hosting the event at UCF in Florida. This will give us a safe environment with plenty of room to run around. If your location has a problem with the way your LGS is located, we would suggest reaching out to your local college.
The team at UCF when discussing the event with their administration. It might seem intimidating to reach out to a university, but they were nothing but accommodating!
Preparing the Scavenge!
Now when it's time for the event, the scavenging must take place! Be sure to give you and your team enough time to prepare as this will make or break the event. As mentioned in Luan's directions, envelopes of basic lands are hidden within the boundaries of the event. To be very clear, you're hiding only basic lands in these envelopes that you hide. This is to make sure the cards do not get damaged and it's a way for us to prevent cheating from outside cards being used for the after scavenged tournament. The goal of the scavengers is to bring the basic lands back to us for actual Magic: the Gathering cards.
Now I know what you're thinking. What's to stop someone from lying and bringing in their own lands? That's where you have to be crafty! We specifically coded and labeled each land and envelope that was used. This way if there was a faker, they would be caught immediately when they bring the lands to us. This also allowed us to map where we were placing what. As for how many lands you put into each envelope, and how many envelopes you have are completely up to you. If you expect a small or large turn out, you need to prepare accordingly. Another rule that we had was that participants bring the envelopes back once it was emptied. This was to allow us to restock the envelopes and hide them again to allow the event to continue.
Finally, please be careful with where you leave the envelopes! I've said it before, but don't put them in locations that causes risk to the participants. Bushes, under trees and against building pillars are all fine. Don't make people climb up trees or ladders!
So if people are hunting for basic lands, how are they actually getting cards? Well once they find a basic land, it's time for them to come back to the shop or both to trade the land in! As for our exchange rate:
1 Basic Land → 10 cards of the corresponding color
- 20 MtG cards that you've obtained → 10 cards from any one color
- 10 MtG Cards that you've obtained → 5 nonbasic lands
- 1 Basic Waste → 5 artifacts
- 10 MtG cards that you obtained → One Commander (we keep a separate display of commanders available at the shop)
Those are the basics. Additionally if you want to add more to this, you can do something along the lines of:
- 1 Full Art Land → 15-20 cards of the corresponding color
- 1 Full Art Waste → 10 artifacts
- Allow Special Cards to make special actions in the card exchange process. Such as scrying or choosing from a random deck
- 1 Storm Crow → Something truly special like a large collection, choice of cards or choice of 1-2 commanders
I'm going to warn you now. If your event is going to be a decent size, make sure you have more then one person manning the booth. Look how tired these guys got after just an hour!
It's Dangerous To Go Alone! Take This!
As mentioned we've added quests to the scavenger event for extra fun! Quest Cards were special hidden cards in difficult to find envelopes to add an extra level of adventure to the event. The rewards for completing these quests usually gave a large cash-in of powerful cards in the exchange. One might say, it's your "sol" goal in this event to complete at least one quest! These quest cards are only limited to the imagination. You could pick up a quest card that made you find the rest of it's pieces to turn in for a grand reward. Another quest might have you solve a puzzle or riddle! One of my favorite quests was having to take various selfie pictures in locations around the area. I can't tell you the amount of running around I had to do just to complete one quest! One major rule of these quests was that you could only adventure on one quest at a time. Believe me, most of these quests wont let you multi-task anyway!
Thankfully one quest demanded that I take picture with ice cream. It was a much needed refreshment after having to run around taking pictures with screwdrivers and horribly plad flannels! I ended up getting a Mind's Eye, among other goodies as a reward though!
Of course safety is key here. Although my own quest was adventurous, I in no way was instructed to intrude on anyone else or put risk to myself. They can be wacky and fun, but they always need to be safe!
Here are some examples of last year's quests!
It's Time to Duel!
Now for the conclusion of our fun event... The play time! We leave a few hours at the end for people to play with their newly constructed decks. At the end of the day the event is about the scavenging and adventure, but having people sit down with friends or new people is really the true beauty of it all coming together. Because this is essentially an EDH Cube, we don't expect people to build a full fledged 100 card deck. Instead we suggest a 65 commander deck with 1 commander. Truthfully you'll have to find your own rule set on the deck construction based on all the variables of your own event. It's important to note though that this shouldn't be stressful for your players. Although people are playing for additional prizes, you want everyone to have fun and become more open to the idea of coming by the shop more frequently. Encourage casual play and have a helpful attitude towards the newer players. It's up to you if you want to organize the pods or let the players make the pods on their own. We personally let the players make their own pods based on their comfort levels.
This was a fraction of our turn out for last year. Look how many guys, girls, and kids showed up! I'm not going to lie, there's a wave of anxiety thinking about how many will turn out at UCF in December!
Of course prizes are always a welcomed bonus to any event! Everyone may be getting free cards but I like to kick it up a notch! As mentioned in Luan's post, we often give players a pack for attending. This way they get a nice little gift for coming out and a chance to build their deck with the latest and greatest cards. This year I'm going to take it further and introduce some nice prizes for top contenders. My Sensei Life Counters, Mana Cookie Cutters and other goodies might be making an appearance! If you have anyone who is artsy but refuses to come out of their shell, this might be the perfect opportunity to commission some low stress work out of them! ... That and drag them down to the eternal pits of EDH hell with the rest of us.
For those looking to create a spark within their community, I hope everyone found today's article helpful. Of course at the end of the day every community is different and nothing we do here is built by law. Take what you find insightful from this and twist it to your own event! As long as people are having fun and trying out a format they've never experienced before, that's all anyone wants from this.
For those who are local to Orlando, the official date for December is not set yet. I had a tough decision between airing this article now or at the end of the month. However with just a month of notice, I wanted to give organizers enough time to host their own event near the holiday season. I will announce the official date in my next article on November 19th as well as post it on my Facebook Page and Twitter. By the way I have a Twitter now. Still getting used to that...
If you'd like to see more from Luan Pham, he's also a very crafty deck builder. You can find some of his decks here.
Until next time!