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BruCon

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Two years ago, my lovely wife headed off to a long weekend on Cape Cod to celebrate her 25th anniversary from graduating nursing school. This seemed like a great opportunity to host a group of Magic friends on a long weekend loaded with Magic! Since then, we’ve both been doing this weekend every year!

The idea for BruCon was spawned while attending a Grand Prix several years ago. A group of us had all decided to meet up at the Grand Prix to play some Commander and hang out together for the weekend. During the course of the weekend, we had to move repeatedly, until we ended up just leaving the conference hall and going to the nearby hotel’s lobby space. After a couple other trips I started looking at the costs for travel, hotel, and food. And getting together at a convention also involves buying the passes. I thought that if I could get that small group of friends together at my house, I could eliminate many of the costs, as well as never making anyone move their games. I put the idea out there to a few people and invited a few, just to see if it could work. Suffice to say it worked very well!

Commander

BruCon is everything I love about Magic! The first part is all the Commander games. When you have eight Magic players crashing at your house, and eight more coming by throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can always be playing Commander! BruCon is where Another Aether Vortex shines. BruCon is where your Triskelion gets 23 counters because you have Panharmonicon and Krark’s Other Thumb in play when you cast him.

Almost everyone who comes to BruCon is a big Commander player. Most of us have more than ten decks and I know the folks who traveled to get here (one person came all the way from Seattle to be part of the fun!) brought at least four decks. Even among those who don’t have that many decks, they do have one, and most everyone is excited to loan out a deck to see how someone else plays their deck! It is also a great way to get feedback on improvements for your deck. While I didn’t get the chance to this year, in past years I’ve spread out more than one deck and asked for feedback. I am not a particularly good deck-builder, but I happen to know plenty of people at BruCon who are, and they have always made my decks better.

New “Bru’s”

BruCon is the reason you need to build some new decks!

Sometimes you just need a catalyst to actually build the deck(s) you’ve been thinking about. I am lucky enough to write about Magic every week. A weekly article series demands content and new decks are a great way to provide that. Even with that, BruCon is my reason to update many of my decks. I have some decks that haven’t seen an update in over a year, and BruCon is what inspires me to actually go through the deck and remember the issues I had in games. Adding a handful of cards to a deck that has gone stale gets me excited to play it again!

Others use BruCon as the reason to try out some new ideas and built new decks from the ground up. Carlos built four new decks and got the chance to see how they played out. Andy pulled the trigger and built Admiral Beckett Brass. Knowing you can get several games in with one deck against different people means that you get to see the deck perform in a variety of games, and you have plenty of people who are willing to give you feedback about the deck.

The Plays

BruCon is all about the huge plays and grinding value to find a win when it didn’t look like there was going to be one (why does it seem like my opponents are always the ones to find those wins?)!

This game was a back and forth fight that saw everyone’s deck get their chance to shine! The last couple of turns saw me slowly putting the squeeze on Stybs. I eliminated a couple of problematic artifacts, then found an opening and attacked on consecutive turns, leaving him with only one turn to find an out. Using every way he had to draw cards, he found his out and was able to put together a four-card infinite loop with Breya, Etherium Shaper and sacrificing thopters to take the win.

I got the chance earlier to live the dream with Buzzbark. I watched Sean win by milling out an opponent with a deck that was not built to mill anyone! I watched crazy play after crazy play, and heard laughing shouts about others when I wasn’t in the room. I regularly say that Commander is about the crazy plays and amazing experiences, and BruCon did not disappoint!

The Art

BruCon isn’t generally about the art. There are plenty who appreciate the art on the cards, but beyond that, it isn’t really a feature of the weekend. However this time around, BruCon became a time to demonstrate your artistic skill. Several friends surprised me with a huge box of BruCon tokens! A beautiful card with some amazing James Arnold art on one side and completely blank on the other. Add in a few Sharpies and I was left with some amazing mementos of BruCon!

We also discovered that first time BruCon attendee Ryan Swaney was easily the most talented among us when it came to drawing tokens. Every one of them just looked so good!

Many of the tokens were hilarious, some utilitarian, and others were just plain fun!

Cube Draft

Lest you think Commander was the only format played the entire weekend, BruCon is a time for drafting Cubes! We had four Cubes and every one of them was drafted! My record at drafting continued to be miserable. My draft skills make the term look like an oxymoron. I have discovered that I am terrible at putting draft decks together on the fly, so I regularly revert to direct damage or a myriad of small creatures as a way to build something that might be competitive. It rarely works, but I enjoy watching what other people have put together that often even surprises the owner of the Cube!

During one draft I decided I wanted to try something different so I was choosing mostly land and artifact cards, watching for something that would inspire me. That’s when I saw Earl of Squirrel. I thought this would fit with my penchant for choosing decks with hordes of small creatures, while being something different. Then I saw Purphoros, God of the Forge and the deck was settled! I drafted ways to protect the pair and ways to tutor them. I drafted ways to make Earl of Squirrel bigger and ways to draw into the combo.

The deck proved to be far too slow to be effective, but it was fun drafting it. There were a ton of highlights from each Cube that everyone enjoyed, including Chaos Orb!

Food and Drink

BruCon is a time for good food and drink! As my ever-expanding waistline can attest, my wife is a wonderful cook. And I am not. Thankfully she is kind enough to put together something for everyone on Saturday mornings. In the past this has been her gooey, delicious cinnamon buns. This time around, she opted for a chocolate coffee cake. As you can tell by the picture, it was very popular!

She also puts together a lasagna that is spectacular. I supplemented that with some salad and garlic bread, but we all know that is just garnish for the feature.

There is also a large contingent of beer fans at BruCon (the “Bru” in BruCon means so many different things!). BruCon is an opportunity to try different beers and taste something from the variety of local breweries. Everyone is eager to share and all sorts of brews were consumed!

This time around, even the coffee was a hit! I am not a coffee drinker but my friend Andy manages the best local coffee shop in Boston. He was happy to bring over some beans from the store and help everyone get their dose of caffeine to start the days off awake and alert!

Friends

Most importantly BruCon is a time for friends. I am blessed to have a great group of Magic playing friends from all around North America, who are willing to converge at my place. Whether we are talking about Magic, shared interests, or just how our lives are going, BruCon is an opportunity to get together and do that.

The four-some coming from New York opted to take the train to Boston. Four relaxing hours chatting and playing Magic.

For many of those attending, BruCon is a rare opportunity to talk about Magic generally, and Commander specifically, with other people who know a lot about the format. Many of those in attendance don’t have friends in their daily lives who share their love of Magic. Getting a chance to share crazy plays from the past, or plans for future decks with people who can offer advice is a valuable thing.

And sometimes it is just a chance to talk about other nerd interests!

Spending time with fun, interesting people, is the real highlight of BruCon!

Technically, BruCon is an event, but practically, BruCon is simply a gathering of friends who love Magic. If you can host your own BruCon, I recommend it. It doesn’t have to be something big. A day of Magic with a handful of friends offers much the same benefit as my weekend long event. If you are invited to attend a BruCon, pack your most fun Commander deck and go. The chance to enjoy Magic with friends is something you should try to never give up. You will have memories of cool plays and great people that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Marcel said it best:

Bruce Richard

@manaburned