2017 Mexican Nationals
by, 2 Weeks Ago at 10:31 PM (317 Views)
If you had told me when I first tore open that Avengers vs X-Men starter set, that one day I'd travel outside the borders of this country, just to play that game, I would not have believed you. It's funny how things work out.
My journey from an eBay purchase of an out of stock starter kit to playing in Mexico City involves a lot of steps.
Firstly, I fell in love with that game.
I played it any chance I could get.
In search of places to play, I journeyed to destinations like Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.
I met good people during the course of these journeys.
One of the destinations was Origins 2016.
One of the good people was Victor Maya.
Victor was friendly and welcoming. His full expression of that quality was displayed in his desire for us, the squad that he hung out with at Origins, to come down to Mexico City for 2017 Nationals. Victor offered us a place to stay. He would host us and be our guide. He would protect the integrity of our digestive systems. He would keep us safe from potential kidnapping scenarios as we would likely be targeted due to our high value Dice Masters cards. After all, a Hellblazer can buy many goods with the exchange rate as it currently stands.
With the promise that our cards would not be pilfered and our tummies not upset, Victor had made us an offer that we couldn't refuse. Well...we could refuse it. I mean it's not like Victor is a cartel hitman who just happens to play Dice Masters.
....or is he?
One of us unfortunately had to refuse that offer. Gary Kondek, Dice Masters enthusiast and noted coffee addict, was unable to make the trip. Without Gary, the three of us (Andy Krouse, Ryan Williams and myself) made the trip south of the border.
Here is the story of that trip.
I almost didn't make my flight. Here in the greater Chicago area, it was Spring Break week and I had not considered the effect this would have on finding parking at the airport. As a resident of a major city, I could have taken the train to the airport but that option was taken off the table as I had offered to be Victor's board game mule. No one tell the Customs department because they took a loss this time. With two suitcases and a backpack, the "EL" was out of the question. I drove around going from economy parking lot to lot, finding them all filled to capacity. Every time I was turned away, the realization dawned on me, I was going to have to park in the $40 a day lot.
Begrudgingly, I did. I don't feel good about it but sacrifices must be made. The time spent trying to save a considerable amount of money meant I was pretty late for an international flight. I hurriedly made my way to the Volaris counter. It was deserted. One worker noticed me standing at the counter and told me that the flight was closed. I protested and sensing a major hissy fit, they relented and let me check in.
The flight went pretty smooth. I was surprised to look at the inflight menu and see the ability to purchase Cup Noodles and Takis. In my frugalness, I had basically booked a flight on a 7-11 that can fly. I didn't see anyone order either item. I wondered how many people ever do.
Victor and the gang met me outside the gate pretty quickly but not quick enough to stop me from exchanging my money at a counter with an unfavorable exchange rate. I should have know something was up when the guy told me the exchange rate and then paused, as if I was about to say, "Uh are you crazy?" I said nothing and let the man assault me financially.
I met up with the guys and Victor was very approving in my choice of pants over shorts. Andy and Ryan were wearing shorts and, as it was proven later, only tourist wear shorts.
I shamefully had to admit, the pants I was wearing were the only pair I brought. It was cold in Chicago and I was going to get some sun on these legs.
We went straight to Victor's flat. We drove thru the worst traffic I had ever seen. Victor explained it was payday and everyone had money to afford gas. If you ever question the disparities in income and wonder why so many Mexicans try to cross our border for a better life, consider having to wait until payday to be able to drive your car.
Victor's mom had made us pozole. I've eaten pozole before, after all I live in a city with a large Hispanic population and I have a large appetite. Victor's mom also made a hot sauce and warned us that it was pretty hot. Oh, what's that? It's pretty hot? I took that as a challenge. That's the kind of person I am. I love spicy things, I'm a Korean-American and we can hold our own. Three big scoops of the green sauce later and the point was proven.
The rest of the night we playtested for practice and then went to sleep.
We woke up early and headed to the venue and parked in a private lot even though street parking was free. I guess I infect everyone with parking issues wherever I go.
The venue was on a floor of an office building that was being renovated. There was an area for registration, a feature table for streaming, tables for Heroclix and Dice Masters and finally a table with a guy selling tortas (sandwiches) for 30 pesos. We will come back to the torta table later in the story.
Guess who was there, wearing a blue judges polo emblazoned with the logos of WizKids, Devir (the distributor of WizKids's products) and Game Events MX (the group who put these events on in Mexico)?
Joseph Horsfall aka JT aka Mr. Unlimited Confidence aka Doctor Count Von Homash.
I knew JT would be there as he had informed me that he would be judging but it was good to see him none the less.
There was some drama with the selection of JT as a judge mainly due to the local players belief that the judge in a Mexican Nationals event should be able to converse in their native tongue. I see both sides. JT obviously knows his stuff. The local players should be serviced since this event is really for them. In the end JT played since it would help in increasing the player count and allowing more qualifications. Adolfo, who judged last year, would judge again even though he hadn't played in a year and he would rely on JT for rules help in all queries except those in matches that involved JT. For those he would ask me or Andy or Ryan. Good compromise.
I'm not going to go over the matches. I'm not the right guy for that. I played a ring team for qualifier one. I qualified.
We took a break for lunch and we ate.......Panda Express. It was close and quick. The fried rice tasted different than it does in the States. The orange chicken tasted exactly the same.
Qualifier two. I played a Bard team. It was a team I had made that morning. I felt obligated to play a Bard team since rotation is coming and this was my last opportunity to do so.
I did better than I did in qualifier one. I even won on steam against a little Mexican dude wearing big black glasses named Angel. Angel would go on to become the 2017 Mexican champion playing the same exact team I beat with one substitution. The fact that I'm clinging to this should foreshadow how my Nationals went. All of us qualified except for JT, who would have been qualified if some, sadly very common, WizKids screw up has been fixed. Victor's friend Ulysses was already qualified but due to WIN being crap, he wasn't or something. I don't know.
Us four Americans, Victor, Victor's girlfriend Stella, and his cousin Arturo all went out to dinner at a restaurant called El Charco de Las Ranas. We ate alambres and it was one of the best meals of my life. All of you reading this are living poorer lives because you haven't eaten there. I actually feel this way. It was that good. It was also $12 a person.
With full bellies we said goodbye and went to bed.
We woke up early. Oh did I mention, the crazy young people blasting music in the parking lot every morning. Young people home from the club, possibly on coke, sitting in their cars at five in the morning blasting music and yelling periodically. I shouldn't have bothered setting an alarm. How thoughtful of them.
We got to the venue and the same guy was selling tortas. The same tortas.. You might say they are spoiling but that's because you're a pessimist. I like to think that they are aging like fine wine.
People played Dice Masters. Some won and some lost. One dude won more than everyone else. That dude was crowned champion. Blah.
I'm glossing over this day because I did horribly. I went 0-4. Yup.
One part of my character that I'm proud of is that I own up to my mistakes. If I lose because of luck I know it. If I lose because of my poor play, I know that too.
I played poorly. I made mistakes. No bad luck. Just bad decisions.
Victor played well. He ended up second. Andy made it to top 4. Ryan made it to top 8 where he lost to Andy. JT did a good job of judging. I debated if it would be a noble challenge to take on a day old torta and decided against it.
With the event over we went out to dinner to eat flautas. Good but not as good as the previous night.
JT had an early flight Monday, as did I. So a plan was hatched to stay up all night playing Food Chain Magnate which I had brought with me. We went and got JT's stuff and headed back home to Victor's.
We played FCM, my favorite game of all time. Laughs were had. Ryan won. I learned that JT's confidence and skill aren't limited to DM alone. I learned Andy has a strange idea of what a "restaurant" is. What those waitresses do for those tips, we will never know.
In the morning we said our goodbyes. Victor took JT and I to the airport.
And like that it was over.
This trip ranked up there with Origins for me. I got to spend time with good people. We laughed. We learned. That's the stuff that matters in the end. Not the wins and losses. It's the people and the shared moments.
I want to thank Victor, Stella, Ulysses, Arturo, Adolfo, Andy, JT, Ryan, and everyone else in Mexico. It was wonderful.