Middle East Film and Comic Con 2015

The first Middle East Film and Comic Con happened back in 2012, three years ago, and it was a huge success for fans of all types of entertainment media. We all are so familiar with the big conventions that happen in San Diego and Boston and London and other places all throughout the year, and so, having a “local” on a somewhat similar level is a great thing to have, by far. I’ve certainly enjoyed my three years of going to the convention and while there have been some hiccups along the way, as there were this year, the MEFCC is still a great force to reckon with and should things really work out at the top level, then we can make some magic happen I think.

This year’s MEFCC was billed to be bigger than it was last year, primarily on the back of a guest list that included as superb celebrities like William Shatner, Haley Atwell, Gillian Anderson, while also bringing in some top western comics talent like Charles Soule, Andy Suriano, Matt Hawkins, Tula Lotay and Mahmud Asrar. That was pretty much the reason I wanted to go this year, in addition to the fact that I was taking part in a Magic the Gathering tournament at the event, the PPTQ Milwaukee. Here then is my kinda-sorta log of the event, such as it was.

MEFCC2015For me, the most exciting thing about this year’s MEFCC was that I was going to be a part of the PPTQ Milwaukee being hosted by Battlezone and that I had a good chance to earn myself a sweet playmat in the bargin, thanks to hopefully being one of the first 32 people to show up for the event. And the celebrities of course since I really wanted to meet William Shatner and Hayley Atwell.

And that’s where I faced the most disappointment actually.

To start off, Battlezone had informed players that by registering via email for the event we could get in to the convention floor at 11am so that we could kick off with the PPTQ by afternoon. We would essentially all be getting on the floor early, before any general admittance. And that’s entirely not how things worked out. The security guards put in charge of the queues had absolutely no idea about about what was going on or what was supposed to happen. They refused to listen to any argument we made for our case, and essentially continued to play dumb. The MEFCC support staff who showed up had no idea either, amazingly enough, and it wasn’t until Olivier, who runs Battlezone alongside his wife and a couple other players, showed up that things got some direction. The main point of contention was that the security (and perhaps the MEFCC support staff) didn’t want to let anyone through until the main convention floor opened at 12pm. Myself and a whole bunch of players were already there by 10.15 (some had been around since 9 or so actually), and we wasted approximately two hours while the support staff got things together. One source of frustration after another.

As you can imagine, the PPTQ started really late as a result and my experience of the con had soured a great deal by then, given how pissed off I was with the queuing organization of the MEFCC support staff. At one point, while my group was waiting in the guest list queue and was eventually called up by the booth attendant, a security guard refused to let us through and said we had to get in line! Absolutely ridiculous! The MEFCC staffer was clearly calling for him to let us, but he said no!

We all got in on the convention floor around 12.30pm and then it was time to play some Magic the Gathering. I let go of the pains up until that point and focused on playing some games and generally having some fun at the con itself. The deck I ran for the event was an Abzan counters deck that brought together a bunch of cards from across all standard-legal sets and had the brand-new Dragonlord Dromoka as the finisher in the deck. The new Dromoka has a really good body with some great upsides, and I just couldn’t wait for her to prove her value in the deck.

dragonlorddromoka

Which she did. Many of the cards from the new set Dragons of Tarkir that set that found their way into my maindeck, such as Dragonlord Dromoka, Dromoka’s Command and Ultimate Price proved their values again and again throughout the tournament. My first round was against a Mardu Aggro-burn deck where the first match was all about my opponent constantly getting rid of my creatures almost as soon as I brought them down until I managed to make a Siege Rhino with Citadel Siege on Khans in play stick down. An 6/7 and then an 8/9 Siege Rhino can be really rough on any player if they don’t have any answer to it. The round eventually ended up 1-1-1, going into overtime. The second round was against someone I have played before, Tanya Potgeister, who also ran an Abzan Aggro deck. The last time we played was back in December, at either the GPT or the PPTQ that Battlezone had hosted towards the end of the month, and then too we had a lot of fun playing against each other. This time was no different. I won the first match with a decent performance, but then she trumped me up with some of the best plays you can expect from Abzan Aggro (she had some intriguing stuff like Reaper of the Wilds in her deck) in the second match. The third match went into overtime (this would be a theme for me in the tournament) and that was where we had the most fun I think. We stalled again and again, especially since Dragonlord Dromoka was really tough to answer for her, and we even had a Wingmate Roc against Wingmate Roc battle where both had managed to trump up the Raid mechanic on the creature. Eventually, we both finished out the extra turns and ended with a draw, and that meant that my record so far was 2-2-2. Not so bad really, given that my deck was so bonkers to given with.

The third round was against Abzan Aggro again, though a more traditional build with a few choice elements against control. This round was pretty abysmal for me and I never got off to a good start, with mana problems and lack of removal in two straight matches. Needless to say, I lost this round without a win. My opponent and I played a third match for fun, where everything was perfect for me and I won. If only that had happened in the actual matches. Sigh.

The fourth round was the most bonkers of the lot. My opponent was playing White devotion with a splash of green for Karametra, God of Harvests. It was a really weird deck that played lots of really cheap creatures (except for Heliod, God of the Sun and Karametra) and had flyers with Lifelink. That really tripped me up, unfortunately, and since I never had any flyers in either of my matches, that meant that I got slowly chipped away at for little to no effect. His life-gain in the matches was pure insanity.

I hate this card.

I hate this card.

This round too went into overtime, and by that point I was too exhausted to play any further. As it was getting somewhat late by then and I wanted to see the rest of the convention, I marked my match-slip with a Drop and handed it to the judge overseeing our overtime second match. Playing this fourth round had really drained me down. I ended my day at 2-6-2, which isn’t that bad a performance really. If I could build some better decks, then I surely could do better, but for me, winning isn’t the goal. The goal is to have fun and just enjoy the experience. Yes, the games can sometimes get frustrating, but that’s a part of the whole experience, and I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is the deck that I played with:

Land (22)

Enchantment (2)

Sideboard (15)

After I was done with the tournament, I took a deep and long breath to refresh myself and then I decided to take a stroll around the convention floor. It was approximately 5.30pm by then, and I wanted to get in the lines for a photo opportunity with either William Shatner or Hayley Atwell. But disappointment was all that I was rewarded with because the lines for both were huge, and I had little interest in spending my day at the event in just hopeless queues. So, with a heavy heart once again, I decided to forgo my chance at meeting either actor, and hit up the comics alley, where comics industry professionals from both the region and further abroad had been brought together.

20150410_191132

And it is here that I had a ton of fun. First, I got to meet none other Charles Soule, one of the most prolific writers in the industry right now, and also one of the more popular ones, given his diverse portfolio and the fact that he is also a Marvel exclusive right now. It was fun to chat with Charles about Inhumans, Agents of SHIELD, and the convention experience in general. My budgets were sadly a bit strained and I couldn’t avail of the special exclusive editions of Death of Wolverine that he had brought with him, but it was great talking with him, so I’ll settle for that.

20150410_181745Then I met up with Andy Suriano at the IDW booth. Andy is the current writer-artist (primarily artist) on IDW’s Samurai Jack and is someone that I’m a huge, huge fan of. I loved Samurai Jack as an animated series and as a comic from IDW, my love for the franchise has only grown. It also helps that Andy used to work on the animated series itself and was there from almost the beginning of that project, right alongside creator Genndy Tartakovsky. Sadly, Andy also told me that Samurai Jack is ending soon with its 20th issue. To see such a great series cancelled so soon is much cause for sadness, but really though, it was one hell of a ride while it lasted and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming issues. Jim Zub and Andy Suriano are an awesome team, and I hope that they come up with something different in the future.

20150410_191623Finally, I spent the rest of my time with Matt Hawkins at the Top Cow booth. I’d actually chatted up with Matt before, just before the PPTQ had started and I had also availed of the first two issues of his current series, IXth Generation, which I absolutely love. If there was any real defining experience for me at MEFCC this year, it was the long conversations I had with Matt, and we talked about absolutely everything. It was actually the same as two years ago, at MEFCC 2013, when I spent a considerable amount of time chatting with writer-artist Tim Seeley, also at the Top Cow booth that year. We talked about Matt’s work on Aphrodite IX: Rebirth, Wildfire, Tales of Honor, Think Tank and others, working with artists like Stjepan Sejic (Aphrodite IX) and his wife Linda (Wildfire) and also Rahsan Ekdal (Think Tank), his experiences in the industry and his views on superhero comics, politics in the Middle East and in the US, convention experiences back home, and so much more. He’s a super chatty person and also a great sport to talk to since he isn’t afraid to air some… outright views. Frank conversations. I liked that. He has a wealth of knowledge at his disposal and it was really intriguing to find out that he was raised an Army kid and has a degree in physics and yet works in the comics industry. Really fun combination, that!

20150410_191639

But, in the end, by 7.45pm it was time to leave. I wish I could have spent some more time at the convention, particularly since I wanted to check out a few more things and maybe even play some more casual Magic the Gathering, but I had a clock since my wife was going to pick me up in time for dinner. In all of this, I can say that the MEFCC staff made some good changes from last year (the comics booths got really short-ended last year since their front was turned away from the main convention thoroughfare) but there were clearly some other issues to pop.

And I didn’t get a chance to see as much of the convention that I wanted to, but it was fun nonetheless. I played some Magic the Gathering, bought a few things, and had a great time overall. That’s what matters in the end right?

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Posted on April 11, 2015, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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