The Queen City Anime Convention is a three-day event centered around anime, cosplay, video games, and other Japanese related themes. This year, the event was held at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC. It took place from August 9th, 2019 through August 11th, 2019. My brother and I attended the convention on Saturday. I was approved to run a Japan travel panel at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday as well. We decided to stay most of the day and attended other panels, special events, the video game room, and the marketplace. According to the event staff, over 4,000 people attended the convention this year.
Austin and I began our day in the parking garage next to the hotel. The convention offered a discounted rate of $5 to park all day. We quickly went through registration and obtained our badges for the day. QCAC improved their registration process from the previous year. I used the Fan Guru event application to figure out where my panel room was located. This app was very helpful navigating the halls and keeping track of events I wanted to attend. After a quick check-in at Con Ops, I was ready for my panel at 11:00 a.m.
My panel was a success with 42 attendees and great questions from the audience. I was able to present and answer questions with five minutes to spare. The only bad part about my panel was the room size. All of the 32 seats were taken. but 10 additional attendees had to stand across the back wall. The room size issue was a reoccurring problem throughout the day.
After my panel ended, we went next door to see if Austin could participate in the speed dating event. Unfortunately, the demand far exceeded the room size and slots for participants. This created confusion and logistics issues for the event. Ultimately, Austin and I left the area to check out the dealer's room. We checked out some of the dealers among a crowd of people. After walking the room one time, Austin, bought a handmade craft for $12.00. I was tempted to buy a t-shirt, but the styles did not interest me enough.
Later on, we attended the Samurai vs. Ninja panel hosted Samurai Dan. This panel was featured a series of questions to decide if you acted like a samurai or a ninja. Dan did an excellent job entertaining and engaging the audience. I could tell why he was a featured guest host for multiple panels. I recommend attending one of his panels at a future convention. After the panel ended, we tried to get in line for the Cosplay Circus Show. Unfortunately, the line wrapped far around the convention hall. When we realized the main event room was too small to hold all of the people in line, we gave up and went to the gaming room.
I got a chance to play the Initial D Infinite 8 arcade machine. I was able to beat the first rivals race before giving another person a chance to play. Austin and I tried to find a fighting game station available, but they were taken by tournament participants. We ended up walking to the Social Media Breakdown for Cosplayers panel. My hope was that we could learn something even though the panel started 30 minutes prior to our arrival. Much to my surprise, the panel either ended early or did not start at all. With nothing else going on, we went back to the main events room to try and catch part of the Cosplay Circus Show. There was still a line of people waiting to see the show. The room was at maximum capacity forcing volunteers to use a one-in-one-out system. Ultimately, my brother and I decided to take a break until the next scheduled special event.
We got in line about 4:20 p.m. to see the None Like Joshua Rap Show. Unfortunately, the Cosplay Circus Show ran almost 30 minutes past the scheduled time slot. While we did see the show, it started close to an hour later than scheduled. None Like Joshua put on a great performance and it was the highlight of our day at QCAC. After the show, Austin and I decided to end our day at the convention. We had planned to meet Ashley for dinner at Sea Level. While our day was met with unexpected demand and delays, we did have a fun and enjoyable experience. My brother and I enjoyed interacting with other attendees and found the volunteer staff extremely friendly. It is exciting that QCAC continues to grow rapidly as a summer convention in Charlotte, NC. Hopefully, I can attend and present again at QCAC in 2020.
Seoul Food Meat Co. is a BBQ restaurant with Korean inspired cuisine. The restaurant is located in Charlotte's Southend neighborhood near the Wooden Robot Brewery. Walking into Seoul Food, you may notice televisions playing K-pop (Korean Pop) music videos. While Seoul Food has a full bar and table seating for customers, they also offer karaoke rooms to rent by the hour. There are four different themed karaoke rooms that can hold anywhere from 7 to 30 people. For my birthday this year, Ashley rented the Rock Star room that will hold close to 30 individuals. Charlotte Five published an article that has more specific information about each karaoke room available.
The Rock Star room at Seoul Food contains a karaoke machine with two microphones. The software on the system is Korean based. You can change the language to English (your room server should do this for you). Songs are found via a large code book or by searching the system with a remote control. You can play songs instantly or queue them for later. While not all songs we searched were in the system, there are plenty available to enjoy singing for hours.
The room also contains three televisions where song lyrics are displayed along with various Korean music videos. While the videos did not match up well with songs we selected, they were entertaining and interesting to watch. I liked having multiple televisions because anyone could sing while sitting in their seat or at the stage.
If you are interested in renting a room, I recommend calling to reserve one in advance. Seoul Food does not require a deposit, but they will let your room go if you are late for the scheduled time. Once a room is reserved, you can stay in it as long as you want. I also recommend not inviting more people that the room occupancy. We had about 23 people in the Rock Star room with a maximum occupancy of 27. The room was very crowded with over 20 people. There is a form that must be signed outlining the terms and conditions for renting a karaoke room. One point worth mentioning is that your server will charge a mandatory gratuity on top of the room rental price. When we received the bill for our rental, this policy added $63.00 in additional gratuity to the bill.
Beyond the additional gratuity charge, we had an amazing time at Seoul Food. Everyone in attendance agreed that they would do it again for a birthday or special occasion. Their meat platters and wings were excellent choices and easier to share among the group. Our server did a wonderful job keeping track of separate orders and billing. I recommend the karaoke experience at Seoul Food for anyone interested in singing the night away.
Card rarities in Magic: The Gathering comprise of common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare. Typically, each pack of cards contains 10 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare or mythic rare. Over time, players accumulate piles of commons and uncommons that are deemed unplayable in most formats of the game. These piles of extra cards are called bulk cards. Players often sell local gaming stores (LGS) a mix of 1,000 commons and uncommons (bulk) for $3.00 to $5.00 in store credit or cash. An LGS will either organize the bulk cards for single selling or re-sell it at a higher price. For example, one of my LGS buys 1,000 bulk cards for $3.00 in store credit. They will then sell a bundle box quantity (about 550 cards) of unsorted bulk for $5.00.
Why Pick Bulk?
Sifting through unsorted bulk cards is a time consuming process. However, there is some incentive for players to look through boxes of unorganized cards. An LGS will buy a collection of cards from a player, but not have the time to go through every box of bulk cards. These unchecked boxes can end up on shelves for players to look through and purchase. Even though these boxes were labeled as bulk, there are many commons and uncommons in MTG worth multiple dollars each. My favorite website to see valuable bulk cards by set is MTG Dawnglare. You can search by format and MTG set to find commons and uncommons worth a $1.00 or more. Newer can also contain valuable cards that players often overlook. For example, Reliquary Tower from Core 2019 sell for about $3.00 each. You can buylist them to a vendor for $1.50 each. Finding just four copies of Reliquary Tower in a bulk box will offset the $5.00 spent on 546 other cards. A few good pulls from an unsorted box will allow you to essentially get the rest of the cards for free. Any value gained from the remaining bulk cards can net a profit.
Beyond earning a profit, some players pick bulk because they want to build their card collection. It is much cheaper paying $0.01 per card in the example above than buying single commons and uncommons for $0.10 or more. Your time spent picking bulk can save money by acquiring cards you want at a discount. Players interested in the Pauper or Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH) formats may find bulk picking a great opportunity to save money.
My Tips for Effective Bulk Picking
1. Knowledge of the Most Played Commons and Uncommons in Constructed Formats
Part of successfully picking bulk is knowing what you should pull out of a card box. The most played cards are usually worth more than others of similar rarities. A great place to start is with MTGGoldfish's format staple lists. To maximize value, I would focus on the Modern and Legacy card lists. I have found better returns on older cards than most Standard legal commons and uncommons.
2. Knowledge of the Most Played EDH Cards by Color
EDH is a popular format with a very large card pool. EDHREC has top played card lists by color, artifact, and land. I recommend grabbing guild signets, tri-color lands, and strong blue cards as a starting point. You should also familiarize yourself with the list of top commanders. This list will help you focus on gold cards that share multiple colors. Currently, I have found Gruul (red and green) as the least popular color combination.
3. Reference a Buylist or MTG Dawnglare When Picking Bulk
It is very helpful to pull up a vendor buylist or MTG Dawnglare when picking through bulk. I like to sort prices by MTG set on vendor buylists. This helps me focus on cards that are worth enough money to sell. I try to take cards that will generate $0.08 or higher in store credit. Otherwise, I believe the return is not worth the time and effort after shipping costs. In addition, I use MTG Dawnglare to quickly see a list of valuable cards by set. If I come across a set with no commons and uncommons worth over $1.00, I will skip it entirely. For example, Theros only has Burnished Hart and Grey Merchant of Asphodel that I would consider pulling. Instead of spending time going through a box of Theros, I will just skip it and move on to another set. I also use this strategy for sets that have valuable cards in one color. Avacyn Restored has one chase uncommon called Blood Artist. If I come across this set, I will only look at the black cards in it.
4. Focus on Uncommon Rarity Symbols
Every MTG set beginning with Exodus uses colored rarity set symbols on cards. Commons cards are black and uncommon cards are silver. When sorting cards, I recommend looking for silver uncommon cards. I generally skip through all commons unless I recognize the artwork or the card name. The reason for doing this is because very few common cards hold value. It is a waste of time trying to look at every single card in a box. An exception to this rule is when I come across old sets like Zendikar, Fifth Dawn, and Dissension. Common cards can be worth a few dollars from these sets. I will also take my time looking through Modern Masters sets.
5. Make Piles of Cards From Sets Without Rarity Symbols
It is hard for most players to remember rarities of cards from sets like Fourth Edition, Ice Age, and Visions. These sets do not contain rarity symbols on the cards. Some players overlook this trait and put rare cards in their bulk boxes. I strongly encourage you to set cards aside from these sets and check their values. Once you get a good sized stack, you can quickly reference a vendor buylist or MTG Dawnglare. I often find valuable cards, including Reserved List cards, in bulk boxes that are from sets prior to Exodus.
6. Take Cards You Want to Play for Personal Use
If you enjoy playing MTG and want to build a personal collection, you should take cards to keep as well. I personally take cards for EDH and older formats that are commonly played. When I recently came across a bulk box of Zendikar commons, I set aside copies of Expedition Map and Journey to Nowhere for personal use. I keep around 15% of my bulk box pulls for playing in various MTG formats.
7. Know Shipping Costs When Buylisting Bulk to Online Vendors
You should have a good gauge for the cost of mailing bulk cards to online vendors. A Reddit user reminded me that USPS sells small flat rate Priority Mail boxes for $7.90 shipped. These boxes hold around 400 cards regardless of weight. You can send an entire box of bulk across the country to an online vendor for about $0.02 a card. I could have saved money using this method with my last bulk buylist of 300 cards. I mailed a bundle box across the United States as a First Class package for $15.00. The price per card to mail was $0.05. I would have made a much higher profit margin had I thought about other shipping alternatives.
Picking bulk can be a profitable and rewarding way to build your MTG card collection. I believe setting thresholds and knowing what to pull will improve your efficiency and profitability. Keep in mind that your time has a value attached to it. Some may find picking bulk to be worth the effort to supplement MTG spending. Others may like the experience of finding valuable cards in a box of 3,000 cards. I personally enjoy looking through old cards and finding new options for EDH decks. Whatever your reason is for looking though bulk, I hope my tips improve your next picking experience.