Magic Tournament

One thing I probably haven’t mentioned much in 9 years of journalling is that I was once sucked into the maw of Magic: The Gathering, the original collectible card game often referred to as “gamer crack”. (See also the Wikipedia article.)

For me, it started in November 1995 when I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, and some of my friends in Madison hauled me out to Gene‘s house and introduced me to Magic. I played regularly until around 1998, and a very little bit (mostly with Ceej) when I moved to California, but haven’t really played in years. By contrast, Subrata and Mark started playing before me. This mostly means that the decks I played with were considerably newer than – and often less powerful than – those Subrata and Mark played with. So we have fairly different memories of playing. Subrata, at least, actually played in Magic tournaments, while I just played with friends.

For those of you who might be Magic geeks, when I started playing the set Ice Age had been released the previous summer, so that was mainly what I played with. The Chronicles and Homelands expansions were also available, and Fallen Empires – which had apparently been wildly overprinted – was available everywhere at deep discounts. While I played, I picked up the expansions Alliances, Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight, and Tempest, and then decided I basically had enough cards. I only ever played under the Fourth and Fifth Edition rules. I guess the game has changed rather a lot since those days.

I remember my then-cow-orker Mike and I went in on a box of Mirage booster packs, which cost us about $90 (i.e., $45 each), and we spent several hours after work going through all the packs exploring the cards and trading back and forth until we’d split them fairly evenly. Ah, fond memories. I still have all my cards, since it’s a good game, and I figured I would still play it from time to time.

Anyway, I bring all this up because Subrata put together a day of Magic gaming last Saturday: He had seven other people come over, and we had a booster draft from three booster packs (two Ice Age and one Mirage), and then we assembled decks (with whatever land we wanted) and played for a few hours. I’d never done this sort of deck construction before, and it was actually a lot of fun. I ended up with a mainly black-and-green deck, with a touch of blue.

Playing went somewhat less well, because I had a number of expensive creatures which were pretty good if I could get them out, but the deck was susceptible to faster decks. So I had a couple of successful games, but got pretty badly pounded in my other matches. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about deck construction, so I’m clearly just very rusty.

On the bright side, I did get to meet a couple of people who are still active Magic players, and they’re even on my floor at work! One of them said they sometimes get together for booster draft evenings or weekend games, and asked if I’d be interested. I said I would, as time permits. I don’t necessarily want to get on the Magic roller-coaster again, but I wouldn’t mind playing that sort of game from time to time.

Besides which, for all that Magic has the reputation of being a big money sink, I would have to buy one hell of a lot of cards for it to come anywhere close to my comic book habit! And I am curious now what some of the recent sets have been like…

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