Magic: the Addiction

So this finally happened Saturday after a little bit of an internal struggle.

Hi, my name is Ben and I’m an addict.  Well, not a drug addict anyway, more like a game addict.  I was first introduced to Magic: the Gathering way back in 1996-1997 when 4th Edition was the newest core set and players were first beginning to explore the continent of Jamuraa in the Mirage expansion.  I was hooked immediately on how the game was both simple and complex at the same time plus I loved the collectability and how each card had it’s own unique art.

I looked forward to playing it in the mornings at school with Jason and Candice and devising new strategies for my decks when what I was trying wasn’t working.  Once I graduated from high school and life happened, that all came to a screeching halt and my cards and decks were put in storage for two and a half thousand years.  Or at least that’s what it felt like when the game came back to my attention in full force in 2011.  In the years leading up to 2011, I still kept abreast of the game’s existence at my local game store, The Time Tunnel, but not with any sort of extensive research.

Back in the spring of 2011, right after I had broken up with my second boyfriend, my friend Ron had purchased a fairly large collection of Magic cards from a coworker of his.  At first, the thought of getting back into the game disgusted me.  I remembered having a lot of fights over rules and people cheating at school.  I didn’t want to get back into the game.  I forbid Ron from bringing his cards into the house because I knew I’d get sucked back in.

And boy did I ever :-\

One day, after much nagging and a moment of weakness, I helped Ron unload boxes upon boxes of cards into my kitchen.  I offered to help him sort them all out in an effort to have something to keep me occupied.  After unloading his collection, he left for work and I got started.  I opened one box and simply began trying to sort them all by color.  That’s when it hit me: none of the card designs were at all like I remembered them!  I slowed down and started to appreciate the stark contrast between what the cards looked like before and what they looked like now.  For example, I was used to land cards that looked like this:

But now they looked like this:

Huge change huh?  They introduced the huge mana symbol in the text box near the end of my high school career in a set called Unglued (I think) and I didn’t really care for it, I felt like the game was being dumbed down by doing that.  I was a bit disgusted when I found that, all these years later, that had become the standard for land cards.

I also noticed that the trademark font of each card’s title had been changed from the fancy script to more pedestrian (and more legible) typeface.  I didn’t mind the change so much as I’m sure trying to mass produce card sheets with that specific script was a pain on Wizard’s bank account.

Slowly over the rest of the week (I was off work I believe) I did nothing but sleep and sort cards.  I would spend hours sorting cards and reading the text boxes, my mind on fire with strategies, card combos and deck ideas galore.  I remember at the end of the first day of emptying boxes and sorting, Ron came back to my place after work to find stacks of cards scattered all over every inch of my kitchen table, counter top and I think a few on top of the dryer as well.  Upon the horror of hearing the screen door open, his entrance was met with a glower and me telling him “Don’t touch anything!” since I had several ideas for decks running through my head and stacked here and there around the room.  Showing him the madness of my genius, he quickly realized I knew what I was doing.  I was back in the game whether I wanted to be or not.

I had left the world of Dominaria when we were first exploring the continent of Jamuraa upon the deck of the ship The Weatherlight and I had returned in an age when Phyrexia threatened to spread beyond its boundaries and infect every inch of the multiverse with its plague.  I was also introduced to the concept of the Planeswalker cards and how they could quickly ruin someone’s day.  It was a good time to return to the world of Magic: the Gathering and picking the rules back up was like riding a bike, only they had undergone a bit of tweaking in my absence, some for the better and some still questionable (looking at you Protection From rules.)

The stuff dreams are made of

Over the course of 2011, we slowly got the rest of our gaming group back into the game.  Friday Night Magic wasn’t just a thing that happened at friendly local gaming stores, it happened at my house too.  We would eat, unwind from our collective work weeks and play Magic until all hours of the night.  Ron introduced me to a new local game store, The Dugout, where we would spend hours at a time looking through random cards week after week.  We would spend quite a bit of money on new trickery to use during games as well as more deck boxes and playmats.  Then in 2012 when I had the biggest breakup (and worst time) of my life, my interest in Magic started to falter.  It didn’t help that the 2013 Core Set wasn’t all that great either and subsequent sets of cards were so-so.  We still continued to play though my heart just wasn’t in it like it once was.  Then in 2013 we pretty much just stopped playing altogether by the end of the year.  People grew tired of each other, work schedules got changed, interest was lost.

I kept the faith for a while.  I kept up with new releases and tried to stay on top of the game’s already convoluted metaplot and would still read random cards on Gatherer, but even I have a breaking point it seems.  It was pretty much a 1-2 punch, first in the form of the disappointment that was the Battle for Zendikar / Oath of the Gatewatch block then the Shadows Over Innistrad / Eldritch Moon block.  Battle for Zendikar wasn’t as interesting or inspired as the original Zendikar block and the return to Innistrad was equally as uninspired as the new Zendikar block.  I was so done at this point.

The cards, for the longest time, have been sitting in my front room taking up valuable space that I could use for something else.  Then it occurred to me that Dugout buys people’s collections, so I figured I’d shoot them a message and see if there was any interest in buying what I didn’t want and now here I am $475 richer and with a little bit of free space in my house.

A few of my cards from the 90’s that I decided to keep

It felt a little liberating dropping off all those boxes.  All the anger over games that I lost, all the hurt feelings over games and rules, the relief of not having to keep up with the current sets (not that I ever played in Standard Legal tournaments anyway, except that one time for the release of Avacyn Restored because I was dying to find out what happened storywise), all of it was finally gone.  I still have a very small amount of cards though…

The one game variant that I loved the most next to Commander/EDH was Archenemy and I decided that I wanted to keep those decks and maybe a few of the other cards.  I definitely kept all the cards that I had back in the 90’s but anything after that had to go.  Do I have any hope that the group will get back together like before and weekly games will happen at my place?  Nope, not even a little bit.  But maybe, just maybe, someone someday will reignite my spark.