in place of a title, imagine Ric Ocasek walking around on the surface of a pool

I guess I could just say, "Hey, I'm playing Magic on Xbox Live this weekend, so check out the details here," but it's more fun to tell a story, first.

In 1993, while killing time between appointments, I wandered into a game shop in the valley. I looked around the aisles, thumbed through the RPG books, talked myself into and then out of buying a ton of unpainted lead figures, and eventually found myself in conversation with the owner.

He picked up a deck of cards, and asked me if I'd heard about this new game called Magic. I was a serious wargamer, with numerous Chaos and Space Marine armies, as well as a folder that was bulging with maps and vehicles for Car Wars. Card games were so beneath me, I don't think I even tried to hide my geeksnort.

He had obviously spent time dealing with annoying nerds (being a game shop owner and all) and he patiently deflected my contempt as he opened the box and showed me the cards inside. Over the next ten or fifteen minutes, he showed me how this wasn't just a card game, but was actually a beautifully-illustrated representation of two powerful wizards using primal and astral energies to duel each other. By the end of his demo, I was sufficiently intrigued, and I bought two decks.

I played the game a few times, but it didn't capture my imagination like the board games and RPGs I loved. The mechanics were interesting, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around advanced concepts, like "tapping" and the mysterious "upkeep." (Perhaps I was not the high-level gamer I thought I was.) I went back to that shop a few weeks later (it must have been near a casting office) and ended up talking to the owner about playing Magic. "It's okay," I said, "but I'm just not that into it."

He reached behind the counter and pulled out a long box. "Maybe you'd like the game better if you had access to all the cards."

"That box has one of every card in the whole game?"

"Yes. It's eighty dollars."

"Sorry, dude, there is no way I'm spending eighty dollars on that."

Yes, for those of you wondering, this particular box had a Black Lotus in it, among other things. Le sigh.

Flash forward about a year. I'm on a Star Trek cruise, and there's a dealer's room on board. One of the dealers sells Magic cards. I'm looking at them, wondering if this game ever caught on, or if this was old stock he was just burning through. A fellow geek sees me looking at the cards, and tells me that he ran Magic games every week. He asks me if I would be interested in playing with him. $20, one starter deck and a couple of boosters later, we duel.

Flash forward a few hours later: It turned out that playing with someone who really knew what Magic was and how the game worked made it a lot of fun to play. It turned out that there was a lot more to the game than just dueling, too: there was deck-building and its attendant strategies! I bought everything that dealer had on the ship, and spent more time playing Magic with this guy and his wife than I did looking at the beautiful Alaskan coastline. (Don't worry, I've since been back to Alaska, and I was able to appreciate its beauty and unobstructed views of Russia.) I don't remember that guy's name, but I can thank and blame him for making me fall in love with Magic: The Gathering.

I was never especially good at the game, but for a brief time, Magic ruled my life. I bought boxes of starters and boosters from my friendly local game shop the minute they went on sale. I had black and blue decks, green and red decks, blue and white decks, and I even had a vicious black and red deck that had just 51 cards in it, thanks to abuse of Dark Ritual.

Right around the Ice Age expansion, though, I stopped having fun playing Magic in tournaments, because it had become an arms race: whoever had the most money and time to seek out the most powerful cards would usually win the game. Unless I was willing to keep buying new cards every few months, I saw a future where the decks I had now would be obsolete, and I wouldn't be able to play competitively with anyone. Because I was never very good at the game anyway, it didn't make sense to me to commit to that kind of investment, so I put my cards into storage, and didn't play again until…

Flash forward to about 2005. Nolan came home from school one day and asked me if I'd ever heard of this game called Magic that some of his friends were playing.

"Sure," I said. "I used to play the hel– er, I used to play it all the time. I still have my cards, if you'd like to see them."

I went into the garage and took my Big Box of Games off the shelf. Inside, in a plastic box with tape around the edges to seal it, were hundreds of Magic cards.

"Wow, that's a lot of cards," Nolan said.

"Yeah. I had a lot of disposable income when I was younger."

"What's that?"

"Something we don't have now."

I took the box into the house and opened it. Most of the cards were organized by type, but a few decks were still intact. Nolan looked over the cards. "This kind of looks like Pokemon," he said.

"Yeah, it's sort of like that, I guess, but not lame," I said. I pulled out two decks and showed him how to play.

Nolan caught Magic fever like a stowaway on a plague ship. I was thrilled to have something to do together, so I naturally encouraged his madness. He started taking my cards with him to school, and using them to successfully wipe the floor with his peers, who apparently didn't know how to defend against the old ways.

Then, one day, he came home very upset. "These idiots at school just print out cards online – fake cards that they get from websites – and put them in sleeves to play with them!"

"That's complete bullshit," I said. Then, "don't tell your mom I said 'bullshit.'"

"I'm not playing with them any more," he said.

"I totally understand that. I'll still play with you, though, and you could always go play at the game shop."

"The game shop smells," he said. Ah, out of the mouths of 14 year-old babes.

"Okay. Well, if you ever change your mind, I'd be happy to take you there.

We played almost daily for a few weeks, but Nolan eventually got distracted by something new and different that didn't involve spending lots of time with his lame stepdad. Le sigh.

Flash forward to 2007. Nolan found interest in Magic again, though he enjoyed deck-building more than actually playing. One day he asked me to take him to the game shop to play, and he came home with a rather amusing story:

"So I went to play with this guy, and when he saw my cards, he got real upset that they weren't in sleeves because they're so old and apparently valuable. He asked me where I got them, and I told them that they were my stepdad's cards."

Nolan didn't ever put his cards into sleeves, as a matter of pride, as a way of showing his opponents that he was using actual cards, not printouts like those douchey kids at his school.

"He actually refused to keep playing with me until I put the cards in sleeves." He did his version of the Comic Book Guy's voice: "These cards are far too valuable! I will not engage in a contest with you until they are protected."

I laughed.

"So he actually gave me some sleeves! I put your cards in them so we could play."

Nolan started going to the game shop three or four times a week, spending his allowance on cards, and building up several formidable decks, including a Sliver deck and a Zombie deck that, while apparently not tournament legal, were feared and loathed by the regulars at the game shop.

Around this time, I started looking at Magic again, and I rebuilt a few of my old decks from memory. I still wasn't very good at the game, and in the arms race portion of the game, Nolan had nukes and I had boards with nails in them, but it was still a lot of fun to play.

Flash forward to about a year ago: I got my hands on a box of Timespiral tournament decks. Nolan and I began playing 2 out of 3 matches using sealed decks (or randomly-drawn decks from the box) and just like that, Magic was fun again.

Flash forward to PAX this year: I was invited to a party celebrating the release of the latest incarnation of Magic, called Zendikar. The people who run Magic at WotC gave me an extremely rare spoiler card, (which prompted someone from D&D to say, "Hey! Wheaton belongs to us! Hands off!") I hadn't looked into the story behind Magic since that cruise in the mid-90s, but I found the concepts inherent to Zendikar – traps, quests, allies, and especially landfall – really interesting and unique to the Magic universe. For the first time in over a decade, I was actually excited to play a new release.

Now, let's flash back to a couple weeks ago: I was invited to play Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers this weekend as part of Game With Fame on Xbox Live. My only memory of a Magic arcade game was something very disappointing on the PC in the 90s, so I wanted to play the Xbox version before I accepted. One download later, I settled into the couch with some green tea and began to play.

A few hours later, Anne came into the living room and wanted to know why I'd been there so long.

"I'm, uh, doing research for, um, this thing…" I trailed off while I counted life, power, toughness, to see if I could end this match – the third or fourth time I'd played this particular opponent – on this turn.

"Research? Because to the untrained eye, it would look like you'd been playing Xbox for three hours."

I finished counting. Yes, I could win this turn. I sent my minions out to do my bidding.

"Well, it's both." I told Anne about the Game with Fame event, and added, "so I need to figure out if I like this game, and if I do like it, if I have any chance of not sucking like the Dodgers when I play against people who actually know what they're doing."

The screen announced my victory. I pumped my fist. "Yeah, suck on that, fucker!"

"Um…"

"Sorry. It's, um." I said.

Anne nodded. She's sadly used to this sort of thing.

"So what's the verdict?" She asked.

"I like it enough to play it for three hours today and probably three hours every day if I'm not careful."

"Oh, isn't that wonderful for you."

"Sarcasm detected!" I set the controller down. "But don't worry, I have too much work to do to even think about playing the hell out of this until I am way into Memories volume two."

I picked up the controller again. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have unlocked a new deck and I wish to play with it."

"Well, have fun playing with your deck."

We looked at each other, playing a game of "who's going to laugh first" chicken. I lost.

I played the game some more, and even though I never did very well, I think they've managed to translate a lot of the fun of the card game into this arcade game. I'm sure I'll get my ass handed to me eleven different ways on Saturday, but I learned a long time ago that the joy I get out of gaming isn't too heavily dependent on winning (except when I'm playing Munchkin with Andrew, but that's a whole different dynamic.)

If you're in the US, and you'd like more information about the Game with Fame events, you can look here. If you'd like information about playing with me, specifically, you can check out this page at Xbox.com. If you're outside the US, I can't tell you where to look, because I get the US links, on account of I'm in the US. I bet you could start at Xbox.com and go from there, though. If you can't be bothered to jump through links, just add the gamertag "AtWilW" (get it?) and I guess that'll put you into some kind of pool or queue or something. 

If you're planning to play Magic, and you want meaningful competition, you do not want to play me, but don't worry, because there are several Magic champions and Richard Freaking Garfield just waiting to drag your corpse across every plane of existence and back.

104 thoughts on “in place of a title, imagine Ric Ocasek walking around on the surface of a pool”

  1. My ex had hundreds of cards in high school, and he sold them to another student. I still hate him for it.
    I never got into Magic as much as I’d wanted to, but mostly because it’s hard when there aren’t a lot of nerds around to play with (playing alone isn’t all that glamorous). There were a couple of nerds a grade higher than me, but really none in my grade. I still have my decks. And I still haven’t found anyone to play with in all these years. I haven’t bought a new deck in almost ten years, so I don’t know what cards are out know.
    I hope you have all the fun!

  2. I spent my early years of Magic getting spanked by my friend and mentor who got me into the game. I had a decent land destruction deck made from Red and some artifacts (4 Dingus Eggs being the key) but got sick of new cards and power creep every few months.
    I suppose with online play and everyone having the same cards it kind of evens the playing field. So thats cool. Doubt I’ll get into the game though. I have enough on my plate with D&D, Warhammer and the like. (I play Fantasy, though not much recently.)
    Do you have much time for any other geekery? Though I dont play it I hear the new edition of 40k is awesome. DO you get much D&D time aside from when its with Penny Arcade?

  3. Hah! I had just decided to get my nephew hooked on Magic for his birthday Sunday. Which of course required me to get a jumpstart on Magic 2010 to keep up with him (I stopped playing around Sixth Edition, according to my cards). Oh, the cracktasticness.

  4. Bah. “Worst Player” is perception. I find the “worst” players to be the ones who power game their decks to hell and get mad if they can’t get a kill in turn 1 or 2.
    I’m a far more casual gamer who likes to see cool things happen. I like to enjoy the game as opposed to turn it into some kind of pee-pee contest, which seems to be exactly what most games of any competitive nature become.
    Where do you live that is so remote you can’t find anyone to play?

  5. I have seen and dabbled a bit with Magic. I don’t think I have played a full game. I lean toward D&D (our game has 7 PCs at this point) or Steampunk (that game has 11 players and a damn scary GM). So, I can’t get them to play a card game… unless it is Munchkin and we are at Norwescon or the like.
    Also, my husband used to work at WotC… where he met a fellow artist, Anthony Waters. They are still GREAT friends, but they both disdain Magic from the early years of drawing the cards. :) So, we don’t have any… unless it is the few that Anthony signed / personalize with a little doodle on.

  6. I developed a liking for MTG, immediately after its initial release, because of the artwork on the cards. And was very much into the strategy and deck building aspect of it. Oddly enough, though I had multiple decks that I considered to be capable of brutal thumpings, I never actually played a single game with anyone.
    Part of the problem with growing up in an extremely small hick town is being just about the only “geek” around. And we lived too far from any metro areas for me to interact with others of our kind.

  7. I still have a couple boxes (by boxes I mean big storage boxes) of Magic cards, and you are so right about the arms race. I kept up for a while, buying some prebuilts and a few boosters every time a new expansion was released, but lately I don’t even do that, both for insufficient income and insufficient play-foes. My oldest son is 6 and does like the [inferior] Pokemon, so it won’t be long before I suggest MtG to him and that will probably be the end of my free time (I say that like it’s a bad thing).
    My ex would hand me my ass often enough with an all-red deck largely featuring Dragon Whelps (and lightning bolts of course) from her total stash of maybe 250 cards vs. my 2000+ mr. suitcase collection, that I got over trying to access every card or capability (or designing decks specifically to beat other decks) and just had fun with what I was playing, win or lose.
    I still like my old Thallid deck from Fallen Empires, and a black/white deck with some obnoxious Royal Assassins — and I too have never put sleeves on my cards.
    I still pine for the future (if such a thing is possible) when I have more time for gaming. Maybe after the economy stops being broken.

  8. Ahh, Magic. Wow, that totally takes me back to high school in the early 90s. I played, but… I sucked at it pretty hardcore, and ended up giving my cards to one of my nephews. I was HORRIBLE at deckbuilding, I always put way too many cards in my decks because I couldn’t bear to cull any of them. I also was not competitive enough, and getting my ass handed to me by ‘friends’ who were really poor sports and enjoyed rubbing my face in their triumph every time we played really made the ‘fun’ aspect of the game diminish quickly. Alas.

  9. I played Magic in high school, and then when my ex and I broke up, he sold all my cards on eBay. The “Let’s be friends” speech I gave him turned quickly into “We are now sworn enemies.”
    Nowadays I don’t have the disposable income to play Magic, but Dominion still allows my friends and me to have fun with a deckbuilding game without the “arms race” feel. After a month of two of playing Dominion, I found that what I liked most about Magic was building strategic decks. And boom, it’s there in Dominion, and I don’t have to buy booster pack after booster pack.
    There are times, though, when I miss my Horseshoe Crab Deck of Death. Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane. :)

  10. I started Magic when I went to college in ’94. By 1999, I had three long boxes full of cards and 12 different decks. I had a dragon deck (With LOTS of Dual Lands), a Sanctuary Deck (Island Sanctuary + Millstone = evil.), My Big Green Deck (Lots giant monsters in a giant deck.), goblins, and so many more. Then I sold all of them (Mostly commons) for the entire Wizard and Priest Spell Compendiums for 2ed. Flash forward to 2003, when I started playing D&D again at the local game store. Got back into Magic because the guys would play before the teenagers we had in the group showed up from their stuff on Fridays.
    I don’t have anything in the new set other than a few boosters I got for fooling around at the Planeswalker Tourney at GenCon this year. I have mostly older cards that I’ve re-bought. Though, I will never see my dragon deck again. Dual lands are $40 a pop now. And don’t get me started on legendary dragons.. Though, I think you and I would have fun with the few decks I have been able to rebuild. (I’m not the greatest player either.)

  11. Ah Thallids. I had a thallid deck. Called it the Spore King. I had to buy two bags of those glass beads, plus the bag that came with the Magic collectors box in order to count all those spores. Same problem you get with thrulls.

  12. I don't have nearly enough time for the other geeky things I want to do. I'm always hopeful I'll invent some time-control device so I can solve this problem.

  13. Is Planeswalker fun? I have a few sets, but I haven't been able to get 4 players together to play it. It looks like it'd be the same kind of crazy fun as Munchkin Dungeon.

  14. I’d never so much as heard of Magic until just a couple of years ago, let alone played (or even met anyone who played it, to my knowledge). Still never laid a hand on an actual card.
    I just came here to say that I. Love. Your. Writing.
    Love it. A lot.
    That is all.

  15. I started designing my own cards in college. As much fun as it was to fiddle with mechanics and do the artwork, it was ten times as cool to slip one into a deck (with my opponent’s permission, of course) and play-test it. So there is yet some good that can come out of playing with print-outs in card sleeves. ;-)

  16. A very interesting story Wil. I think I’m going to have to check Magic out after work tonight. I’m surprised to hear that you have room on your friends list though. BTW, I have just finished reading Just A Geek – I loved reading it.(Woot! My first post!)

  17. Years ago when Wizards still had the awesome cool store near UW in Seattle (the one with the Tesla/Battletech pods!), there was a box just downstairs with a “take a few, leave a few” card rules. I never had much money, so I’d head down there during a sealed deck tournament. You’d be amazed how often a group of new players would try a sealed tourney, get fed up, and dump all their cards in the box. I collected a ton of great cards from there.
    But eventually, Wizards must have decided they couldn’t afford people giving away so many cards, so they scrapped the box. I bought some boosters occasionally after that, but could never afford the arms race. I hate any game where the person who has the most money wins. So, I gave it up.
    If someone could come up with a game exactly like Magic were you didn’t have to buy a ton of cards to play, I’d be into it… Then again, there’s Munchkin, and that rocks!

  18. Holy wall of text Batman!
    Back in high school I had a computer class were toward the end of class we always had about 10 minutes left over. A couple of the guys in there use that time to play Magic. These guys would play it all the time and they’d even set up matches at lunch and play all hour. One of them let me use his deck and they taught me how to play and it was neat but that’s about the extent of it right there. I’ve played only a few mini/card games since then the WoW card game, HeroClix and the DnD mini’s game.
    I even played HeroClix at a local shop a few times even managing to win a tournement or two. They were mostly sealed booster stuff because I never had the income to keep up with the arms race and obsolence of old stuff.
    As you mentioned, the perpetual cycle of having to spend and spend to be competitive is the downside of all these collectible games. It can literally take all the fun out of it.

  19. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Dominion. Have you tried that yet? They boiled the deck-building aspect of Magic into it’s own game that doesn’t require buying new cards all the time. You accumulate new cards during the course of a match and have to balance your deck as you go.

  20. You totally don’t have anything to fear from the Annoying Chick from Philly™ ever challenging you to a game of Magic because I completely suck at that game. I do, however remember picking up a pack of cards for a Next Gen game at a Con, and stupidly bought it because I figured “Well, it’s my favorite show. I know almost everything there is to know about it, how hard can it be? I might totally rule at this game!” No such luck. Turns out, I suck at all RPG card games in general.
    Great stories in this post, though. The part where Nolan said the game shop smelled made me laugh, because I had always just assumed that it was my particular game shop that had a funky odor to it. Then, when Anne totally caught you doing “research” I had to laugh because I can only imagine what goes through her mind when you start acting like a big, goofy kid. “Great, I thought I had two kids, but as it turns out, I have three!” I think that all wives have moments when they feel that way, though.

  21. Oh man, Magic completely had me hostage in 1996. Only, I wasn’t particularly good at it. Building decks based on the cards’ art is not a recipe for success, as it happens.
    A friend of mine was an art director for WotC for a while. He wound up as this card in the Unhinged joke deck.

  22. Excellent story. I played M:tG quite a bit in the early 90′s, then fell out of it as you did until DotP popped up on xbox live arcade. I think the game still needs some work especially in the deck management/customization department, but generally did a good job with it.
    I’m definitely sending a xbox live friend request to ya for Saturday.

  23. Tell Anne that I, too, am a VGW (Video Game Widow). My husband is an awesome husband and father, but there are times when he retreats to the basement for hours and all I hear are explosions and muffled curse words. I feel for her, I really do. :)

  24. Given that I go to Carnegie Mellon, I could pretty much walk up to any random guy on campus and he’d probably know how to play… But I don’t. Well, actually, I do, courtesy of a Game Boy Advance version of the game (I think it was GBA), but not well. I think I’ve only played one actual game with tangible cards (if even that). I have no cards, and thus, I can not play.

  25. I just got into MTG this past year. I have the game and may try to play ya wil. The game does center around money cards still but opening them isn’t quite impossible. and trading can be done with relative ease. The XBLA game definitely alleviates a lot of that. Though it also lacks any deck building at all. Some tips for when you play. The Nissa “elf” deck is dominant. with all the cards unlocked it’s very difficult to beat it with most of the other decks. if you want something to combat it use a deck with a lot of flyers. The mono blue deck(jace) is useless don’t bother. If they hooked you up with the expansion the new multicolor(blue/white) jace deck is much better. plenty of counters and it’s main goal is to mill your opponents library.

  26. My wife used to razz me about having big boxes of cards that I’m “not using”. I just pointed at the entire roomful of scrapbooking and papercrafting supplies she has.
    We have an agreement now… :-)
    Mark

  27. My bf-at-the-time Magic came out was the assistant manager of a comic book shop, and I worked there during events as security when I needed extra money.
    …needless to say, with employee discount, and the “we opened 30 packs to find the Black Lotus to sell under the glass at the counter, and the rest of these cards aren’t worth reselling, have them”, deck-building we all did, it was really easy to build awesome decks quickly. So I learned pretty fast that what mattered was who you were playing with, and crazy-fun side rules on what kind of decks could be played.
    I stopped playing around Ice Age, too, mostly for the same reason – power gamers and decks just became boring. I’ve noticed that the surest way to get me to fall out of interest in something is for rabid fans to take over (see: comic collecting in the early 90s, thanks to Image).

  28. I was originally introduced to Magic the Gathering in 1994. I never played in any official tournaments though, because I certainly could not afford to buy new cards as often as that demanded. I was able to buy maybe one or two boosters a month, and that was it. I had to construct my decks out of whatever I was able to get from that, and card donations from my friends, who were trying to help! Bless them.
    But that escalating requirement to get more cards took its toll on me, and I stopped playing in 1999. And I hadn’t played the game at all for ten years, until this year!
    Now the game is fun for me again because I have more income than I did back then (though it’s not disposable, mind you!). But now I can do things like, well, use spreadsheets to construct decks beforehand, and find out how much they cost to build, and then slowly buy each card and mark them as I get them on the spreadsheet.
    Yeah, spreadsheets. To construct Magic decks. I guess that makes me pretty geeky. But you know, constructing decks can actually be even more fun than playing them sometimes! You should see the dragon/thallid deck I’ve planned out. Nearly every card adheres to that dragon and/or deadly fungus theme. It’s awesome. :D

  29. Magic brings back memories of playing with my brother. I can’t remember when this was. I started playing because he was, and I wanted to do whatever he was doing. Of course, I was awful. I wanted to build a forest deck because it had the pretty animals in it. Mostly he and his friends played and they weren’t interested in playing with the little sister. A few years later, I distinctly remember bringing my deck to school in middle school to get the boys to shut the hell up- apparently it was beyond their understanding that a girl could know what Magic was and have cards and whatnot. And I had old cards, too, so I had been playing longer than them. I’m so going to look for my cards this weekend.

  30. Back in the late 90′s, I had managed to piece together a very, very annoying red/blue deck that had no creatures in it. Every blue was a counter-spell type, and every red was a direct damage type. It was tied together with four each of chaos lace, thoughtlace, red elemental blast and blue elemental blast.
    In retrospect I was probably already deep in the depths of despair by then!

  31. Wil, this comment is not at all tied to the comments on this post. Sorry, everyone! I was just moved to say that I read what you write because you write it so well. I have my geek tendencies, but most of the time I have no idea what you’re writing about. I just love the way you write it, so I keep coming back.
    Carry on, everybody!

  32. Even so I have not played Magic yet, I think covering a Magic tournament during GottaCon here on the island in February is going to be one of the favourite tournaments that I will be covering. And there is lots of prize money to be won! w00t!
    Maybe I should introduce the game to my boys.

  33. The thing I remember having the most fun with in MtG was sealed-deck tournaments. I loved those because it totally took the ‘look how many suitcases of cards I own’ element completely out of the picture.
    There was a luck element, of course, in that you didn’t know what you might end up with, but I found the game much more enjoyable that way. Even though I got completely stomped every time I played (I was never a good player).

  34. Weeellllll… My husband was doing page layout for the books (5th Edition of Magic), Dilbert card game (layout), and helped to design and implement storage of original artwork (he found it stuffed in a lockbox). He made friends (they are like brothers) with Anthony Waters who did card art for Magic, the Gathering, and in many of the TSR and D&D RPG books. You probably have HIS art in your card stash. :)
    Sometimes the future is smaller than we imagined it would be :)

  35. I would really love to give this a whirl but I will be at the Dallas Webcomics Expo. I never really got into Magic, mostly because the OCD collector in me knew it would be a bad idea. I did get into a couple other CCG’s (Buffy, WoW, Star Wars) but was way more into deck building and collecting since I wasn’t very good at the game and couldn’t keep up with the big dogs. I am very intrigued by sealed deck contests though and also this Arcade game.

  36. Even though I am a few years older than you, we certainly had similar interests. I got involved in Magic very early because a co-worker mentioned the game to me. He went to High School with Richard Garfield and they used to play the game on 3×5 cards about 10 years earlier. I think I spent way too much money on everything. The weekly (um, perhaps daily) trips to the game shop to pick up anything new really put a dent in my pocketbook. My wife was pissed with me….that is until she got involved and loved it as much as I did. She was still sore, but in the end I did end up selling part of my collection so the net cash outlay was about zero. I still have quite a few cards sealed in a box somewhere in my house. I have the original release black border cards (never did get a Black Lotus…damn it) but Guardian Beast was a favorite of mine. I also have the limited edition gold bordered set in a box, so I suppose I have a Black Lotus there….although I never played with them. I wonder how much these things are worth now? Oh well.
    Good luck on your xbox tourney. I hope you kick some butt!!

  37. Printing cards out from the internet? That’s just crass.
    I got into Magic in 1995. A friend got a couple decks as a gift, and man was it lame for a while as we tried to figure out all the rules. Once we got some booster packs and started customizing our decks and playing enough rounds to get somewhere, it became pretty cool. And addictive. Was hooked for a couple years until I didn’t have the time, as many people to play with, or the cash to spend on it. Ended up selling my cards to a friend.
    Your post took me back to my deck building days though. My “bruise” deck was one of my faves: red, black, and blue. :)
    -Claire

  38. I once played Magic with Richard Garfield himself (he won) at the game fair (Spiel) in Essen, Germany. I think it was in ’95. He’s a really nice guy.
    I’ve sold most of my car since then but I’ve kept a couple of decks. As I’m a roleplayer at heart, they were all themed rather than having the best aggressive/defensive/whatever card combinations.
    Real men don’t play Blue.

  39. I have to admit, as soon as you posted that tweet with the gamertag I ran on over to my 360 and added it.
    For the longest time I used to play the old decipher Star Wars card game instead of Magic. It wasn’t until Time Spiral that I started playing Magic at all. Sadly shortly after that my friends who I was playing with moved off to other schools and I had not yet discovered the joys that are good game shops, thus I stopped playing for some time.
    But all was not lost! The embers of interest where rekindled in a chance encounter of people playing it at my local coffee shop. I sat down just to watch a game… and ended up not getting up until after I had played about 10 games.
    Luckily for me, about this time I ended up hanging out with the gamers at the collage I was attending, and somehow had ended up with a slight disposable income. Thusly, I ended up playing a lot and picking up a lot of cards during Lorwyn, and the Alara set. But sadly as things go, loss of disposable income coupled with tiring of the new set arms race, I don’t really play much of the physical game anymore. :-/
    That said, I hope I get to have a game with you Wil!
    -Chad “Is still sad he never got to play the Trezzeret/Time Vault Combo” L.

  40. Hey Wil, I have a random question:
    What is the t-shirt Fawkes is wearing in the latest episode (10) of The Guild? Something to do with pirates (Fail/Sail)?

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