Monday, May 30, 2011

Magic: The Recidivism

Back in junior high, I used to play the fuck out of this game called Magic: The Gathering. I enjoyed it, primarily for the flavor text and the fact that it had goblins and dragons and such in it. My friend Jason used to be big into it, I saw him paging through a big book of cards one day on the bus and I saw some nifty artwork and he explained that it was a card game and you bought cards and built decks to fight against one another with. I asked him if there were any dragons in it and he showed me a picture of one. 

Eventually I got into the game as well. Now, in junior high, I had no money. My parents were extremely thrifty in the department of non-book entertainments for me as a youth. No video games, no allowance to buy video games, and my collection of toys was somewhat motley and limited. I was not rolling in expendable income you might say, however, I was on Ritalin and was issued a few dollars for lunch money. 

A side effect of Ritalin for me was appetite suppressant, so I was never hungry. I think in three years of junior high, I can probably count the times I actually ate lunch in the cafeteria on one hand. I just went to the library and read, which is where I met Eric and Jeremy and all of them and we all got into DnD, and Magic.

As a side note, I bitch and complain about ADHD and how my parents drugged me rather than deal with me as a human being and that sort of thing, but thank Dog for all the drugging of the children. I don't think I would have been so introverted and ended up reading Dragonlance and learning about DnD and meeting Eric and Jeremy without my parents drugging me. 

To continue, I skipped lunch for about three years and bought Magic cards with the money. However, my parents finally found out and I had to conceal my spending because I assured them that I was in fact eating at school. Which was simple enough, Jason and I would just walk to the Stadium and buy far more cards than we needed. Huzzah. Sometimes, I forget things like this and when I remember, I think perhaps my mother was right when she repeatedly assured me that I was a lying little shit. 

I have an issue with collection. It is not enough to have a book or card or whatever. I need to have the set. I am bad. If I have one book in a series, I must have all of them. Thus the dozen or so Dresden Files novels on my shelves and the majority of the Essentials collection of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition books. I can resist this compulsion pretty well, nowadays. When I was in junior high and high school, not so much. I obsessively bought packs and boosters and everything. I didn't care that my decks were shit, what mattered was that I was within a few dozen cards of having the complete Chronicles or Fallen Empires or Homelands set. 

Mind you, Homelands and Fallen Empires are widely regarded as the shittiest two Magic sets in existence, but they were two I focused on. I bought Chronicles obsessively, until they stopped selling boosters, because it was very mythic and had all the Summon Legend multi-colored cards, and the Elder Dragon Legends. That's right, I had a Nicol Bolas from before he was a planeswalker. I also traded Eric ten levels for his DnD character for an Arcades Sabbath card. Heh. 

When Urza's Saga came out, I got hardcore into purchasing that and again went into collection mode. Later, I stopped buying and playing after Jason kind of fell by the wayside. Later, when Scourge was on its way out of production and Jason and I kind of reconnected and he mentioned that after selling all of his old cards, he was back to playing again, I tried to collect all of Scourge, which got hard, because it was ending its production cycle and new sets were coming out. 

I focused on collection, that is my addiction. I like to own sets of things. I buy DVDs and books so that I can complete my collection of books and movies I like. I download pdfs so that I can have a complete set of DnD books, not because each book has awesome stuff I like in it. Anyway, Fred and Martel started playing Magic, and it has been...difficult for me. Game stores of any kind are a bad place for me, they are where I do the things I will come to regret once I venture back out into the light of day. 

I have spent ten dollars and sixty cents on the game so far, and that was to buy a deck that is essentially a more perfect version  of a deck I've loved since my attempts to collect Scourge. My deck building is much more mature now. I am more concerned about the merits of cards than about having a set and I am slightly more competent than "Let's throw everything cool in the color red into the deck!". I still really want to start buying a set, but I have resisted so far, partly because the most recently released set, New Phyrexia, is the last in a three set block, and later this year a whole new set will be released. It is called Innistrad and looks suitably gothic and the tagline is "Horror Lurks Within."

I'm pretty pleased with my decks so far. I have a black discard deck, a red goblin/direct damage deck, and a green horde/big creature deck. I think I need one more card for my discard deck and it will pretty much be perfect, however, it is only really good against a single opponent and our three person battles make it more difficult to implement. The red deck is fun, but needs a lot of tweaking. The green is good, I like the way it plays and it uses a lot of Fallen Empires cards, and I love the mechanics of those cards. I think I might focus on land access and big creatures though, and downplay the horde elements of it. 

I find that I prefer single color decks I guess, you can really focus on the core concept of your deck, and it eliminates the difficulty of having good cards in your hand, but not the right combination of mana to put them into play. I think what I am going to end up doing is create a deck for each color of magic and kind of try them all out. I've always favored black and green with red being a close third. I just have a hard time coming up with anything when I look at blue and white. I have played some white weenie decks, but there isn't much appeal to me in them. Blue's elements of control and denial interest me, but  is has so many control and denial options that I have a hard time picking and choosing and it is hard to balance control and denial vs. the need for creatures to fend off/deal damage to the enemy players. Oh well.

I guess we'll see how long this fad lasts, and perhaps I'll post about it again. 

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