Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Magic: the Gathering History

I realize that before I start telling anyone about what Magic: the Gathering I'm doing now, I need to talk a little about what I've done.

My first games of Magic were in middle school and it all started with a pile of boosters from Portal 2nd Age and some from Fifth Edition that we found in a Goodwill. Back then, my friends knew me as the "best player" just because I ran Counterspell. We didn't know what dual lands were; we hardly understood the stack. Those days were ignorant, innocent, and blissfully fun. I put my cards down for four years, though, while I went to college.

At my first job I met a guy who had been collecting cards for as long as I'd known about Magic. When I told the old glory stories of my awesome deck, he coaxed me into dragging the cards out of storage for a game over lunch. The problem was, my new friend actually knew how to play Magic and build a good deck. This guy wiped the floor with me using a mono white cleric based control deck. Parallax Wave and Monk Idealist became the bane of my existence. I felt like total crap after the first couple games and I almost gave up on Magic altogether, but my friend saved me from making a terrible decision. Instead of gloating over a win, he started to teach me and explain his card choices. This is where I first started thinking about Magic on a technical level and set my mind to creating decks that had a plan.

The first thing I had was an Ankh of Mishra + Parallax Tide control deck. It was pretty good one on one because it played a denial game, but we also had some multiplayer games where my control deck had no way to beat multiple people. The next thing I built was what we called the evil version of his cleric deck. He protected his white clerics; I sacrificed my black ones. It seemed like, for once, I had the edge. My deck had recursion, card advantage, sac outlets a plenty, and answers to almost everything. At the end of the day, though, we were still playing very "casual" games of magic. We knew Legacy was a thing, but the cost to make the decks we had competitive was more than we were willing to spend.

That changed one day when I realized I could make a Dredge combo deck on the cheap. I called it "Almost Ichorid" because it only had one LED. I built it in secret and took it to one multiplayer game as a surprise. I managed to combo out on my first turn, throwing out 39 damage to two players. We tried one more time and it took me until the fourth turn to combo out and essentially win the game. It was awesome and horrible all at once. The guys were impressed, then asked me to never play it again. They weren't having any fun, and to be honest, neither was I. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth that I blamed on Legacy, so I swore to never again try to make something competitive.

I changed jobs and cities, where the new group of friends was playing a lot of the same "casual" Magic I had been. One of the guys invited me to go to a Draft tournament; I have been hooked ever since. So far, this is the most fun format of Magic that I've ever played. Every Draft I play with a new deck and have no idea what to expect to play. There is a ton of strategy involved, starting with the cards you pick, continuing when you build a deck, and of course including how you play. So far I've been in the top half of every tournament I've attended, so I think I'm doing fairly well for just starting, but then again, I've got a small sample size at this point.

The game shop I go to also has a healthy Elder Dragon Highlander population, so I've been dragged into that format as well. I haven't become very serious about it because that's just how I feel the format should be. For what it's worth, I play a cheap variant of Gaka's Norin the Wary deck. For teh lulz.

Drafting made me realize something, though. One of the things that makes it so fun is the fact that everyone is on a level playing field. I held this disdain of Legacy because of my experience with one of its archetypes, but the problem had nothing to do with Legacy itself. My attempt at a Legacy deck was not fun because the people I played with weren't ready for it. What's important for making Magic fun is that both sides have a shot at winning. Most recently, I've made the dive back into Legacy. This time I'm going with a competitive deck in a competitive setting. So far it's been a blast.

Thanks for reading,

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