Why do I play “Magic: The Gathering?”
I began playing this game around four years ago. I had been playing Pokemon cards with my children, as well as Shadow Era. I got into Shadow Era because I wanted a card game that was more in-depth and on an adult level. (I was playing Poker online as well, but not gambling.) Around this time, I began frequenting comics stores, and noticing how popular Magic was. I thought it a little crazy that some cards costed over thirty dollars, and said as much. (Not to mention Jace, Mind Sculptor…who at the time was $100.)
I made the jump one day when I found some cards on sale at Target…a “Deck Builders Toolkit.” And It was during “Innistraad” block at the time. But I didn’t know that.
Since then, I have moved my children into the game, and one has left. The other teeters on losing interest, as children do and should do have shifting interests as they grow and develop. But I don’t see myself quitting any time soon.
Today I went to “The Mighty Moo” festival in Cowpens, South Carolina. Then ate lunch with my family at Taco Dog, in Spartanburg. Then proceeded with the SpartanKid to a Modern MTG tournament at the Tangled Web in Spartanburg. This tournament turned out to be really small…we left at 4:00…but I needed to play some more. So I drove up to Grover, NC, and played at Stormcrow’s Clubhouse Modern event.
Today was the first time I ever played two Magic tournaments, at two different locations. I am not counting a midnight pre-release and then a “next day” event. No. This was a double-header. And an incredibly full Saturday. Am I a man obsessed?
I have recently built a re-animator deck, using cards from “Graveborn,” which was my Father’s Day present. I grew bored with losing using Amulet-Primeval Titan…a fun deck but SUPER HARD to play. Only recently did I realize, sure some of it is me, the pilot of the deck. But that deck has losing built in if conditions aren’t just right.
To be fair, I know it is going to be awhile before I enter another tournament. And I am probably going to miss the Origin’s Pre-Release. 😦
I didn’t come out on top at either tournament. But still, I had great fun. And the reasons I had fun are the reasons I play magic:
- Sitting across from someone for thirty minutes to an hour creates a social relationship that I don’t take lightly. I learn some things about my opponent. And they inevitably learn that I am a Christian, a father, a teacher, and a minister as well. I have time to talk to them and show them that they really are important to me.
- Magic is a creative outlet. Side boarding in cards is an act of reacting creatively to situations that aren’t always that clear. There are a lot of “what-if?” questions to ask.
- The act of playing in a tournament, at least for me, is an expression of deck-building, which is the biggest creative outlet in MTG. I don’t “net-deck” much. In this case, I knew I had encountered a lot of Splinter-Twin at the Tangled Web, so I sided in a card NO-ONE saw coming. There was a moment in the tournament at Stormcrow’s Clubhouse that summarizes one of the reasons I play Magic. My opponent, “Turbo”, was playing Tarmo-Twin . I lost to two Tarmogoyf’s early game in match one. I sided in “Batwing Brume,” knowing this must be his strategy. He proceeded to flash in his Deceiver Exarch, put the twin on him, and then begin manuafactoring tokens. I was surprised that he didn’t just say… “This is a million times. They all have haste. They attack.” I’ve heard that line many times. Instead, he made twenty-one copies, and declared attack. I played Batwing Brume, using white and black mana…he attempted to Dispel that. But I was ready with a Pact of Negation. BAM. It was an intense moment, when we both had tons of land on the field, and were vying for the greatest card advantage. This moment alone was just about worth the whole day of Magic for me. After this match, Turbo would go on to beat me in another intense standoff. In that match I bested three Tarmogoyfs! It could have gone the other way and I could have won if I had had another Pact…(but the way card games work is, there is randomness that beats you sometimes. I am OK with that!)
- It is fairly cheap entertainment…I don’t pay for cable or satellite. In their place I play cards. I acquire cards. I collect and organize cards. I read their flavor text and background stories. I read about card development from “the mothership” site. I make casual decks. I play online occasionally. And as cheap entertainment goes…it is me using my brain in an analytical and creative way. I was thinking, as much as I enjoy playing guitar, it is much easier to lug around a red bag with magic decks in it than it is to lug around a guitar, chords, effects, and an amplifier. At least it is easier to carry. And while both activities help me get my groove on in a creative way, Magic is a quiet and reflective activity. A great way to cool down after a long day of work.
I play magic for these reasons. But as a parent, I have reaped other benefits from teaching and playing the game. Playing cards is a good way to talk about odds. Building decks is a way of talking about strategy. Keeping a curated collection is a way to model taking care of cards.
And playing is quality time spent with the children.
Why do you play Magic, the Gathering readers? Please let me know. I know you are out there. My reviews of sealed products are what gets me the greatest internet traffic to this site. Please comment in!