Gathering Magic

Magic: The Gathering is a trading card game (TCG) released in 1993. I was 11.

I was obsessing over collecting now worthless baseball cards.

Instead, I could have been collecting precious Magic cards.

My Dad talked to me about how upset he was that he threw away most of his baseball cards, and I latched on to that instead of the idea of getting in on the ground floor of a new phenomenon.

This is a perfect example for most of my life. I did what other people expected rather than embracing the fringe. I remember seeing one at a bowling alley and not knowing what it was about besides some hideous artwork.

I was a YMCA camp counselor in college and saw kids playing with Pokemon cards. I don’t think they were playing the cards as much as showing them off and talking about the ones they had. I honestly don’t think anyone knew how to play the game.

It got me thinking about how cool it would be if there were a sports card game, and I learned about MLB Showdown. You know a game is fantastic when your only reference is a Wikipedia page. No one else played the game, but people did play a game made by the same company.

I discovered that one of my coworkers played Magic the Gathering (MTG), and I was willing to ask more about it. We learned one of our other coworkers and their partner also played. I would go to lunch and play Magic with my work friend. I had no cards, so he would give me a deck to play against his decks.

Magic has two main formats: Constructed and Limited.

Constructed means you have already determined what cards are going into your deck. This is how the game was initially meant to be played. Unfortunately, it is also expensive. The best cards can go for $50. 60-card deck prices are going over $500. It is a lot of money to spend, and you usually want to try multiple decks as the play experience can be completely different.

Limited provides a different style of play. You still construct decks to play against an opponent but are limited to the cards you obtained in the event. You pay an entry fee and are given six packs to construct your deck. Or you sit at a table of other players and pick the cards you want from packs passed along in a draft format.

The draft format is what got me hooked on the game. You are on a level playing field with your opponents, and you pick the cards that look like they will be fun for you to play.

I would go to my colleagues’ apartments and have drafts. I even taught my brother how to play. But when I moved to Denver, my playing partners disappeared, and I stopped playing. That was until recently when I learned about Magic Arena.

Wizards had numerous attempts at digital versions of the game in the past. However, Arena has got me hooked. You can play for free or relatively cheaply. But even more importantly, you can play as many games as you want against intense competition.

I’m sure I’ll burn through Magic as I did with Zelda and Gran Turismo before it, but at least with Arena, it can be my new favorite pooping game.

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