No pun intended. Well, maybe.
Over these past couple of months, Jay and I started playing Magic: The Gathering. He is getting into it again, as he played it years ago. I’m just getting into it myself for the first time, though I have played it a few times in the past since we have been together.
For those who are unfamiliar, Magic: The Gathering is a trading card game published by Wizards of the Coast starting back in 1993. Each game is a battle between opponents playing as “planeswalkers”, a type of wizard. The cards themselves are spells. Each player starts with 20 life, and the object of the game is to kill your opponent or cause them to lose the game in some other way. There are millions of players worldwide. Wizards of the Coast released new card sets every four months or so, and there are a few different formats based on the cards you choose to use when building your deck for play. Most local gaming shops host an event called Friday Night Magic or FNM every week where players can gather and play against each other, sometimes in a tournament format.
Since Jay and I started playing, we have focused on the Standard format which includes the current core set and the 6 most recent sets which are divided into two “blocks” of three sets. Standard format is more fair generally, because there are fewer cards available than the rest of the formats. The standard format will be changing soon as they will no longer be publishing a core set each year after the one they are releasing in July. After that it will end up just including cards from six sets divided into three two-set blocks in standard play. We chose a great time to get back into things: the time when they are going to change everything! It took us a lot of time to fully grasp how it will all work, so I don’t expect anyone to understand right away. That’s not really the point of this post.
We started out buying a “fat pack” for the Fate Reforged set. Fate Reforged is the second most recent set. A fat pack has nine booster packs, a limited edition life counter, two deck boxes, all along with the fancy box it comes in. A booster pack is a pack of fifteen randomized cards from a set. It was thrilling opening all the booster packs, and I even got my very first planeswalker with this first MTG buy. It was a nice surprise and made it even more exciting.
I had so much fun with this that we budgeted to allow for me to buy three new booster packs each month when I go to buy my new Doctor Who comic. I’ve looked forward to “new comic book and booster pack day” each month since. It has happened for two months now, and May will be the third. When it was released at the end of March we also bought the fat pack for the newest set Dragons of Tarkir. We didn’t find a planeswalker in this set, but it was still enjoyable to open. I love the element of surprise in opening each pack. At this point we each threw together a deck in the colours we felt like a the time. I built a black and green one and Jay built a blue one. I guess at this point I should clarify that there are five colours to play in Magic: black, white, red, green and blue. Each colour has its own abilities and you can choose what you like. You can play multi- and monocolour decks to your own personal preference. I didn’t really know what I like so I chose the colour that had the names of cards I liked best. Turned out I liked the abilities too. After our first couple of games, a few won on each side, we set out to refine my deck. My deck is complete now in the sense that it is playable, but we are still refining it and I think we always will be.
We have spent many a weekend after that first gameplay “single-hunting” at our local gaming/comic shops looking for the ideal cards for my deck. It is a really enjoyable and stimulating process. We have come to know the employees in the stores better and have had many great Magic conversations with them and other customers alike. I guess you could say we are now “regulars” at one shop in particular. We had trouble finding a few specific cards, so we ordered them online from Face to Face Games, a Canadian store that deals in Magic and other trading card games like Pokémon. It was a really easy way to get cards that were proving difficult to find.
On April 26, we played my deck as almost complete against Jay’s blue deck that has beaten me many times. My deathtouch, life gain and larger creatures decimated his deck. It was a good game though I did lose a few more times again after that. I can’t wait to play my deck again after we tweak it even more. And maybe in the future my Planeswalker won’t be countered every time!
We actually “finished” my black and green deck just yesterday. There were few more changes to be made to make it really great, and we bought a few more cards to help augment my deck. Jay and I also discussed the direction of my deck and ultimately we went with a slightly different direction, which seemed to make all the difference when we played it in the afternoon. Four hours and about seven games later, we were both very satisfied with the state of my deck. I will play with it in its current state until I start losing again. Today, I only lost once. I impressed myself. I never expected it to perform as well as it did, and neither did Jay for that matter. I can’t wait to play another game again soon.
I’m going to play this deck for a little while. Maybe I will get adventurous and try this one out at Friday Night Magic. While I play it I’ll be thinking about my next deck.
Our collection of cards just keeps growing too. It’s really neat watching our collection expand as we build new decks!