I tell many stories about the early days of Magic: The Gathering.
It makes me feel old. It was a whole different world then. I tell players in my area tales that start with the words “When I was your age…” It’s embarrassing.
Regardless, Magic has definitely changed over the years. Some would even say that the game has lost some of it’s magic. (Intentional pun.)
I was 15 when I made my way to the local collectables store, Dan’s Dugout. The store wasn’t even a true gaming store. It was a host for many sports cards and NASCAR model cars. On the shelf sat one or two booster boxes of the latest sets, Fallen Empires and Revised.
A friend of mine had already given me several cards, not enough to make a deck mind you but plenty enough to have my imagination racing. I always was into fantastic stories of knights and mages and this game was about to become an outlet to me. I purchased several packs of Fallen Empires since it was the cheapest packs there and began to hone my deck. I became a planeswalker that day.
I didn’t know how to play.
Magic then was more of something your friends introduced you into and chances are they didn’t know the rules either. I’ve played many rules ignorant variants involving playing all the lands you could in a turn and sacrificing lands after they were tapped for mana. There was even one way I was taught where you could tap your mana on your turn, cast no spells and pass turn, leaving mana in your man pool to be used in your following turn, effectively doubling your mana pool if you waited two turns and was willing to risk the mana burn.
All the players at my school were equals. There was no such thing as net decking. Your only source of information on the game was in magazines like Duelist and Inquest and that was released on a monthly basis. Learning what cards worked well was only gained from playing the game and seeing what cards your opponents had. You would see what cards worked well for him, perused said cards by scouring trade binder after trade binder or taking a peek at a limited selection of singles your game store may have.
Once I had the fundamentals of the game down, my imagination ran rampant. I thought of ways I could increase the effectiveness of cards, like preforming a Dark Ritual to surprise boost my dreaded Frozen Shade.
My god, the combos! Pestilence and Circle of Protection: Black. Channel and Fireball. Animate Dead and Deep Spawn. The list goes on.
In those days of limited information, players were forced to learn on their feet or be run over by players that “got it.” I played for ante on the school lawn under a crop of trees with a aggro deck full of commons like Kird Ape and Giant Growth, taking rares left and right until people figured out playing me wasn’t worth the risk.
I did become competitive but to this day, 20 years later I’ve never lost the amazement of the spells and creatures packaged inside a booster pack or the hidden gem found in a long dusty commons box.
Some say the wonder of Magic fading. We could all blame the dawn of the internet or the creation of serious, big money competitions but deep down, hidden behind the facade of net decks and Pro Tour Qualifiers, the essence of Magic is still there. Today, at this very instant a young planeswalker is opening his first booster pack and having his mind blown by the dragons and elves contained within.
My plea to all of you is this…
Magic is a game. Regardless of whether you are male, female, straight, gay, white, black, store owner, internet personality, Pro Tour Hall of Famer, Youtube sensation, Spike, Johnny, Melvin, Vorthos or anything in between, your fight for equality is fulfilled when we shuffle 60, draw 7 and become 20 life point planeswalkers. Leave your causes, grudges, claims of injustice and toxic talk off the table. Stop trying to ruin it for the rest of us.
Some of us are just trying to have fun around here.
If you enjoyed this commentary and have something to add, you can contact Aiokii in the comments below, Twitter or Facebook. Aiokii can also be found on MTGO, hit him up for a game sometime. Also, take the time to check out Reddit Budgetdecks for cheap discussion and deck ideas.