After school one day my Freshman year of High School I encountered a couple of friends playing a game in the hallway outside the art room. Two Sophomores, Chaz Panus and Lucas Rezboic, were introducing a group to this new game called Magic the Gathering or just “Magic” for short.
Many of us skewed nerdy and although I was killing time before football practice and was seen by some as a jock I personally aligned more with this crew. I sat behind my buddy Sam Michoda who seemed to be picking up the mechanics rather quickly. Other than Chaz and Lucas everyone else was using borrowed decks and understandably were getting their butts kicked.
For the uninitiated Magic is a collectible card game where 2 or more opponents use creatures, spells, and artifacts to inflict damage on their opponents. Mana that typically comes from land cards is used as the currency to pay for the spells and controls the flow of the game. From its initial launch in the early 90s it has grown into one of the largest games in the world with 20 billion cards printed and over 35 million active players. Tournaments are held the world over with champions taking home hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Like many of the guys present that day I was instantly hooked and found my way to the Ward Parkway Mall first chance I got to put some packs. The Dark was running out of print and Revised, Chronicles and Fallen Empires where what was readily available at the time. I threw together a blue/white deck and a green deck built around the Rabid Wombat card. I proudly played my cards at the next game only to have Chaz use Swords to Plowshares on my built-up massive creature followed by repeated attacks from his Mahamoti Djinn. I realize this will sound like to gibberish to most folks but my main take way from that experience was that the game was more than who is a better player or who can make the better deck. It was who had the money to buy the better cards. Chaz and Lucas came from affluent families (as did many from my high school) so I was always going to be at a disadvantage.
My next approach was to build a deck around Pestilence and Manabarbs. More often then not we played in big groups battles instead of one on one (which is likely why we almost never finished). The introduction of my new style made me an instant target and I was usually one of the first ones out of the game. If I had time I would hang around to see who was second and we would play a breakout game with me switching to a less divisive deck.
I’ve enjoyed play Magic pretty much ever since then. In 2004 I won a local sealed tournament using cards from the Mirrodin block. I still have the “Tournament Winner” foil Shield of Kaldra card. When Dave hit the teenage years he got interested and we started playing together and going to Standard Friday Night Magic events all over town. Our collection grew to more than 50k cards taking up a wall in our game room.
Over the years I have taught Magic to many friends from all walks of life. Eventually I convinced Bridget to play and for a short time she was interested and would play every couple of days. We’ve moved on to other games at the moment but I still play Magic Duels on my phone (now removed from the App Store and only available against the AI) but I feel pretty confident it will come back around at some point. Having that many Magic cards handy has a way of drawing you in.