Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Winter of Magic's Return

My name is Bill, and Magic the Gathering is a game which I encountered in the kitchen of my childhood home some time in the spring of 1994. My older cousin John had recently started playing a cool new card game and brought it over to show my dad and older sister. As they all payed I was gazing intently upon a wide variety of dragons, wizards, and powerful beasts that were battling on our kitchen table. Being seven years old, I was immediately curious and asked if I could play. My dad quickly tossed together a black/red creature deck for me and I was off to the races. Though his time playing  Magic was relatively brief as a rigorous work travel schedule would soon take over much of his time, he instilled in my brother and me a deep and abiding love of games. In addition to this he bought nearly all the cards that I had back in the day. I vividly remember being stunned that my favorite card, Hill Giant, could be so easily destroyed by my dad's puny Royal Assassin. My brother, who is about the same age as me, was also perplexed that his Force of Nature was neutered by my sister's Circle of Protection: Green.  Though my dad's and sister's time with Magic would end within about a year, my brother and I would continue to play for the next 4 years or so, amassing a fairly sizeable collection until 1998, which would be the last time either of us would play Magic for almost 20 years.

This is a blog about Old-School Magic: The Gathering, though my return to those halcyon days of dragons and giants did not take place in a local gaming bar--that would come later. It was on the enchanted shores of Ixalan where my brother and I would become once again enraptured by Magic. It was Thanksgiving of 2017 and my mom, wife, brother and I were back east visiting relatives. My brother and I were relaxing and started reminiscing about the old days. During the conversation, someone brought up all the fun we used to have with Magic. Inspired by these fond childhood memories, we  set out to nearby gaming store and bought a booster box of a new set called Ixalan. While it only took a few hours to be hooked again, something was missing from these stylized cards that did not have the same charm as the original cards I played with as a child. Though I am now exclusively playing Old-School, were it not for the pirates, merfolk, and dinosaurs of Ixalan I would never have found my way home.

Searching the recesses of my closet, we unboxed those cards of our youth and returned to the original plain of Dominia where we first began our eternal magical struggle. But while in 1994 we were constructing decks with only 4-drop creatures, we were now emphasizing mana acceleration and card drawing--two concepts we totally ignored  back in the old days--our games took on an entirely new flavor and spirit.

The vast majority of the cards my brother and I collected are from the Revised Edition. This edition of the core set differs from the original Alpha/Beta/Unlimited set in that many cards that were deemed over-powered or confusing were removed, in addition to including many reprints of cards from the Arabian Nights and Antiquities expansions. A few years after I started playing in the 90's I became aware of this and wanted badly to play with the original edition of the game as it was designed. Since there was no way to easily find old cards back then I never was able to do so.

This brings me to the title of this blog. In addition to documenting my adventures playing Old-School Magic with my brother and the new friends I have made in the local Old-School scene, I will also be documenting my attempt to collect an entire set of Unlimited Edition Magic cards. I am aware of the cost of such an endeavor and therefore this will take years, not weeks or months. In a way I see this as a good thing, as I will be able to document each acquisition and spend some time discussing each card, from its ability to its art and flavor. I look forward to the journey, from the collection to the card-by-card review of the original set of a game that has brought me so much joy.

*I want to extend a warm thank you to my brother for his invaluable help in both the design of this blog and the editing of the content.

1 comment:

  1. Found this through the link in your guest post on Magnus's blog. I like your writing style and look forward to reading more!