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[personal profile] jl8e
I'm selling off my Magic cards next week, (I have about 10,000 cards by my rough estimates), and the process of sorting all my cards left me feeling somewhat nostalgic.

I played for about ten years, from Beta in 1993 to Scourge in 2003. For the last couple of years, I was only playing in prerelease tournaments, due to the combination of the decline of the regular Sunday tournament at my local store and the fact that I wasn't buying many cards any more made it hard to stay competitive. I was also working on Shadowfist at the time, which required the same sort of mental energy that Magic does.

I don't regret the time or money I spent. (It's even possible I'll make a profit selling my cards, but I doubt it, and can't really tell anyway.) I had fun. I was good, but not great. The fact that I was never spending that much money on cards and refused to buy singles made me an eccentric deckbuilder, never playing the standard archetypes of the time. I like to think that if I'd gotten serious about it, I could've competed at high levels. That might've happened if I'd stayed in Pittsburgh, where I was friends with somebody who later became a regular on the pro tour. Then again, it might not have; I wasn't that active a player back then, and didn't play Magic with Erik much.

Most importantly, if I hadn't played Magic, I'd likely never have played Shadowfist, and that would have been a huge change. Through Fist, I met [livejournal.com profile] mnemex, and through him, directly or indirectly, I met most of the people on my friends list here.

I'd seen reference to Magic before it came out, but my reaction was "what a sleazy marketing scheme. No way I'm going to play that..."

However, my friend Eeyore had picked up a deck and a couple of boosters, and convinced me to play (not that hard, really). We split his cards in half, and played a game. Then the mind-control drugs on the cards kicked in. (Incidentally, this is probably the only time I've ever handled a Black Lotus. Almost certainly the only time I played with one.)

I'd been at GenCon that year, where the game first came out. Supposedly, the game was everywhere, with people playing it all over the convention center wherever they could find the space. I don't remember seeing it at all.

My favorite card ever is probably Zur's Weirding. I built a number of decks around it over the years. It does a bunch of things that I generally enjoy: it forces the game out of its normal mode, it creates complicated situations that have to be evaluated on the fly (which is probably my biggest strength as a gamer), it lets agressive decks convert an early advantage into a win, and it makes combo decks cry.

When I was sorting my cards, I took apart the remains of some of the decks I'd played over the years. (I'd stop playing them when sets rotated out of the format, so many of the cards would no longer be legal, and I might as well leave the deck together.)

The type 2 format used to allow the most recent N sets, with old sets rotating out as new ones were released. Around the release of Weatherlight, they changed it so that sets moved in and out in blocks, where a block was a standalone set and the two expansions that followed it. This allowed Ice Age back into the format, and meant that Buried Alive and Ashen Ghoul were now in the format together. With Nether Shadow also available, the core of a deck was obvious. My particular version was black with some red, and Death Spark and Krovikan Horror filling out the graveyard engine. IIRC, this was the only time I bought singles, shelling out a couple of bucks for some Horrors and Death Sporks.

Another favorite was Turbo-Orgg. This was the era when naming a deck Turbo-whatever automatically made it a good deck. Also, the potential first two turns of mountain, Mana Vault, mountain, 6/6 trampler is pretty fast. The rest of the deck was blue/red, with other aggressive creatures, plus countermagic and Zur's Weirding. I honestly don't remember whether it pre- or postdates the Buried Alive deck. I remember it using Force of Will and Arcane Denial for countermagic, so it had to include the Ice Age block, but I also remember that it contained Weatherlight cards, which suggests it came after Ice Age rotated out and killed the Buried Alive deck. They may have been contemporaries, but I usually didn't keep many live decks at one time. I may also be crossing the countermagic used with a different Zur's Weirding deck.

Later, when the format was Tempest and Urza's block, I played Oath of Spikes. Tempest block had a bunch of "Spike" creatures, that existed as +1/+1 counters that they could move around to other creatures. Add Oath of Ghouls, and you have a base that can drop critters, move their counters to other critters, bring them back to hand, and do it again. Add Elven Rite for more counters, Survival of the Fittest(when I managed to trade for some) for supercharged graveyard filling, and Mulch for land draw and graveyard filling, and there was a deck there. I think I actually first built it after Exodus came out, late in the Tempest+Mirage blocks Type 2, because it suffered badly in the combo-heavy Urza's block environment. (All things considered, Urza's block was probably the first nail in the coffin of my Magic habit.)

I made other decks over the years, but those are the only ones I really remember well ten+ years after the fact.


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