Well that escalated quickly. I wrote a week or so ago about my foray into the world of Magic: the Gathering (MTG). I had fun, went to another draft and then I went down the rabbit hole.
The looking glass in this particular case was something called pre-release. As I was sitting at that second draft, the excitement of the guys was palpable. Everyone there loves MTG, but when it came to pre-release they spoke with such anticipation that it was hard not to get caught up in the moment. By the time I was leaving, I was already telling folks that I’d be coming back the following Saturday for the event. I wasn’t going to the midnight release. I mean I’m not that big of a nerd.
This was definitely not a night for the faint of heart, at least when it comes to MTG. This was some serious business. Later in the evening (and I do mean later) I even saw a couple of players really get into it; accusations of stalling and unfair play, crazy shit. But that is getting ahead of the story; first thing I had to do is check in and choose my guild (Simic.) I had no idea what that meant, but everyone else seemed really into their guild choice and what it meant. When I got to my assigned seat (I’m telling you, regimented military-like efficiency) I got my guild box with a whole bunch of goodies along with six packs of cards. This was a “sealed” tournament, meaning we didn’t pass the cards around like a draft but were given 40 minutes to open our packs and build our best 40+ card deck for the evenings play. The tourney was scheduled for 6 rounds and it was anticipated that it would run until 2 am. Seriously, 2 am.
I would love to give you a detailed description of my cards and deck, but I just don’t have the wherewithal at the moment. Also, I would imagine for the overwhelming majority of you that would put a cold stop to your reading, if you haven’t already done so. A good discussion of the new set can be found here. Even so, I was feeling pretty good about my deck and ready to take the plunge.
Or take a beating as it were. As of today I have yet to beat an actual human in MTG. I played four rounds, got a forfeit in the fifth and bowed out, might as well leave on a winning streak. I must admit though being in a tournament of any kind is fun. I actually am a ranked MTG player, poorly ranked, but still. I can check in on the website for such things, even earn bonus points for tournaments and events played.
The camaraderie throughout the night is something to see as well. Pretty much everyone there is reveling in being a part of something. It is more than a hobby for these folks, it is a community. A fairly homogenous community, but I wouldn’t call it exclusionary by any means. If you like Magic you’re in, no questions asked. It is predominately white young men, but there was a smattering of women and one very awesome drag queen. I should have taken a picture because she was dressed as a character from one of the cards, really put a lot of work into it.
Fighting over tactics aside, most of the folks are pretty helpful to a noob like myself. After my first round drubbing, the kid (molecular bio grad from U of C) who crushed me looked through my deck, and with apparent horror, helped to girder my deck for the next few rounds. Along the way, the other players were helpful and encouraging as well and, as I said I didn’t beat a human, I at least got close toward the end.
After close to six hours of pretty much non-stop playing, I’ve got a rudimentary understanding of the new set, but I’ll still get slaughtered next Friday. If you ever considered playing Magic: The Gathering, now is a good time to jump in, while the really good players have already studied the cards and are ready to pounce, a lot of folks are still learning what is what. While a newbie would still be at a disadvantage, it wouldn’t be as bad as all that. Even so, it’s a pretty fun bunch and yet another thing that I can add to my nerd street cred. As if I needed any more of that.