This post definitely falls into the “stuff” category of this blog. Normally I’d put in on my more personal blog, but since what I’ m writing about took place in Chicago, I think it fits well in here. I guess the best way to describe this blog is the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Stuff, but that is a bit burdensome, no? This is a Chicago life blog, so if you live in the area a lot of things on this blog, I hope, are things you can access with ease.
My son got into Magic: The Gathering, sometime last year. His main attraction is to the cool cards; vampires, elves, dragons and the like. All of which are drawn with a comic book style, some better than others. I remember when the game first came out back in the 1990s, and all things considered it hasn’t changed. Well the boy has continued his interest and he was in need of someone to play. That was beginning of the end for me.
I was the person who started to play him after school let out for the summer. We both were a little sketchy on the rules. After awhile we started to get the hang of it and it was fun. The boy soon wanted to go to Friday Night Magic at the local game store, The Dice Dojo. I…had my doubts. It’s one thing to play at home with your dad, maybe a few friends at school, but this seemed like a bigger deal; a bigger nerdier deal. I was sure it would be a bunch of social misfits, regulars at Ren fairs and comic book conventions. In short, the great frontier of nerdom, a place I had barely frequented. Even so, we decided to go one Friday and see what it was like.
Well, most of my stereotypes and preconceptions weren’t exactly struck down. Folks who wouldn’t be out of place as extras in the Big Bang Theory populated the adult side. It was really cool that first day that they had an entire room set up for kids. The kids inside were pretty much miniatures of the adult side, perhaps even a little more awkward. But it was a safe place and my son seemed to have fun, so we kept going. And who am I kidding? I was more than intrigued by the store. The card games are the bread and butter of the store, but if it is a board game, the Dice Dojo has it. I’m probably a bigger fan of Keith Law’s work on his personal blog where he writes about food, books and…games! After reading his best of lists from the past few years I’ve wanted to try a number of games. Walking into the store and seeing so many of Law’s best of games it kindled an interest. Also seeing the atmosphere at the store, it seemed like fun.
I wasn’t ready for that though. Up until that point, my only competition in Magic was a nine year old and I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory. The tipping point came when the boy decided he to join a kid league (yes, they have leagues.) So, I took the plunge and sat in on a draft. I did feel a little out of place. I wasn’t the oldest person there, but I was probably pretty close. Most of the conversation revolved around Magic cards, building decks, selling and trading and the like. I know a little of the lingo, but I was obviously a new, old guy. I was probably the only person with a child on the other side of the store. Even so, I’ve been haunting comic book shops most of my life, so while it was a different nerd dialect, but the language rang pretty true.
As far as the draft is concerned, it’s pretty basic; you buy in and get three packs of cards; then you open a pack, select a card and pass the pack, receiving another pack and so on until all of the cards are gone. I caught on to that pretty quick, built my deck and got ready to play. From there, I pretty much got schooled in for straight matches, in one particular game I didn’t even score a point, but I had fun, and met some nice folks. I’m even a registered Magic player now, with no points, but still and for fifteen bucks, not a bad way to spend a Friday night.
If there are any drawbacks to getting more into Magic: The Gathering it’s these. First I wish it got moving a little faster. We arrived at 6:30 and didn’t start drafting until about 7:30. It is a bit like herding cats, but maybe a cut-off time would work so we could get going. We didn’t leave the store until 9:30, which isn’t just late for my son on a Friday it is kind of late for me! The other drawback is that I have yet another collectible taking up space in my home. At this rate I could just set up my own little geek shop and emporium. Even so, if you like board games or have the slightest inkling to play a competitive card game, stop by the Dice Dojo. Look for the old guy on Friday draft night and you can probably pick up a win or two if we play.