Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Magic Gathering?

I'm debating whether I should participate in the pre-release madness of the Magic: The Gathering (M:TG) 2011 core set. It's been years since I've played for realsies, though I recently got Duel of the Planeswalkers on Steam, so I'm not nearly as rusty as I could be.

I got out of M:TG long ago due to the cost of staying up to date with "allowable" cards, the annoyance of mostly playing against decks designed by someone on the internet rather than my opponent, rules disputes, and the constant errata (by which I mean the "official" way a card worked wasn't necessarily what was said on the card). It lost its appeal for me, and competition from other card games were making it difficult to find opponents anyway.

However, I'm done collecting cards. I've got old boxes of them that might be fun to look at occasionally, but I suspect the majority of them will one day be traded into a comic shop for store credit that will inevitably be spent on random trade paperbacks. If I were to play again, I would be happy buying pre-constructed decks that are guaranteed to be tourney legal. Heck, you can buy physical copies of the decks from Duel of the Planeswalkers, though with the latest set coming out, I don't know if those will stay tourney legal (see what I mean about the costs of keeping up with "allowable" cards?).

I'm interested in attending a tournament, because frankly, I need to get out and socialize more, and Magic would theoretically be good common ground and fun. This is, of course, assuming there are other adults at the tournament. I know there are plenty of adults who play M:TG, possibly having played it since it first came out, but that doesn't guarantee they'll be the ones attending the tournaments I have easy access to.

I was actually interested in asking someone at the local card shop about upcoming tournaments and what age group they foresaw attending, but man, it is AWKWARD in there. I genuinely have trouble telling who works there and who is just hanging out, which tells me that not much has changed since high school. I wound up checking out the website to find out about the tourney. Kind of pathetic, I know, but the atmosphere made me feel like an outsider in an unwelcome land, which is kinda weird. One would think a comic book store would be a natural habitat for me.

Although, someone on Twitter was kind enough to link to a Store & Event locator, and some of the locations are colleges. I might want to consider those if I'm hoping for adult opponents. Hell, maybe I can finally find people playing D&D 4.0 with that thing. Everyone I find for D&D the old fashioned way flakes out ^^;


  1. As a 20-something college student who played Magic back in the day and got heavily back into it recently, maybe I can help a bit.

    In answer to your question of who will be at the prerelease, the answer is EVERYONE. They're one of the biggest and most fun casual events of the year, and you get the jaded 35-year-old pros and bright-eyed middleschoolers alike. It might be a bit overwhelming, but you should get a good view of the local populace.

    Magic has grown and changed a lot in the past few years - Standard tournaments (using only the past two years of cards) are still by far the most popular but there has been a lot more support for casual gamers. If you're looking to play socially you should see if there is a local Elder Dragon Highlander group. EDH has become the dominant "social" form of Magic for people who enjoy the game outside of tournaments.

  2. I highly suggest going to a Magic event, and if you have mostly been finding younger players, you are definitely at the wrong events- Odds up, you will mostly find 20+ players, especially at a college-held event.

    Obsidian Dice is completely right about going to a Prerelease.

    And if it is the cost of keeping up to date / net-decking that bothers you, well, 2 good things.
    1- Net decking has become far less prevalent, especially amongst casual groups. Thus, you tend to see many more creative decks- It helps that modern play is a lot less stagnant as far as deck archetypes go.

    2- You can play Draft and Sealed Deck, which are formats where you only play with brand-new stuff, IE, you build your deck on the spot with fresh packs. No worry about high price of entry, just the price of a couple of packs, which a Fat Pack (my favorite method of introducing people to a set) will contain and then some.

    Speaking of Fat Packs, I highly suggest them- For roughly the same price as the cards alone, you get 8 packs, a life counter die, a full, beautifully illustrated guide to the set, and a very sturdy (and also pretty) box.

    EDH has become very popular, but I wouldn't say dominant- Casual normal play is still on top, although the new Planechase and Archenemy games are very fun, and compatible with any kind of deck, normal, EDH, what have you.

    If you do get back in to playing, keep us updated- If something goes wrong, we're here to help.

  3. Back when I played magic I was the only person at any of the events under 25 most were in there 30's and 40's there were TWO school aged players at the local get together here ME and my friend. (I'm 22 now so that was quite a while ago.)

    truthfully people at the events are to sinuses. I enjoyed magic A LOT more once I found a group of 5~10 people that just got together at each others apartments to play. Now days though I moved away from that group of players so I just play "Wagic" instead; besides being a lot cheaper I no longer have to keep track of cards. It's not social but I'd rater go to a LAN party! to be social. (NOT an FPS LAN party.)

  4. There's also Magic the Gathering: Online.

    It's basically what it sounds like. You purchase card through the online store or trade with other users. I think the online cards are actually cheaper than their physical counterparts, and you're guaranteed to be keeping up with the rules. It's good for people who are new to Magic and want to learn to play readily.

    A really cool part is that if you complete an entire Digital set of cards, WOTC will actually send you a complete PHYSICAL set of cards, for free.

    The downside is, though, that if you own the physical cards, you can't transfer those to your online set... So if you've got a hojillion cards in RL, well... They don't really matter.

    Of course, in this way, you also can ALWAYS find somebody to play with...

    Upsides and downsides, I suppose. :P

  5. I'd highly recommend finding a comics shop that does Draft events -- it's a cool tournament format that's low cost, doesn't give anyone an advantage for simply paying more money, and really just depends on your skill in on-the-fly deck construction and finding synergies.

    The idea is that a draft pool (a sub-group of the overall participant pool) opens a set of packs, and each person gets first pick from the pack that they open; once they've picked one card, they pass it to the person sitting to their left (or right). Everyone gets a first pick from one deck, a second pick from the next deck, and so on. It's cool because you can often tell what people end up building because you watch what cards disappear, and you see many of the cards your opponents have to have. Once each person has enough cards for their decks (it takes multiple rounds of opening packs), they add lands (usually the store will supply them) to fill it out, and a normal tournament begins. Their are obviously a couple places where the store rules can change up the format, but the idea is pretty universal and popular. My store doesn't charge more than the cost of the packs you open, basically, as it's a great way for them to get a decent number of sales. The nice thing is, you keep the cards after the event -- even if you get unlucky draws, you'll generally get some decent cards to add to your collection (in fact, choosing for collection rather than deck synergy happens a fair amount, 'cause you'll get a card that you just *can't* pass up on your first pick of the third pack, say maybe a Planeswalker, so it's basically a throw-away pick), plus you should be able to find some decent competition as well. It's a pretty good deal for everyone, TBH.

    As for the age groups that participate, it's definitely a mixed bag, but there's a fair number of adults at my Comic Shop's drafts. I highly recommend you check it out!

  6. Weird thought, but what about posting a craigslist add looking for people to play with? If you managed to scrap together a group of pals who just get together and play for the heck of it, that circumvents the whole tourney legal whoohaa and just lets you have fun and play. And maybe avoid having to play against those super anal by-the-book uberfans.

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