Magic: The Gathering. 24 years old and still going strong, this trading card game (also known as a TCG) has been ensnaring gamers for over 2 decades. With over twenty million players (the last count as of 2015) Magic continues to grow.
Now, I’ll be honest: I don’t play the game. Well…I tried. I attended a pre-release early last year and just couldn’t gel with it – and I tried, I really tried!
So then Ixalan came around. The new set, which features Pirates and Dinosaurs as it’s main theme, certainly grabbed my attention from the promotional artwork we received for the store. I decided to don my Tricorn, head for the horizon and jump in at the deep end – it was time to discover just what makes this game so amazingly popular and to get in the frontlines with our gamers.
I wasn’t going to go it alone, every good captain needs a crew – and this was mine (see above). From left to right we have David (he’s not usually blonde with a green beard), myself (in day off mode) and Mike (who is actually quite good but won’t admit it). 3 members of staff embarking in a sold out event, what could go wrong!
So this was it – In a real now or never scenario I plunged headfirst into my pack. My first thought was that the artwork was incredible, and I knew straight away I wanted to go pirates. Fortunately I pulled loads of Vampire pirates and lots of Human pirates so my pack went in my favour. So I set about making a Red/Black deck with as many low cost drop cards that I could get – hit ’em hard and hit ’em fast, take what you can and give nothing back! In retrospect I should’ve asked for some advice, but that didn’t seem really piratey…within the hour it was time for round 1.
Round 1: Zoe Walker
Look at that smile – butter wouldn’t melt right? Well..you’d be wrong! Zoe is one of our regular Commander players here on a Monday. As we sat down for round 1 I started by apologising for any confusion I may have and that I was new to the game, having not really played for a long time. The games were fun, Zoe was a fantastic opponent who certainly let me take my time but she absolutely crushed me with a 2-0 win. We went into a third round as I wanted to play again and I managed to best her – unfortunately it didn’t count. Next time gadget…next time.
Round 2: Wayland Goodliffe
Wayland has to be the nicest person in Magic. Not that everyone isn’t a nice person, but Wayland is a lot of fun with a lot of passion for the game. One of our FNM (Friday Night Magic) regulars Wayland just seemed happy to be here – and got just the card he wanted for his commander deck. Once again, I was crushed mercilessly underfoot – although this time Wayland was apologising to me. After many comments along the line of “hey, don’t worry…it’s a game” I managed to pull my first win of the day, well I say win, Wayland conceded due to only pulling lands for a few turns and not being able to get any creatures down.
Round 3: Stuart Belling
Some say he has a face that launched a thousand ships, others say that he is the Wizard of the Coast. All we know is that his name is Stuart Belling and he is a thoroughly lovely chap. And once again I was totally keelhauled. Another fantastic opponent, Stuart blew me away with his humility. Through making a mistake and playing a card incorrectly Stuart offered to start the round again, I said no and to carry on but it was a really cool offer to make! I managed to net my second win of the day but a 2-1 still went to Stuart.
Round 4: Wilfred Baverstock
Now, Wilfred isn’t actually Huatli, Dinosaur Knight – Wilfred is actually about 13 years old! Round 4 and I was paired up against the young chap – and I was totally impressed. Wilfred was polite, enthusiastic and had a great handle on the game. It’s worth noting that at this point in the day I was sat amongst Wilfred and all his friends (being 6’4 it was a terrible place to hide) but it was awesome. They were all excitedly chatting away about their cards and their tactics and it was awesome to experience that boundless enthusiasm. Unfortunately for Wilfred the planets aligned and I walked away with my first 2-0 of the day – but I will put this down to an unlucky few turns of only pulling land cards.
Round 5: Mike Howlett
Mutiny! In the last round I got paired against a fellow Bag of Holding staff member, but it wasn’t the clash of the titans we had hoped for. My games with Mike lasted around 3 minutes and he ripped me to shreds! Mike was totally apologetic, but it’s okay – all is fair in love and war. So instead of a lovely picture of Mike smiling with his favourite card here’s a picture of him enjoying a victory Twix…of which he gave me half. The last laugh shall eternally be mine Howlett!
In all I had a fantastic time. I’ve got a lot to learn, and quite a few of our regular players have offered to step in and guide me to building a deck – help I will most certainly accept. All our Magic: The Gathering gamers are real friendly folks and a really lighthearted bunch who just seem to want to have a laugh.
I can certainly see the appeal with the game, and that appeal comes from an amazing sense of community within the player base – it really is an all for one mentality.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for such an amazing day, my opponents for being tremendously fantastic sports about it all. And if you were wandering…I came 27th of 28. Missed out on the double booster wooden spoon prize by millimetres!