Magic: The Gathering has long satisfied a strange urge that could easily be classified as one of my dorkier impulses. Given that I’ve played on-and-off for about ten(?!) years now, and since before moving west in September I got my weekly fix like clockwork for over a year straight — well, allow me to soothe my withdrawal and indulge.
Before I give you my simple plan (a weekly contest), I won’t go through a long list of Magic‘s merits, but, like now, I often feel somehow obligated to explain myself to those unaware or familiar only with the game’s notorious potential to:
- turn healthy geeks to pale hermits
- cultivate Tetris-like mental preoccupations
- alienate the uninitiated
Despite such pitfalls – which really, are testaments to its allure – Magic‘s real draw, for me, is more about expression than ritual. An extension of personality, not escapist fantasy.
There are thousands of cards and many strategies to choose from when building your own deck before you actually start to play, and this phase of the game is surely one of the most challenging and fun. Then you play it against your friend’s new deck, and it’s almost like you’re discovering things about each other. Or you play in a group and realize how decks interact and all the interesting metaphors that can parallel real-life observations:
- over-aggression almost always backfires
- straightforward strategies are more dependable win conditions
- being clever means nothing without perseverance
Sure, I’ve met my share of dudes (I’ve known two female players ever) for whom the game seemed to carry probably too much weight in their lives (not anyone I played with regularly), but I’ve met far more whose sheer enjoyment outweighed any drawbacks.
Haters may say Magic carves too rigid a line between friends who play and friends who don’t (a point I agree can be a regrettable result), but the same argument can be made about many activities, say, playing basketball. The difference being anyone can learn Magic, but if you suck at basketball, well… you pretty much suck at basketball.
Anyways, I don’t know why I’m carrying on. I could keep going but I won’t. The game is a ton of fun, and I still miss playing it with my good friends – and did I mention my father and brother? – back in Boston.
I put an unmarked image at the top of the entry to see if anyone reading this can guess the name of the card. I’ll try to do this every Thursday in homage of when we usually played.
Can you name the card?
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