ChannelFireball asked some of their favorite writers to write about the defining moments in their personal history with Magic. Obviously, I wasn’t in the group asked, and neither am I going to Vegas (this whole thing being a part of the GP Vegas marketing, the point being that the event will be historically big), but I am going to the sister Modern Masters 2015 event in Utrecht.
… and they can’t stop me, even if they tried. Muahhahhaa!
I think I’ve written about this before, but I won’t let that stop me either.
My first experiences with the game were in (lets call it) high school (for simplicity’s sake). Some of my friends had found it during the summer of 1994 and it looked great to me at the time, so I used the little money I had to buy a Revised Starter Deck (pretty random 60 cards they used to sell back in those days, you couldn’t really use it as a deck or build a deck out of it). I was pretty much immediately hooked.
Even then, black was my color. Royal Assassin was always my boy, even though it was very hard to make him work in an environment with plenty of removal and opponents could always wait it out until they found one. (Ice Age brought back Icy Manipulator, which changed that equation.) I also needed to get El-Hajjâj just because, even though I understood even back then that the proto-lifelink wasn’t worth paying 3 for a 1/1.
This was around the time The Dark was released. We knew it was limited edition, and we’d heard how Legends (the previous set) had been sold out pretty much immediately, so we needed to get some for ourselves.A local book store got a box, so we bought as many as we could. Well… a big disappointment, although I actually liked several of the cards flavorwise. (Fun fact: there is a card from The Dark that is still standard legal and probably underplayed, Tormod's Crypt.)
Why the flavor worked? Because it was lead designed by Jesper Myrfors, the art director at the time. It was pretty much all done to serve the art, which is a noble cause, but I did feel sort of cheated. Not that the cards were that much worse then the rest of what was available to us, but still.
My first tournament came about a year later at RopeCon 1995. It was a ‘jokamiesturnaus’ (everyman tournament in English) meaning that you could bring pretty much any 60 card deck you felt like, but you had to commit to selling your deck after the tournament for a preset price (I think 100 or 150 marks, or 15 or 25 euros) if someone offered to buy it at that price. Its a rule used in Finnish rally car racing (obviously not always) and I think it would be a fun casual format today, although probably not one WotC would be willing to endorse or promote.
My first round was against the reigning Finnish national champion. Of course I didn’t know this and I wondered why everyone gathered around us when we played. I won. I went a couple of rounds further in the single-elimination tournament (swiss wasn’t really a thing yet) and I was pretty happy with that.
I remember playing a monoblack weenie, which used very efficient enchantments we had in those days (mostly Unholy Strength). Things like card advantage weren’t really things back then either (well it was, but not well understood). I remember also playing one copy of Necropotence, since I had just traded for one and I was pretty sure it was going to be a good card, although I had no idea how big it was going to be. The common joke at the time was that if the card had more than five lines of text, it was unplayable. I, on the other hand, felt that the option to exchange resources in this way, was going to be strong in the right deck.
My next tournament was a small event held by some hobbyists in a small town near Vaasa (bigger, but still quite small town) I lived at the time. We gathered a car full of people and went to play. I played a black-white weenie deck, with horrible mana (only one set of dual lands in a deck full of creatures that cost either WW or BB). I remember my first round opponent being some local guy, who was thought of as a big deal locally, because he had been able to procure a full set of Shivan Dragons. He actually laughed when he saw me playing an Erg Raiders on the second turn. Turns out, playing 20 lands (like the rulebook suggested at the time) and only very slow creatures isn’t a good idea. My lowly Raiders (Human Warriors after creature type updates) actually went all the way in that match and with all my knights took me to either the quarter- or semi-finals. Don’t remember exactly.
I played actively for a couple years after that, but after people went off to university and all that, the playgroup I used to play with sort of fell apart and those who remained didn’t want to play Type 2 (Standard, these days), because they had invested in some expensive, but utterly boring cards, such as Moat. My last tournament was in 1999 or 2000 where I played a deck I loaned from someone. It was a Suicide Black, a fun (for me) deck in an archetype I still try to make work.
This one was special, however. The main idea of the archetype that it doesn’t matter how fast I’m killing myself as long as I’m killing the opponent a little bit faster. This one does this just a bit better than Pitiless Horde or Pain Seer these days.
After that, I took a hiatus. For a quite a long time. I returned around Avacyn Restored, although first to play EDH. Other members of the guild got me interested. One of the reasons for why I stopped playing the emphasis on spells. This had clearly changed. Back then decks with creatures were an anomaly, while now creatures are the thing. Sure, there was still one completely creatureless deck in the top 8 of the last Pro Tour and I think that’s a pretty good balance.
After a couple of months of EDH, I began to look into playing in tournaments again. I bought a deck off the shelf (one of the RTR Event Decks, they used to put out two) and tried it out. I didn’t do very well, but I could clearly still play, which gave me a sort of edge against many of the local players. Of course, playing that deck was a huge hindrance, but its always been more about the experience then winning for me.
My first GP was Valencia 2013. I knew some people there, who had asked me to visit, and I had some leeway on the exact time, so I decided ot choose the week they had the GP. It was Theros limited and I played BW deck with a very good late game, but not enough removal. I went 5-4, which was fine I guess. Despite some problems (there was a suspicion my pool had been tampered with, but couldn’t prove it, and one of my opponent was very selective about when he understood English, disregarding things like damage and deathtouch when it was bad for him) I had fun and was interested in going again.
This weekend, I’m going to me seventh. I haven’t done really well in any of them, but who cares. They’re still fun events, even though there are frustrating aspects to them. Most opponents are friendly and are there clearly because they enjoy the game. Some are there because they are unhealthily competitive and don’t take losing well, but you can survive those encounters (and if you do poorly, you don’t have to play them, because they drop early).
So, that’s my Magic history, for now. I won a PPTQ yesterday, so maybe there’s more to tell in the near future, but we’ll see. Sealed is always a hazardous format.