The Gathering Magic

I have recently gone through a big change in my life.

I started, once again, to involve myself in the wacky, geeky world, that is Magic the Gathering.

For those not in the know, it’s a trading card game. The first of its kind, and one of only a few to have maintained sustainable popularity in the market. (No friends, TCGs did not start with Pokemon), and it goes well to say that I’m speaking to all you Nerdifiers here so I won’t bog you down in the nitty-gritty.

I played it as a kid and enjoyed it so immensely at that time that I’ve always had that hunger, deep within, to return to the *real* beautiful game. Having lived in this bustling Metropolis (Manchester) with its myriad gaming emporia for several years now, I’ve poked my head in a few times. I’ve taken a peek at the new stock with a mixture of confusion and intrigue, chatted to some players, skated around the periphery before dipping my toe back in… But last month I took the plunge and slapped my money on the counter with hope in my heart.

The financial outlay is achievable even on the most paltry wage (I should know). In fact, after setting myself up with a couple of base purchases, the cost per evening’s entertainment is far less than a movie or a night at the pub.

And here I get to engage my nerdy intellect rather than sit in a chair and consume.

M:TG plays rather like a combination of poker and chess but the fact that you construct a deck of cards yourself prior to playing is what really fuels my love of tinkering (and collecting). Like assembling some beautiful, gleaming war machine, one prepares one’s self for battle. Anybody who has pored over their favorite RPG, carefully assigning experience points and adjusting combinations of armor and blades has already known this thrill. And with new cards coming out every few months, that thrill is ever-present.

The local community has been more than welcoming. The amount of support, tutelage, and fair play is testament to the kind of person Magic attracts. The other players and the shopkeepers have been full of guidance and advice. And although coming in a-new and getting my ass handed to me most of the time, I was quickly able to trade my way to a position where I can legitimately hold my own. Two nights a week at the shop have filled my little geeky body with renewed (almost maniacal) devotion. As someone there said to me ‘You never really stop playing’. Once a Magic player, always a Magic player.

That said, things have changed a fair bit since I played last some twelve years ago. New rules, strategies, and cards have been challenging to absorb from my assumed position as a somewhat experienced re-newbie. But after a short while I found my feet and, of course, opponents are always happy to explain what they’re doing to you. If only to then bask more warmly in winner’s glory.

Then came the deal-sealer.

A night came around with a game format allowing me the best chance yet to use my old collection’s cards. As I had suspected, my oldies (ancient now as a fine barrel-aged tipple) were almost as surprising to some as theirs had been to me only a few weeks hence.

And boy did I kick some butt!

In fact, if not for a couple of self inflicted cock-ups, I would have done very well indeed… but going the distance was my goal and I had achieved the respect of my fellow nerds.

And that did it for me.

For as long as I have nights free I will continue to pursue this wonderfully social pastime. It’s all connected guys. There’s a plan currently with Fox to do a movie led by Simon Kinberg, of recent X-Men fame (and Fant4stic infamy).

And so the geek world comes full circle, with D&D and Warcraft adaptations also in the pipelines of rival studios. It’ll have to fight for its place but unless it’s a total disaster I’m hopeful.

With a bit of luck, Magic and its like will continue only to grow and to entertain countless more lucky gamers.

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