Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 21: Collections

The prompt for today ask about what I collect. This is the thing that comes to mind:

This is what our dining room table often looks like. 
Image Credit

I've been playing Magic the Gathering® since about 1994, when Uncle Bubba and I encountered it in a gaming store in Las Vegas. We each bought a pack of cards and played it right there at the counter of the store (fortunately, the place was pretty empty and the guy who ran the place didn't mind). We bought some more cards, went home and proceeded to become addicted to it.

As a game, it's very well designed. It has an incredible amount of variability to it. Despite twenty years of playing it, I've never seen it get formulaic. It's simple to learn, but complex to play and you never feel like you've mastered it because you never encounter the same situation in any two games. It's also very individualistic. There are so many different styles of play and everybody plays their own!

Because it's a "collectible" card game, the cards themselves need to have some sort of lasting value and these do, but their true value to me is not in their investment potential. I don't keep them for their monetary value. I keep them to play with. My collection of them numbers some 10,000 now, and every single one of them is as playable now as they were when I bought them. Some of them are worth a few dollars, but I'm not interested in getting rid of them--especially if I have people to play against.

There has been a solid bunch of kids at school for the last several years who play Magic®. They meet in my room at lunch to play, trade and talk the game. I have to shoo them out at the end of lunch, so I can actually teach class. They asked me several years ago if we could have a tournament at school, so I organized one for them. It was a hit (seriously, there were 20 contestants)! Now, it's kind of an annual tradition. We do a different format every year, but they're all designed to allow anyone to play. I compete in them (that is the point, after all; to play). I've finished respectably every year, but I hardly dominate. That's the thing about this game. Even little kids can put together a deck that will kick you in the crotch.

I introduced SiSi to the game a couple of years ago. She started playing with a deck I made for her, then borrowed some of my cards to tweak what I built, then borrowed more cards to build her own deck. Now, she's buying her own stuff, building her own decks and trading with me and others to get cards she wants. She and I have taken to going to weekly tourney events at the local game store. She went at first with a friend of hers, but this was one of those things that she really wanted to share with her Papa so I've been joining in the last couple of weeks. I t's become an evening ritual to play a "Championship of the Universe" (the winner of a best-of-3 set) before bedtime.

As with many things in my life, my commitment to Magic ebbs and flows. Until very recently, the only time I played was at school during the tournament. Now that SiSi is active with it, I'm involved more than I probably should be with it. It can consume rather large chunks of time to design a deck and playtest it, and it's not something that really fits in well with all that I have going on at the moment. The thing is, though, that SiSi won't be able to go to tourneys as often after we're living at the Red House full time, so I want to support her as well as I can until then. I suspect that it won't be as important to her once we're there, after a while.


the passionate hairdresser said...

You know, there could be a group of Magic players near the Red House, or SiSi could start (or suggest to start) a Magic group for an after school activity once she's settled in the new school. I bet that would be right up those kids alley...

Wayfarer said...

To be sure, Magic players are a furtive lot. They're always in the shadows. Often, the only way to lure them out into the open is to advertise a tournament. Or throw out some cheese doodles.