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CardShark Content - Alex Capaldi (7/16/2002)

Children are magical. At least that’s what they say. One’s childhood is supposed to be some mystical journey that you never forget. I don’t necessarily disagree. However, I’m puzzled by a certain thought: Do Magic: The Gathering and children really fit together?

Magic is more than just a game. It is a myriad of games. One could look at all the different formats, Standard, Block, Extended, Limited, Vintage. Or maybe you could view the differing styles of play like Peasant, Emperor, Team, Multiplayer, Five-Color. But when I refer to multiple games in one, I’m talking about the trading game. Can children really handle that?

I was approached last FNM by a kid, not much older than ten, proudly displaying his binder of cards. I finally concede to his impish charm and decide to give the binder a once over. Not to my surprise, the binder is flooded with commons. Odyssey commons. Not only that, they’re all green. Kids have a favorite color; unfortunately, that single color is the only one they flaunt in any way, shape or form. However, in the back of the binder I noticed a little treasure. Many know him as Finkel. I prefer to call him the good ol’ Shadowmage Infiltrator
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Shadowmage InfiltratorSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
294
Artist:
Rick Farrell
Power:
1
Toughness:
3
Text:
Shadowmage Infiltrator can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures. Whenever Shadowmage Infiltrator deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.
.

I slowly remove the mage from its sleeve and point to it in front of the child. “What do you want for this, squirt?” Now I’m not being condescending here, the boy stood a full three and a half feet tall.

“Oh, I don’t know…maybe him?” he chimes as he gleefully points to a Phantom Nantuko
Phantom Nantuko
Phantom NantukoSet: Judgment
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
128
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
Trample. Phantom Nantuko comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it. If damage would be dealt to Phantom Nantuko, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Nantuko. T: Put a +1/+1 counter on Phantom Nantuko.
in my binder.

“Tell ya, what, bud…how ‘bout you take two of ‘em, alright?”

“You sure?” he asks breathily as his eyes widen.

“Yeah, take ‘em. You know the Shadowmage is worth at least twice the Phantom, right?”

“I don’t care, he’s not green.”

I don’t care…he’s not green. Kids. Kids!!! Can children really grasp the true identity of this game? The cutthroat competition, the “dealers” who try to ream you on trades? They don’t! They’re in this blissful little world of “Hey, I just got my green creature that can get as big as he wants and can block forever!”

But this is only the beginning, friends.

The tournament begins and I get paired against a fifteen-year-old playing tog. Now, when I talk about children and Magic, I by no means am referring to the chumps who just squeeze within the age bracket for Junior Super Series. I’m playing Mono-Black Control and I lose slowly to the plentiful teeth of tog. I’m 0-1, that means I get paired with another loser next round. Oh and do I!

Let me just begin by saying I have NEVER seen Jandor’s Saddlebags in a Standard tournament deck before this event and I hope and pray that I will never see them again. As you may have guessed, my pairings this round led me to face off with yet another ten-year-old Magic totin’ wonder. Only in a child’s deck do you see a Sunscape Familiar
Sunscape Familiar
Sunscape FamiliarSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wall
Rarity:
C
Number:
17
Artist:
Brian Despain
Power:
0
Toughness:
3
Text:
The spirits of fallen battlemages can serve their guilds as familiars by joining with any physical form.
with no green or blue spells to benefit from it. Only in a child’s deck do you see a Buried Alive
Buried Alive
Buried AliveSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Brian Horton
Text:
Search your library for up to three creature cards and put them into your graveyard. Shuffle your library afterwards.
when they have no animating spells, threshold cards or graveyard manipulation. Only in a child’s deck do you see a Stern Judge
Stern Judge
Stern JudgeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
U
Number:
16
Artist:
Mike Cavotta
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
T: Each player loses 1 life for each swamp he or she controls.
when half of his own lands are swamps. Now, I understand that it’s hard for children to put value on a card they won’t use over a card they will use and trade unoccordingly, but…but…why cast Stern Judge
Stern Judge
Stern JudgeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
U
Number:
16
Artist:
Mike Cavotta
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
T: Each player loses 1 life for each swamp he or she controls.
when you yourself have four swamps in play?! Why?!

I was helpless. There was nothing I could do. Challenge? None. I had left all challenge that night behind when I went belly up to tog. I was forced to spend the next twenty minutes killing random creature after random creature until I drew a Corrupt
Corrupt
CorruptSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
124
Artist:
Vincent Evans
Text:
Corrupt deals 1 damage to target creature or player for each swamp you control. When Corrupt successfully deals damage to a creature or player, gain life equal to that damage.
. I nearly cried.

But wait! I think about the situation and consider my options. I could crush this poor child into utter oblivion or I could groom him into an evil black spell slinging Magic machine. I decided on the latter.

Stern Judge
Stern Judge
Stern JudgeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
U
Number:
16
Artist:
Mike Cavotta
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
T: Each player loses 1 life for each swamp he or she controls.
s are better in the sideboard, Travis. And usually only when you’re not playing black yourself”

“What’s a sideboard?”

I proceed to explain the idea of saving silver bullets until you know they’ll be effective. He eats it up. I continue elaborating on the virtues of a sixty-card deck as I tutor for my Corrupt
Corrupt
CorruptSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
124
Artist:
Vincent Evans
Text:
Corrupt deals 1 damage to target creature or player for each swamp you control. When Corrupt successfully deals damage to a creature or player, gain life equal to that damage.
. The second game begins and I mention that he could have sided out his Jandor’s Saddlebags when he realized I wouldn’t have any creatures that’d he’d need to prepare to block. He nods in understanding.

Strangely, I feel better about myself. Granted, I’m getting a ‘bye’ this round, not being able to play the environment I intended, but hey, I’m molding this kid into a better Magic player. That way the environment of tomorrow will improve.

After the match, I show him my deck and discuss how everything is designed to work together. He loves the idea of focusing towards one specific goal and asks for the deck list. I give it to him, grinning, knowing I’ve turned another to the Dark Side.

I still have time before the next match and feeling very mentoresk, I find myself a new protégé. The Phantom Nantuko
Phantom Nantuko
Phantom NantukoSet: Judgment
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
128
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
Trample. Phantom Nantuko comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it. If damage would be dealt to Phantom Nantuko, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Nantuko. T: Put a +1/+1 counter on Phantom Nantuko.
boy is poking around having swiftly lost his match. I sit him down and begin describing to him rarity and the main methods by which one values a card. I give him a list of the top cards in Standard currently and remind him to double check with people before he trades those cards away. I tried my hardest to prevent this kid from getting totally screwed by some older trader taking advantage of a naïve youth. Hey, I know, I got a Finkel for absolute crap from this kid, but I also gave him advice. How many players actually sit down and discuss these kinds of things with the kids of the game?

This is where I get on my soapbox. More people need to help out the younger Magic players. They usually retreat to this game to avoid bullies and the teasing popular kids at school. The last thing they need is receiving that same treatment from veterans of the game they’re growing to love. Help them out; they’ll love you for it and the game will love you for it, too. By pushing these kids in the right direction, we’ll make a better future for the game. They can handle the rigors of Magic and will be able to handle it even better if you guide them.

In my opinion, Magic and children go hand in hand. Just ask Ronald McDonald.


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