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Maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The other day I had the misfortune to walk in on my bud and his girlfriend when they were having a spat. Now, normally I have enough common sense to think ‘Whoa…not good,’ turn around, and make for the door like wild hyenas were nipping at my heels. I had actually already managed to trip the neural dominos telling me to get my ass out of there and was in the process of implementing my escape plan when I heard my friend’s girl say, “Look, there’s Kevin. Since he’s here let’s talk a little bit about this Magic hobby of yours…you know, since THAT’S ALL YOU TALK ABOUT NOW ANYWAY!” Damn. Not good. So, for the next 20 minutes, I had to attempt to explain why her boyfriend was spending more time with cardboard than her. Apparently she had some strange idea that since I was the one who got him back into the game (he had retired from the game before meeting her and recently began playing again), I was somehow at fault for all of the lost ‘quality time’ together (which, as near as I can figure, amounts to sitting on the couch together watching reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos). Some of my finer moments in this particular conversation:
“I don’t know…just because?” (I was particularly proud of this one, it’s almost a legitimate sentence)
Artist: Kaja Foglio
Text: Before playing any spell, if a copy of that spell card is in any graveyard, the spell's caster may say Sorry. If he or she does not, any other player may counter the spell by saying Sorry as it is cast.If any player says Sorry at any other time, Sorry deals 2 damage to that player.
Sometimes, when somebody asks you to explain something to them, I really wish they’d let you get a word in. Anyway, after receiving proper chastisement, she banished the two of us from her sight, implying that my friend would be let back after proper atonements of chocolate and flowers. I think she said I’d be forgiven when I brought back the head of a unicorn or something. I’m really not sure because I realized at this point, “Hey…she’s not MY girlfriend…” and stopped being inclined to care.
She did bring up some interesting points about Magic players though. We’re a strange bunch with our dark secrets and strange mannerisms. Oh wait…that’s the government. Seriously though, I wish I hadn’t been so caught off guard by her accusations and all around vile temper. She brought up some of our (in her words, ‘obnoxious’) habits that really have good explanations…or at least are easy to lie about. For the benefit of the rest of you when you get trapped into explaining your hobby, this article is for you.
The main question she kept asking was “How can you guys sit there and play that game for 5 hours!? Every day!?!” Good question. The answer is probably related to how you can watch 5 hours of summer rerun television every day. Magic has a lot more going for it than those old episodes of Step By Step and Full House you keep watching. When you’re playing Magic, you’re actually DOING something. You have to be thinking about your next move. You’re moving cards around (not exactly the Char
les Atlas workout, but at least you’re not totally sedentary). You have to balance the cursing you do at your deck so that your prayers for the next top deck aren’t influenced by non-pottymouthed deities (praying to the dark gods just doesn’t help matters any…they like seeing the suffering caused by your fourth land draw in a row). That’s a lot of things to be doing at one time! Add in that you have an opponent to interact with as well and how can you not spend five hours playing? Jinx
|Set: Ravnica City of Guilds|
Artist: Adam Rex
Text: Char deals 4 damage to target creature or player and 2 damage to you.
ing alone can take five minutes of game time, and god-forbid the game actually be close; that means busting out the candles and goat’s blood (hey, you have to be professional about these things).
Artist: Mike Kimble
Text: Target land becomes a basic land type of your choice until end of turn. Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.
Maybe a better question is how can you be so amused by a single game? After all, there are lots of things that aren’t very fun that can keep you busy for hours – taxes, yard work, fighting with the girlfriend. What makes Magic fun? Probably the greatest asset Magic has is the strategy it requires. Why has chess been so popular through the ages? It requires you to use your brain for something other than maintaining your basic biological functions. Hard as it is to believe, people like challenges and problem solving. When you’re playing Magic, you have two realms of strategy to consider. First, you have to select your cards from a pool of thousands. How well do they work together? Does my deck have enough solutions? Do I own the card? Once you build the deck, you then have to address the strategy inherent in playing. Should I tap out or hang back for my Counterspell
? I have five mana and a Diabolic Tutor
|Set: Revised Edition|
Artist: Mark Poole
Text: Counters target spell as it is being cast.
…what’s going to save my ass? Hmm…he just top decked his fourth Fact or Fiction
Artist: Rick Farrell
Text: Search your library for a card, and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
…should I go for his eyes or his throat? Strategy isn’t the only thing that keeps the game fresh. New art, new rules, new cards…hell, I’m amused when I spot new flavor text on my favorite cards. On top of all of this is the thrill of victory when you crush your opponent. How can you not love playing Magic?
|Fact or Fiction|
Artist: Terese Nielsen
Text: Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.
Another comment she made was about how she couldn’t stand being in the room with us when we were talking about ‘that game’. Most of it sounded like gibberish – “tap that”, “during your upkeep”, “counter your FTK”. Some of it, however, sounds down right sundry and unwholesome – “Choose your sacrifice,” “Damn, I wish I had a full graveyard,” “I swear to god if you counter this I’m gonna bash your face in.” And let’s not forget the conversations about my White Weenie. Even as I’m writing this a friend is looking over my shoulder and giggling. I’m going to have to start writing these things at home instead of work (Yes, I have one of those cushy campus jobs that require you to basically occupy space and not break anything. Sometimes I actually work…really!). I guess there’s no particular defense you can make about Magic lingo. Just make sure they know that White Weenie is a deck type, not a pet name.
It was also pointed out that it was weird how we treated some cards like gold, lovingly layering them in plastic and treating them with kid gloves, while others we treat like trash, shredding or marking them up beyond all recognition. Hey, I’ll have you know I treat all my cards like trash. I get most of my stuff for squat from the commons box or off the internet and I have no intention of ever selling them off to recoup a profit, so I’ll do whatever the hell I please to them. While I haven’t gotten into the habit of drawing on my cards, I do enjoy placing kill marks on them. What can I say? It separates the men from the boys…I know exactly which elf in my deck is pulling its weight. That, and I just find it amusing when my Ebony Charm
with seven notches on its belt comes up. A friend of mine has a Camel
Artist: Gerry Grace
Text: Choose oneTarget opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life; or remove from the game up to three cards in any player's graveyard; or target creature cannot be blocked this turn except by artifact or black creatures.
with over fifty kills (probably a hundred by now). Marking cards gives them character! Anyway, I will admit I have a couple of decks in sleeves, but that’s only because the cards in them are so dogged they wouldn’t be legal otherwise. What other people do with their cards are their business, but I guess I will concede that some people are just anal about it. If you’re looking for an argument to support your motherly tendencies towards your cards, I’d recommend pointing out that theoretically some of them are worth money, and they’re worth more if they’re in better shape. Point out baseball cards as an example. Seriously though…they are just cardboard. You should enjoy them rather than worry about them.
|Set: Arabian Nights|
Sub Type: Camel
Artist: Sandra Everingham
Text: Bands All creatures attacking in a band with Camel are immune to damage done by Deserts.
The final question that came up is perhaps the most (or maybe least?) profound. “Why do you keep hounding after me to play your stupid game?!” Easy, because we figure if we can get you playing, you’ll stop crabbing at us about it. Even if you’re whiny, conceited, and condescending…we’re Magic players…we’ll take anybody. We’ve got plenty of whiny, conceited, and condescending players already to prove our point. Highest of the high…lowest of the low…if you have a basic grasp of the concept of literacy, you’re in. Haven’t bathed for two weeks? No problem, grab a deck and we’ll show you what’s up. Boring, violent, and/or socially retarded? Who cares? Whatever your flaw in character, we’ll take you. We’ll accept you into our hobby with open arms because every new player is a challenge and an asset to the game.
I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to convince my friend’s significant other to play Magic. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to convince her to let me back into the house again (Ah, that’s what stealth, intrigue and “Bitch, I ain’t here to see you anyway” is for). That’s ok. Magic is a lifestyle. She never got around to asking simply “Why do you play?” I play because I like the game, but I also play just to hang with my friends. I play to be challenged, but I also play because I like the community. Above are valid questions with valid answers, but they’ll never understand why we do what we do until they themselves saddle up and play a few games. Then they’ll understand what “Fireball
that Infiltrator. Yeah…that blowed up real nice,” can mean.
|Set: Revised Edition|
Artist: Mark Tedin
Text: Fireball does X damage total, divided evenly (round down) among any number of targets. Pay 1 extra mana for each target beyond the first.
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