I mentioned a few posts ago that 2014 had been quite a hectic year for me. There was a divorce, a degree, a new job, a new apartment, a new *girlfriend, another new apartment and enough chaos at the day job to make any anarchist cry in joy. It was a stressful year, but a year filled with wonderful reconnects for me. There were many moments where I found little bits of myself that I’d forgotten.
One of those things was Magic the Gathering.
I had moved into that first apartment at the end of August in 2013. For the first few months, I was busy adjusting to my new, bachelor’s lifestyle. I wasn’t out womanizing or anything. My ex and I were still trying to work things out. I was working on school projects, buying those things necessary for living alone, and just generally occupied with getting a household set up. Basically, I was learning how to live alone again, and setting up those things I needed to live relatively comfortably.
Then, one day, I realized I had settled into the new place. This was in March, so right at a year ago. I was sitting in front of the TV, looking at the screen and realizing that I was tired of playing Skyrim. Wonderful game, but after the third day in a row, I was in need of a break. A friend of mine had broken up with her boyfriend of several years and we’d been hanging out and commiserating with one another, but she was busy. So, I surfed XBox Live to see what sort of cheap game I might be able to download.
I was surprised to find Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers listed there, and it was on sale for ten bucks. I’d played Magic: the Gathering (MtG) when it had first come out over twenty years ago. I loved the artwork on the cards and the strategy of the game, though I was never an expert player. I’d even played a long ago version of the video game, which had been clunky but seeing the listing for the game filled me with more than just a little bit of nostalgia. Soon, I was anxiously waiting for the download bar to hit one hundred percent.
Fortunately, the download was small, and I was soon playing a game that was at once both very familiar and very new to me. The basics of the game hadn’t changed that much, and the interface for the digital version was actually relatively easy to figure out, even without a manual. The game runs in phases, and those phases had changed a little bit, but not too much. Also, interrupt cards had all been changed to instant cards, which made a great deal of sense. The thing that threw me for a loop was the rather extensive listing of new abilities for the cards, as well as the much improved artwork. Regardless, once I started playing, I remembered why I’d loved the game.
It also struck me that I hadn’t gotten overly involved in MtG so many years before because, as a private in the U.S. Army, I didn’t have wads of disposable income. I’d had three decks, two of which had been gifts. They had traveled with me to Germany, but hadn’t made it back due to a shipping error. The result of the shipping error was that I’d just stopped playing Magic. I had focused on roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Rifts for the prior sixteen years or so, and hadn’t thought about Magic all that much. But – my disposable income had increased due to having a decent job and being wary of overspending.
I should have probably continued to be wary. Next thing I knew, I was down at my favorite local game shop, and I was perusing the Magic cards. To be honest, I was a bit taken aback by the sheer volume of choices. There was the Magic 2014 core set, Dragon’s Maze, Born of the Gods, and several other sets to choose from. I had no idea what the differences were between the sets, and had no idea which was the best thing to spend my money on. Fortunately, the staff at gaming stores have grown with the game since it first came out in 1993. The staff person working the Magic counter was extremely helpful and suggested several products for me, and I soon walked out with two pre-made decks and a few booster packs.
I walked out of that store on a geek high the likes of which I hadn’t felt in several years. There were a few reasons for that. The first was that I was feeling an enormous sense of nostalgia, as I’d mentioned before. The second was that I had physical manifestations in my hands that showed me that I wasn’t as shoe-string-budget poor as I was when I first joined the military. The most pivotal bit of that high though, was that I was going to be able to share the game with my son, Will.
Will is now twelve, and will very soon be thirteen. He’s a geek, just like me, though his brand of geekiness tends to lean more towards video games and anime while mine is oriented more toward roleplaying games and anything Norse. Here was something that I could really see bringing us closer, and it most certainly has.
Two weeks later, he and I were at the apartment and he was wondering what new game we were going to play. That’s when I pulled out the two decks and started explaining the game. He was a little distraught at first, because I was bringing him a “reading game,” but I soon explained the basics to him and let him play the video game version on the XBox before we pulled out the cards. It didn’t take long, and he was HOOKED. Especially after he won his first game.
Will wasn’t the only person I got into the game. Several of my friends are now also playing, along with their children. It’s brought me closer to my friends and my son, during a time when I really needed the closeness of my family that was born to me and the family that I have chosen. It’s led to many hours of laughter and fun. Even my girlfriend is playing it now, as she lets her geek flag fly.
All in all, is a long lost friend that I’ve found again, and I am ridiculously happy about it. Over the last year, I’ve amassed a collection of roughly 3000 cards. OK. Maybe closer to 4000 by now, but who’s counting? (The photo above is a few cards from my collection.
*If you are at all interested in translation, Hispanic culture, or horror movies, check out her blog: www.fortheamoroflanguage.wordpress.com.