You should be playing Magic: the Gathering

I started playing Magic: The Gathering (MTG) in high school when I was 15 years old, after my friend Jay introduced the trading card game to me, along with our mutual friends. As teenagers growing up in a small city (Sarnia, Ontario), we had limited options for entertainment, so we embraced Magic pretty much immediately after we started playing.

Before Magic came into our lives, we would spend most of our spare time playing card games (Euchre was our go-to game), listening to my parent’s vinyl collection in my basement, or watching movies at the only theatre in town. We were bored kids looking for something fun to do with our seemingly endless amount of free time. Once we started playing Magic, it soon became our main preoccupation, and for some of us, turned into a lifelong hobby.

We started playing Magic around the Mercadian Masques block, after purchasing a couple of starter packs and tournament decks from our amazing local game and hobby store, Future Pastimes. We picked up the rules of the game, and learned how to construct a deck of cards using a combination of lands, creatures, artifacts, enchantments, instants, and sorceries.

Mercadian Masques
Mercadian Masques starter pack

Soon, each of us assembled passable decks to play against each other whenever we could all get together, which was pretty often. I built a black/red/green deck using big, high mana-costed creatures and a few removal spells. It was a pretty terrible deck, but I was proud of it, because I assembled it myself after careful selection from the ever-growing stack of cards I owned. Over time, I would learn more about card synergy, deck archetypes, and game strategies, and would tweak my deck accordingly.

Eventually, we heard about Friday Night Magic, a format of Magic: The Gathering tournaments held on Friday nights in gaming stores and associations all across the world. We decided to bring our constructed decks with us and try our luck against other local players. Some of us did pretty well, and left with a few booster packs as prizes that were given to the players with the best overall records. I wasn’t so lucky the first time around, but still had an enormous amount of fun.

Friday Night Magic
Friday Night Magic

After a few more weeks playing at Friday Night Magic, I started winning more games, and eventually did well enough to finish in the top 8, earning a handful of booster packs for my trouble. It was amazing! I loved the thrill of friendly competition, but the best part of Friday Night Magic was meeting new friends who loved Magic as much as I did. It felt pretty cool to be a part of a community of people who shared a passion for a hobby as fun and rewarding as Magic.

My friend Jay started playing at a higher level, going to Grand Prix tournaments in Detroit and Toronto. He came back from those tournaments with stories of tournament pro players with amazing decks and crazy expensive cards like Black Lotus, Time Walk, and Ancestral Recall in their collections. Meanwhile, we continued to play at Friday Night Magic, building up our own collection of cards. We had a lot of fun and probably spent more money than we should have on Magic, but the camaraderie we experienced together made it worthwhile.

Once I graduated from high school and went off to university, I didn’t have as much time for Magic. School became a priority, and I took a break from the game. I regretfully ended up selling most of my cards to help pay for school (note to current Magic players: do not sell your cards!), but kept a bunch of cards in storage in case I ever got back into the game.

Flash forward fifteen years later

Over the last year, I started playing again during the Khans of Tarkir block (shout out to my friend Rob for getting me back into the game), and rediscovered my love for the game. Since then, I’ve built several new decks, played in a bunch of tournaments, and gotten a handful of friends into the game as well. We play sealed, draft, standard, modern, and two-headed giant games, and are attending pre-release events for new Magic sets at our local game store.

Khans of Tarkir
Khans of Tarkir emblem

The game has changed since I played as a teenager, with new card types (Planeswalkers!), rule changes (damage no longer on the stack), and thousands of new cards. I missed out on some pretty cool sets, but I’ve been learning all about what’s happened since I last played around the Odyssey block.

It’s been a blast, and it’s safe to say my fondness and interest in Magic has been thoroughly rekindled.

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Mike Holmes works in the digital advertising industry and lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a big-time nerd obsessed with The Simpsons, professional ice hockey, contemporary indie music, and Magic: The Gathering.

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