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Magic: The Gathering, a perspective from a returning player.

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Magic: The Gathering, a perspective from a returning player.

Postby VladVoivode » 24 Feb 2014, 13:58

Hi all,

Thanks to the programs on here, the "physical" Magic bug has bitten me again, but, I am a little concerned that Magic has turned into even more of a money sink that the good ole days. Let me explain and perhaps this will generate some conversation and counterpoint.

I discovered Magic accidentally in late 1993. At the time as many veteran players know, you were allowed four copies of any non-land card and there was a beautiful mechanism in place called manaburn - I don't think I need to explain it as even the newbiest newb has probably heard of it. Of course, we realized early on that such combos as Channel and Fireball were just cheap tactics and so many groups disallowed this combo even in casual play. But, virtually everything else was fair game and even if you didn't have a deck that contained the "power nine" you still persevered. Yes, you got your bum handed to you at times, but the power nine did not always guarantee a victory; you still had to play the game tactically and I have seen what are now called pauper decks beat these power decks. I will hasten to add however that I did think it was a good idea to limit deck to one copy each of the power nine and then later to limit to one copy in total as it gave players who came in at Revised and beyond a fighting chance without breaking the bank.

But that said, virtually every other card was legal and playable in any deck. There wasn't a fragmentation into tournament types as we see now with Vintage, Legacy, Modern, and Standard. Each successive expansion augmented your pool and opened exciting new possibilities and you really didn't have to worry about your collection becoming unplayable.

I stopped playing Magic in 2003 when I moved to Ohio and got more heavily into boardgames. Now, ten years later I am really amazed at the changes!

At my local gaming store are are two tournaments a week BUT, they ONLY play Standard. It's strange to think that virtually all my cards are unplayable now. That sucks because I am literally starting over. But what's even more troubling is the rule for playing "Standard." Only the most recent expansions are legal and when they get cycled out, everyone starts over again. If Magic was a money sink in the elder days, it is a money black hole now. In the US, I know you can still find Vintage and Legacy games quite easily, but, here in Holland, it's all Standard. So the situation at least here is that Hasbro/WoTC is guaranteed - by their own rulings - that players either HAVE to buy in every year or two or else hope you can find people who play casually.

It's a bit frustrating as my girlfriend's son wants to learn Magic and I have roughly 15,000 - 20,000 cards in my collection, but, while he will learn the game, he won't have the cards to play against his friends. And it is not in the best interests of gaming stores to encourage play of any set produced because Magic is a HUGE cash cow for them as well; and this is true in the United States as well as here. One shop owner in the US told me that the two games that keep the lights on and make profit for him are M:TG and Warhammer 40K. The latter is of course obscenely expensive.

Living card games have at least provided a partial remedy to this in that if for instance we decide to play LOTR and use just the core set, we all have access to the same cards and so tactics more than "collection" comes to the fore. But, even those are becoming a not small investment. The amount of expansions for LOTR LCG is growing and it seems that more and more, unless one is wealthy, one has to pick and choose what game to keep up with. The advantage to LCGs are of course is that the thematic focus doesn't really allow for the set cycling we see in Magic, but, LCGs are engineered around adventure expansions.

So I am faced with a dilemma! I want to jump back into Magic but I do not want to be stuck with cards that in a year or so I cannot play. I don't want to sell my existing collection because those cards have a lot of meaning and memory to me of playing 15 hour marathons on weekends. I have decided to slowly buy the LOTR and Pathfinder expansions but still the Magic bug is insidious.

These programs allow me to play whatever I want and while the AI will never equal the challenge of playing a human being capable of learning from her/his mistakes, they are still a nice challenge. I've tried very hard to get people interested in playing old style Magic and even offered to use my collection for all as a pool. But, everyone I have met here only wants to play Standard.

So, is it more of a money sink? Is it worth jumping back into given the points I've discussed? How do you feel about cards being cycled out and made illegal?

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