This weekend we recorded somewhat of a mega show of AggroChat. We originally sat down thinking we might not have a complete show… and then recorded for two hours and wound up dropping a few topics to try and manage the show length. There were a whole slew of topics but one of which is one that I did not expect to blow up to the level at which it did. Kodra has been talking magic for a year or so in his adventures in doing drafts through Magic Online for each of the expansion releases that have happened. Lately however I have found myself obsessing about the game even though I have not regularly played it since the tempest cycle. Magic the Gathering will always have this nostalgic characteristic for me because I have had a lot of really good times playing it. The problem is… once I entered the adult world I stopped having a regular stream people to play with. I’ve never really gotten involved with a local shop doing the Friday night magic thing, because in truth people just don’t play Magic the Gathering the way I want to play it. The prevalence of NetDecking and combo magic turned things into a weird cold war… where you either needed to be playing whatever the new hotness needed to be… or at least come up with a way to counteract that new hotness. When I last stopped playing… the format of choice was called “Type II” and I believe this translates to the “Standard” in the current naming of formats. So when I left during the Tempest cycle it was all about the combo to beat… and either scrambling to get the cards… or scrambling to get something to beat it.
The style of Magic the Gathering I enjoyed was back when you never quite knew what you might be encountering in a players deck. Maybe it just took my area while to get super competitive, but in early tournament play I only ever once encountered the “power nine” but instead came up against a lot of seemingly fun to play themed decks. For me a lot of my decks centered around some card that I wanted to play with… and then blunting the negative effects of that card. So say I wanted to play with the Lord of the Pitt, I would run some token creatures that I could just keep churning out to feed to it rather than pay the 7 life upkeep. If I wanted to play with Leviathan I would run Icy Manipulator and Twiddle to keep from having to pay the two island tax to untap it each round, then figure out some way to retrieve islands from the graveyard every so often. It was fun trying to figure out a way to counteract what was not good about the cards and then figure out how to make them work well enough to be playable. Some of the most fun I ever had was in college the magic store I used to hang out in had a deep common bin… and we would end up building these $5 decks out of the archives and then pit them against each other. I guess the modern equivalent to this would be pauper, but even then… that format takes itself way more seriously than I wish I could when it comes to MTG. I’ve been trying to sort out a way to play the game how I want to play it… but also find some people to play with.
The biggest problem right now is availability of people. There are enough folks who have played MTG at one point in their lives to maybe create a lunch time group at work. The problem there I am not not sure what sort of format would work best. I am leaning towards something janky along the lines of Pauper Commander… without the commanders. Where you functionally construct a deck of common cards without the ability to repeat any cards. I would functionally need to probably fund a lot of the commons given that there are simply not enough in any one set to make up a deck of entirely common cards. I think a format like that however might bring back the random weirdness that I miss from playing Magic. There were moments where you would sit down and encounter something you never expected to see… and it would be interesting to figure out how to adjust to that and find a way to either defeat it or work around it. In truth I love common cards, because they tend to be the unappreciated workhorses of magic. It always bugs me a bit when people just dismiss them and toss them aside like garbage… when you cannot really make ANY deck without relying on a whole slew of them to serve as the glue between those higher dollar cards. I have no clue how this will end but thusfar it has simply been a case of be re-familiarizing myself with Magic the Gathering and trying to figure out if this is really something I want to jump back into.