Wizards may not spell it out in the rulebook, but it’s there clear as day: We want it all.
Three events of late have led me to believe that Magic isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be; it’s either better or worse than what it seems. And it’s probably both.
Event: A few high-profile Magic nerds decide to take five.
These highly visible, dedicated-to-the-game Magic personalities decided (or had it decided for them) to step away from the table and take a breather. I am not aware of the full scope of their sabbaticals, but I doubt suggesting that the phrases”real life” or”personal problems” might be at least partial factors in their decisions would be out of line.
Been there. Had (have) them.
Magic will survive without them, and when they return it will be here with open arms and a warm bosom inviting them to snuggle up. And that’s a good thing, right?
Alcoholics are never”cured.” Ditto for crackheads. I’m not sure about Magic players, though.
A few months in Betty Ford can clean up the mess, but it can’t eliminate the problem; the drugs or alcohol will still be there, readily available to those who seek them out. Magic will still be there. And it’ll be tempting to jump back on board with the fervor of old, throwing caution to the wind, even if slowly but surely wins the race.
How do you confront your demons on a daily basis? Well, on a daily basis.
This stunningly frank article might’ve been written by any of us, for it pertains to us all in one manner or another. It’s an eclectic mix of”Torn Between Two Lovers,””Stand By Your Man,” and”Fight For Your Right To Party” that has millions of bylines, with each story tweaked within the parameters Agent Smith and Neo had set.
There is a reason Bennie used The Matrix as a template for his take on what this game is/might be/hopefully never will become at the end of his article. Strip away the façade and we can only be left with one undisputable truth: Things are what they are.
One could argue that this game only takes what we are willing to give – wanna play once a month at the kitchen table with three hundred-card decks? Fine. There are plenty of kitchen tables in the world, and more than enough people to fill them.
However, those kitchen tables are only a refuge for a certain amount of time. Eventually, the 4 x 8 tables begin to look greener than the beat-up circle of friends; the skillz become sharper and the need to stand on tiptoes and see what’s over the horizon becomes more and more tempting.
Enter the DCI.
In other words, many players outgrow their baby shoes and graduate to Nike Airs before they even know what happened (or why). Call it a casualty; call it a tragedy; call it a loss of innocence, but be sure to call it what it is: Inevitable.
You probably know the story by rote:
New Guy learns game from casual friends.
New Guy begins to spend more time playing.
New Guy begins to get better.
New Guy gets better than casual friends.
New Guy becomes target.
Enter the DCI.
Welcome to a world that you think you could control, if only you knew how. I can quit anytime I want.
The DCI is a crack-slinging, whore-mongering, bitch-slapping, nameless, faceless abomination of all that is just and good because it purports to give us what we need.
But it can be if you so choose.
With casual games having a reputation for”fun only,” you’d think that New Guy would be content to keep building decks that sport stellar combos along the likes of Serra Angel/Castle for time immemorial. You’d think that, right?
New Guy thought that too. Of course, this was when the game really was all about”fun only;” back before he realized that new cards come out every three months; back before he realized that he had the ability to differentiate good cards from utter chaff; back before he realized that, while the kitchen table was still fun, the roundtable game lacked the ability to truly spark his competitive juices. And the kicker…
…back before the rest of his casual buddies started to whine about his”serious” decks and judicious use of cards that were better than everyone else’s.
Enter the DCI.
Whoa! An organization whose entire existence is based around keeping guys like him happy! Nirvana without the pain in the ass mantra! Long live the days of customer service!
Someone who understands me… Someone to watch over me.
Can you feel the love? Can you feel the competitive spirit oozing from every pore of this heretofore unknown celestial being? Much like The Twilight Zone episode”Eye of the Beholder,” there is a place for people like him to feel welcome and embrace in fellowship.
It’s all good. He wades in past his knees, not concerned with the warnings of those who had come before him to always stay within sight of the shore, and is swept up in the undertow.
This is where his story ends. You know how it turns out because you’ve lived it.
Magic has taken me places I never would’ve gone. Magic has allowed me to meet people I never would’ve met. Magic has given me a new world to explore. Magic has given me more than I could’ve ever expected.
Magic has taken things it had no right to. And I let it.
I hate this goddamned game, this amazing game.
I hate what it takes, but appreciate what it gives.
It’s crack. It’s coke. It’s a fifth of Jim Beam staring down the lush. It’s a dirty syringe. It’s AIDS. It’s cancer. It will sap your strength a little at a time…If you let it.
It’s everything you want it to be – it’s exactly what you make it.
Magic is a mirror.
Sometimes we don’t like what the mirror tells us, but if there is one certainty that can be lumped in with death and taxes it’s this:
The mirror never lies.
Magic will be here if those high-profile Magic nerds decide to dance with who brung ’em, whether they want it to be or not. It will be their daily struggle, and they’ll have to take it one day at a time.
So, let us all take this game one day at a time…
John Friggin’ Rizzo