Excuse Me, Mrs. Suitcase?

Do you have scads and scads of old cards lying around your house and taking up space? Laura has a few ideas for interesting things to do with them.

There is a relatively new member in my weekly Magic group whose collection of cards from recent sets consists mostly of stacks of donated commons from Emperor Draft. The occasional sealed event provides a supplement of uncommons and rares, but for the most part, he doesn’t have many cards. A few weeks ago, he decided it would be worth boosting his collection in order to have a larger supply from which to build decks. Ever the pack rat, I was particularly suited to help him in his endeavor. I offered him my six boxes of extra Mirrodin and Kamigawa cards, letting him take what he needed. The next week he showed me a nine-inch stack of cards which he kept, handing back six still-full boxes.

Boy, do I have a lot of cards.

The most egregious part of it all is those cards reside under a table where they are a constant source of bruised knees and stubbed toes. My last encounter with these cards – pulling them out for my buddy Tim – resulted in an entirely new and literally mind-numbing experience – banging my head on the bottom of the table. So I gave these cards an ultimatum – shape up or ship out. If they weren’t going to serve any useful purpose, I explained to these unlively and unkempt pieces of paper, they would be left with one of two options: become fireplace fodder or garden compost.

It’s amazing how well inanimate objects react when you threaten them. While performing the usual ritual of the late-for-work morning rush, I hastily grabbed my trade binder and deck case, both of which were unzipped. I’ll spare you the gory details of playing sixty-card pickup with eight different decks, other than mentioning that I didn’t make it to work very early that day. It was as I was sitting on the floor, hunched over a scattered mess of beads, sleeves, deck boxes and cards that I was given a response from those unprivileged, unplayed cards. Several pages of Green cards had fallen out of my trade binder, one of which was Recycle.

That was the answer.

To what? A question on Jeopardy? A greener earth? Poverty? World peace? Nothing that complicated; however, I was sure the results would be just as profound. When I play Magic on Thursdays with my group of friends, we all share hosting duties. These duties usually require providing a house, table, chairs and some light by which to play. The designated host of the evening is usually pretty generous and also offers snacks and beverages to make the event more enjoyable. I have had the honor of hosting a couple of times now, which I appreciate immensely since it doesn’t require an hour drive on my part.

While most everyone is very conscious of being in someone else’s home and maintaining a high standard of cleanliness by picking up after themselves, there is one person who constantly confuses my recycle bag with my trash can. There’s nothing malicious behind this behavior, it’s just an unconscious act on his part. I have been trying to think of ways to adjust his cleaning habits – putting out both the recycle and the trash next to each other, with the recycle bag chock full of obvious recyclable objects like pop cans, milk containers, wine bottles – but to no avail. I think last time I had to pull out a napkin and a couple of pistachio shells. What I really needed was something quirky and unique enough that he would take notice and hence not forget.

Enter Recycle. So why don’t I just tape that card on my recycling container? I suspect every single Magic player would take a second glance at any card-sized sign that vaguely resembled a Magic card. If that second look actually confirmed the suspicion, I am sure a smirk would follow – definitely a couple of light-hearted insults at a minimum. At least the card wouldn’t be forgotten and I will no longer be picking candy wrappers out of my recycling bin.

Come to think of it, a Replenish would look nice on the refrigerator where the beverages are stashed. Nothing like a friendly reminder so there will be no shortage of cold pop by week’s end. Compost is perfect for the ice cream bucket sitting next to the kitchen sink, where I toss my vegetable peelings. I wonder what people would think if I taped my DCI Foil Balance to my checkbook?

For those of you with kids, maybe you could use Magic cards to get them to do their chores. Instead of telling them to wipe off the dinner table, hand them a Wipe Clean. Don’t nag them to feed the dog, tape Feeding Frenzy to their mirror. Plants dying from lack of attention? Give your son Deep Water and tell him either the plant gets it or he’s in it.

I sat down next to those abandoned, yet neatly stacked and sorted, extras and offered an initial congratulations on their ingenuity. Before the cards could celebrate in their typical nonverbal manner of doing nothing, I caveated my praise. I’ve found uses for about seven cards out of several thousand. More had to be done to justify their occupation of my floor.

A week passed with no seeming response. I guess you can only expect so much from a pile of cardboard. Fortunately, I had my own opportunity for innovation that weekend. Though I can be thankful I am not a Magic widow, there are still plenty of other widow-doms for which spouses have to suffer. My stints of solitude occur during the Minnesota Gopher’s hockey season. On one of those lazy nights, boredom finally overcame lethargy and I managed to dig out a deck of playing cards with which to play solitaire.

It is an odd experience playing solitaire with real cards. You can’t simply click and have cards move where you want them. Your cards don’t bounce down the screen when you’ve won. You can’t even change the card backs! After about a dozen games, it quickly became apparent that a regular deck of cards can be pretty boring.

It was during this time that the Magic muse whispered her sweet song into my ear. It would be an interesting challenge to build a playing card deck out of Magic cards. Since poker has become a national pastime, I thought I would build a deck geared towards numbers:


Fatal Mutation

Foothill Guide

Goblin Taskmaster

Retraced Image


Night’s Whisper

Lead Astray

Magma Jet

Teferi’s Response


Organ Grinder

Pulsemage Advocate

Unearthly Blizzard

Ambassador Laquatus


Grave Defiler

Enlistment Officer

Goblin Ringleader

Tidal Courier


Promise of Power

Catapult Master

Skirk Fire Marshall

Supreme Inquisitor


Laquatus’s Champion

Noble Templar

Frenetic Raptor

Sea Monster


Cabal Conditioning

Dimensional Breach

Searing Flesh

Great Whale


Decree of Pain

Reverse the Sands


Beacon of Tomorrows


Bringer of the Black Dawn

Bringer of the White Dawn

Bringer of the Red Dawn

Bringer of the Blue Dawn


Hypnox (this actually costs 11)


Decree of Annihilation



Howl from Beyond

Guardian Angel




Swallowing Plague

Alabaster Potion




Death Cloud

Decree of Justice

Goblin Offensive

Distorting Wake

There is one flaw in this design – there were no Black cards that I could find with a converted mana cost of 10. Feel free to start your own letter-writing campaign to stop such unfair treatment to Black cards everywhere. Also, depending on if you prefer the concept of opposites attract or cooperation, you can make the adjoining colors for flushes either White/Black Blue/Red or Red/Black White/Blue. Just make sure you tell your friends before you start playing. Just imagine a poker game with these cards. Instead of stating such boring things as your pair of nines besting a pair of twos, you can proclaim, “My pair of Bringers eats your puny Merfolk!” How about shouting, “I decree a win!” when you flip over a Decree of Justice to take the pot.

If you play other card games, you can create your own decks to match the themes. Want to put together a deck for the kids so they don’t start eyeing your foil Kokusho? Build them a deck to play War. Cards like Thunderscape Battlemage, Dive Bomber and Severed Legion to replace the twos. Match power and toughness with number in a normal card deck and whoever has the largest numbers, wins. Serendipitously enough, there is at least one card with power and toughness from 1/1 to 13/13. Here’s one I put together:

“War, What is it Good For?”

4 Aven Trooper

4 Ambush Commander

4 Goblin War Wagon

4 Samurai Enforcers

4 Vulshok War Boar

4 Wirewood Guardian

4 Enormous Baloth

4 Phyrexian Colossus

4 Kuro, Pitlord

4 Leveler

4 Darksteel Colossus

4 Phyrexian Dreadnought

4 Krosan Cloudscraper

Personally, my inlaws all prefer a good game of 500. I’ve always been offended by the dismissal of the twos, threes and fours. This however, does make it easier to create a 41-card 500 deck from Magic cards. Chaos Harlequin would definitely have to serve as the Joker. Instead of matching colors, you could match creature types. Elves or Goblins would be worth the least point-wise, Dragons the most. Finding cards for left and right bauers could be based on which creature types coexist with one another. Elves probably get along nicely with beasts, wizards with dragons, goblins with… well… I don’t think anything gets along with Goblins.

All this talk of cards, and I’ve only touched on playing-card decks. It would be negligent of me to not mimic other games (without infringing on any copyrights, of course). UNO is the first target that comes to mind. Cards like Skip, Reverse and Wild could be replaced with Reverse the Sands, Run Wild, and not quite as elegant, Obstinate Familiar.

It has also been a while since I’ve built a card house. I’ve got enough cards to easily make it a sixty-story skyscraper, maybe even a whole metropolitan skyline. That creation will have to wait for another day.

Yup, there’s always something you can do with a Magic card.