If you are hoping for my PTQ: Portland report, sorry – you’re not getting one. I, alas, did not go to Portland to play, due to several reasons, foremost being that my beloved Oregon State Beavers were playing bitter rival Oregon in our annual "Civil War" that Saturday (why "Civil War"? I dunno, maybe because "Toilet Bowl" was already taken). For those unfamiliar with Oregon State football, our record of haplessness and losing was a sad truism – until last year, they hadn’t had a winning season since I was two years old. There’s an old joke that if you left your car unlocked with two Beaver season tickets on the front dash, when you came back there’d be four. Yes, Beaver football was that bad. But this year, we are damn good. Going into the Civil War, the Beavers were 9-1 and had a shot at the Rose Bowl.
Suffice it to say, as one who bleeds the orange and black, I was not going to miss the game between the #6 Oregon Ducks at the #9 Oregon State Beavers. I wasn’t going to pay $200 for a ticket, like my boss (and fellow Beaver) did, but I did enjoy the proceedings at a local Eugene sports bar with other Beaver Believers, cheering our team on to victory while avoiding the beer steins and other flotsam that was being hurled at us. The downside is that our victory put the cursed Washington Huskies and their reviled coach, Rick Neuweasel, into the Rose Bowl. I feel slightly bad about that. Just barely. If there’s one thing that both Beavers and Ducks can agree upon, it’s a common "strong dislike" of U-Dub.
So that was the main reason I did not attend the PTQ up in Portland. That was another reason I didn’t go – it was in Portland. Instead of being a ten-minute drive, it was now two hours, and quite honestly, I didn’t feel like getting up at 6:30 to drive to Portland. I tend to be rather cranky in the mornings until I get my coffee, only becoming reasonable to talk to by noon or so. Yes, I’m turning into a big wuss as I creep ever closer to decrepitude.
And finally, quite simply, I didn’t have a deck to play. I’d done limited testing, but I just haven’t had the time to put together and play a deck. Which segues nicely into my topic for the day…
I remember when I was young, lo these many years ago, and free time-I had more free time than I knew what to do with (if only Magic had come out a few years earlier…).
When I started playing Magic way back in 1994 (good Lord, has it been THAT long?), spare time was not a problem for me. I was young, single, and no social life (re: girlfriend) whatsoever.
(Side note: I was one of the earliest sign-ups for the venerable Duelist’s Convocation, better known as the DCI. I have a number in the low 1600’s. It remains one of my favorite things to sign up for a tournament, rattle off my four-digit DCI number, wait a few seconds, and have the TO look up at me and say "And?" I love that.)
So most of my free time was spent playing Magic with friends. Once a month, there’d be a tournament at the Book & Game store (and maybe a few smaller ones in the area) that I’d attend. Gradually, I got pretty good, to the point where I now consider myself a "really good scrub."
But I’ve reached a plateau of sorts. Maybe, if I played more, tested more, did more, maybe I could finally get over that hump, finally become a Pro Tour-quality player and actually (God forbid!) qualify for the Pro Tour.
And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
It’s very hard not only finding time outside of work but time outside of other social activities, namely, the dating game. It is very, very hard to hold down a job, maintain a social life AND improve your Magic skills, unless you have a very, very understanding partner who forgives you for eschewing the latest Gwyneth Paltrow date flick in favor of teching out your Counter-Sliver deck with the gang at the game store. In a perfect world, you could teach your significant other how to play and not only would you have an in-house playtesting partner, but could spend that $25 you’d spend at the movies on singles.
But there are only so many Michelle Bushes out there. I’ve been fortunate enough to date a few women who at least only looked at me slightly funny when trying to explain the game without looking like a complete dork, and they forgave this as one of those boys-will-be-boys sort of things.
Simply put, I, like many other over-30 types who play Magic, have this conundrum:
* We like to play tournament-level Magic, and
* We’re pretty darn good at it, and
* We would like to someday make it to the Pro Tour, but
* We do not have the time to constantly practice, or spend massive dollar amounts on cards due to family or work commitments
I know a lot of fathers (and even some mothers) who are pretty darn good players and attend tournaments together. I have many friends and co-workers in my age group who are also pretty darn good players, but simply don’t have the time to test and play as much as they’d like.
Your average Pro Tour player (and, yes, I know I’m generalizing) tends to be between seventeen and twenty-five, single, usually in school or just out of school, and has the ability to make Magic a high priority in their life.
We old fogies don’t have that opportunity.
So what’s the solution?
We have had an all-women’s tournament, an all-amateur tournament, the Junior Super Series all set up and sanctioned by WotC – why not a Seniors (age 30+) sanctioned tournament or tournaments? WotC has gone to great steps to try and include a wider audience in tournament Magic with the different and diverse tournament formats. It’s time that a Senior Super Series was one of them.
I have no illusions about my Pro Tour aspirations. For me, just going once would be the pinnacle of my Magic career. I doubt that I am in that elite echelon capable of making a career out of Magic, nor am I sure if that’s the kind of lifestyle I want.
But I know I am not alone when I say that once, just once, I want to be able to say that yes, I am on the Pro Tour. I may scrub out, I may go down in flames, but at the very least I will be able to consider myself among the elites of the game for a weekend. And a Senior Tour might represent my (and many, many others) best opportunity to do so.
Not so long ago, former editor Omeed Dariani started a petition here at Star City to get Wizards to begin a Standard Pro Tour. Thanks to Omeed’s work, Wizards is now doing just that. Maybe lightning can strike twice.
Are you a Magic "senior?"
Would you like to see a "Senior Tour?"
My email address is above. Let’s get the ball rolling.
Rabble-rouser, Game Designer and King of the Parenthetical Aside