Think back to the first time you played Magic. Do you remember how cool it was? Or how absolutely stupid? I certainly thought it was, without a doubt, the most ridiculous game I had ever encountered.
FrigginRizzo: <—Was young once too.
It all started on the most boring Saturday ever. My brother-in-law Sean had been playing for a couple of years, and thought I might like to broaden my horizons a tad. Now, Sean and I usually spent our Saturdays writing and recording our own rogue ideas of what cool music sounded like to us in my dungeonesque studio. For some odd reason, this particular Saturday just was not a "let’s go jam" kind of day. Go figure.
So, Sean pulls out his decks. He tosses me a black deck that I am still jealous of to this day. A lot of Knights. A lot of removal. Recursion. Pain and suffering galore. Very cool. He grabs his Enormous Fat Green Stuff deck, explains the rules for about twenty seconds – Sean’s picture is not next to the definition of "patience" in the dictionary… for that matter, it’s not next to "thorough" either – and we are off and rolling.
Wow, is this game stupid. Really. It is. People pay MONEY for this? Wow.
FrigginRizzo: <—Was NOT hooked from the word go.
Flash forward two days. Does Sportscards, Etc. have Magic cards? I thought I saw some when I was in there selling all the Koufax rookies that mom, in a very Un-Momlike lapse in judgement, neglected to discard.
Me: Hello, Mr. Sportscards, Etc. Person. Do you by chance carry any Magic the Gathering cards?
Sportscards, Etc. Person: Umm, see that shelf with about five million boxes?
Me: Why, yes, I spy the aforementioned shelf.
Sportscards, Etc. Person: That’s them.
Me: Do you take checks?
It took two ENTIRE days of thinking Magic sucked to become totally engulfed. As Lord Jamie Wakefield so eloquently stated in The Tome:
"And I’m hooked."
"I am so hooked."
Everything was new. Everything was amazing. There were no "not tournament viable" cards. No junk rares. Megrim was (and still is, I contend) GODLY! Yotian Soldier was GODLY! Overgrowth was GODLY!
I was innocent.
After playing against Sean for a couple months, he informed me that the guys who taught him to play were finishing college and would be happy to beat up on us, if we would only bring our own first aid kits. "I have never beaten them," were his exact words. A challenge?
Who dares challenge Ole’ Frig? Why, I will call upon my Drudge Skeletons to punish such impudence!
Enter Anthony and Andy. Big. Mean looking. Badass floppers. And college educated to boot. They took no prisoners. Ever. Oh, and twins too. <insert random twin joke here> <Or a blonde joke> < Maybe even a lawyer joke> I scramble to build decks that might stand a chance against these behemoths of Magic. And maybe a deck or two that they won’t laugh at would be a good idea. So we head on up.
FrigginRizzo: <—Just thought it was time for one of these.
So, anyone can attack anyone? Introducing Melee, where the dollar values are doubled! I’m extremely nervous as we start to play. Wow! These guys have 20-sided dies! I make a mental note to acquire some of those bad boys and we start. The first game has Anthony beating everyone with his Angel deck. This is a deck that makes us all vomit to this day. It is THAT sickening. Andy doesn’t like losing much to Andy, so he pulls out his "Self-play Deck." Light of Day/Darkest Hour is but one of the plethora of self-pleasuring combos he has packed into his SLEEVES! I make another mental note to snatch up some of those flashy thingies, and we begin anew.
We are all just sitting there doing nothing, basically, as Andy has about TWENTY total locks on the game. Until I draw… Brush With Death. Heh. Hey, Anthony, does this get around Worship? Sho’ ’nuff does. I WON A GAME!
I was innocent.
We play all summer. And I mean like four to five times a week. I get better.
Sean starts to kick some serious ass. Anthony and Andy are holding their own, but have one eye open staring at this two-headed monster they have created. Two years later, we still play as often as we can, which is usually relegated to three times a month, seeing as how we are all now corporate sell-outs.
Then I go to a tournament.
October 17th, 1999. PTQ something. Wow, was I nervous. I sit down to my first match, ever, and am shocked that my opponent, Chas Tressler, offers his hand and a friendly hello. I love this game. Oh yeah, I made plenty of mistakes. Real bad ones, too. In the third game (I WON A GAME!), I had a Lone Wolf, Rofellos, and a Child of Gaea to Chas’s two active Mother of Runes and a couple of untapped Spawning Pools. He’s at ten or so, while I’m down to about four after some serious Negator beatings. I topdeck a Blanchwood Armor. With six Forests in play. How do I lose?
Mistake number one: I put the Armor on the Child.
Mistake number two: I don’t even think.
Mistake number three: I only attack with the Child.
That’s how I lose.
FrigginRizzo: <—Still has nightmares about this game.
I was innocent.
After Regionals 2000, I was quite depressed regarding my pitiful ratings.
They were really bad. Here’s a partial list of those who had better ratings than me:
People who don’t really exist, but are created to claim a fraudulent tax deduction.
Wow. So I got to thinking about what hooked me in the first place. The game. Playing the game. Thinking about the game. Thinking about playing the game. Thinking about thinking about playing the game. The competition. The camaraderie. The fun. The game.
So, I decided to go back to the old school, and just have as much fun as I did when I started. To be reborn as a newbie. To marvel at the cards. To use creatures. A lot of them. Knights. Removal. Recursion. In short, I am tweaking Sean’s original deck. I am tweaking myself. Because I love this game.
Once upon a time I WAS innocent.
The players. I have met, played, and enjoyed the company of oodles of people who climb in different social circles. I would have not met any of them. Ever. I have lost to, and beaten, ten-year olds. And fifty-year olds. And everything in between.
Players who love Top 40. And Metal. And Country. And everything in between. Players who worry about homework. And the stock market.
Players who will examine the Presidential candidates’ voting records. Players who don’t know who is even running. Players with numerous facial piercings. Players who would ordinarily punch those with numerous facial piercings. But they don’t. Why?
Because they love this game.
They are innocent.
Somewhere, buried deep within your colon, perhaps, is the original innocence. The reason you started playing in the first place. The reason you weather mana screw, bad matchups, twenty-dollar rares, combo decks, jackass opponents and all the normal crud that comes with devotion. If you will simply look for your original innocence, it will find YOU. It will stay with you through the bad directions, stolen binders, 9th place finishes, stupid plays and anything else that the Magic world could dream up to crush you. Why?
Because you love this game.
Because you are innocent.
Everything is new. Everything is amazing. There are no "not tournament viable" cards. No junk rares. It’s all good. It’s all great. Less filling too.
So, perhaps this is my message to the Magic world. Innocence rules. And it will rule even harder when I Top eight with the most retarded deck ever created. Or not Top 8.
It doesn’t matter. Why?
I am innocent.
John Friggin’ Rizzo