You Lika The Juice? Magic Schwagger

Friday, February 4 – Bennie Smith displays the various unusual Magic paraphernalia he has picked up from his many years of playing. He shares them with you in picture form! And do you think Bennie should change his column name?

I hope everyone who wanted to go got to enjoy opening some packs of Mirrodin Besieged at their local Prereleases! I took the kids down to the Star City
Games big Prerelease in Richmond, and it was good to see my friends on both sides of the desks and tables.

It was fun gauging the kids’ reaction. For their entire life, Daddy’s periodically gone off to “Magic tournaments” that last
all day and sometimes well into the evening. They see Dad’s boxes and boxes and stacks of Magic cards, and they have a good time looking at the
excess commons and uncommons and token cards I let them mess around with. Aaron quickly judges the cards by their power and toughness stats,
recognizing that 0/1s are wimps while 5/5s are badasses. Their abilities and text boxes don’t really register yet as having value; it’s all
about their raw size and most especially their power—how hard they hit! It was fun sending some common and uncommon Eldrazi his way last year and
watching his mouth drop in awe. “These guys are HUUUUUGE!” he exclaimed. Indeed they are. It made me glad that Eldrazi weren’t around
when he first started fooling around with the cards so that their size suitably impressed.

By the time we got to the Convention Center, the crowds had died down a bit, but there were still enough people to impress. The kids scanned the room,
watching all the people of various ages, hunched over tables, cards on the battlefield and in hand. Then they started to fidget. “Aaron wants to
ride the escalator, Daddy,” Anna Marie said, and Aaron nodded vigorously. Nicholas Sabin came to the rescue, buying me some time by hooking the
kids up with really cool, reversible Mirran/Phyrexian deck boxes:


Soon though, they started fidgeting some more, so I said my goodbyes and proceeded to ride the escalators up and down several times and then sat while
the kids rode it a few more times. A guy my age rode up one time with me and laughed. “I remember when I thought riding the escalators was as fun
as they do!”

As we walked back to the van, it got me thinking about Magic as a legacy that I’ll be passing down to my children. It’s a bit mind boggling
to think on, but Magic’s been around long enough now that there are children who are starting to play Magic who have never been alive when Magic
wasn’t around to be played. For my kids right now, Magic is something Daddy does, but it’s getting close to time for them to start learning
the game too, if they’re willing to learn. Anna Marie is ten years old, and she could’ve begun to learn in the last year or two, but I wanted to
wait until Aaron was old enough to join in too; I imagine it would’ve been tough for him to sit by while his sister played a cool fantasy card
game with Daddy. Aaron is eight and a half now, so I think he’s old enough to learn the basics.

One thing I want to work on this weekend is to pull some basic core set cards together to build two simple decks, mostly featuring monsters but with a
few spells thrown in too and, once I get that together, suggest to the kids one weekend that they learn how to play. They may not be up for it yet, but
I figure I’ll be ready when they do.

Magic is an incredible game with a culture that’s got decades of history to it now, and teaching them how to play is just the beginning.
There’s a whole world that surrounds it that I can’t wait to share with them, and since I’ve been playing since the beginning,
I’ve accumulated a bunch of interesting and fun Magic “artifacts” that are connected to Magic culture over the years. This week, I
thought I’d share with you some of the things I’m looking forward to sharing with my kids as they become apprenticed in the ways of Magic.

dci card

        card back

When the kids play in their first sanctioned tournament, they’re going to be issued their very first DCI cards. It’ll be fun to then show
them mine from 1996. They used to have Arena League stickers you’d put on the back of the cards to show you were in the league… eventually
you’d run out of room and have to sticker over older stickers. Then eventually the Arena League went away… which was a shame—they
used to give out some cool promos!

arena big cards

These were from the Unglued Arena season, and I was particularly thrilled to get my hands on these two oversized favorites. It was fun to use the
ability on Infernal Spawn of Evil and slap the big card on your forehead and say “it’s coming!”

arena big cards 2

The Arena Disenchant artwork is awesome, and I got the real-size card as well (somewhere in my stack of Commander staples). I believe I got the
oversized Black Lotus during Arena as well, though it doesn’t have a season stamped on it. I’m pretty certain I got Richard Garfield to
sign it

when I went to the US Nationals in Baltimore in 2007

, but looking at the signature now, it doesn’t seem to look anything like “Richard” or “Garfield” does it?

What’s really going to be fun is when the kids get old enough to leaf through these:


It’s awesome paging through these time capsules and realizing just how far Magic has come since those early days.

sideboard magazine

I used to have all the Sideboard magazines, but they’re either packed away somewhere mysterious or have been lost a move or two back.
Flipping through these magazines was both a pleasant trip down memory lane… but also had me a bit sad thinking about the Magic history
we’re making today. The internet has driven Magic print publications to extinction, and while the Magic content found on the web is just
fantastic and getting better every day, I can’t help but worry we might be losing our ability to easily archive things worth remembering and to
pass it on down.

Maybe I’m an old fogey, but there’s something visceral and warm about opening a magazine and looking at history either again or for the
first time. I’ve got newspapers and magazines packed away to recall big historic events like the attacks on 9/11 and the election of Obama. Sure,
I can go online and pull up all the information I could ever want on those events… but does that really capture the feel of the day, the
texture of the time? One day, I’m going to pull out those newspapers for my kids (or maybe one day for my grandkids) and let them feel it, what
was going on that day.

It made me think about what I’d feel if I were living in the middle of Magic history. How would I feel if I were Gerry Thompson, ten or fifteen
years from now, trying to explain to his kid how it felt to win the first ever Star City Games Invitational tournament, beating the Open Player of the
Year in the finals? Sure, he could probably go online, dig up the web content, click through the coverage, and maybe go find some tournament
reports… but I think that would probably pale in comparison to going up to a bookshelf, pulling down a magazine, and saying “Here,
son—check out your old man!”

I know Magic magazines just cannot sustain themselves as they used to, since content becomes irrelevant so fast due to the instant updates online. Yet
I cannot help but think there might some value in pulling together the content related to big Magic events into something you could print out and save
for future sharing, if it were something that interested you, maybe a .pdf or something.


Another fun thing the Arena League did was introduce Vanguard cards, which have made a pretty big splash on Magic Online, and I’ve still got a
bunch of them (I used to have Squee, but I didn’t see the wily ol’ Goblin in my stack). Vanguard lives on in modern-day Planechase and
Archenemy cards.


Before I got swept up in Magic, I was a huge fan of regular card games like Spades, Hearts, and Bridge, so when Magic Poker Decks came out for a
limited run, I snapped up a copy. I never played with them until the day I taught the kids to play War and was looking around for playing cards. The
face cards all have classic artwork on them—the Kings are Dragons; the Queens are Angels, and the Jacks are Knights, naturally. And who better to
be the Jokers than the Jesters?


When I first started going to tournaments, I quickly found carrying around backpacks was annoying and cumbersome. Then I saw these for sale at my local
game shop and knew I wanted one right away. It came with a shoulder strap, but the better option was that you could snap it over your belt loop and
wear it on your side like a gun holster!

Of course, a few years later, I had something better to carry my Magic decks around in…


How sweet it this? I believe 1999 might have been the only year they put these out. The Virginia State Champs was held at old-school pros Mike Long and
Pete Lieher’s game shop in Charlottesville that year, and I beat Pete in the finals to win the trophy and this
sweet bag. Weirdly, Mike Long offered to buy the bag off me for $50… which I could have certainly used, I won’t lie, but it just would’ve
felt too weird to know that there was someone out there who wasn’t the 1999 Champ sporting this bag. It’s held up surprisingly well for the
past twelve years.

Oh, speaking of that trophy…

champs plaque

The bag is cooler because I can take it with me, but I can’t deny it’s sweet to have this hanging on my wall… waiting for another
plaque to join it… came soooo close in 2009
; curse you, Chris Burroughs!

Top 8

Speaking of so close… this playmat is near and dear to my heart. Not only is it just super-cool to look at (though of a rather flimsy material),
it marked my triumphant return to Top 8 form rocking a super-rogue deck that no one else in the room had even thought about trying (except for my
partner-in-crime Jay Delazier, who chose to run something different). Yep, we invented the Dredge deck in Standard
even though hardly anyone outside of my opponents that day noticed, and it came close to winning me another Champs title!

elephant ambush

I’ve never been particularly moved to buy Magic artwork, but when I saw Anthony Waters was coming to our Magic Prerelease and realized
he was the artist behind one of my all-time favorite Magic cards, I knew I had to buy a print. I just loved the delicious space between the mechanics
of the card and its artwork and name. So there you are, a Wild Mongrel walking along, minding your own business when… from out of nowhere, behind
a tree, leaps an elephant ambush—SURPRISE!! If you squint, you can see the elephant behind the tree…

The only other piece of artwork that I’m dying to get a print of is Susan Van Camp’s Sea Sprite. I find the artwork just lovely and think
it would look fantastic on the wall. I’ve gone to her website and not seen that she’s selling that particular print, sadly.

gunslinger bennie

One thing I have that’s particularly special is this caricature drawn during Grand Prix Richmond where I was gunslinging for two days and had an
absolute ball (and wrote about here, about halfway down). Josh
Swartz sat in the table next to me drawing Magic-themed caricatures for people, and during a downtime, he sketched this and gave it to me on Sunday. I
was touched and moved, and it has decorated my cubicle at work ever since.

I’d like to wrap this up by showing off a few cool things that were sent to me by Wizards of the Coast. Writing about Magic for as long as I have
sometimes gets you on special lists to receive nifty and fun special gifts that are especially sweet.

Ravnica magnets

These guild house-themed magnets were a sweet surprise and have been stuck to my filing cabinets at work for years… though now that I think about
it, my apartment fridge at home is in dire need of additional magnetic support. They will be coming home with me tonight… I don’t know if
they ever made magnets for the guilds in the following two expansions, but if they did, I never got ‘em.

seasons beatings

There was a four-year period of time where I wrote for MagicTheGathering.com, including a weekly stint for
about a year that came to an end March 2006. I went on to write several more special one-shot articles to finish out the year, so when I heard about
the sweet Fruitcake Elemental holiday card they were giving out
internally and to business partners, as a long-time contract writer, I thought for sure I’d be getting one. Alas, to my great sadness, I did not,
though I did get the nearly as sweet Seasons Beatings the following year.

Of course, the pinnacle of super cool Magic schwa from Wizards has got to be…


The old, metal lunchboxes from when I was a kid are now retro-cool, so I imagine this bad boy will be a super-cool find when my Magic-fanatic grandkids
discover it in my attic.

So what sort of cool, Magic items have you accumulated over the years that fill your heart with pride, fill your soul with nostalgia, or have you
thinking about passing it along to your future, Magic-playing progeny? Some friends sent me a few of theirs:

Library playmat

Shane Stoots has this sweet playmat drawn by Mark Poole.


Joseph La Dow sent me a pic of this Alliances-era Magic poster—in surprisingly good shape! He ought to put it under glass and hang it on the

You Lika The Juice… or No?

Before I wrap things up, I wanted to bring something up to you. I’ve been considering changing my column name. For years, we didn’t have
names for our columns; then it was decided that each author should have a name for their column. I wasn’t sure what to pick for mine, and Pete
Hoefling jokingly suggested “You Lika The Juice?” At the time, [author name="Jon Becker"]Jon Becker[/author] had wrote a hilarious column that poked fun at my picture,
saying it reminded him of the Rob Schneider character ina hilarious Saturday Night Live skit about gyros. I figured, why not? So, it’s been You Lika The Juice? for the past five
years or so.

By the way, you should read that Jon Becker column… and then you’ll realize who Geordie Tait’s godfather is. Just sayin’.

Now, considering that the SNL skit in question is about ten years old and getting pretty long in the tooth, it’s got me thinking that
there’s a good chance a lot of my readers now and those who may read me in the coming years might have no idea what “You Lika The
Juice?” is supposed to refer to. That strikes me as something that may need correcting.

The success of Magic blogs in the past year had me considering starting one of my own, but considering how little free time I have and how good
I’d want my own Magic blog to be, I’ve not pulled the trigger on it. One of the names I considered for the blog was Yavimaya Elder, keeping
in the tradition of picking Magic card names. Yavimaya Elder appealed to me—it’s green; it’s an awesome card (and in fact was in my
States-winning deck); Yavimaya is a very Magical place name, and “elder” suggests the wisdom of age. As an old dude, I’d like to
think my age and longevity in the game illuminates my writing with some degree of understanding and insight.

So, I’m considering changing the column name to Yavimaya Elder or something else… what do you think? Chime in below.

Take care,


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me
feedback, ideas, and random thoughts on Magic and life.

New to Commander? 

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists)