"This is what’s left of my collection."
"You sold the rest? You SOLD a collection that went all the way back to…" (chokes up) "…the Lost Days of Magic?"
"Calm down, son – I didn’t lose it, I just didn’t want it back afterwards. No, my collection had to be surgically removed in an emergency colorectomy after that little incident with the Hell’s Angels."
"You’ve never really talked about that."
"Well, I was engaged in a game of multiplayer with Vinnie, Deadmeat, and Skullrip, and thought I could sneak a card back into my hand from the graveyard when they weren’t looking. They took it kind of personally. How was *I* supposed to know they had tempers?"
"So THAT’S how it happened. Well, that’s a shame, dad, but at least you can take pride in how you keep your hook all nice, shiny, and polished."
"Yes, but pushing the catheter in with this thing is hell. Anyway, let’s play."
"Thanks, dad! I know you haven’t played Magic in, oh, fifteen years or so, but it means a lot to me and my friends that you’re finally coming here. You were a player from way back. You even used to be an editor of a Magic site! And now you can tell us everything that’s changed. Bring it on, dad. Show us the Forbidden Cards. Tally ho!"
"All right. I’ve got a card here that you’ll probably never have heard of. Lay a swamp, Ritual out a Hyp -"
(grabbing card) "What the hell is THAT?"
"A…" (brow furrows, sounds out syllables, reads card) " ‘Dark Ritual’?"
(Table erupts into furor, leaning over eagerly to read this blast from the past – the young boys blurt out phrases like, "Three mana for one?" and "Man, that’s BROKEN!")
"Dad, wasn’t GREEN supposed to be the color of speed mana back in those days?"
"Well, Green was… but strangely enough, son, Green got shafted in the beginning. I’d forgotten they phased this out before you were born – no WONDER you don’t remember it! I guess they don’t have any sort of quick mana for black nowadays…."
"Oh, sure they do… but nothing as powerful as THAT. Yeezus. We have a card that’s kind of like Dark Ritual, if you wanna see it…" (Picks out a card and hands it to dad)
(Reads card) "Clandestine Water Cooler Meeting. B. Sorcery. Add B to your mana pool." (Pause) "Doesn’t that kind of suck?"
"Oh no – VERY powerful card in this environment. The DCI’s considering banning it ever since the latest set of lands came out."
"Oh yeah; you told me about that ‘all lands produce half a mana when tapped’ ruling. Anyway, I use that three mana to bring out… a HYPNOTIC SPECTER!"
(Flurry of commotion as everyone rushes in to read it – shouts of, "My God!", "Begorrah!", "Blow me down, Uncle Jerry!", low whistles, and "Holy Mother of Jiminy Jumping Yeesus on a Stick, Batman!" erupt from the crowd of teen-aged onlookers*)
"2/2 Flying for three mana, and you DISCARD A CARD whenever it hits someone? That’s ridiculous, dad!"
(smugly) "I know. InQuest rated it the top creature card ever, and that was the first time they were ever right." (thinks a moment) "And the last time, too, if I recall correctly."
"My God, that’s WAY undercosted. I can’t believe how bad that is. I mean, they’ve reprinted a power card from the Forbidden Days in the latest expansion, but it was NOTHING like that…"
"Oh really? What did they reprint? Juzam Djinn?"
"Stop making up creatures, dad."
"Then what the hell kind of creature DID they reprint? What sort of power critter did they resurrect from the ancient past to bring its might to this new-fangled environment? What ravening beast is it that you fear nowadays?"
"Hurloon Minotaur. Why. Was that before even your time, dad?"
"Jennie paid $50 for hers. Of course, packs are twenty bucks apiece nowadays…"
"HOW THE HELL IS HURLOON MINOTAUR A POWER CREATURE?"
"You kidding? A 2/3 for only three mana? My God, that thing’s been a staple in Sligh decks for months now, dad! What planet are you living on, anyway?"
(crossing arms and looking at me sternly) "Wizards SAID it was a power creature. Wizards wouldn’t LIE to us, dad."
"Who you gonna believe, me or them?"
"All right. Them. What the hell do you kids play with nowadays, anyway?"
"Take a look at this."
(reads card) "Peripatetic Goblin. 4RR. 3/2. When Peripatetic Goblin comes into play, sacrifice a land. When Peripatetic Goblin leaves play, sacrifice a land. Peripatetic Goblin cannot block. Peripatetic Goblin cannot attack unless at least two other creatures attack with it. If Peripatetic Goblin is the target of any spell or ability, sacrifice it and you lose life equal to its power. Peripatetic Goblin is also considered a blue and a green creature for purposes of any spells that would destroy or kill it, but has protection from all spells you control. Peripatetic Goblin is… That’s odd. It just trails off. There’s some weird symbol here at the bottom."
"Oh, double-click on it. It’ll take you to the Wizards website, where you can read the other two cards’ worth of information on it."
"Well…" (Tries to think of something nice to say) "Well, the card sure is a triumph of technology."
"Thanks. Those aren’t card sleeves, by the way, they’re static protectors. Anyway, Omeed Dariani came up with internet-accessible cards in 2010, when he became the Garfield-in-Chief of Wizards."
"Why? Are the cards all this lengthy?"
"No, not at all – but you know Omeed, he just had this burning desire for flavor text. He finally achieved his goal in 2012 when he successfully hypertexted the entire novel of ‘Moby Dick’ as the flavor text for the card ‘Turbulating Whale.’ Spoiler lists got a little out of hand after that for a while."
"I bet. So anyway, the cards are all like this?"
"No, that’s a power rare. The commons are more like this."
(Reads card) "Defenestrating Moribund Smoogleaper. 7WWW. 3/3. When Defenestrating Moribund Smoogleaper comes into play, lose seven life and skip your next three turns." (flings card on table) "WHAT KIND OF CARD IS THIS?"
"Hey, maybe we’re not from that ‘old school’ of ‘Win the game by turn thirty,’ dad. You and your power cards and insane combo decks. You know, some people like to actually PLAY A GAME. Thank God Wizards slowed down the environment so people could play on a level field."
"All right. Anyway, I attack… YOU, darling spawn of my loins. Take two and discard a card at random.**"
(A card is put into the graveyard)
"Dammit, pops! That was my only hope of dealing with that thing!"
"Well, lemme take a look. Let’s see what kind of removal you kids play with these days…"
"Here ya go!"
" ‘Chronogrammatic Ultra-kibosh. 4B. Destroy target creature unless its controller can correctly multiply any two-digit numbers you choose.’ Well, that’s certainly a… new mechanic."
"It’s more for tourney play than it is for casual play, but it’s still a pretty good spell. You can use scratch paper here. The DCI immediately banned the use of calculators from sanctioned tourneys, but Mike Long cheated."
"They found an abacus in his shorts."
"Oh yes! Problem was, the DCI hadn’t SPECIFICALLY mentioned abaci, so he got away with it."
(Longer pause) "Really."
"And then Mindripper published strategy articles on the new mechanic for a week straight."
"They published all the possible multiples for pros to memorize."
(Pause you could drop a puppy into) "Really."
"The first week they covered the tens…."
"All right all right ALL RIGHT! DAMMIT! Enough with the stupid mechanic. Anyway, you can’t cast it, it’s in your graveyard. I declare my turn over. It’s your turn."
(A round of sullen "I lay a land, go"s goes around the table.)
"Back to you, dad."
"Listen, why are you all upset about this? It’s not like you didn’t have this information at your fingertips anyhow. What about the Internet? Didn’t you do some research? I mean, thank God my Moxes were last seen in the area of my duodenum or you’d REALLY be watching some play!"
(surprised and concerned) "You mean you really don’t know, dad?"
"About the Great Purge of 2004."
(sighs) "The Great Purge of 2004. Wizards had been slowing the game down for about five years at that point, and more and more players had dropped out of the game, whining all the while that it was ‘too slow’ and ‘underpowered.’ Eventually, the number of people who had given up Magic actually began to impact Wizards’ sales, as the old-timers kept showing the newbies old cards and saying, ‘You’re getting ripped off! You’re getting RIPPED OFF! LOOK AT THESE CRAPPY, PALE SHADOWS OF BETTER CARDS OF YORE!’
"In late September of 2004, Hasbro made their move."
(shrugging) "What could Hasbro do, son? They were just a corporation…"
"Ah, but you forget, the Republicans were in power then. On September 29th, 2004 – the Magic players call it ‘Krystalnacht’ -"
"That was the name of the new Magic expansion from that season. It really should have been a warning… anyway, on that day Hasbro stormed into the houses of every internet writer on the planet and shot them."
"Every major Magic website was replaced with a blood-red page that said, ‘CARDS BEFORE 2000 NEVER EXISTED. YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF A ‘MOX’ OR A ‘LOTUS’. THERE ARE NO SUCH CARDS. ANYONE WHO CAN TELL YOU DIFFERENT IS DEAD – OR WILL BE. TAKE THE HINT. WIZARDS."
"My God, that’s horrible."
"If what you say is true… then Wizards put the period OUTSIDE of the quotation mark after writing ‘Lotus.’ And they put this on every web page? Man, what a glaring error!"
"Those old editing habits die hard, huh dad?"
"Anyway, so everyone was dead, and nobody was going to speak out for fear of being assaulted by the Rootwater Commandos. Every once in a while, someone would leap up at a tourney and shout, ‘Viva La Revolucion! Type One Lives! Type One LIIIIIVES!’ And then they’d be shot by the judges. Pretty soon, we all stopped asking questions."
"Sounds pretty brutal."
"Not really; you got an automatic match win if they shot your opponent. And generally those guys had pretty good DCI rankings."
"So you know nothing at all about cards before Invasion?"
"Well, we’ve heard the rumors of ‘Spellshapers’ and such, but nobody can really substantiate ’em. We know Wizards has changed the game a lot since then, but it’s hard to really say what GOT changed. We know it’s slower, the more potent cards are gone… but we think it’s a better game."
"Okay, well… whatever you say, son. Anyway, it’s my turn, and I lay down my second land."
"What the hell is THAT? That’s not even a land, dad!"
"It’s – that’s…"
(Stares at card sadly)
"…that’s an island, son…."
* – Blatant Tony Boydell rip-off.
** – Yes, I’m still cheating here. So I don’t ever learn.