Sunday, August 8, 2010

Greetings and Salutations

Hello everyone and welcome to the very first post here on The Cardboard Witch.  My name is Nina Illingworth and I'm a 33 year old Gamestore Manager/Magic Player who lives in Toronto.  That's in Canada if you've got a map and Scott Pilgrimland if you don't. :)

I started playing Magic back in early 1995, not long after Fallen Empires had been released.  A few of my friends at the local gamestore in Windsor Ontario had picked the game up a year or so before and hooked half of my regular RPG group inside of 3 months.  They would talk incessantly about the game; often well into the start of our sessions. As the GM this drove me crazy; I openly swore more than once I'd never touch the damn cards while insisting my gaming group get back on topic.  Finally of course after much prodding/pestering I decided to give the game a try one fateful winter afternoon.  Despite the fact that I barely understood the game and was by all accounts a terrible card player, I was nonetheless hooked immediately.  I quickly resolved to buy as many packs of Magic as I could afford and was on my way to do so when my playgroup hit me with the terrible truth.  Apparently Fallen Empires was the worst set of Magic released to date and utterly useless even for a beginning player/deck-builder. What's more the upcoming new base set (4th Edition) contained almost NONE of the powerful cards that drove previous editions (Moxes, Lotus, etc).  My friends had addicted me to a game for which they strongly advised I buy no cards!  I survived for 6 long months borrowing decks every time we played Magic before the summer finally brought with it the release of Ice Age and a chance to finally start my collection.  I bought an entire BOX of Ice Age Boosters (a huge investment for my 18 year old self) and when I cracked open my first pack and flipped to the rare slot, I found the following card staring back at me:

Now, I would love to tell you that I was a really smart kid back then and immediately recognized the obvious value of a card *THAT* broken, but the truth is I didn't.  Skip your draw phase?  Why would I want to do that?  Pay life to draw cards?  But when I run out of life I lose the game.  I even asked the store owner if there had somehow been a mistake; maybe Necropotence was some kind of misprint because there's no way they'd make such an awful card a rare.  He assured me that there was no mistake and suggested that if I didn't like the card I find another player to trade it with.  This seemed like a brilliant idea.  Of course if I had been a little older or a little wiser I might have wondered why it was so easy to find a trading partner to take this horrible card off my hands.  I might have also checked to make sure Lightning Bolt and Fireball were actually rares.  I did neither and ended up trading away my first Magic power card for two cards I could have bought as singles for a dollar or less.  Ignorance is bliss however and I wouldn't even realize how serious my error had been until I played Black Summer Necropotence 3 out of 4 games at my first competitive tournament an entire year later.  I won precisely zero of those games and quickly learned firsthand why Necropotence was so powerful in the post Ice Age environment.  While you might think this would turn me off of the game it actually had the opposite effect.  I was utterly determined to accomplish 3 things by the end of that tournament:  A) Get better at Magic.  B) Learn the game well enough that I never made such a poor trade again and finally C) Trade for 4x Necropotence and start trading life for cards!

Since that time in one form or another I have literally always been a Magic player.  Sure; I've drifted in and out of Standard play 3 or 4 times.  I've endured periods of poor financing where it was virtually impossible for me to play in drafts, limited events or even buy new product.  There was even a brief two year period during Mirrodin Block where merely SUGGESTING that I was still a Magic player to me would lead to a pointed diatribe on how "Wizards had ruined the game I loved with Affinity decks".  Ultimately however I kept finding myself drawn back to the addictive card game I fell in love with way back in the early Winter of 1995.  In other words: "Just when I thought I was out, THEY PULL ME BACK IN!"

Well, it's fair to say this has gone on long enough; I could easily tell old war stories all day but let's save that for when I run out of good things to write about later.  :)  For now I'd like to leave you with one parting thought.  Think of it as mission statement for The Cardboard Witch; a guideline to help us find the road back to our purpose when we get lost in the sea of cyberspace writings about magic.

"Magic the Gathering is both a social activity and an insanely addictive game.  As such it's supposed to be a positive or dare I say "fun" experience.  When Magic becomes only about winning or supporting bloated egos it loses it's value as a game and turns into something uglier and far less desirable.  While it may seem on the outside that "winning" defines "fun" and that "losing" is the opposite of fun the truth is that this attitude allows for only a shallow/narrow/limited Magic experience.  Yes, it's ultimately true that focusing entirely on the game at hand and refusing to socially interact with your opponent MAY lead to a few more wins at the table it's also true that it rarely leads to more FRIENDS at the table.  In the long run only one player can win a given tournament but with the right attitude everyone who plays can make friends and more importantly make "fun" while playing Magic.  Don't let your Magic experience be so narrow, take the good times with the bad and remember that you don't have to be a jerkstore to be good at Magic."

Well folks, that's all for now.  Next time I'll try to hit you up with a higher "content" post but for now I think we're off to a great start.  Until next time, remember to focus on enjoying your Magic games and always keep it weird.


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