I have something of a storied history with Magic, as you may already know if you’ve been hanging around here for a while. I played for a few increasingly depressing years in secondary school, and dropped out at around the same time that the competitive mentality had gripped our teenage-boy minds to the point where endless third turns and infinite quantities of tokens were the rule rather than the exception.
Last year I found out that those rotten bastards I used to play Mage with have started up with the Magic and the playing of the Magic again, and that they have wrapped their hands firmly around the reins to steer the Magic Wagon straight for Casualton (it’s in the County of Scrubshire, but on the edge, not in the middle by Loserborough or Nobber-upon-Rant).
And it’s been fun, so far, throwing down with these people, to the point where they bought me a shiny new deck (although it’s green/red, not really my thing, I still appreciate the effort) and where I’ve picked up some lovely full art lands and a life counter and deck boxes and oh fuck what am I doing?
Anyway, the latest oh fuck what am I doing news is this.
That’s a huge box of Tempest commons that belong to a friend of a friend. Naturally, like the hero I am, I’ve been going through them looking for anything that’s still egregiously valuable and stripping out the stuff that I might be interested in.
Anyway, I thought it might be worth looking at how I’ve gone about whittling that huge stack down. First job – sort everything out by colour, and by type, to make the rest of the task easier. Second job: take out all the Slivers (I have memories of people’s Sliver decks and want to see if I can build an interesting one) and anything that looks like it might be more valuable than pennies (I know there’s an Eladamri in there somewhere and I can’t believe Circles of Protection don’t fetch a few quid)
Third job: mana.
There’s no land in the pile at all, so I’ve had to think about the full art lands I have available – 12 Swamps, 8 each of Island, Plains and Mountain, and 4 Forests – and what they mean in deck-building terms. What they mean is that I have to keep an eye on the costs of things. Anything that costs two of anything other than black to play has to be evaluated in terms of how likely it is to see play, especially if there are further activation costs in the same colour. Crown of Flame, for instance, decent though it is, is entirely dependent on red mana to cast and to get any use out of, and there’s no real guarantee that I’ll be having enough of that in the deck to do the business.
What I seem to have ended up with is a swarm of cheap, lightweight black creatures with ‘pay one black to make this thing a bit scarier’ or regenerate abilities, and a bunch of exciting delivery spells in other colours. There’s probably a name for decks like that but I haven’t the faintest idea what it is. There’s probably a whole exciting world of terminology out there waiting to be discovered, really.
What worries me, though, is that I own two deck boxes and they’re already full (although I haven’t actually bought any of the Tempest cards off their current owner yet, and I may not). Another small worry is that the old cards are going to create some interestingly tense rules interactions with newer decks, and have been left behind somewhat by the ceaseless process of revision which makes Magic go. I’m wondering if my money might not be better spent on something like this, or this, or even this…
If there are any Magic players in the audience, feel free to offer some advice. Remember though, I don’t care for tournaments, just for a casual game that I stand a decent chance in.