By December 26, 2007

Magic Mountain

When I was still in high school, my very odd cousin Damien (real name) asked me if I wanted to play a game. I stepped back slightly and eyed my clad-in-black cousin carefully. “What kind of game?” I asked.

“It’s a new card game, called Magic the Gathering.”

I was reluctant, but nodded yes anyway. Little did I know that I would fall in love with the game and continue to play throughout college, right until the Ice Age expansion came out. I remember playing game after game in the basement of the service fraternity while my friends waited for people to ask for an escort home. I pretty much stopped playing immediately after graduation. Most of my friends who played moved away, and I never considered venturing out to a game store to find new players.

Fast forward ten years. My friend Stilts had been playing again and kept bringing his cards up when he would visit me. We stated by playing a few casual games, then we’d play all day, and the next thing I knew I was going to “booster draft” style events sanctioned by the DCI.

I wanted to buy some cards of my own, and possibly introduce some of my friends to the game. The problem with that plan was that I had been out of the game for a decade, and even when I was playing the game I was pretty casual. I wasn’t sure if anyone else would want to learn how to play, either. As such, I was reluctant to spend a ton of money on something I might never play outside of my time with Stilts or sanctioned events.

Under Stilts’ recommendation, I checked out the Wholesale section at Star City Games. I plunked down $20 for 2000 cards — 1000 basic lands, and 1000 common and uncommon cards from various sets over time. Star City Games didn’t make any promises about receiving unique cards, but they did assert that there would be some variety. For $20, who cares? And like I’ve said before, at least it would make for an interesting Gibberish entry.

Well, this is what 2000 Magic cards look like. It was an interesting mix of (mostly) brand new cards, with a few that had been in someone’s collection purchased wholesale by SCG. I think that the new cards were unwanted cards from tournaments or from packs opened by Star City Games while looking for more expensive rare cards. The distribution of the common/uncommon cards was as follows:

  • Black: 279
  • Blue: 180
  • Green: 68
  • Red: 224
  • White: 126
  • Artifacts: 98
  • Lands: 79
    • Swamp (black): 21
    • Island (blue): 23
    • Forest (green): 18
    • Mountain (red): 16
    • Plains (white): 21

    As you can see, there was a major discrepancy between green cards and the rest of the pack. It pretty much makes that color unsuitable for play, and a four-color game of Magic isn’t very interesting. I know there was no promise of even distribution, but how about something a little more even? There are nearly twice as many white cards, and even white is lagging far behind the other three top colors, distribution-wise. Artifacts are playable by everyone, so it’s OK that there were only 98 of them.

    The most-repeated card was the Nosy Goblin, with thirteen copies in my box of 1000. This card sucks, even among cards that suck, so I felt a little jilted.

    Would I recommend the Box O’ 1000 commons and uncommons for anyone? Probably not. The chance of getting stuck with very few of a color is just too great, even for $10. I might recommend buying TWO boxes of 1000 C/U cards and not buying any land at all. I didn’t read between the lines and didn’t realize that the C/U box would come with land, and as such didn’t need to buy another 1000 copies of plains, islands, and so-forth.

    Star City Games appears to be out of the “Instant Magic Collection” right now, but if you’re interested in taking a totally casual, random start to the game it may not be a bad idea to pick up two of these. Even though most of the cards are crappy, it’s just as expensive as buying two “starter” decks at retail or five booster packs.

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9 Comments on "Magic Mountain"

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  1. Ed says:

    Hmm, haven’t tried that game in a while. Might be worth looking into game if it can be done on the cheap.

  2. I trade you green for wheat, er, white?

    Seriously, I have spare Magic cards from when I played a lot — not the built decks I’ve saved, but lots of extras of various colors. Ed, you could have some too. I wouldn’t mind playing a few games for old times’ sake! Also I could probably scare up a couple of NoVa Magic players (good peeps, we played at each others’ houses) for a bigger game, if desired.

  3. Ed says:

    That sounds pretty good. I keep forgetting you are in the area. We should get together.

  4. drfaulken says:

    Hahah, it spreads. 🙂 I still appreciate the tactics of the game, it’s a good time. I haven’t really played multiplayer since I’ve restarted, that sounds like fun too.

    Maybe in 2008? 🙂

  5. Ed says:

    I say we do it! Nerds forever~

  6. Heh, you’re in exactly the same boat as I am Doc 🙂

    * Used to play Magic in high school, with one particular friend.
    * Stopped playing after a few years, but not because graduation. It was the new expansions that did it in for me: they just weren’t fun anymore.
    * Would still like to play the game, but have noone to play against 🙂

    Funny thing: when I tried to introduce MtG to one of my classmates in HS, he stayed the heck away from the game. His mom had told him to stay away from -anything- that had to do with (black) magic. 😀

  7. drfaulken says:

    Oh, maybe you both misunderstood, and the guy’s mom was telling him to play a white/blue deck weenie/denial deck 😉

    I have been using Magic Workstation to play online with Stilts — it’s also a good way to test out deck ideas without buying a lot of expensive cards. MW is free (with nagware) but you can buy it for like $30. The full registered version also allows you to use the program as an inventory management system.

  8. Nick Hein says:

    HA! You know you might be right about that weenie/denial thing. When I wanted to start buying cards back in ’94, my mom saw the Sengir Vampire and said ‘no way’. Then I showed her the Serra Angel and told her the game wasn’t evil, it just had evil characters (I think my exact words were something like ‘See, it’s really about the epic struggle between good and evil, and good wins…Wrath of God is the best card in the game.’) Then she let me play.

    Ok, I was 13…I probably didn’t say ‘epic struggle’. Anyway, I enjoyed readying your entry, it sounds like mine.

  9. Nick Hein says:

    I meant to say your STORY sounds like mine. I wasn’t so clear about that.