Staying Power: Magic: The Gathering Celebrates 25 Years And Makes Me Feel Really Old

Fake News Nate here, reporting on one my first real hobbies and addictions. Good ol’ Magic the Gathering. So sit back and relax as I take you on an brief adventure through 25 years of Magic, and also my 23 years of being a cardboard junkie.

Waaaayyyy back in 1993, Wizards of the Coast, a gaming company from Renton, Washington, introduced the world to the mother of all collectible card games…and instantly gave us nerds something to take up all of our time and money. Because of the addictive nature of the game and its heavy secondary market costs, we couldn’t afford a car, insurance, or rent, thus reinforcing the stereo type of “recluse living in moms basement”

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Actual Representation of Being a Magic the Gathering Collector

I myself missed the first year, sadly. The game just wasn’t readily available or well known. Living in a small Southwest Virginia community didn’t help either. No Walmart, no local stores or hobby shops. My entertainment back then was throwing rocks in cow manure piles… But Magic eventually found us and it took hold very fast. I could only find the coveted packs at one location. Hills. I’m betting no one remembers that place, but I always will. After all, it helped lead to my long career as a card collector. 23 years. Man that’s a long time to be into a game. But I still collect and play to this day. Now I’m both old and lame. Damn. My particular story begins in the year 1995, with a tiny handful of friends in the High School Art room, during lunch break. But we’ll get to that shortly. For now, I wanna at least give you an idea of what all has transpired for the game and why it has such staying power. If I didn’t then the title to this article would just be “I’m a Magic playing geek for life”, and who the hell would have read that…

So as I was saying, in July of 1993, the game was introduced in Dallas, Texas at a large gaming event known as Origins Game Fair. Our hero here was Richard Garfield, forever known as the man who gave us the game known to many as “cardboard crack”. Apparently this fellow is a fountain of creativity and intelligence…He has designed over 20 different projects, spanning card games, board games, and video games. Plus let’s not forget he has a PHD in combinatorial mathematics. That alone make my brain wince. Alas, this part is becoming boring and I’ve decided to skip ahead. No disrespect to Mr.Garfield though. He is a great fella, and we owe him much. Thank you for causing the maxing out of credit cards, the furthering of stereo types, and creating something that allowed all of us socially awkward and/or different kids to have something to call our own.

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Here’s a Picture of the Legendary Lord of Nerds, Richard Garfield, Ph.D.

Moving on, Magic began to grow in popularity, winning awards and helping make WotC (Wizards of the Coast) a much larger and powerful entity. Years later, it would purchase  the popular properties of Dungeons and Dragons and Pokemon, among many others. Like a freakin’ gamer train fueled by the rich, burning coal that was nerd money, Magic rolled forward, releasing set after set. Fun fact: There are currently 75 expansion sets,  multiple formats of play and a multitude of supplemental sets for this monstrous game. It even has 3 full sets of parody cards…In no time, a massive tournament scene was thriving. There were(and still are) actual professional Magic players. I know right? Man, what a job..Professional “card flopper”. Sign me right he hell up, ya’ll! The “Pro Tour”, as it was deemed, was even covered on ESPN 2 for a time. I know. I have the VHS, and let me tell ya, that was some raw excitement…That’s sarcasm, gang. A large quantity of it…

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Ancient Relic of Times Past

So here we are, in 2018. Hasbro, the toy industry giant, now owns WotC. The “Pro Tour”, with its sizable cash payouts and extremely competitive players, continues to be held all over the world and I, being a lowly little collector, continue to set up a small table every year at the local conventions to sell sealed packs and single cards to fellow Magic players. It’s fun to help spread the game to more people and occasionally, to get a new player asking for old packs or information. I see that look in their eyes when they open a pack there with me. That feeling of newness and excitement. I remember it well. Like chasing the dragon, its hard to recapture that feeling these days. But through the new players, I relive it in their smiles and reactions to “pulling that card they wanted”. It always takes me back in time, back to 95’…

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Fake News Nate in His Natural Habitat

Why, it seems like it was only yesterday that I and a few friends were in the Art class room, at lunch time, 12 noon, shuffling our decks and defending Magic against the vocal protesting of my cousin, who was adamant that Dungeons and Dragons was a better game. I have to say that at this point in my life, I had not yet experienced “D&D”, so I had no basis for comparison. However, he eventually caved and began to play with us some as well. But I must credit he and his dad for showing me the wonders of the infinite imagination that is “D&D”. But ALL of that could be a future blog. Actually that’s gonna be more like a damn novel. Card floppers and Dice chuckers…That was us, and if you get that reference, I’m very proud of you and your geek knowledge. I’ll be issuing out banana and/or smiley face stickers for your effort.

After the first year, we had roughly 4 or 5 players. By the time my Senior year hit, we had spread the addiction to the underclassmen and beyond. I am proud to say that I and my friends were the very first people to ever play and introduce Magic the Gathering to Rocky Gap, Virginia. A small achievement, but something for us nerds to always remember. Bringing fantasy and imagination to a unknowing and mostly country town. I went on to introduce my friends to the fun of both Magic and Dungeons and Dragons for many years and I still do, when I have the time between work, music and personal life. Some could say I’m a pusher. So whatcha say, dear reader? Wanna try it? First pack of cards is on me…

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Pick a Pack…Any Pack…Actually, Just Pick a Cheap One…Thanks

I wanna give a shout out to the man who introduced me to this curse of a game, Mr. Waylon Cooper. You are a legendary flopper, sir. More shouts go to my cousin and his Dad, Chris and Scott Dehart, who introduced me to some of the best times of my life tossing dice and telling fantastical stories, on into the wee hours of the morning for so many years. I definitely wanna give credit to our longtime “crack dealer”, Doug Goins, and his legendary store Video Game Exchange in Wytheville, Virginia.  And to all my early Magic buddies, you know who you are. Hell I may even tag some of you when I post this. Exposing your secret inner nerd to the world…

Fake News Nate, signing off to go build a deck to play at the next local Friday Night Magic event. And inevitably, lose. Catch ya soon. Be sure to like, share and subscribe, my dudes!

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