Tuesday, 2 December 2014

#27daysofgames - Day 2 - The first game I ever taught someone - Magic the Gathering

Following on from the first game I played, which was a very long time ago, it took me some time before I figured that other people might have been interested in playing games, and more importantly that they may want to learn to play other games, and as a result, I was reasonably late into teaching other people the games I was playing.

For the purposes of this, I don’t include the games that I learned with people, because that’s not me teaching them as a person who knows the game, it’s me figuring things out with them, which is not the same thing.

So the first time I taught someone how to play a game was back in ’94, when I only had three decks of cards, and the resupply hadn’t quite made it as far as England.  I’d picked up the first decks from an Electronics Boutique (Remember those England?) that had two left, and a single booster pack, after reading the Dragon magazine article pointing out what had happened and the magic “Phenomenon” rapidly spreading.  Three months later I got another deck and figured that maybe someday there would be some more cards over here...

How little we knew...

But the game that day was between two decks, singularly unplanned, both five colours, (Although one of them with a single plains and four white cards) very little of anything else in them, and while I knew how to play the game, there weren’t enough cards out there to build focussed decks, and Land wasn’t available by the bucket for free like it is now.  It was hard enough getting enough land together to play a deck properly without having to think about trying to get enough to play a two or even (impossible!) one colour deck.

Didn’t take long to teach my friend how to play the game, indeed the very appeal of the game is that it doesn’t take much to teach people (or at least it didn’t then...), and winning by reducing them to zero life points wasn’t a difficult concept to get across at all. 

They won the first game, and we swapped decks and I won the second, so we put all three decks in the middle and picked random decks and played again, and by the end of the evening, we didn’t care who’d won the most games, it was just a good afternoon playing a new game.

I still have the deck I played with that day, when the new cards started coming out, it seemed a bit of a shame to break up the deck that I’d started this with, and over the next ten years or so, I tried out for the british championships at the NEC in ’95 (Before the concept of a Pro Tour had been thought of), I played hundreds of people from all the different places of the world, and I made many new friends that all had a love of trying out new combinations.

But the world changed, people figured out that there was money to be had in this, things went from playing a game with people and having fun to seeing how fast you could wipe out your opponent (Turn one without them having a go seems to be the record on this) and with it came a new set of players that were only interested in getting the win, not interested in playing just for the fun of it.

My breaking point came when a nine year old decided that my cards were marked and called the umpire to adjudicate, which caused twenty minutes of waiting while they checked every single card and decided there was nothing wrong with them, and said nine year old then starting to cry when his accusations were found to be unproven and he’d have to actually play me.

I chose to exit stage right before committing twaticide...

So I haven’t really played much magic in the last few years, and some of that’s down to the life I’m leading and spending more time organising things than playing them.  The other part of it is that as soon as the game became massively competitive, it lost something, because the games where you had to play four colours because you didn’t have the land to play less, and the games where you could spend an hour mashing away at each other trying to find the chink in the armour are long gone.  I rarely watch a game that lasts more than five or ten minutes these days, and I understand that I’m a relic of a time gone by when people just played the game because it was fun.

But I like having fun, that’s the reason I play games, and so we still have occasional games with three of us playing in a circle, and sometimes a one on one, but we don’t stray much out of the circles we started in, and we don’t play that often anymore.

But I’ve still got all the cards!

So if anyone does want a game out there, isn’t going to quote me on the fact that I can’t have certain cards in my deck (I don’t even know if Type 2 exists anymore, but I’ve got no Moxes, No Lotus, none of that stuff, but a lot of its Ice Age and Legends), and just wants to play a game, look me up, I still love the game...

I’m just not competitive enough for the new world...