I mean, it would be rude to start a blog without an introduction, right?
My name is Andy and I play Magic The Gathering.
In less than a weeks time, I will be 30 years of age, the grand number, my life is officially over, or something along those lines. I believe people enjoy, or feel as though they should, make lists of what they hope to achieve with their life when they reach the age of no return. Have babies, buy a house etc etc. My goal? Fight my way to the Magic The Gathering Pro Tour!
Not that’s not to say I don’t want those “grown up” things, of course I want to get a house and get married, and that I feel the need to say that in case my girlfriend ever reads this (she’s been so patient with the constant obsessing over Magic, she’s a star).
A little history lesson, I’ve been video playing games on a competitive level all my life, Red Alert, Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, Age of Empires and most recently Starcraft 2. While I would pour hours and hours into these games, reading over articles, watching tutorials and sitting with a pad and pen taking notes while I reviewed my own games, I never really achieved the level of play that I wanted to. I was good, don’t get me wrong; I’ve always had a natural knack for games, but I was never the best or even close.
Then one fateful day I walked into my local Games Workshop, and my world was turned upside down. For those who aren’t aware, Games Workshop sell tabletop war-games, the one I became drawn to was a marriage of the interstices of the aforementioned Real Time Strategy games and a sci-fi aesthetic that they themselves call Grim Dark. Warhammer 40,000. I threw myself, fully enveloping myself in the game. The fact that I was just diagnosed with severe depression, probably helped to motivate this, it was the best distraction that I could find while still remaining social once a week. The perfect balance. I quickly climbed my way up to becoming the best in the store, my knowledge and understanding of the game unparalleled by anyone I knew.
There was a small tournament scene, and even a national team for Warhammer 40k, however I never braved it. While in my head I would easily best anyone on the team (whether that was true or not, who knows), I never went to so far as to trying out or competing in any way. Eventually my love for the game faded, with a year worth of sketchy releases for GW, the game quickly became an arms race; whomever owned the newest, shiniest piece of kit won.
It left me wanting, I still drifted in and out of the hobby, but my heart just wasn’t in it. At the time a lot of my friends were playing Yu-Gi-Oh and I thought I would jump on the bandwagon, picked myself a couple of starter decks and played a few games with my girlfriend to learn to ropes (bless her). “It’s alright I guess” I remember thinking at the time having virtually no experience with card based games other than what I’d played in The Witcher (fucking love Gwent).
A few days later, I was lying in bed dying of what felt like the Black Death (it was the flu) I was chatting with my friend Mike who was interested in starting a new game, also becoming tired of Warhammer. “Have you tried Magic?” he asked. I immediately jumped on my Xbox and downloaded Magic Duels and fell in love with it. I knew the basics, somewhere buried in the back on my head was the recollection of playing a similar game, many moons ago, on the Xbox. But this was exciting, a new game, that was highly supported and despite what people say it’s not that expensive (well compared to Warhammer!).
I should probably note at this point, just to give some context, that was was less than 2 months ago, so I’m still new to the game, still learning every day, still making mistakes. But once I started I was hooked.
I played about with a few decks of my own creation, but not really getting anywhere with that I decided to netdeck (boo! hiss!), I picked myself up a Green/Red Energy Deck, you know the one with the Electrostatic Pummeler? Yeah that one. I put probably about 50 games into MGO within a week with the deck to learn the ins and out. Then when I felt I had a decent handle on the deck, and plucked up enough courage I jumped down to my Local Gaming Store; Games Knight.
One thing I will say about Magic, it’s probably the best supported game that I have ever played. My Local Gaming Store runs 5 nights out of 7 Magic events, I would usually attend the draft on a Wednesday night when I can afford it, and Friday Night Magic. The people, who I thought would be hyper-competitive assholes were the complete opposite. Pointing out mistakes I made during the game and giving me some helpful advice afterwards.
My first FNM went well. My first game was against Simon who had been in the business for a LONG time, and he was of course playing Mardu Vehicles, a deck that out-aggroed mine. I lost 0-2. A disappointing start. However things picked up from there, after a series of good games against the likes of Mono-White (Gideon and Avacyn), G/B Counters and Blue Control I ended the night on 3-1, despite this I came in 5th (the top 5 players all finished 3-1). But I was very happy with my first FNM showing, considering at this point I’d only been playing for around a month, to go up against such seasoned players and hold my own? That was pretty impressive.
The next few weeks did not go so well, I made a few changes to my deck, fine tuned the sideboard to prepare for the meta of the shop and popped on down with more confidence than ever. And I think that was my down fall, going into games too confident I expected to win in a matter of turns, and while playing an aggro deck I became reckless, forcing bad trades, throwing games away with mistakes I shouldn’t be making. In my second tournament I finished 1-3, 11th out of 12. My third was almost as bad, also finished 11th, this time out of 18 with a record of 2-3.
And that takes us to last night. Deciding I was fed up with the pummeler I took him and his pump spells out and filled my deck with fun creatures and that 1 copy of Chandra, Torch of Defiance that I own. I went in not really expecting much, without the cocky attitude, without thinking I was better than others. Sat down at the table and just made some really good plays, some not so good plays and having a decent amount of luck on my side, or more specifically, a lot of bad luck on my opponents side. At the end of night I went home with a handful of boosters, 1st places and a record of 3-1-0. Unfortunately the final round timed out at 1-1, because it was a really good game!
That night my lowly G/R energy deck, that would cost around £30 if you took out Chandra (I don’t even have dual lands!), managed to take out the Pummeler deck, Aetherworks Marvel and B/G Delirium (A VERY expensive deck).
And I think that it was the first point that I actually thought I could make it in the tournament scene. I’m sure a lot of you out there have won Friday Night Magic, and I know it’s not a great feat, however after playing the game after playing the game for only 2 months and winning? That’s not bad.
So where do I go from here? I keep doing what I’m doing, I keep playing online. Making changes, learning from mistakes and generally push myself to become a better player? Will I win my next FNM? Probably not. But now that I know it’s possible there’s nothing stopping me.
And of course, I’m going to document the journey the whole way 🙂