Magic: The Insanity

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Noooo! Look away from the carnage Dirge!

Once upon a time waaaaaay back in my college years, while loafing about my local hobby store, the clerk waved me over to demonstrate this new cool card game they had. It came with about 100 random cards (out of a pool of about 300 cards), give or take (hey, it was a long time ago, those college days of yore) with which you built a custom deck to pit against someone else who also had a set of cards and a deck they had built. The object was to use the various cards to whittle down your opponent’s points before he could whittle down your points. Simple, fun, creative.

I’d love to say that I picked up a deck and started playing, but alas, I decided to be prudent and wait a bit before purchasing the game. After a few weeks, I went in to purchase the game only to find that not only was the hobby shop completely sold out but the card company wasn’t printing any more decks. This is an excellent study in impulse buying or why the early bird gets the worm: Had I bought the deck when it was first presented, I would have had one of the rare Limited Edition sets.

Anyway, eventually they printed an unlimited edition of the game and my friends and I bought some packs of cards and started building decks. The cards are divided into 5 (and a quasi sixth) different color “domains”: Red, blue, green, white, black and the oddball tan-ish and each color set has a particular strength and a particular weakness. We discovered fairly quickly that the better decks were decks built according to a theme or limited to just one or two colors (or both!), and then we began designing tight themed decks just to see what they would do. I think that was the most fun of the game: designing decks to do different, nasty things to your opponent and then testing them out to see if in fact they really did do different, nasty things to your opponent.

After a bit, we discovered that there were expansion sets with booster packs of cards for the game. Whooot. And also duhhhh, given that the game was billed as a “collectable card game” and one base set a good collection does not make. Nor does it make the company any money, so of course they came out with a bunch of different limited run expansion sets. We missed the first one completely (our local gaming stores sucked for this sort of game), sort of stumbled into the last waning days of the second one (changed gaming locales), were screwed out of a lot of the third one (I don’t want to talk about it, other than to say HATE!), and finally got rolling on the fourth and fifth one.

Then, the company pissed me off by re-releasing a basic set with a whole bunch of expansion set cards included in the pool and thereby screwing up the entire card economy. Thus, a whole lot of re-released cards suddenly had their values thrown all out of whack. At some point in time in a giant money suck of a hobby, you have to step back and ask yourself if it’s worth it to keep on going. Each expansion set release was costing me about $100 for a decent card selection and when you start to think to yourself, “What else can I get with the hundred bucks I keep sinking into this game?” it’s time to think about getting out. Besides, the card base was getting to big too keep track of and the game itself was becoming progressively less fun to play. I picked up a couple booster packs for the sixth expansion set, mostly out of curiosity, but I was pretty much done collecting by the end of 1995.

Like most things of mine, I let my cards languish and gather dust in their two 3″ ring binders. They did that quite well until I got to talking with Dirge about Magic cards. It turned out that he also had a whole languishing collection of them, probably starting off at the peak of my collecting and carrying on through to the next few expansion sets. Neither of us played anymore, but the game was still going fairly strong so we decided to pool our collections into one massive conglomeration and sell it off. Dirge spent hours and hours separating the cards into their series runs, and then alphabetically within each series until he had my two overstuffed three ring binders all happily organized and waiting for someone to buy the whole kit and caboodle.

Which no one ever wants to do. Oh no, they just want this one card (and at a cheaper price if we could?) or that card, or to trade cards, blah, blah, Pain In The Ass cakes. Card collectors give me hives.

The conglomeration idled about Dirge and Shar’s place for a couple of years until last year when they moved, at which point I was gifted back the two very dusty overstuffed binders. I immediately placed them in a pile of importance (re: I don’t know, upstairs somewhere with all the other shit that we should do something with someday) and left them there. This past Saturday, while looking out over the mounding pile of stuff we should do something with someday, I got a bug up my butt and decided to do something about said pile. Starting with the damn Magic cards.

Obviously, I was never going to sell them (because even with Dirge’s notes and organization, I’m one lazy couch fuck and would never raise enough energy to actually do something about the damned cards) so I decided to break them back down into a playable format. I might build a deck someday and kick around with the game a bit, but time has told that I’m never going to do anything else with them. Maybe in ten or twenty years those “stuff in the attic” reality show people will drop by and ooo and ahhh over the conglomeration and it will sell for a million bazillion bucks (which I’ll split with Dirge, of course!) but until then, maybe the cards should be restructured for their original intent.

And this I did. Sort of. TheMan also has a good sized dusty box of Magic cards so I set out to integrate all three collections into one uber-collection of cards and then split them out by card color (and into newly purchased shiny colored binders!). Tuesday evening I dug in to this project and Dear Gods! The cards! Originally I thought I’d just jolly-ho sit and sort for an evening and then wala! Everything would be wrapped up all tidy like and I could get on with other important things (like watching Law & Order). Oh no. Sometime in the fourth straight hour of pulling cards, sorting cards, and arranging cards I realized that this was a project. Tuesday night we got the box and one binder pulled and sorted into different colored piles and most of the black cards sub-sorted and alphabetized. Yesterday I pulled the remaining binder and sub-sorted most of the whites while TheMan loaded the black cards onto some tracking database he found. We still do not have access to a good 3/4 of our coffee table.

We also have about 3 million Scathe Zombies. Fortunately, they are pretty tasty with a bit of BBQ sauce.

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Send help!


Last year at the booniverse: I got great abs going though. Between the coughing and the sneezing I’m going to be ripped by the end of the week.

Last last year at the booniverse: Vande-Cat, well, we took pity on her after 10 minutes and removed the basket.

The year before at the booniverse: Not updating because there was only 21 more shopping days until my mumses’s birthday! Yikes! There are only 21 more days left this year too! I gotta get hopping!

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