Tuesday, February 12, 2008
It’s not often that your teenage kid asks you to join in on one of his hobbies or activities, so when my son asked me to join his Magic League, I suppressed my first reaction and said “Sure, why not?” Except that I am hardly a master Magic player since I have never played anybody except my son.
For those of you that don’t speak Geek fluently, Magic: The Gathering® is a collectible card game (CCG) for guys (and they are mostly male) that have outgrown Pokemon and it’s brain damaged cousin Yu-Gi-Oh. Magic is some sort of cross between Dungeons and Dragons and gin rummy.
You do battles against each other with decks of special cards. Each card has its own special arcane rule on it. The general idea of the game seems to be to combine decks of cards in such a way that it bends and breaks the rules of the game in the most obnoxiously creative way possible. People take great pride in discovering certain combinations of cards that make it impossible for anyone else to ever win.
Now these are serious Magic players with bylaws and tournament fees and everything. Last fall I would just drop him off and swing by hours later to pry him away from his gaming induced catatonia. Now I was going to be an accomplice. My son had to “build” me a deck since I’m too incompetent to be trusted to the task by myself. I told him to keep it simple so I wouldn't embarass myself. For the past week or so, I’ve been scrimmaging against my son so that I would at least know my cards and how they worked.
At the kick-off round of games, I was asked how long I had been playing Magic. I said “nearly a week now.” I made a lot of rookie mistakes like trying use a Swords To Plowshares against Black Knights (they have protection from white, duh) and not keeping up with the counters on my Æther Vial card. I did impress some people with how well I was able to milk the Welkin Hawk/Soulcatcher's Aerie combo.
Many of my first games were exercises in frustration. One guy had a deck that used a Trinisphere/Metalworker/Staff of Domination combo that created unlimited mana, lives, and attacks and kept me from destroying it. At that point, the game just quits being fun.
The tournament format involves playing the other contestants in best of three matches. I took a couple of matches to the third game but I did manage to win one match before having to call it a night.
The other players seemed to run the gamut of nerd archetypes, friendly, but just a little too full of the inside jokes for the outsider to make much headway. It's tough to get to know people well when the main topic of conversation is which cards are on the banned list.
While at potential socially awkward settings like this, I like to pretend I am some sort of Jane Goodall among the nerds and I have to cleverly disguise myself to fit in. The host's DVD collection included the full series box set of Space:1999, so that was a good conversation opener about how cheesy that show was. Sometimes I fit in just a little too well.
But I can't pretend to be anymore that what I am, a former high school dungeonmaster now watching his kid carry on a family tradition of geekiness. I'm so proud to watch him grow up.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Admit it, I'm the dorkiest person you know, right?