Friday, June 26, 2009

First Level Magic: Investments in the Game

Like most good things in life, Magic requires a commitment or investment of some sort. Now Magic is a very forgiving mistress, and can be enjoyed at different levels, depending on just how much of an investment you are willing and able to make. It is important to remember, that at any level, there is a required investment, and the more you want to get out of if, the more investment is required. Lastly keep in mind, that this isn't something you can simply buy your way into. No matter how much money, time, or effort you put into this, if they are not invest protortionaly, you won't get the same effect as some one who does. Make noe mistake though, your investment in the game, defines you as a magic player.

In such, the first question is are you a Magic player, or simply someone who plays on occasion? I've developed the following 4 points as an acid test of a Magic player.

1. Own your own cards.

2. Make a measurable, impactful, and consistant investment of your time.

3. Have an understanding of the rules.

4. Some concept of current events related to the game.

It's pretty simple if you can't say yes to these four things on some reasonable level, you aren't a Magic player. Now, don't get mad if I'm talking to you. At some point we were all probably enthusiast of the game, who only collected the cards, played with borrowed decks, only played because it was the game of choice for the night, had no real understanding of the rules, or had no concept that there was current events related to this game. We have all been there on some level, and perhaps you are reading this today becasue you are now ready to make the investment and become a Magic player.

Owning your own Collection;

So like I said, Invest here refers to many different aspects of the game. First up is card acqisitions. My first rule of Magic, as much as there are any, is that you have to own some cards. There just is no getting around this. If you still borrow a deck from friends, and are testing the waters, playing from time to time, thats fine, but you aren't a Magic player yet. This is a collectiable card game, which by definition requires any player to have a collection.

Have no fear, the barrier to entry for this game can be pretty low, in fact a cash on the barrel investment of $20.00 is enough to get any noob some playable option. It may be an intro pack from Wally World, entry into a prerelease event, or an instant collection of 1000 cards from an online retailer. The barrier to entry can be even lower, if you ar elucky enough to have stumbled into a community of gamers. I know that often the best thing I can do with my excess cards is give them to new players, to help them get their feet set. (I don't give people anything, unless I know they have made some fiancial investment in th game though).

The fact is, it really doesn't matter how many cards you have, or how you got them. As long as you own enough cards to suffle up one playable deck, you are on your way. Now that you are on the road, the larger collection you cultivate, the more play options you will have. I had planned on writting this as a much larger section, but I already do a lot of budget perspective writting, so I've decided that elaborating further here would be redudant on this point. Your cards are also your tools in this game, and they need to be treated as such. The way you keep your cards, speaks volumes about your quality and ability as a Magic player. Again, I'm not going to go into to much detail here, as I have already addressed this topic about a year ago. Give it a read if you are looking for best practices on card organization. Organization of your collection (big or small), represents an investment of time, that will pay off year after year.

Time is Magic;

Next up, I'd like to go a little more in depth about the investment of time. After owning your own cards, this is the thing which most defines you as a Magic player. The fact is you have to be willing and able to invest some time into any hobby. Magic is a wonderful example of a minimal investment can go a really long way. Everything you do in this game is going to take time, from purcahsing and organizing your cards, to building decks. Oh, and you may want actually play from time to time too. Folks that don'e invest time are going to develope the exact same problem, as those that don't invest in their collection. The game is going to get stangnant, because you can't find your cards, you are always playing the same old deck, or you never find time to play.

So this is a dificult mental bearier for a lot of people to cross, but an easy fix once they do. Once you accept that any hobby takes a devotion of soem time, finding ways to make it work will just start to flow. As a single father, I can relate to not having all the time in the world to devote to a hobby, but I've found some pretty easy ways to make what time I have really pay off.

As I previosly mentioned I found a way to stay organized that works for me. This took an investment of almost an entire weekend, but I did it three years ago, and it has been paying me back time dividends ever since. Now it's a matter of simple maintenance. it takes about 2 hours for me to work in new cards each time a new set drops. Once a month, I put away cards I've been working with. I keep this number low, buy doing deck testing from list rather then true assembled decks. I made one test deck 2 years ago, and have been using it ever since. Tweaking is requires a couple of minutes in a spreadsheet, and I'm good to go. This is a tip I picked up from the pro community a while back, and something I plan to write a feature on in the near future.

So now you have organization, and deck construction testing locked down, you can devote nearly all your "available time" to actually playing and thats what it's really all about. I plan to go into this crecial step in the coming weeks when I tackle the concept of a Magic community. Like wise Learning the Rules can be a major investment of your time, especially when Wizards tends to shake things up on you. This really is the best thing do to improve your game, even at the begining. It truly effects everythign you do. Understanding th erules may impact yourr organization, group cards that work the same together perhaps. It will also positivly impact your card choiced during deck construction, pointing out the gems that make best use of the rules constructs. Since Wizards just changed some things, it's the perfect time to invest in Learning the Rules, and will be the focus of my next article.

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