Monday, November 26, 2007

Magic: The Non-Quitting

About half a year ago, we all decided to quit playing Magic. We said something like "after 10th edition" we'll all quit - or at least, we will play less, draft less... we'll probably still draft each time a new set comes out, see what Magic's been up to, things like that... but we certainly would draft less. Duy quit, Jason quit, so it would almost make sense for the rest of us to quit.

... that didn't happen. We didn't draft less. We didn't quit. I am still in love with Magic, and I continue to draft it with Vinh or with Alan and Vinh pretty often. It's still fun. So what happened?

It would be wrong to say that "the new set is so awesome". That's not true. The new set is good, but so was every set that has come out. It's not like the new set made Magic so awesome that it was impossible to quit. There's none of that hocus pocus going on.

So what happened? Actually... nothing happened. We said we were going to quit, but why? There was no reason to really quit, so therefore... we didn't quit. Additionally, in the few recent weeks, the cost of cards have gone down. Significantly. SIGNIFICANTLY - kind of. The Canadian dollar went up, and there was this cheap wholesale online store that I shop from; now that the Cdn dollar is at par, it's much more affordable to buy it from that store.

I suppose one of the reasons we were quitting was the cost. Before, we would say that the cost of a draft was comparable to going to see a movie in theatres, and the cost for a good draft was... well, more than seeing a movie in the theatres. Well, now that I can buy cards for cheaper, the price of a good draft is less than the cost of going to see a movie, but I digress (sorta). The logical thing to do is compare what is better - drafting or seeing a movie.

You drive to the movie theatre (you have to wear clothes, etc; that alone might be considered another cost), you pay the admission, you sit down, watch the movie for 2 hours. Let's say it was a movie that you wanted to see in the genre you like. You watch it, share the emotions (laughter, fear, etc) with your friends and the people in the theatre, and then you come out. Chances are it was a new movie that you haven't seen before, and it was a neat experience, and now you add to your culture and experience with a new story and vision from the director. You leave the theatre and go home.

For now, let's experience the first draft of a new set.

Prior to the draft, you go out and buy your booster packs and lands; or, the other extreme, you buy all your cards online, and you buy enough cards for multiple drafts so that you don't have to do any preparation work for the next few drafts - which is what I do now. I'm at home, so I don't have to dress too fancy, Alan and David and etc don't have to dress too much either. You get the new packs, you open them, get the new card smell, and you ooh and aah as you look at the cards for the first time. You see new mechanics, ultra powerful cards, and your mind forms new synergies and combos as you look at and study the cards.

If you're drafting with David, the draft will probably take well over 2 hours. After drafting, you construct your deck, which is another fun process on its own - and then you play the cards, and more oohs and aahs come out as you see cards you still haven't seen before, and you see new combos in action. After the draft is done, you have your cards to keep and play with at a later date.

Now let's talk about a late draft... so the set has been out for a while, and you probably know 90%-100% of the cards, and you've had a few drafts and you might've even made some constructed decks or searched the internet for some, so you know most of the main strategies available. And for now, let's say we're not drafting with David, heh.

So you sit down, open the packs, take your cards. If you know 90% of the cards, there's a small chance that you still get some oohs and aahs if you see new cards, and in those cases it's pretty neat to find new gems. But most of the time, you'll see cards you've seen before. After you draft, you make your deck, and you'll play. Without David, the draft can take anywhere between 15 minutes and 45 minutes (or longer, however redundant that may sound).

So it's still fun to play... but the part I really like is finding about the cards your opponents took, or ninja-ing them with the cards you took. There is still mystery before you play with the deck, as you don't know (or shouldn't know) what your opponents have picked, so that little joy from ninja-ing them with good cards is quite fun.

And as usual, after the draft, you have a deck to play with at a future date.

But one thing that I noticed is... often, you don't really play with those draft decks again. So another question is... is it okay? Is it okay, that, even though you get this new deck for later, is it okay to not use it? It does seem wasteful, yes. You bought cards, and you use them for a bit, and then you don't use them anymore. It IS wasteful, but we're talking about entertainment right now. I did say that a lot of the fun from the magic draft comes from the drafting, making of combos, and then playing your cards that your opponent doesn't know you have. Of course, once you play them, they know what you have, and part of the shock experience is gone.

So the whole question is, what's better worth the movie, drafting magic or going to see a movie? And, the kicker is - if drafting is better than seeing a movie, how much does the "deck for the future date" account for? After you see a movie, you don't get anything physical out of it. So is drafting magic so awesome, so that, after you draft and make your deck and play with it, if your cards suddenly disappeared (so that you also don't get anything physical out of drafting Magic), would it still be worth it?

Okay, I'd be kinda sad if the cards suddenly disappeared. You did after all, "work" on them. But, I'm asking because we have dozens of draft decks that are no longer used - should we keep them there, collecting dust? Would I feel better if I played with them more? Are they special so that just having them there as a "reminder" would be okay? Should we deconstruct them into constructed decks? Well, those are some odd questions.

(Aside: Another reason I like Magic is that it gives me and Vinh something to do together. Our interests rarely intersect and he doesn't like doing a lot of things, so Magic is one of the ways Vinh and I bond. That is good enough reason to stay playing magic)

Anyway, I do like going out to movies, and I do like drafting magic. I can't always choose to go out to movies, and I think my resources are pretty well so I can choose to do both (plus videogames, etc.). Sometimes, it'd be nice if I didn't have to dress up and drive to the theatre... well, that's where renting a movie comes in. Renting a movie is a cheaper alternative to going out to see a new movie... but can't always do that either.

So... I didn't really answer my question. I just said that if it's an issue of cost... well, it's not a huge cost, so it's not a huge issue. Anyway, so I didn't answer my questions too well, but maybe you would like to share your point of view.



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