Day six of the 7 Day Feel Good Blogging Challenge asks for a personal post. I don’t often share personal things here on my blog, but I think my experience with playing Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is both personal and still fits with the geeky theme of The Triangular Room.
My obsession with MTG started with admiring the art on some of my hubby’s old cards, and soon led to playing weekly at a nearby Friday Night Magic tournament. These tournaments were fairly competitive, and I’m not a competitive person, losing all the time to people who can afford to buy the best cards for their decks was frustrating. This led to needing to buy more cards in order to actually win any games, and soon we were spending a lot of money just trying to keep up.
If you’ve never played Magic: The Gathering, it’s a trading card game. Cards are sold in blind packs, which encourages players to trade or sell to other players in order to get the cards they want. New card sets are released every few months, and older cards rotate out of the popular format called ‘Standard’. This format is one of the most commonly played, but it requires players to keep up with the current meta-game and have the right cards in order to stay competitive. Popular and powerful cards are sold individually for a lot of money – in some cases hundreds of dollars.
In order to keep up with other players, you end up on a never-ending treadmill of buying new cards. I can’t even begin to fathom just how much money we must have spent on cards over the few years that hubby and I played the game. The cost factor also started getting worse when the Rand (South Africa’s currency) got weaker and weaker. To put this in perspective, when we started playing MTG, the exchange rate was around R7 for a US Dollar, and it is now R14 for a US Dollar. This affected the cost of the cards considerably as card values are dollar-based.
Then there was the time factor. Besides playing at tournaments, which range from several hours to a whole day (or more!) in length, practising with your deck is essential if you want to keep up with the pack. I was a pretty good player (I actually won a couple of tournaments), but spending almost every Friday night playing the game AND finding time to practise during the week was just too much.
It was my first really big tournament that started to put me off the game, however. Besides the cost and the time, I really didn’t like the competitive aspect of large tournaments. I had originally set out to have fun while playing MTG, but spending an entire day playing against opponents who were way more serious about the game than I was just didn’t work for me. After my second big tournament, I knew competitive MTG wasn’t for me.
These larger tournaments also exposed me to something else I really didn’t like. Our weekly tournaments were relatively small and the participants were primarily regulars, so there were a lot of great people at those regular Friday games. There were rarely other women in attendance, and often those who did attend were there to watch rather than play. In the large tournaments, however, the male to female ratio got even worse – something I’m used to in many of my hobbies. This wasn’t a problem though. What was a problem were the handful of men who clearly were not used to playing against women. They weren’t happy when they lost to me, a girl, and they were patronising when they beat me. These players were in the minority, but it was just another nail in the MTG coffin for me.
In the end, hubby and I decided to keep some of our decks for a casual format called ‘Commander’, and I kept a file of cards with great art. We sold off the rest of our collection to other players. We didn’t make back anything near what we spent, but it was better than letting the cards gather dust. Since we’ve stopped playing, we have so much more time and money for other hobbies – I never would have been able to run a regular Pathfinder game while still playing Magic.
I feel it’s worth mentioning that I really enjoy Magic: The Gathering. It’s a fun game that gives the brain a good workout, and is a geeky hobby that encourages face to face interaction. It’s also highly addictive, and potentially very expensive, both in time and in money. I do miss it sometimes, especially opening up shiny new cards, but I think giving it up was the right thing to do for me.
Awesome angel images by Jason Chan.