Monday, May 9, 2011

Oh, Oh, It's Magic

So, I earned some geek cred this weekend when the boy dragged me to a Magic: The Gathering tournament.

Here are some things I am: A nerd, a bibliophile, a digital PR-geek, a gamer.

Here are some things I am not: a singer, a trivia wiz, a Magic player.

But we packed up some overnight bags and me, the boy and one of his friends headed off to Alabama for a preview tournament for the new cards that are coming out. As we got in the car, the boy said to me, half with astonishment, “I didn’t really think you’d say yes when I asked you to come.”

Awesome. :)

Magic works kinda like two-player solitaire, but with dragons and mana and wizards. I got a crash course in the game when we arrived in Alabama—we were staying over a second friend’s apartment with his awesome wife and adorable 3-year-old.

Anyway, players have their own decks that they build from an incredible amount of cards that are sold in 15-card packs, like Pok√©mon. There are monsters and spells and characters with different abilities. You use the cards to fight your opponent and his characters until someone’s life points gets to zero. The way this preview tournament would work is that the players would be given 6 packs of cards, and they would build decks using only those cards. Then they’d fight to the death until there was only one player left.

There is more to it, but that’s the gist. When the boy reads this, he is gonna be horrified at my description.

So we drove to the tournament Saturday morning. With three games under my belt and only a vague understanding of how a tournament works, I was very worried that I was going to frustrate every player they paired me against. I thought, this was a terrible idea: I had no clue how to play Magic. The boy tries to reassure me that the players will probably be pretty patient with me. Probably. Also, I will probably be one of two girls there. This was not reassuring.

The tournament was sponsored by a comic book shop. Since it was Free Comic Book Day, it was pretty crowded, and there were all kinds of people in superhero costumes. The tournament itself was being held in an adjoining building with rows of tables set up. There were signs with directions and labels for tables and a not unimpressive stack of boxes fill with Magic cards.

Okay, imagine the whitest, geekiest guys you know. Do it. Get that picture in your head.

That is exactly who were playing at this tournament.


I told the boy that I would be sitting this particular tournament out, grabbed my book and prepared to read for six hours. I sat at a table that eventually became the girlfriend table as it filled up with a couple of moms (yes, you read that right), girlfriends and sisters. It looked like it was going to be a long day.
And then it wasn’t. One of the boy’s friends dropped out early and asked if I wanted to play at one of the side tables. He had a couple of extra decks and we started a multiplayer game. Another guy joined in, and soon we had a four-player game, and I was having fun.

A lot of fun.

I was absolutely destroyed in the first game. Like, did not have a chance as all my monsters were sent to the graveyard and my life points were decimated in a single swoop. So we played another, and I got a fan in the form of a young 20-something with fantastic hair who began to advise me on what cards to play. It was geeky and hilarious and I was enjoying myself.

I think, a lot of times, we go into things with expectations already in place, and it’s really hard to override those expectations, especially when—on the surface—people seem like they meet them perfectly. But once I got over myself (I play World of Warcraft, do I really have room to judge?), and started talking to people, I had an amazing time. In the end, I didn’t win a single game, and my understanding of how to play is still only borderline, but I have a lot more respect for the players.

Oh, the boy ended up winning the tournament.

He’s still getting his ass dragged out dancing this summer.

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