The first chapter in an occasional series where members of the London community reflect on their experiences coming out of Magic retirement to play Old School.
I hadn’t picked up a Magic deck for 18 years. I’d glanced through my folders a few times while having a sort-out, but hadn’t slung spells in anger or even mild disapproval since the last century. And then I found Old School...
But rewinding to before that, I can remember vividly when I fell out of love with Magic. It happened in a pub in Liverpool where I went an event that had been billed as friendly meet-up. I’d just moved to the city and was looking forward to meeting some new people. I took along my mad multicolour deck, packing all 9 dual-lands, dragon legends, and dragon arches.
I went in, I sat down, said “Hello” to several people who barely acknowledged my existence ( I wasn’t a clique member) and finally managed to coax someone into giving me a "friendly" game. He was probably 17, not friendly, and beat me in three turns… and smirked. He didn’t laugh at me, or say “Unlucky, do you want to try again?”, he just smirked at me. I decided to move on. I left the pub, left the game, and didn’t look back.
The model for a welcoming Old School community
It wasn’t just that experience. I’m a big boy and not a particularly bad loser - it just added to a growing recognition that I couldn’t afford to keep up with the release schedule, a new set every three months or so, and anyway I had the Star Wars CCG to play (of which more later).
Rewinding again to the very beginning, I’d been introduced to Magic in 1994, through friends, one of who had been given a black lotus for winning one of the first UK championships (in a deck without one… imagine that!). I enjoyed introducing others to the game, but I had put my cards away and found other things to do with my time (again, imagine that!!).
Magic had always been a social activity for me, playing ten-player games in the pub, making new friends and using all the cool cards, not just the ones that could kill your opponent as fast as possible. I missed that side of magic in the late 90s. I also loved SW:CCG, getting a card fix with all the characters from my youth. I played that a lot and met many people who I still consider friends. Then that game died, and my life changed. I grew up, got married, and had a family.
Then one day I saw a Facebook friend, Brother Scott, whom I’d met playing SW:CCG, (I told you that would reappear later), was going to an “Old School” Magic event - COPCON III. I liked the sound of that, but didn’t know what it was. So I looked it up (what did people do before the internet?) and when I found out there was a place I could use all my old Magic cards again, I thought it worth a go. I’d know at least one person there.
I went to COPCON IV, and had a blast. My deck wasn’t that competitive, a Red and Green aggro build with no power and three Taiga probably isn’t going to be, but I did win one match, and I had fun. Remember that? That’s why we all started playing Magic in the first place, right?
I met new players, who welcomed me with metaphorical open arms, and who loved the “flavour” of the cards in my decks, (anyone for Cat Warriors?). I won the Brothers Of Fire for most original deck in the competition, and I rediscovered why I loved the game in the first place. And that’s what Old School is about for me.
I’ve never felt an emotional connection to the new card design. I don’t want to start buying new packs (although I miss the thrill of opening them), but I am happy to pick up a few of the cards I wanted but never got when I was a student. I’m going back to COPCON V on Saturday, this time with four Taigas and two (Chronicles - let’s not get too carried away!) Cities of Brass, as well as a few other reasonably-priced improvements to the deck.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
Editor's note: Thanks to Robert for his article - we're looking forward to seeing some new faces at this weekend's COPcon V.