Welcome fellow Magic: The Gathering players and enthusiasts! I decided to start writing this blog because I feel that I have a lot to share with the Commander community, and I wanted a place where I could do that. I’ve been inspired by following many great personalities in the Magic community on Twitter, as well as listening to many great Magic: the Gathering podcasts. In this first post I want to introduce you to me, my Magic history, and then get into a bit about the beginnings of my Commander experience.Let me start off by giving you a little background about myself and my Magic “career.” I am a civil engineer and I work for a small company in southern California doing primarily traffic signal design. It is a decent job, but my passions lie elsewhere. Someday I actually hope to own a great game store along the lines of Card Kingdom or Blue Highway Games in Seattle. I have had the chance to visit Blue Highway, but have not been lucky enough to visit Card Kingdom. I greatly look forward to my next trip to Seattle though! I have been married to my wonderful wife Jan for a little over four years now, and I enjoy spending time with her of course, watching movies from my extensive DVD and Blu-Ray collection, cooking and baking, mountain biking, and of course, playing the wonderful game of Magic: the Gathering. I am a huge geek, and aside from Magic I am quite the Star Wars nerd. I also enjoy animation of any kind and I am very thankful to have a wonderful seven year old niece that I can blame for having to go see the latest animated feature!
I started playing Magic in high school. A friend brought some cards to school and taught a small group of us how to play, and it was all downhill from there. That was when Revised had just been released! Of course, as new players we wanted the newest and the best! Never mind those old packs of Unlimited gathering dust on the shelves of our local comic shop! Sadly we were grossly unaware of what riches lay waiting in those packs, and we were NEVER happy to open up a dual land as our rare. In fact, the mother of all rares was the great, ferocious, Shivan Dragon! We were the epitome of the casual, kitchen table Magic player. We did frequent a small hobby store quite often through those early years, as one of our friends worked there. Often we would all pile in my truck after school and I would take him to work with the rest of us hanging out for a couple of hours playing Magic. Eventually we started to learn the real value of some of the cards, and we started trading properly, and going to collector’s warehouses (still in operation today and I still go there!) My friend that worked at the hobby shop saved and traded for a vast collection of Power Nine and other valuable cards until he was able to sell enough of them to buy a car! Personally, I have always loved dragons, so of course I strive to collect them. I am short about 20-30 dragons at the moment, including the uber-expensive Zodiac Dragon. In addition to dragons, I also LOVED slivers back in the day, and I’m happy to say that since getting back into Magic, my sliver collection is complete! I also maintain my planeswalker collection which is complete until the next set releases, and finally, I love my “extra turn” spells, so I’m starting to collect those as well.
Alas, somewhere in and around the Mirrodin block we started to drift away from the game. People went to college, people got real jobs, people got wives and children. Collections got traded and sold. I, however, kept ALL of my cards. I had finally gotten several that I had desperately desired, including my favorite card of all time, and part of the Power Nine, Time Walk! Sadly, after several years of not playing, just buying a pack or two of cards here or there, and money problems working their way into my life, and I started selling cards. Time Walk was among the first to go. Luckily I got far more than I paid for it, but alas, today it is worth far more than that. Someday I will get it back… someday.
A few years later a group of friends starting having a bi-monthly board game night where three or four of us would get together and play board games. I had never heard of Euro-games before and never considered that the board game world might be more exciting than Monopoly and Clue. I had to get a collection going! Then I found it… www.coolstuffinc.com. There I could sell my old, useless Magic cards and get credit for board games! I was in heaven! I thought, if I ever get back into this it will be in Standard, and all of these old cards will be useless to me! My first sale consisted of nearly a hundred cards. I sold ALL of my dual lands. ALL of my Demonic Tutors. ALL of my Sol Rings. ALL (but one) of my Maze of Ith, and anything else that came up on the Cool Stuff buy list at more than a couple of dollars. I had a ton of credit, and I bought a ton of board games! All was right in the world, but I wanted more. So I dug back into the boxes. This time I sold everything I had left that came up to more than $0.50 including my last Maze of Ith. I got a couple hundred dollars, and I bought more games. But then things started to change.
One of the guys in our play group started getting into Magic again. He had bought decks called Planechase, that had these strange new cards called planes. We had to learn a lot of new rules, and had to learn about Planeswalkers and Mythic rares! It was a strange new world of Magic, but we embraced it. He had bought all of the decks, so a night or two went to playing Planechase Magic. I put the Metallic Dreams deck on my Christmas gift list that year (and I got it!) and the following February my wife and I attended a board game convention. I had my Planechase deck with me, but never found the opportunity to play. I did however buy a Worldwake Precon deck that had a dragon as the foil card. I have a thing for dragons. Soon I was reading up on the Wizards of the Coast website and learned that a new set was coming that April. It was a set that would be driven on the backs of massive creatures and make possible “battle cruiser” Magic. The promo card for attending a pre-release was the king of all battle cruisers, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I was sold. I found a regional pre-release at the Anaheim Comic-Con and purchased my entry. That day I was able to play in the sealed event, as well as a draft, and I got two copies of Emrakul! Soon I was at my collector’s warehouse and bought the first box of Magic booster packs that I had purchased in nearly seven years. We drafted out of that box in my gaming group, and it was soon after that we started exclusively playing Magic at our bi-weekly game nights. We played Planechase, Standard, and draft, but soon we found a new format. It had been around for a while, but we hadn’t really heard of it before. Elder Dragon Highlander.
We decided as a group to make EDH decks, and each of us would use one of the original elder dragons that we all remembered fondly from the days of the original Legends expansion. My choice? Nicol Bolas. I was to face off against Vaevictus Asmadi and Palladia-Mors.
My first EDH deck was terrible! I started by deciding which mechanics I wanted to build around. Since Nicol focuses on opponents discarding their hand, that was the first thing I focused on as well. I went through my collection and pulled out a ton of discard spells in black. At the time I had also just picked up a copy of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, and I wanted to feature mechanics based on him as well. For blue I focused on creature control, and red I focused on direct damage and destruction. Sadly, my mass exchange of cards for board games had greatly depleted my stock of cards, and I found that some of those cards (dual lands in particular) had greatly increased in value in the year or so since! This made it very hard to justify getting some of those cards back, and sadly for most of them I haven’t gotten them back. The problem with my deck was that I put too much emphasis on the discard aspects, and neglected balance in the deck. So sure, I was able to get the opponents hands to zero cards, but once that happened I had nothing left to do, and kept drawing discard spells! I played it that first night and it was soon dismantled. I had a lot of ideas though.
By this time the Archenemy products had been released, and my favorite deck was the Assemble the Doomsday Machine deck. Combined with my Metallic Dreams Planechase deck I had a great base for an artifact themed deck. I decided to stick with the colors of those decks, black, white, and blue and after some internet research I found my general, Sharuum the Hegemon. The first iteration of the deck didn’t even have the “infinite” combo, but shortly before my first game night after time, time enough for my opponents to have a say in the matter that’s for building the deck I learned of it through some internet research, and of course, put it in there. This deck worked like a dream. The mana base was solid, though it did, and still does rely on too many non-basic lands. The interaction between the creatures, artifacts, and spells was spectacular. I truly had “assembled the doomsday machine.” I do have to say that my deck was a far cry from those Sharuum decks that assemble the combo very early in the game. I do keep the combo in the deck, and I do want to be able to play it, but I run very few tutors, so actually getting all of the pieces together takes a fair amount of time, time enough for my opponents to to have a say in the matter that’s for sure!
That was my first successful EDH deck, but it wasn’t my last. In the time in between then and now EDH has changed to Commander, color identities have changed around a bit, and my flagship battle cruiser has been banned, but I still love Commander and I am constantly thinking of new deck ideas. It may take time to bring those ideas to fruition, but that’s part of why I decided to write this blog. If I continue to write down my ideas, and give myself assignments, it will help me keep focused and make me more productive when it comes to making those ideas happen!