by Tom Bergmann
"...sticks and stones may break my bones..." Anonymous
"A funny thing happened to me on my way to buy my box of Mercadian Masques..."
"How I almost got off the Magic bus"
A funny thing happened to me on my way to buy my box of Mercadian Masques...
No. Wait. I think a little background is in order. My name is Tom Bergmann, and I'd like to welcome you to the first installment of "TomBStoneS". (catchy name, eh?) No, I'm not trying to herald the death of Magic or anything with that title. It actually refers to more to my writing style on the CPA Bulletin Boards than anything else. I've been a Magic player for about 5 years now and, to be honest, I don't like the way the game's been going for the past year or so.
And I tend to be sort of vocal about it.
Anyway, a funny thing happened to me when I went to pre-order my box of Mercadian Masques...
I couldn't do it.
I used to order quite a bit from NewWave. I won't order from them anymore, but that's another story for another day (and another author). They're not the reason I found it difficult to pony up the $75. though.
I'm a married guy, with a beautiful wife and 2 wonderful kids, and I've a decent job, though I don't make that much money. I figure I've spent somewhere between $2000. and $3000. on this game over the last 5 years counting everything in.
Please don't tell my wife I've admitted to it being that much. I always try to downplay the total for the sake of domestic tranquility.
But it wasn't really the money that kept me hesitating, though that's part of it. My point is, that I could find the $75. anytime I needed to, for something I really want. We just bought a computer, for example, so we're not broke or anything.
In fact, the truth is, I'm not sure I ever figured out the reason I couldn't seem to pull the trigger on the deal. I went to the web site at least weekly, thinking about it. I would bring the page up as the days were counting down and stare at it, for some reason, without writing the letter that would bring the cards to my door. The last date for the pre-orders came and went and still, I couldn't bring myself to do it...
See, in my opinion, this has been a terrible year or so for Magic, and it began with the disaster that was Urza's Saga. I like powerful cards as much as the next guy, but Urza's took the powerful card thing to new heights, and the worst part for me was I couldn't afford to waste my money on things like Time Spiral, or the Academy, because I knew the DCI or WotC's R & D would be banning them eventually. Yet there they were, in decklist after decklist of winning decks.
I usually buy 2 boxes of a stand alone expansion, so I bought 2 boxes of U.S., and I did find 1 of each of the above mentioned cards (though no Strokes - I hate it when that happens!) but I resisted temptation and didn't pick up the rest as singles, and they did end up getting banned. That they took over in Extended for a while after that didn't matter to me as I've never played in a PTQ, but the whole thing really made me wonder just where WotC thought they were going with the game.
I bought a box of Legacy too, and I really liked it. Don't ask me why - maybe because it felt like a throwback to my early days of playing Magic, when creature enchantments weren't necessarily bad. I liked it so much, in fact, that I went ahead and got 1 1/2 boxes of Destiny when it was released (2 Masticores!). Life was good.
Or it would have been, but for the release of 6th edition somewhere in the middle there...
I couldn't believe it! Artifacts are no longer turned off when you tap them? Instants can counter spells now? Creatures no longer in play still deal their combat damage? So do tapped blockers? Regeneration "shields"?
You've got to be kidding me.
They weren't kidding.
Suddenly, after more than 4 years of playing this game, I didn't know anything anymore. Many of the tricks I used to use to outwit my opponents (like tapping their Black Vise, for example) wouldn't work for me. Maybe I've just got a guilty conscience, but I actually felt bad for the last guy I told that he couldn't Impulse for a Counterspell in response to my Wrath of God.
This was before 6th came out, but I still felt like I had cheated, or something, to win. I felt a little dirty.
So anyway, here I am looking at this web page, thinking I'd better get my order in soon...
I've seen 4 of my local stores close down over the last couple of years, 2 of which were owned by people I had come to know as friends. These were the places I'd go to find a game, but one by one they went under. There's only 1 place left that I know about, and I haven't been there to play for a while. I still think the people there are terrific. I used to go there on my lunch hour from work, but my job got moved about 10 miles further away from the place so I can't do that anymore either.
I think WotC should support the local stores more, by supplying them with giveaways and price breaks, and special promo cards to offer as prizes. I think the company should have agents in the field who just "show up" at local store tourneys and give packs of cards out. I think that if any local store that holds weekly tourneys gets into trouble business-wise, WotC should help them out with some free product to tide them over.
No, I mean it. It's in their best interest to support these people, these places, because by giving people a place to play with their cards, and to meet people with similar interests, they will sell more product in the end. When these places go away for good, all you've got left are the pros and the newbies, and without places to play like these stores the newbies will never become pros!
And then where are they?
I think I'm a lot closer to figuring out my dilemma now. Thanks for helping me work that out.
By the way, I did finally break down and buy a box of Mercadian Masques. I realized I have way too much invested in this game to give it up without a fight, and it was at around that time that the CPA came into being. This place has been my lifeline, my connection with the game, and the main reason I believe there's a fighting chance we can save WotC from itself and preserve this game we all love. We started out a little slow, but we're getting bigger and bigger all the time, and if we stick together WotC will have no choice but to listen to us.
Or risk losing their best customers.
TomB on the CPA BB
"I do not teach, I simply reveal."
-Daudi, Femeref tutor