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The Way-Back Machine
By Tom Bergmann
{Editor's Note: This CPA Classic article was originally published on February 12, 2000 -- CT}

Tom Bergmann

" We return you now to those thrilling days of yesteryear..."
-from the television series, The Lone Ranger

Remember how Sherman and Mr. Peabody used to get into that Way-Back Machine contraption back in the old cartoon ("Rocky, Bullwinkle, & Friends")? They'd travel back in time -- always to some pivotal point in history -- and say or do just the right thing to make things turn out the way they should (unlike Marty and the Doc in the "Back to the Future" trilogy, who managed to screw everything up despite their best efforts not to).

If cartoons are to be believed, we have those two to thank for everything from the works of Leonardo da Vinci to the invention of the Wheel.

Pretty amazing, huh?

Want to hear something funny? I'm thinking I've got something like that right here in my basement.

This story begins a couple of weeks ago. I had to go into work on a Saturday for a little OT, which, by the way, I hate doing, because they make us come in so damn early. I got out of there at around 1:30, and since I knew my wife and kids were up in Wisconsin that day (Pell Lake) I had brought my card box with me. Contained therein was a Type 1 deck, two Extended decks (one of which may or may not still be legal) and two Type 2's, along with a couple of Battletech decks.

I was ready to play.

I stopped off on my way home at the store I've mentioned in the past, a place called Heroes Unlimited in Roselle, Il. In years past they would hold Juniors Magic tourneys on Saturday afternoons, and I was thinking I might pick up a game or two.

I was wrong, in that the place was overrun with Pokémon players.

Oh well.

I figured I'd stick around a while anyway, and sort through some of the uncommons boxes looking for some of the cards I needed to get the requisite sets of 4. I didn't have a lot of luck there, but in the course of my browsing I found something I thought had to have been extinct long ago.

I found a copy of Microprose's Magic: the Gathering computer game.

Now, I've never really played the game before, though I've seen others do it, because until a month ago I've never owned a home computer.

Call me a little backward, if it makes you happy. I don't mind.

Needless to say, I bought it instantly and drove home like a madman (which isn't really THAT unusual -- I always drive like that!). I went straight to my computer and I booted it right up.

And promptly got my butt kicked half a dozen times.

Then I learned how to play with it, and did a lot better. Now, I can safely say I'm somewhat addicted. I play every night, and sometimes in the afternoon before work. I've got to admit, I haven't really touched Apprentice since then, except to make a couple of fun decks just to keep my hand in it.

See, it's Magic the old way, with creatures like Serra Angel, Hypnotic Specter, and Ball Lightning, and spells like Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, and The Brute.

Well, I could have lived without The Brute, but you get the idea. An Uthden Troll may not be a beautiful thing, but put an Unholy Strength on it and it IS a beating.

Aaah, for the good old days...

Which brings me, finally, to the point of this article. One day a couple of weeks ago, in response to something someone said on the Bulletin Board (I think it was Ferret*), I suggested, in an offhand way, that WotC should consider a new format, one that would make anachronisms like me happy.

In short (yeah, right) I suggested a format where only pre-5th edition cards would be legal.

Someone else mentioned that there'd be a need for a restricted/banned list to go along with that, and that wouldn't bother me too much as long as it didn't have to change every month or two, and in a totally stable format like that it shouldn't have to.

Of course, WotC would probably insist on using 6th edition rules no matter what the card set, but I think I could adjust to that since I believe Mirage would make the cut, and I've always liked Rainbow Efreet.

Talk about overpowered.

So go ahead and boot up that ratty old copy of Microprose Magic you've got gathering dust in the corner over there. And when you do, think back to the days when those cards were real, and sitting in your hand in a crowded room with 40 or so other people, untapping and feverishly hoping your next draw will provide you with the STP you need to take out that second turn Serra Angel your opponent got out with their Black Lotus.

We can have that again.

Tom Bergmann
TomB on the CPA BB
CPA Member

"I do not teach. I simply reveal."
-Daudi, Femeref tutor

*{Not "The Ferrett" from, but our own David "Ferret" McKenzie.}

Read More Articles by Tom Bergmann!

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