By the time I was playing Magic against my fellow students in high school at lunch and in an after-school game club, I'd been at it for some years and, by focusing my meager funds on certain deck that I really wanted to build (Slivers, Necro, Academy, Forbidian, Jar) I reached a point where I was generally playing older cards than my peers (who actually purchased booster packs and played with the latest sets) and had more experience piloting my decks than they did. I was also winning a lot, which I liked. Some of the decks I ran up against had some fascinating off-the-wall stuff that I'll always remember fondly, but a lot of the time I was facing down, well, fads. Even today, looking back, I'm not sure whether much of what I saw was really "Standard" as in what was called "Type 2" at the time, but it was, at the very least, Standard-like. I don't think very many players at my high school were avid tournament grinders, but they did seem to know enough to find cards that were good in Standard and Extended and play those cards. When a new set came out, they acquired and played the popular new tech. This was not every game against every player, but it did mean that I found myself seated across a lot of Threshold and Madness decks. I didn't follow new set releases back then, so I didn't know what I was going up against until it was too late. But despite all that, like I said, I was winning a lot. For reasons that, to some extent, escape me 15 years after the fact, I had a habit of holding back my combo decks and using them in big multiplayer games. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to lose and figured that more opponents meant more chances for someone to stop me. Or maybe I felt like it would be more of a triumph to take down a full table than it would be to combo out against one person. Or maybe I was just a huge jerk and wanted to ruin big multiplayer games by killing everyone at once. Whatever the case, I refrained from playing my combo decks except against the strongest known opponents or in big multiplayer games. For most duels, I played control decks. My control decks were not built specifically to have an advantage against the new cards. In fact, I had a kind of reckless lack of respect for what new cards were capable of, trusting the power of my old favorites like Force of Will, Arcane Denial, Hymn to Tourach, etc. And against the Invasion and Odyssey Block stuff, my control decks stood their ground. But then the new kid on the block showed up. Er, the new block showed up. Onslaught Block brought in a new fad: tribal decks. Goblins, elves, clerics, wizards, zombies, birds, soldiers, beasts, and even, to my dismay, new slivers. With so many creature swarms going around, a Counterspell wasn't going to cut it. I'd be overwhelmed. If this were a good story, here'd come the part where I had some sort of revelation. I'd start losing more and have to come to grips with it. I'd adapt and grow as a player. Cool stuff like that. But reality doesn't always play out like a good story. Instead of my control decks faltering and me adapting to changes, it was generally the case that the creature swarms coming for my head ran up against some sort of wall. I kept winning! Some card that was already in my decks anyway would, by my own dumb luck, expose a weakness of the latest fad and reinforce my mistaken belief that the old cards were the best cards and that new cards sucked. And most prevalent of all was Masticore. Dropping this thing and using it to singlehandedly dominate the board against an opponent with a bunch of 1/1 elves might have been the first time I finally felt sorry for an opponent.