Magic and Methamphetamines by Ryan S.

(I think this is the last one I’m going to post. It’s a little silly and kind of confusing, so don’t take it too seriously)

Hi, I’m Ryan, and it’s been 2 weeks since I last touched Magic cards. It’s been incredibly tough just to get through the day without thinking about those wonderful, perfectly textured cards and that intricately balanced complex gameplay. I never thought I would end up in this position. No, not me. When I was a kid, I was always told never to do magic, and to avoid it at all costs, else you’ll end up an addict and be out of a job, and live out your life as a failure.  All of those anti-magic campaigns that so many overzealous mothers invest their heart and purse into were wasted on me. I’ve finally decided to turn myself into Magic Anonymous so I can get on with life, but I don’t know if I can.

I will never know how I was convinced to walk into a Magic lab that fateful third week of class. When I first tried magic, I couldn’t believe all the colors I was seeing: red, green, black, blue, and white. Even gold, silver and brown cards were there. Creatures like Mineral Spirits that could cast Ailing Acetone and did 10x damage when paired with the Muriatic acid instant I saw for the first time. Terrifying Tolulene and Basic Bleach were all there. When all of these cards were mixed together into a pack of forty or more, they became an intensively addictive combination and often led to feelings of extreme euphoria. Playing that boardsweeper creature “Dopamine Harbinger” gave me the most amazing mental orgasm I have ever experienced.

Initially, every Magic addict usually starts out with a basic white deck – a mixture of peroxide soldiers and starting fluid. Usually the newbies get a very fine powdered deck to play with, but I was given a rather rough mixture of Kor Skyfunnels and other flying creatures.  At first, my clumsy hands did not know how to handle these dangerous cards, and I fumbled a victory against Kevin without realizing the true meaning of magic: proper mana curves. Plains after plains I played in futile action as Kevin’s control deck slowly took down my naïvely unconstructed white deck.  I just did not have the experience or know how to compete with a Magic lab mastermind like Kevin.

After playing a suspiciously grainy white deck, I decided to give red a try. It seemed more intense, yet effective and it turned out to be far more subtle than I expected. With a reputation for severe nerve damage and small creatures that swung for proportionally large amounts with respect to their health, red became a very fast deck. It took no time at all to reach that apex that the “Dopamine Harbinger” provided, but sometimes, I was simply mana screwed or had to Mulligan. I then realized that red was my Magic color. I identified with it on a much deeper level – it was my drug color of choice.

After several weeks of watching and participating in these addicting magic matches, as well as learning game refinement techniques from Kevin, I felt like I had a good grasp on the whole Magic business. I saw brilliant minds taken in and saw them become obsessed with these magical Magic cards. I tried playing against, green, white, black, and blue decks. I even played against decks of two or three colors – an extremely risky prospect considering the explosive nature of this sort of deck building. Alas, my deck was simply not as well constructed as those other decks, and simply wasn’t as addictive. That’s why I’m here telling you my story.

Actually, what I just told you was the inappropriately dramatized version, poorly parodying methamphetamine drug addicts and parallels the Magic class as a meth lab. Flattering, isn’t it? In any case, the more simplistic content of my essay is below:

Magic the Gathering is a great class. I learned lots of stuff. They had cards that I had to choose and pick colors from so that I could beat other people with cards. It was complicated and I didn’t win a lot, but it was fun too. There was a guy named Kevin and a guy named Tom and they both talked about these ideas that looked and sounded complicated but actually weren’t when they broke it down. I played in a tournament and did not place great, but I still like my deck. My presentation was on a red deck with goblins in it because goblins are cool. We should all play magic. The end.

Wait a minute, I’m sorry, my imaginary 10 year old brother took control of the computer for a few minutes and tried to pretend he was me. I apologize! The real essay is actually below.

As mentioned in the dramatized version of this piece which was constructed based on incoherent thoughts of sleepless-ridden nights of finals week, I did indeed play a red deck. The reason I chose red, was not because I thought it was particularly effective or had an incredibly subtle dynamic between certain creature types and the color of my hair, but, in fact, was being played by very few people at the beginning of the class. Jumping into the course a few weeks late, I was already somewhat confused as to how Magic was played even though I had read through the lecture slides from the previous two classes and Kevin personally taught me how to play. After much trial and error, I realized my red deck needed a serious overhaul in week 5 and I decided I was going to pick a creature type or types and stick with it for a week, so I chose goblins. Why goblins? Other than that they’re in every cool fantasy and some random superhero movies, they’re quite fast at getting themselves onto the playing field, and it’s easy getting lots of them out. They also synergize fairly well with each other (at least as far as red decks synergizing goes).  After playing several different people in the class, I realized that most decks had either a focus on late game creature removal and late game card advantage or enormous creatures and ridiculous late-game pumping spells. So why not try to kill them off before they even put significant creatures on the field? This technique works when these two conditions are actually the case, but often fail horribly against any decks with fairly good midrange creatures that are dominating the battle field by turn 4 or 5. There were probably 3 different cards in my deck that were by far the most useful. One was the goblin bushwhacker, which for a kicker cost of one additional mountain it would give all creatures haste and + 1 attack. In conjunction with Dragon Fodder, it would be 3 creatures/tokens on the field with haste and a total of 6 attack for 4 mana.  Pretty awesome. To finish off an opponent I would usually employ Trumpet Blast after my opponent declares his blockers. This would give every one of my creatures on the field +2 attack, and if I use this in conjunction with the kicked goblin bushwhacker, assuming I have 3 creatures on the field, I do 12 damage to an opponent (assuming no blockers) Pretty devasting.  Although this technique is fun when it works, it’s sometimes hard to get this condition, but it’s definitely worth the losses sometimes. I very much enjoyed this Magic class, not just because it was a game, but because the theories explained in class were explicitly applied to Magic – which is awesome! Thanks for teaching this quarter and have a great break. It was a very enjoyable class, even for someone who had never touched Magic cards in the first place.

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