About a month ago, my friend asked me if I would be interested in learning how to play Magic: The Gathering with her. I excitedly said “heck yes!” for a couple of reasons. First, my friend is new to the nerd world and I’m delighted to show her around. Second, because I have wanted to play Magic for a LONG time.

Flash back

Once upon a time when I was a little girl, I would hang out in my science teacher’s classroom during lunch. There was a group of boys who would play Magic in there. I would watch them sometimes. I liked the art on the cards and it looked like they were having fun. One time I suppressed my social anxiety enough to ask them if I could play. It was a big deal in that I was a seventh grade girl pioneering her way into this secret boys’ club. I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t think the answer would be anything other than, “sure, join us”. I was expecting the wedding scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the men and women started dancing together. What I got was, “No, that’s weird. This isn’t a girls’ game”. Yes, I’m serious. But, being 12 years old, I was only initially disappointed and then just took their word for it.

Fast forward to now, when basically all I do is sleep and play games of both the video and table top variety. Until a month ago, I still hadn’t played Magic. I had heard the unfortunate stereotypes of the players being angry rules-lawyers who spent way too much money and time on their hobby. I still kind of wanted to play, but I was worried that the rules might take a while to master (like Dungeons and Dragons) or that I would have to spend a lot of time studying strategy (like League of Legends). I didn’t have the time or inclination for any of that. My friend pointed me to the free Magic 2014 tablet game (also available on Steam), which actually taught me how to play really quickly. I like to describe the game play as “a more math-heavy version of chess with pretty pictures”. The full version of Magic 2014 is $10, but the free version is definitely enough to get you started. The tutorial was easy to get the hang of, and the game does a good job gradually increasing the difficulty as you play. After I’d become confident playing the tablet game, my friend and I went to our first Friday Night Magic draft.

There are a lot of comic book and game stores in the area who participate in Friday Night Magic. The reason we chose Space Cat (http://superspacecat.com/Gaming/index.htm) was because they had a 50% discount incentive for new players. We got to the store and filled out our new DCI cards. Everyone was very welcoming and happy to see new players. There were a couple of other first timers besides my friend and I, including someone who had never played the game at all before. A few veteran players volunteered to help and answer any questions they could. The whole atmosphere was so friendly and welcoming that I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t expect it. We drafted, and I chose my cards from the new packs. I got some helpful tips on building a good deck from a couple different players. By the end of the night, I had a pretty brutal green and black deck populated by some hard-to-kill creatures and even a Planeswalker. I even won a couple games!

Magic 2014 was recently released in card-form, as opposed to the tablet game, and I was able to draft with the new set this past Friday. There are some new creatures, some game-changing artifact cards, and a new group of Planeswalkers to get a hold of. It’s a great way to spend a Friday night, and I’m now on a mission to spread the good word of Magic: The Gathering to the rest of my gaming friends.

Jenn Marshall