As you know, here at 2 Guys we go through gaming highs and lows..lately this gaming rollercoaster has been centered around one game, MTG, the godfather of gaming. “How can anybody lose interest in playing MTG?”, you might be asking. Well, It’s actually surprisingly easy when you don’t have the opportunity to play that often and start to question why you have 8 decks of cards sitting around when you only play once every couple of months. Add that to a fairly lackluster BFZ expansion set, toxic forums, and a general unwillingness to spend hundreds of dollars to stay competitive and it’s hard not to sour on the game. Two months ago I reached a new level of sourness, to the point of actually selling my entire collection (except for 3 decks in case the rare opportunity to play arose). Turns out those 3 decks were the game’s lifeline…
In a past article, I’ve mentioned how Shawn and I met up with a group of fellow players and competed in a friendly Origins sealed tournament. The guy who arranged it, and whose house we met at, Joe (I’m calling him “Joe” because some people get weirded out about having their name in print), is an avid player who plays at area tournaments every weekend and has some of the most powerful Modern decks at his disposal. In the article I originally wrote about that night, I voiced my (and Shawn’s) frustration at how the casual games didn’t feel all too casual. This only added to our mutual feeling of “MEH.” regarding the game. Fast forward to a month and a half ago. Joe asked me if I would be interested in playing a few hands of MTG and watching some Football. Well, the MTG part didn’t really float my boat but I’m a sucker for beer and Football, so I packed up my 3 decks and decided to take him up on his offer. Even though I did somewhat better than I did the first time I played against him, I felt like I was starting to understand more of what it takes to be a decent player and also how to build better decks without breaking the bank. I went home that night and immediately logged onto eBay and bought a few singles that I knew would be key against some of his decks. Just like that, I was back in..but only to a certain extent, I still wasn’t as enamored with the game as I had been even a few months earlier. I had no intentions of building multiple decks as I knew that I still would not be playing the game that often. I just wanted to tune the decks that I currently had in order to put up more of a fight.
Since then, I’ve gone over and played against him a few more times, and the last time his neighbor (another avid Modern player) showed up to play a few hands as well. The atmosphere has changed from that first night we went over and competed in the sealed tourney. They point out misplays, allow me to take them back, give me deck building tips. It’s almost become a learning experience every time I go over. It’s still a different feel from the casual games that Shawn and I have but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve realized that to keep the game fresh and interesting that you have to be competitive to a certain extent. Instead of being frustrated at the Splinter Twin/Exarch combo, I now gameplan against it. Instead of being blown out by an insane RG aggro deck and being disheartened, I built my own to keep up, and in about half the games, out-aggro it. I used to hate mill decks, in fact, Shawn and I essentially banned them from our nerd nights, but Joe has a nasty one that he likes using and I’ve rolled with the punches. I’ve been able to adjust a couple of decks and put up a good fight. You see my point yet? What makes MTG interesting is adapting to your opponent, not just adapting to their deck, but taking advantage of any misplays and finding ways to incorporate cards into your deck that negates their win conditions. The constant game of one-upping each other has become fun for me. Even more fun is the fact that all of my decks are budget..it adds an interesting challenge for me…to be able to at least be competitive with decks that have Snapcasters, Splinter Twins, Ugins, Karns, multiple fetches, etc..using decks that probably cost less than 60 bucks.
Update: Last Friday night Shawn stopped over for a gaming night. He requested that we play Tiny Leaders as he hadn’t tuned any of his Modern decks and wanted to try something new. I was happy to oblige and the night before I built a couple of TL decks. Turns out Tiny Leaders is really, really fun. We had two memorable games and we each won one. The best part was that in each game, if the game had gone to the next turn, the other person would have won. These TL games really helped cement my status as a MTG player for the forseeable future and it’s probably going to be the format that I’m most interested in playing for awhile. If you haven’t tried it, do yourself a favor and give it a shot.