What the hell am I going to do with all these cards?

(Note: The title may or may not be a paraphrased quote from my wife.)

Scene: I am seated with several people in steel chairs that have been set up in a circle in a church basement. They obviously come from different walks of life, but a common thread binds them. They take turns introducing themselves and telling horror stories of how they spiraled into addiction. Each story is more terrible than the last. All I can think as they speak is, Wow, these people have a problem. The thought contains no self awareness. Eventually, they cycle to me.

“Hello,” I say, “My name is Shawn.”

“Hi, Shawn.” They all reply, anxiously awaiting the next sentence.

The sentence is supposed to contain admission of a problem and bring hope that through admission will come healing. The admission never comes. They start to shift uncomfortably or angrily in their seats. They believe that I’m being either stubborn or in denial, but I’m neither. I simply don’t have a problem.

Okay, perhaps it is time to back up for a moment. I used to play Magic when I was younger. I played a few hands with friends using their decks during my short career at the University of Pittsburgh. When I moved out and to Massachusetts, I kept a passing interest in the game to the point that I purchased a box of Ice Age boosters, picked up a couple of Portal decks, and tried to convince my wife to play with me. When she didn’t seem all that interested, I put my time, money, and energy into other pursuits.

As Liam has gotten older, I’ve tried to introduce him to some of the better parts of being a nerd. He’s a unique kid, which is awesome, and I wanted him to enjoy this time as a kid. Sometimes, he seemed like he was getting too serious and intense, so I showed him Pokemon as a way to connect with being young. He took to it immediately, found out about the cards, and I found myself hanging around that part of the local Wal*mart store. Huh, Magic is still a thing.

I picked up a deck builder kit, mentioned to Chris that I had gotten some cards, and we’ve incorporated it into our monthly nerd night routines whenever possible. We play by the loosest interpretation of the rules except when another player joins, but for the most part I think we get the spirit of the game. We are very different styles of players. He’s inspired me to build more strategically solid decks and hopefully I’ve inspired him to try some different things with his decks. I will explain this aspect of our games in another article at the end of the week.

For now, I quickly accelerated to buying packs and then, as we often do, determined that buying entire boxes of boosters (even though they are almost double what I remember them from Ice Age) is a better deal. You get almost 10 free packs depending on the price of the box. The math that I neglected to do as I bought booster box after booster box was that I was buying 36 * 15 = 540 cards each time. Some of them went into a binder as a collector’s set, but I still found the single boxes that held 1000 cards got full really quickly.

I went through the collection and took a page from Hearthstone’s playbook. I removed all duplicates that I had for each card over 4 (the legal play limit in any deck, of course) and put the rest off to the side. Christine (my wife) asked, “What are you doing with all of those cards?” I mumbled a response about maybe selling them on eBay or something, but I had to figure out what they are worth. She’s not dumb (it’s one of the reasons I married her) and she said, “Can’t you just sell them in bulk or do you have to know exactly what each one is worth?”

Instead of selling them, though, I got to keep them in the house by giving them to Aiden because he’s really gotten into playing Magic since we went to the prerelease. The rest of the cards that I’ve kept as part of my collection now reside in the four column 3200 card boxes in my closet. Christine mentioned that she is worried that it will turn into a hoarder type situation, but I’m confident that I can keep it under control. Then again, I did just order a box each of M15 and Khans of Tarkir.

Hello, my name is Shawn…and I’m addicted to collecting Magic cards. I haven’t graduated to buying booster cases (yet) so I can confidently say that I’m not one of those people (yet) and hopefully I can hold out until the kids are grown (or at least until Aiden and Liam decide that they want to share a room again and I can use Aiden’s old room to store all of my stuff in the name of calling it a game room) and maybe, just maybe, by admitting it I can be on the road to recovery.

Nah, where’s the fun in that?

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