Saturday, December 26, 2020

It's Been a Strange Year (2020)

Another Christmas of giving away custom themed Commander MTG packs. Sadly, we didn't get to play much Commander over the course of the year. Maybe next year.

Without putting too fine a point on it, the global pandemic knocked a lot of things for a loop. The pandemic impacted business, family, economy, health care, mental health, and a million other things too numerous to mention. I don't want to discount any of those profound experiences with what I write here. This is my Magic: The Gathering blog. That's the focus. It's a small thing. But that's what it is, nothing more.

At the end of last year, I traded away all my dual lands for Workshops. It was going to be a year of robots and artifacts and machines. And it was. I played "artifact forward" decks in every color this year and even started exploring Old School Brawl. I played in my first webcam tournament(s) this year. I met up with friends online to play by webcam. I made trades and collected new cards, all by mail.

Old School was a big format focus for me this year. Besides webcam games with friends, I also joined the Northern Paladins for the weekly webcam gauntlet tournament. The NPs draw a great group of people for the weekly Old School games and the format is fun!

I also focused on one (and only one) Commander deck all year: Karn, Silver Golem. It was fun to develop the deck for casual games with family, adding and subtracting a few cards at a time to see how the various combinations popped up during games. Another Commander project this year was following the "average" deck at EDHRec for Karn, Silver Golem. It was interesting to see how each new set and reprint affected the average deck in the database.

I've been playing and collecting MTG for well over 20 years. I go through cycles. I fall in love with formats, collect cards for those formats, but find that I don't have the time or access to play them. It's a pattern that usually ends with me selling off a bunch of cards every five years or so. But I always turn that money into more cards because there's always another format. I also have a pattern within the format where I collect staples for decks I'll never get to play, but I convince myself that I can always get the supporting cards when the time comes. The strange and wonderful upside of this pattern is that I literally have every dollar I've ever spent on MTG cards in my collection. Prices have gone up and down, but all of the money is there. It adds up over time. And that's a lot of years of adding.

When I started to get into Old School, the pattern repeated itself. I had kept a lot of OS cards through the years, so I had a good start. I sold a bunch of Vintage, Legacy, and Commander cards to buy more OS. I played a bunch of multicolored decks. Last year, I moved to mono-colored artifact decks in OS. This next year (2021), it's time to complete my usual deckbuilding pattern and play only colorless decks. I am going from being a wild planeswalker with the power to command any color to the artificer that uses colors to support my artifact dreams to becoming the artifacts themselves. It's become more important to me over the years that the decks tell a story, they are characters in a story, and that the cards are story beats as the game unfolds.

The difficult part is the purge. Because every card has a story and a memory, trading cards in my collection for other cards is a painful process. I think that's why it takes me roughly five years to get used to the idea. I kept a log all year of my thoughts about selling cards to pick up more artifacts for OS. It's a rollercoaster to read back through. I always feel better when I'm done with the trading process, but going through it is the worst.

In 2021, I'm also thinking of exploring Karn/X Commander decks. I am playing Karn/Golems now. Karn/Vehicles looks fun. Karn/Equipment looks spicy. There's always Karn/Stax if I want to push those buttons for a while. And even Karn/Combo for more button pushing.

After all these years, MTG is still my favorite game.

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