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My Magic Resolutions

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It’s time for a new year! Has it been another year already? It was a busy year for me, moving from Philadelphia back to Michigan for a few months and now in Connecticut with my new job. I’m getting back into the swing of things, workwise, and trying to reestablish that work rhythm that we have.

And, of course, while the New Year’s Day brings a nostalgic look back at the previous year, the next beckons. New Year’s is a time of crossroads in our lives. We are constantly reminded of the days of yore, and years past blend into a mist. The road once taken stretches into the dark recesses. And we also glance ahead to the new roads. What will be coming this month, this year, this job, this child, this marriage, this decade, or this life? Where will our plans take us, and what detours will arrive that send us off in new, unseen directions?

After all, while doing a national search for a new job, I would not have predicted I would have landed in Connecticut, just an hour-ish northeast of New York City and about two and a half from Philly, where I lived for a year earning another Master’s degree.

So, what’s new for us? And, of course, that question is pertinent for Magic, too. What will the new year bring us in Magic? How will the next two Theros-block sets play? What new mechanics will we see? How about Magic 2015 in the summer, or the next fall block? What will the next From the Vault have in it? What decks will dominate the Standard, Modern, Vintage, or Legacy metagame? What will be the next card banned in Commander?

So, yes, this is a time of looking in both directions and having one eye back and one forward. It is a time of making resolutions, and I have five Magic-related resolutions that I would like to share with you. Some of these are very specific to me, but I feel that you can relate to the pressures of playing Magic while having a life—and what comes with it. So, without further ado, here are my Five Magic Resolutions.

Try to Connect with a Local Gaming Group

Signal the Clans
The good news is that a local student staff member reached out to me, and we played some casual Magic at a campus coffee shop. So, I’ve gotten my real-life Magic on. The bad news is that I have nothing regular yet. It’s early days for sure, but I really want to connect with a local Fairfield playing group that plays casual Magic on a weekly basis.

There are no stores locally that have weekly tournaments—you have to head out of the city in order to find anything, and the public transportation in Fairfield is a joke. For my last few months in Michigan, I played in a lot of Friday Night Magic–style events, the occasional prerelease, and so forth. Afterward, some folks would sometimes hang out and play Commander later. So, I’d get to draft in an FNM and then play some causal; it was a pleasant time. I could do that, but that’s not the Fairfield scene. I’m okay with that. For years, I went without playing a competitive match—just a lot of great multiplayer and casual week in and week out. That’s my preference, so I need to connect with the local folks and start playing regular Magic again. Whether that’s with students at the college or with local players in the city doesn’t matter to me. I just want to flip cards.

Play More Magic Online

Magic: The Electronic has always been a love–hate relationship with me. Sometimes, I’ve been very off and distant, and others times, I’ve been quite close. I’ve done a ton of Drafts, played casual formats such as Prismatic and Commander, and had a lot of fun. Now, MTGO has a lot of problems; I know. The new client is rough. The old one is horrible. It has hot keys that you just have to know what they do—there’s no menu. Playing it in multiplayer is a real chore—and the game can be an uber-click-fest, especially in Commander.

Frankly, if it wasn’t Magic Online but instead some other online game, I would have dropped it a long time ago due to poor quality. But they can deliver a D−, and I’ll play it, because its Magic. There are better versions of games I love online that I also play (such as BattleTech, HeroClix, and BloodBowl). So, yes, the UI sucks. But it’s still Magic, and I need to get my fix on more. I can’t let myself become distracted by work and other sparkly things. I want to get my Magic on, so I need to load up the thing and just suck it up and play. Magic is more important than that.

Knock Out at Least Ten More Cards on My Abedraft List

Deadly Insect
Many of you may not know this, but I actually have a large draftable set of almost every Magic card ever made. Basically, when you want to draft, you can make random packs of cards—you grab one random rare from the rare section, three uncommons, and then the rest commons. The result is a random pack made from cards all across Magic’s history. It’s really fun to play!

In order to build it, I have a few rules. One copy of every card is included—period. Then, I include one copy of each card for each time it appears in an expansion set. So, for example, take Deadly Insect. There is one copy in Abedraft from its original home in Alliances and another copy from its appearance in Mercadian Masques. That gives the format multiple staples, such as Naturalize and Dark Banishing, which helps keep the numbers similar. I also move in new copies to replace old ones that were updated after the Great Creature Type Update. So, for example, take Battering Craghorn. It was printed as a Beast. Later on, it was given the Goat creature type, too. Luckily, we have an Archenemy deck with a reprint of the card with the new creature type, so I have the new Battering Craghorn in Abedraft because then, if someone plays Goatnapper, he or she knows that the Craghorn is stealable.

Over the years, I have been slowly knocking off cards here and there. I have thirty-eight cards that I still need from normal sets and thirteen from Portal Three Kingdoms. While many of these cards are super-expensive, I would like to use my store credit from writing to knock out at least ten more cards off the list. Ideally, I’d like to finish 2014 just having forty cards left to acquire for Abedraft (and those are mostly the big-name cards: power cards, Library of Alexandria, Candelabra of Tawnos, Moat, etc.).

Overhaul Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy More Completely

When you have a deck that clocks in at over 2,700 cards, it can take some management to keep everything sane. I have a giant spreadsheet with each card colored by whether it’s foil, promo, signed, foreign, or black-bordered. The deck needs some additional work—no question.

A few months ago, I gave my deck a good cleaning, and it resulted in a lot of changes around the decklist. You saw the results of that in an article about which cards disappointed me enough to be pulled out. Twenty-six cards were yanked! That’s a lot of hurt—I almost always put cards in, and it’s rough to go in the opposite direction. But my deck is really in need of a good, old-fashioned scour—in the past, I’ve gone through and pulled out cards—nope, not this time. This time, we need to take the deck apart, card by card, and interact with it on a more personal level. It will take some time—maybe a week—but it needs it. My deck needs the love. (And it deserves it!)

Create a Few New Ideas for Magic Articles

Foster
One of the things I like to do is unearth new and interesting ways to look at and discuss Magic in my articles. I think article series often grow organically, so I usually don’t write an article intending to turn it into a series. I sometimes write one and like it so much that I write a few more. Sometimes, you folks like an article concept a lot, so I revisit it. I never intended my Top 10 series here to be a series, but it is. The same is true of my budget Commander decks or my “Foster and Friends” series. (I’ve already laid the groundwork for the fourth entry, by the way.) And that’s okay!

What I’d like to do next year is continue to push myself. I can’t just sit on my haunches and hack out easy articles. Here’s another budget Commander article. Here’s another Top 10 article. While I do intend to continue those themes, I also want to explore new ones. I’d love to overturn a few articles here and there that will become their own mini-series for the column. What will work? What will it be? It will be interesting to find out!

On that note, what are some ideas you would like to see explored in this column? Are there some thoughts you have for a casual column that aren’t being touched on right now? Would you like to see more of one thing and less of another? I’d love to hear your comments on what has worked, on what hasn’t, and on what you would like to see moving forward. Would you like more articles on decks or more on multiplayer strategy? More articles on alternate formats or more articles on budget cards? Let me know!

And thanks for reading today, and this year.

See you next week,

Abe Sargent