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Your 2018 Magic Goals


Tidal Influence
My Magic playing ebbs and flows like the old card, Tidal Influence. (Which I guess ebbs and flows like the real-life tide, but you know what I mean.) Some years are fun and busy Magic years for me. The tide is in: I'm able to buy packs from every set released; I invest in new Commander builds or cards for my Cube; and I regularly meet with friends to play. And other years the tide is out: I miss whole set releases, not buying a single pack; or I even miss whole blocks (I'm looking at you, Dragons of Tarkir). And because of work, or family stuff, or just #adulting in general, I only get to play Magic every once in a Blue Blood Moon.

2017 was a good year of Magic for me. If we're talking in terms of Tidal Influence, the tide rolled in and all Blue creatures got +2+0 for the win. I played frequently--over lunch breaks at work; in monthly Commander games--and participated in casual drafts for nearly every set released. I even started writing for Gathering Magic again. Here are some of the year's highlights:

I taught my son to play. He runs a WRG wolf deck. His favorite cards are Timberpack Wolf with Howling Wolves coming in at a close second. I coach him through games against me and his uncle. He wins all the time.

My play group experimented with a "Kingdoms" variant of Commander. I ran my Edric, Spymaster of Trest budget deck and (yeah, I'll say it) crushed it. It helped that I was both the "King" and the monarch for most of the game. Two details I couldn't have planned on when I built the deck, but that ultimately fueled my win.

Gathering Magic published some of my Magic fanfiction. (A huge thank you to Robert Burrows for his editorial guidance.) I always consider it a big honor when one of my stories is published, and this occasion was no different. (If you like Magic Fanfiction you will find another of my stories in Bennie Smith's The Complete Commander: An Unofficial Guide--a short story about the legendary zombie-dwarf, Balthor the Defiled.)

I was able to teach two people (besides my son) how to play. New players mean more fun. It was great to introduce them to the game and to kickstart their collections with some of my excess cards.

A friend clued me in to the Voice of All podcast. Gen Doukeshi does fantastic work bringing the stories of Magic to life. The cast is great. I hear their voices in my head when I play character-specific cards. This podcast is my favorite way to stay current with Magic lore. I listen while I exercise or on my commute.

If you were to write a list like this, what would it look like? What was 2017 like for you? Magic players often collect, build, and play with a feverish intensity. But we don't always take the time to reflect on our hobby. Was it a good year for you? Did the game bring you joy? Did it increase your relaxation and fun with friends? Did you get to play a lot?

Or . . .  did the game bring you stress? Is it somehow hindering your pursuit of a life of joy and peace? Did it cause fights with friends? Even if we don't like the answers to these questions, it's good for all of us to stop and think about them. Then we can make changes in how we play the game if they are needed.

New Horizons

All of this reflection naturally leads to thinking about 2018. What might be coming in this new year? Do you have Magic goals? Perhaps you hope to get back into Friday Night Magic. Or maybe you hope to host monthly Commander nights. Maybe you want to become a Magic content creator. Or maybe your sights are focused on the competitive Magic scene, with specific events and tournaments in mind.

Endless Horizons
Horizon Canopy
Seek the Horizon

Here's what I plan to do in 2018. After reading my list, please post your ideas for 2018 in the comments below.

Try more casual variants. I'm a casual player. I love variations of the game! Later this month I'll be meeting with friends to try an Explorers of Ixalan Commander game. Our group may also try the Commander Adventures variant in the near future.

Chaos Cube more often. "Chaos Cube" is not an official term. It's just something I'm using for lack of a better name. What I mean is, I want to play more games with my Cube that don't require drafting, but instead, allow players to just play cards off the top of the Cube. (Hence the name.) This would include alternate Cube formats like The Fat Stack, Seven, and other variations. I've found that doing a full-on Cube draft can be quite time consuming, especially if most of your friends just really want to play the decks they've been working on at home. But after the night's games are through, and everyone's had a chance to run their decks a few times, a chaotic Cube game is usually welcome!

Build more fun, themed decks to be used for teaching people to play. Wolves for my son? Check. But what's next? Dinosaurs? The Throne of Empires combo deck? Anything with silver-bordered shenanigans? You betcha.

Try to develop a better range of Commander Decks--some competitive, some just fun. When I learned to play Elder Dragon Highlander (in the pre Commander days of yore) I was taught that it was a format designed to play fun, high mana-cost cards. The point of the format (I was told, anyway) was to do crazy things and just have fun doing it. It really wasn't about winning (so I was told). But the metagame of Commander has evolved since then. Most of the time, when I sit down to play Commander, whether it's with my regular group of friends or someone new, the games have a more competitive edge than they used to. I love this. I don't mind at all. I like playing a good, competitive game as much as any player does. But I also want to have a range of decks on hand. I will always love building theme decks, or decks that do crazy, unexpected things, just for the fun of it. Call it an inner ogre, if you will.

Drooling Ogre
Ghazbn Ogre
Ghazban Ogress

Teach more family members to play. I've got nephews, siblings, in-law siblings, my spouse . . .  lots of potential players hanging around at family gatherings. After the kiddos are asleep forget Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. Let's play Magic!

My First Deck of 2018

I love Un-cards. When I first started playing Magic, I bought a starter deck at Target and a box of miscellaneous common cards from a local comic book store. In that box where a handful of Un-cards from both of the original sets. I've been using them in Cubes, Commander decks, and casual 60-card games ever since. So behold! The Big Idea!

The Big Idea -- Commander?Andy Rogers

I built this deck with the cards I have available at the moment. There are some obvious cards that would make it stronger -- Lightning Greaves, Purphoros, God of the Forge, more dependable board wipes, faster mana rocks, etc. As with any deck, you can always take it to the next tier if you have the money.

But with this build I wanted to focus on fun. And I didn't want to tear apart too many of my other, more competitive decks just to build it. (This is me, trying to have a range of Commander decks. See what I mean?)

End Step

One of the things that makes Magic such a great game is that it is adaptable. A seemingly infinite number of play styles and personality types can find a way to enjoy this game. It's up to the player to figure out what he or she likes to do, and then go and do it. What will you do in 2018?

Learn to alter cards?

Start a Magic podcast?

Read the old novels and catch up on the current storylines?

Host a monthly game night?

Join your local game store for Friday Night Magic?

Enter (or win!) a Modern tournament?

Tell me in the comments below. I'd love to hear about how you're going to enjoy the game this year.

I'll end this article with a quote from Chaney, a Druid Planeswalker in one of the classic Magic novels, Shattered Chains by Clayton Emery (p.98):

"Magic is only limited by the mana available and one's imagination. "

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