Monday, September 17, 2012

End Notes - Magic and Psychographic Profiles

So a friend from back in college seems to be competitively playing Magic again. He's been trying to get me to play, although I had to decline.

It's not that I no longer know how to play. Knowing how to play that game well is probably some sort of skill - in the sense that it's pretty much impossible to unlearn it. It's just that I feel like I've done everything there is that enticed me to play in the first place all those years ago.

If Mark Rosewater's psychographic profile theory is to be followed, then I would definitely be classed as the stereotypical Johnny - by the time I was decent at the game, I always splashed Blue, utilized artifice heavily and always made it a point to play combo decks exclusively. I did start out as a Vorthos, like a lot of people, but that's another story.

Back then I saw the game as a medium for self-expression and as Rosewater said, I also saw decks as extensions of one's self. At this point, I feel that it's necessary to say that Magic was not just a game for the geeks back in our high school days - something very different from what is commonly perceived by many. A lot of very different people played it back then - the smart kids, the varsity folks and even the popular kids. While most people around me played archetypes, I wanted something that was mine. Besides, money was scarce and pieces that were highly sought after were way out of reach at the time.

I always had a core principle whenever I had to design decks - it should perform similarly whether I had an opponent or if I was just playing goldfish; otherwise it wasn't worth it. This could be the reason why I still keep two of my favorite decks out of nostalgia.

The first one was known as BloodyMyr back then. It was, so to speak, my workhorse. BloodyMyr was a Blue deck full of artifacts that used a heavy search and recursion engine to pave a path to victory - either through infinite damage, library burn or forcing the opponent to concede out of hopelessness. It was capable of running with common archetypes during those years - Ravager Affinity, UG Madness, Fires and the occasional life gain deck. The deck was something I built from the ground up and it was in every sense of the word, mine.

The second deck was probably what made me eventually lose interest or to put it more accurately, feel like I've finally done what I've set out to do. It was a deck that I've been reading about for years and has somewhat become a legend for being among the first real combo decks - ProsBloom. I got it for a steal when the original owner was desperately addicted to the then-emerging MMO scene. Everyone who's gone through school in the last decade would have an idea of how bad MMOs were for a lot of students (which thankfully, I wasn't pulled in too deep). What was particularly special about this deck was that the original owner (because it has passed hands four times - at least by my count) didn't care for restrictions and other house rule whatnot. This meant that the deck had entire playsets of Force of Will and the black alpha Tutor, among others. It was what I felt was the epitome of a combo deck.

When I acquired ProsBloom, I knew that I'd be stopping soon. It was the one deck that I had hoped to eventually own - and I didn't really think it would happen given the ridiculous prices its components had. Did I get obscene offers from people to buy it? Yes, although I don't think I'll ever part with it.

I think the last time I've played was more than six years ago. I guess it's safe to say that while I enjoyed the mental challenge, the puzzle that was deckbuilding and the freedom that the game allowed for creativity, I don't think I'll be coming back.

Magic will always be a fond memory, but I'm done.

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