I don’t think I ever really got Magic : The Gathering out of my system. I played it a bit with C and C when I first got back to SG and things weren’t that bad, but it quickly fell by the wayside when depression hit. I flirted with it again during one of my not-so-down periods – I think Theresa and I played a bit at one point. But I was still kind of interested. It appealed to my inner geek – the deckbuilding, the decision trees, the high fantasy setting. And of course now as the years passed it was semi-financially lucrative.
For lack of something to do after my cosplay days I started playing it again. I was still pursuing the Holy Grail – play games, make money. The Pro Tour seemed like a good place to potentially start. I read up on articles, playstyles and decks. It seemed interesting enough.
It’s a good time to mention my cousin Jason at this point. He and I had always been close even back in childhood but we lost touch for a while when the depression stripped everything from me. In one of the times I got re-interested in MTG he came along for the ride and got way more into it than I ever was. He was always a good player (and even better trader) and won regional competitions more than once. I used to be so jealous of my cousin (as I used to be jealous of everything and everyone) because he seemed to be living the dream…though yes, all that glitters is not gold.
But what the heck. I hit him up and we played a bit and he also lent me some cards to get started with. Like I said he and I went way back and I don’t think he ever forgot that it was I who got him interested in his lifetime vocation. Thanks Jason – bros forever!
And so I made a return to playing MTG. I was much better now than I ever was before but a lot of my internal issues kept me from being as good as I could have. I was still good though. Maybe not as good as my cousin but good.
How about the Holy Grail? I think for most of the hobbies I did (cosplay, fighting games etc) I got in deep but not really deep enough to make a big difference. Looking back on it now I may not have wanted them as much as I thought I did, if not I would have probably jumped into the deep end. They were more than things that I did to pass the time, but they never became something I could really sink my teeth into.
Professional MTG looks great on the outside, like everything else. To actually be a Pro Tour player, there are hours and hours of playtesting needed. You stay in hotel rooms but most of your time is spent scoping out the competition. You always have to be ahead of the game (or at least, on par with it) There aren’t that many girls in convention rooms, it’s mainly sweaty nerdy guys (sorry, the truth is brutal) It’s not as easy as it looks!
I think I already somewhere along the line realized that I didn’t want to be part of that lifestyle. Sure, I think it would have been really cool (in another life) two cousins, rocking cardboard from Kuala Lumpur to Rio de Janeiro. But there were other things to do.
A year or so later I got interested in another card game, VS System, featuring comic-book heroes. It was an interesting change from MTG. I created a lot fan sets for it in my time (largely because I was not confident enough to go out and create my own games) I played a whole bunch and met a lot of new people.
It was nice to get in touch with the other kind of fans, the ones who spoke English and liked Star Wars and Star Trek and American comic books. The people that I used to be friends with when I was younger and in school, only all grown up now.
Somewhere along the way I finally got the card playing thing out of my system. I think it was at my first Top 8 when I sort of realized deep inside that if wanted this, that I could have it. I was good enough to crack it wide open. Maybe I wouldn’t be Kai Budde or Jonathan Finkel but I would be pretty darned good.
I talked about this a LOT with Meimei, and probably bored her to tears (just like how at that time she was boring me to tears with stories of ball-jointed dolls) Yeah the smart thing to do would have been to discuss it with Jason himself, but this was still the time in which I didn’t trust anyone. Not to mention he was dealing with his own issues at that time.
It wasn’t a complete waste though. (I’ve come to realize that nothing is) I met a bunch of cool guys while slinging cardboard and they invited me to play boardgames with them. I accepted and we had some fun times down at the McDonalds near my house. I’ll introduce a few.
Derrick was a born rationalist (much like my Dad) an intellectual, a writer, a man of letters and iconoclast. Cynical and philosophical, he was a strange but good person to know. Elvis, a fucking fierce gamer who let no opportunities go unexploited, no territory unattacked, and had one of the weirdest reasons for why God did not exist (he didn’t get taxis when he wanted them, and therefore there was no God)
Timothy, our chief supplier – who would bring down boardgame after boardgame from his seemingly endless collection. Watson, fat, jovial and always a good sport. Josh, the Overproducer – if left to his own devices he would always, ALWAYS win and so one had to take him out early.
We had fun but I must admit that my issues got seriously triggered sometimes. The pathological desire to WIN would arise and I would…not be the best of company. Though I hid it very well it still raged within me. I invited them all over to my house once and in the midst of a marathon gaming session Derrick told my sister “he doesn’t like games he doesn’t win at.” Which was not entirely untrue. I was kind of a jackass at times. (Aren’t we all?)
The two years or so I spent in these pursuits weren’t really wasted. Inside I wished I could be doing more but it didn’t seem that it was meant to be at that time. Still, I met a lot of interesting people and learnt some new things. Another midpoint along the road.