Luck, Skill, Victory – My Magic Journey, Part 1 – Deep Dive

Magic has been one of the biggest influences on my life, and I’ve never told the full tale of where my Magic journey started, how I got here and everything in between. Now that we’re looking at the potential end of “pro Magic,” I wanted to share my experiences and story, as well as my hopes for what comes next.


Header - The Beginning - 1994

My first experience with Magic was my best friend Seth telling me about a new game he’d heard about. We were in the 5th grade (11 years old) and we got Seth’s mom to drive us to a local comic shop (Dr. Comics and Mr. Games, for anyone familiar with Oakland – it’s still around!). We bought a starter deck of Revised and two booster packs of The Dark, and we were off to the races.

From the beginning, Magic captured my imagination. I distinctly recall seeing these amazing cards – Wrath of God, Soul Net, Drudge Skeletons, Water Elemental. I didn’t really know how to play, and I didn’t know exactly what these cards meant, but they looked awesome.


Wrath of GodSoul NetDrudge SkeletonsWater Elemental

In the first game I ever played, I attacked my Dancing Scimitar into Seth’s Hypnotic Specter turn after turn, and he kept blocking. Neither of us were making good decisions, but we had a blast regardless. Magic is a complicated game, and we got a lot of rules wrong initially. For everyone who scoffed at walls needing the reminder text in Fifth Edition (“walls cannot attack”), check out some of our early rules misconceptions:

We made many more mistakes than this, but again, it just didn’t matter. The style of the art, the feel of the cards, the fun of the somewhat-close-but-not-quite-there games we played – they hooked us hard. My dad even (kind of) learned the rules and played a few games with me when I was starved for opponents, which was really cool of him.

We soon became regulars at a card store just blocks from my house, which in retrospect was very lucky. The fact that I could walk there without needing a ride let me spend a lot more time there than I would have otherwise, and small things like that really can change the course of your life. The store was called The Dragon’s Den, and was run by a guy named Aaron. It was the perfect environment for a pair of 12-year olds. The store sold singles and packs, took payment in quarters (we would bring giant bags of change to buy cards with, since we were full-on Scrapheap Scroungers at that point), and had a $2 tournament every Saturday.

It was the highlight of our week, and we both tuned our decks using everything we learned from folks at the shop. Here is the first “constructed” deck I had, reconstructed from memory. The way we split things up, since we had a combined collection of sorts, was that I had a black-red deck and Seth had a white-black deck (we both liked playing black, apparently). It helped that Fallen Empires, despite being a bust of a set overall, had Hymn to Tourach and Order of the Ebon Hand, which other people at the store told us were great.

Anyways, check out this masterpiece:



LSV's Black-Red Masterpiece


Despite playing way too few land and a bunch of somewhat random cards, this deck was actually pretty good! I had four of all the good commons, and even the one-ofs tended to be solid additions. I wouldn’t embarrass myself in the Saturday tournaments, even if I never finished too highly (the good players at the shop had real decks, and as you can tell from cards like Strip Mine, everything was legal).


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