Four Letter Nerd

The Magic of Friendship

(Editors note: This is brought to you by Magic: The Gathering specialist Jason Hill)

I find myself in the twilight years of my twenties, and the sparkle in my wonder-filled eyes has almost disappeared. Everyone seems so focused and enthralled by their Droid or Apple devices that nothing else seems to matter to them, and that’s jacked up. No longer do people engage in face to face conversations, rather they flutter about the coffee shops, shyly peeking over their devices in hopes to find something clever to tweet or instagram. The worst part is that they don’t realize how anti-social they have become. It’s all sunshine and rainbows as they dash about on their daily routines.

On top of that, all the tapping and texting they do is going to give them carpletunnel and/or arthritis someday. Pretty soon they’ll get pinkie cramps trying to eat a piece of pie. To find someone who is not a part of this culture is a real rarity, but not all hope is lost. There is something that can almost force human contact without them realizing it. It’s called Magic the Gathering. [this article doesn’t account for Magic the Gathering Online]

There’s nothing like playing a game of magic with a group of friends. Pitting ourselves against one another, everyone is a little tense at the beginning, not wanting to strike first blood. But finally someone does and it’s a fury of attacks, one after another, shouting at each other trying to justify why we shouldn’t be attacked and why the person to our left or right should. Just when things start to settle down a bit, someone puts down a huge creature, and the game becomes a 1 vs. all match until that person is defeated. The remaining players finish the battle as quickly as possible, and we start again.
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It isn’t all about the game though. There is almost a ritual around it. We usually meet up at someone’s house, order a pizza, and start choosing our decks. As we play, we talk about important things, unimportant things, and utterly stupid things. You’re probably thinking that we could substitute any board game or card game and achieve the same results, but you’re wrong, as usual. Magic has a unique quality that somehow brings to light the type of person you really are.

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Magic has the perfect balance of skill and luck, just like poker. Although, I prefer Magic because you can customize the deck you play with. Magic decks end up reflecting the person who made them to some degree. For example, some people put cards into their decks not because they make good strategic sense, but because they like the cute kitty depicted in the artwork. Or they put in only dragons that cost at least 6 mana to cast because those are the awesomest.

How someone plays their deck reveals a lot about them, as well. Some people like to use aggressive creatures that don’t cost much mana to beat down their opponents. Those types of people like to take charge of situations. The ones who use their decks to gain life feel a certain superiority when all the damage you dealt to them is undone over the course of 1 turn. The players who build up armies before attacking enjoy feeling in control of the game, knowing that at anytime they could end it if they wished. I could keep going, but I’m not a real psychiatrist. (I know! I almost fooled myself for a second!)

Now, it’s nice to be able to figure things out about people, but if that’s why you play the game, you’ve missed the point entirely. The reason I play magic is to meet new people and strengthen old friendships. Most of the people I play Magic with were acquaintances before we started playing, but playing the game has strengthened our bonds through teaching each other and learning the strategies each person employs. My friends help each other build decks, ask each other for strategical advice, and kick each others butts on a constant basis.

Among my group of friends, I have been playing the longest, which means that I taught most of them how to play. This circumstance set up a neat domino effect. Now my friends have started teaching their friends and I now get to meet new people when they bring them into our circle. (like Google+ but 10 times better!) The best thing about that is that there has never been an awkwardness with the new people. We’re there for the same reasons. To play an awesome game. They learn from me, and I learn from them. I think that’s called a win win situation.

When you play casually in a group, you accumulate “house rules” to make your experiences new/different/more fair/etc. If you’ve only played 1 vs. 1 and want to try some group battles, here are some basic “house rules” to keep everything fun.

  1. The number of people playing 1 game shouldn’t exceed 5. It becomes difficult to focus on what’s going on when there are more than that. If your gang of friends is more than five, split up into different groups. (for 6: 3 and 3, for 7: 3 and 4, and so on)
  2. Switch out decks between games. Using the same deck over and over can become boring or (if your constantly winning) unfair to the others. If you only have 1 deck, ask to trade with someone else. If you have a multitude of decks, bring extra to lend to others who might not be as prepared. This way you’re able to try a lot of different strategies in a single session.
  3. Bring some snacks or beverages with you to share to the gathering. (this isn’t so much a Magic rule as it is a “being a good friend” rule)

So here is the plan for having infinite friends. Step 1: Teach friends and acquaintances how to play Magic. Step 2: Encourage those friends to do the same with their friends. Step 3: Get your friends to invite the friends they taught to play in your circle. Step 4: Become friends with the newcomers and convince them to follow the plan from step 2 on. If you follow these 4 easy steps and if my math is correct, you should have infinite friends in no time. (you may have to multiply by five somewhere along the way) Between you, me, and our infinite number of friends, we will have saved the world from digital social disorders. And all of it is thanks to Magic.

Jason Hill tried counting to infinity once, he only made it halfway before forgetting what number he was on.

 

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