Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday was the official release date of Coldsnap, the latest expansion to Magic: the Gathering I went to the release tournament up in Burlington (of course). I didn't do great, but I could have been worse - I think I was 13th out of 22 or so.

But anyways, had fun, and I saw a lot of interesting stuff... my mind, it boggles.

For those friends of mine who don't play, or who did once but haven't in years, the company that makes these cards releases a block of three new sets every year, with common themes and play mechanics and a storyline linking them together and stuff. There's always the core set which changes very little and is very basic and general, and then there are expansion sets that... aren't. But it wasn't always that way. When I started playing, wow, more than 10 years ago probably, the pattern of blocks didn't exist yet. There were expansion sets, but except for one pair, they were unrelated to each other. And in a lot of ways, the production values were lower. Card uses and interactions were less well-planned than they are now and the art receives a lot more care today than When I Was Your Age (TM).

That trip down memory lane is because the Coldsnap set is meant to be the "lost set" of the Ice Age block. That's the exception I mentioned above, Ice Age and its sequel, Alliances. It's not a "real" block because there wasn't a third set and the themes were handled differently from what would become the norm. And at some point years later, the company decided to complete the block, publicized with stories about "finding" a detailed plan for a never-realized third set, and Coldsnap was the result. The same themes and storylines as its predecessors, and similar mechanics, but modern ways of putting it together.

So it's sort of funny that Magic has reached the point where the creators can indulge nostalgia, but the part that I was calling mind-boggling is just how they're doing that. Basically, there's a huge category of cards no one ever expects to see just because they're out of print which have come back. There's this weird rules thing going on where they didn't "officially" reprint iconic cards like Swords to Plowshares or low-key but ahead-of-their-time cards like Kjeldoran Pride, but still included copies in preconstructed decks. Plus new cards that echo old ones, like really fricking huge blue creatures that are almost impossible to use.

The point is... suddenly I wish my work schedule allowed me to go to the casual Magic nights on Monday, because it would be a lot of fun to dig into my collection for stuff like this, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who is thinking that way.


Neil Sinhababu said...

You were linking to that Jokulmorder under "huge blue creatures", right? That's quite a biggie!

By the way, your Fred-bashing at the Ezra blog was excellent.

Cyrus said...

Yes, I was, the July 21 Card of the Day. I should have been clearer, but I couldn't figure out how to link to the card itself and was too lazy to change the rest of the post.

You play/ed Magic, I take it? Cool. I actually opened a Jokulmorder in a pack at that tournament, but traded it before going home for my third copy of a rare for a deck I hope to make tournament-competitive, if I ever get around to finishing it. But anyways.

Sometimes I have my doubts about Fred-bashing. Lowering the discourse and all that. He never did anything to me, it's not like he's the only person who ever makes dumb arguments, I've picked at some comments of his that were actually harmless...

Ah well. There's never a need to apologize for fact-checking and pointing out fallacies. As for the rest, we'll see.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Yeah, most of the money I made in high school was from being a very capitalistic middleman in the Magic-card trading community. By which you know that I was, and am, a total geek. Most of my Magic involvement these days is just playing with my beloved geeky college buddies once or twice a year when I hang out with them, and reading the Limited columns on the official Magic site, especially the Mock drafts. I love booster drafting, because every time you open a new pack, or get passed one in the early rounds, it feels like a Christmas present.

If I had my way, Ezra would've instituted a draconian comment policy that would've banned all the Fred and Toke comments, just to run them off the site. And I generally don't respond to them unless there's some good reason to do so. There are also some personal reasons for which I absolutely despise Fred (email me if you're curious, no reason to do so if you're not.) But Ezra is really tolerant and doesn't do that kinda thing. I have no respect for Fred and I'm cool with people making fun of him and Toke all they want.