Examiner.com's David Leavitt shares how he began playing "Magic: The Gathering" - and the enormous impact it's had on his life.
Everyone always asks me how I began playing "Magic: The Gathering," and I usually respond with a sarcastic remark: "First I shuffled my deck." It's far more personal than that, a topic that I've avoided discussing - until now.
As a child I didn't have any parents growing up, and was a "ward of the state." While I technically had biological parents (I'm not the product of a crazy science experiment), I was taken away from them by DSS because of their choices. My mother was with someone who was extremely abusive - both to her and me. The result was a six-year-old riding alone in a taxi from a courthouse to a temporary foster home in Framingham, Mass. That was short-lived though, and after just a few months the lady there had a heart attack and I was again riding alone in a taxi.
This time I wound up at the Walker School in Needham, Mass., where I'd stay for four years until finally being placed with a "real" family. You know, people who actually cared about me. I was in Whales, Mass. for about a year before the couple I was placed with ended up getting a divorce. Once again I was by myself alone in a taxi. But something happened that spring while at camp: I saw two of the staff playing a game with cards. I didn't know exactly what I was watching, but I do remember that the player with a Serra Angel was winning until his opponent made a huge show out of touching all the cards on his side of the table and gleefully exclaiming "Fireball!"
Fast forward three months of being not allowed to go outside at the Italian Home in Jamaica Plain, Mass. (I was only supposed to be there a week, and was there for 90 days), and I found myself alone in yet another taxi. This time to Newton, Mass. where I'd stay two weeks until being placed with yet another foster parent in Cambridge Mass. My new foster mother Cathy was a teacher, and when she was visiting a friend I was with her friend's son playing "Sonic: The Hedgehog." I noticed a large pile of brown-backed cards on the table and recognized what they were. It was "Magic: The Gathering." He gave me a deck made up of spare "Unlimited" commons: Wall of Wood, Gray Ogre, Hill Giant, and Craw Wurm.
I saved up the money I was supposed to buy lunch with to purchase an "Unlimited" starter deck at The Garage in Harvard Square, and I convinced Cathy to take me back again for a few more packs. When I grabbed the same thing it rung up at $40. What was going on? Apparently it was "out of print," and the sales clerk recommended packs of "Revised."
While at the convenience store down the street from me I met Socrates, who was looking at his cards at the counter waiting for customers. Games were for ante back then, and I lost my Clockwork Avian and Clockwork Beast. It was okay though, because he took me to MIT to play with his friends. I voraciously read every card I could.
The next summer I moved to Falmouth, Mass. out on Cape Cod. Playing "Magic: the Gathering" helped me make new friends, and for several years I remained a casual player buying just a few booster packs of each set. When "Tempest" came out I had managed to build three competitive decks: Nether Void, a “Sligh” deck, and a “Parfait” deck. I entered into my first tournament and finished second place winning ten booster packs. I began trading to significantly grow my collection for the cards I needed to participate in more tournaments, however there just weren't any being held locally.
I obtained permission from the owner of the local game store Heroes for Sale to run weekly tournaments. After getting my first computer, I began to read and discuss the game so much that I became a Global Moderator for MtgNews.com, which was quickly growing into the largest "Magic: the Gathering" news website (before turning into MtgSalvation.com several years later). I continued running events at the store until college, where I organized over fifty "Magic: the Gathering players" on campus for weekly casual play sessions, multiplayer games, and outings to tournaments at local card shops. After graduating from college friends went in all directions and the local store had gone out of business. I turned to "Magic Online," where I had the honor of designing the "Tempest" preconstructed deck "Forest Fire" when the set was re-released digitally.
No matter where I went, the game helped me forge new friendships and deal with personal problems through escapism. A couple years after college I lost my job. After a ton of soul searching, I decided to start writing online. For the past four years I've been writing about "Magic: The Gathering" and other games as my full time job and I love it with a passion.
I don't know where I'd be if it wasn't for this game. It's thanks to my experiences with it, and everyone I've met through it that I'm where I am today.
How did you start playing "Magic: The Gathering?"
For more information about "Magic: The Gathering" visit www.MagicTheGathering.com.