I got a chance to play in the Magic the Gathering Dragon’s Maze pre-release this weekend. This was thanks to a kind friend who covered the cost of my cards in exchange for collecting them after the match. I don’t recall having the time in the last month or two to play Magic at all. It has been sacrificed for parenting and paperwork. Other than starting a “Modern” deck that probably won’t get finished any time soon, I’m still really only interested in casual play where I can show up, play, and not need to worry about much else. Pre-releases and the occasional draft at the shop are the most fun I have outside of a casual multiplayer game every once in awhile. My wife is awesome for even letting me go after I got to go to a movie alone.

I ran into a dozen of friends I haven’t seen in months, which was really nice. I didn’t get my favorite choice of guilds when I was building the deck this time, but I took it to be a challenge. I had what was widely considered the “worst” set of cards (no one else played them) and made the best of it. I built something I thought could win in a few different axis, and went for it.

Unfortunately because of the way the tournament is structured, you are only given prize packs for winning, not your final ranking. I swept my first two games perfectly and was at the top seeded table for the third round, which meant I was doing rather well. The little pack of cards no one wanted was pulling it’s weight. That caught up with me, because people with better card pools stomped me, which meant I fell to 2-1. Fine.

Since I had been at the top end of the tournament with a perfect record before I lost, my final match was against other top competition with the same record, which means I was playing the best remaining players for my third pack win. Had I bombed out and lost my first match, I’d have been “beating up” on worse players for the entire tournament and actually came out ahead in prize packs. People in the “loser” bracket ending up with more packs? Weird. Even those with undefeated records only got a total of four packs. That’s not really rewarding, other than the challenge of winning against the very best.

Despite having a very weak card pool, I did better than I anticipated (none of my cards were worth more than a dollar). It was also very good to see friends I haven’t talked to in a while. Catching up was more important than the game, honestly. I’ve been so busy trying to get everything with my paper and work accomplished that sitting down for some fun outside of work was great. I’ve also unsubscribed from all Magic related feeds on Reddit to keep it out of my head while working. When I get obsessive about something, I can’t stop thinking about it to the detriment of everything else. If I can get a game every few weeks, I’ll be happy, but the days of following all the different formats and trying to keep up with the scene are behind me. I think I can accept a casual outlook for now if I still get some games like this.