The past weekend I had a chance to play Magic not once, but twice, which is very unusual. These were definitely exceptions to the norm that I made because of special circumstances. The first outing was a casual meeting at someone’s house across town on the occasion of someone’s birthday. I hadn’t seen the person who was hosting the party, or the person who was having the birthday in quite some time, so I decided that I could maximize my time by attending and having a little gaming go on. In Magic terms, they call that a two for one.

I got invited at the last moment since I am not on Facebook, but I’m not sure if that was the only reason. The slightly more honest reason I ended up being invited was that they needed someone to fill out the teams for an oddly casual format. I have experience with two-headed block draft, was available on short notice, and don’t play often. Perfect excuse for me to show up.

I got paired with someone I’ve played Magic with often, and we were the only ones with enough foresight in the block draft to plan not only for the first pack of the draft from the very first pick, but every pack afterwards, which required quite a bit of planning. We have divergent play styles (He leans control, I favor aggro), and as a result didn’t have conflicts over cards when we established what we were trying to do. I was very happy after the draft was completed because it felt like I had a full deck worth of cards to play, while my partner thought his deck was very weak and lacking tools to win the game on it’s own. It turns out the combination of full control style decks, paired with my aggro creatures was enough to go undefeated. We got the top prizes for once, and I pulled down enough quality cards to get my money back. Yay.

The second event was simply unusual. The group was looking for players (again) to play a specialty limited format that is extremely “high end”. Packs of this format cost 10,000 won each (a purchase of 4 minimum), and are in limited supply. You can’t just “play” this at the local shop. It has to be reserved and managed officially. I simply can’t afford to play this format, although the cards are highly desirable if I wanted to build deck formats. Because of the limited number of people willing to play, someone offered to cover my cost of the cards if I would show up and split the packs if I won any additional prizes.

The extremely powerful cards in this limited format made choosing cards very difficult. I ended up drafting poorly and bailing after the second round. Had I not shown up, no one could have played, but I didn’t perform well. I won no matches, and was disappointed by how the games played. I didn’t really have any luck, and the cards I played were outclassed by other people’s superior strategies. I didn’t have any familiarity with the format, and I also didn’t draft before this game, so I was playing at an extreme disadvantage compared to everyone at the table. It definitely showed in the results. The “pros” who have spent over 500 dollars on the format crushed me. (Of course!)

While it was nice to go outside the house and not deal with something grammar related for a change, I don’t think the experiences justified the undo stress it caused at home for my wife to be alone with two children. If I was able to go out and not increase her stress levels beyond what she wants to handle on a weekend, I think that I would have a more social existence, but right now our son being small and our daughter being loud means that we can’t always get outside for some free time.