Magic The Gathering Appraisal

Do You Believe In Magic?

A lifelong collection of Magic: The Gathering cards offers few treasures.

By Steve Heisler • January 30, 2013

A picture of a squirrel. After seven years of playing the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, this is what my collection of cards amounted to. This 2.5”-by-3.5” picture of a squirrel. It’s not even a very good looking squirrel. It looks like an IKEA painting.

But this particular squirrel—a card that’s considered a “token” in the game, in that it does nothing except stand in for a bead or a little scrap of paper—is worth about six dollars, which is pretty impressive given the sad state of my Magic cards. For the better part of a decade, the cards had been sitting in the closet of my childhood home in the Chicago suburbs. The cards finally arrived in Brooklyn a few weeks ago to be assessed by my friend Joel—who, upon finding out that I used to play Magic, offered his appraisal services up for free. That’s right, folks. In this day and age, willing Magic players will sift through your collection in their own free time and tell you what’s valuable.

Magic: Deranged Hermit

Deranged Hermit

When I was a regular Magic player, I meticulously organized my cards into binders. When the time was right, I would collect them in decks crafted from hours of play-testing, mostly against myself. Most were sequestered inside hard plastic cases so they wouldn’t bend in a stray shuffling incident.

Arriving fresh out of my dad’s storage unit, my cards, numbering in the thousands, were now littered throughout a series of castaway shoe boxes. Joel went through every single one, separating out cards that he thought were worth more than a buck, those worth a few more, and those so rare they deserved special treatment.

There were seven cards in that final pile, including Señor Squirrelisimo. When Joel informed me it was worth something, I slid it into a case.

You don’t know humility until you learn that a seven-year-long obsession amounted to seven cards.

You don’t know humility until you learn that a seven-year-long obsession amounted to seven cards. Magic was my life when I was in junior high and high school. My ability to best opponents was not only a feat of skill, it was a triumph of my individualism. My decks were of my own design, and though my peers valued conformity, Magic rewarded the unexpected—the alchemy of two cards in action, as hypothesized by the player. I could be really good at something for a change, and therefore I valued cards that seemed to be an extension of the way my brain was already thinking. They were winners, and only I could see it. They were my Mighty Ducks.

Monetary value was an afterthought. A really good card was usually pricier, sure, just as packs and starter sets cost money. But I was more concerned with building good decks than becoming an obsessive collector. I wasn’t one of those people who was just waiting for the day when a handful of Black Lotuses could cover college tuition. I didn’t have a ton of excess cash, so what little I spent went to making me a badass player—not some reclusive squirrel hoarder.

Magic: Living Death

Living Death

Still, I played for a really long time. I amassed a hefty number of Icy Manipulators and Jester’s Caps. Those weren’t anything to sneeze at back in the day. Well, gesundheit. As Joel informed me, most of the cards I remembered being pretty rare had been reprinted a half dozen times, and might as well be free. Or, they’re no longer in demand. Living Death was all the rage when people first started manipulating their graveyards. (Trust me, this is a thing people do.) Now that multiple cards have the same effect, it’s merely okay.

Joel continued sorting, and I watched as my stockpile, no longer a source of personal pride, dwindled from a jackpot worth four figures to a modest nest egg worth three—a very low three. It turned out that Wasteland, a card I remember being only relatively rare, had skyrocketed in value; I was theoretically $150 richer for holding on to three of them. That was a good start. Also promising: I had one of the most overpowered cards in the game’s existence, Force Of Will. So powerful, in fact, they’d made proxy versions of it with the golden stamped signature of some long-forgotten champion who used it in his deck. That’s the one I had, the one that’s not tournament legal. Another minor treasure was a novelty two-part card called B.F.M. (Big Furry Monster)—I had both halves, a prize to few. And that damn squirrel token. These were the goodie bag giveaways to the lifelong-collection pity party.

These were the goodie bag giveaways to the lifelong-collection pity party.

There were painfully few cards that caught Joel’s interest, so I sold them to him at a fraction of what they’re probably worth. (Most of what he wanted were land cards, which are the most common type of card in the game, but these particular lands came from an old edition that Joel was fond of.) He left, and I realized I’d secretly hoped he’d taken them all. Without any fallow stacks of cards to look at, there’d be no sinking feeling that something I once loved was no longer important. No break-up memory.

When you’re a kid, your world is only as big as you can see and feel. The perfect birthday present or an unexpected “A” on a geometry test means more than being an adult and winning a Pulitzer. Because those early surprises made the impossible possible, whereas I know now that a Pulitzer exists, and that it’s something I could theoretically have. Part of me longs for that childlike wonder still, and giving up my Magic cards is yet another reminder that I’ll never have it again.

But things are important because they end. The guy who stays a college student forever is a weirdo, and the true test of self-awareness is knowing when to call it quits. I gave up on Magic long before Joel came by. I guess this was the first time I realized it.

Magic: Wasteland


Yet there were all my cards, still. Most of them, at least. So I sat down and shuffled through the unwieldy boxes, wondering what to do with those Llanowar Elves that were in my first winning deck. Or my many Goblins Of The Flarg. The box that once housed my Nikes sagged with the weight of games won and lost, friends I’d bonded with complaining about new tournament rules. But mostly the weight of cardboard. Like any break-up, the good times rush back to your mind first. There’s doubt.

Then I got to that damn squirrel. There are only a small handful of cards that require the use of squirrel tokens. One is Deranged Hermit, a witch doctor with an army of squirrels at his disposal. I have no Deranged Hermits. But I still have that squirrel. Maybe somebody wants it.

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145 Responses to “Do You Believe In Magic?”

  1. rvb1023 says:

    I still play Magic to this day, though my card-purchasing is limited to just playing the prereleases for the new sets. I really only play EDH anymore so I only look for cards for that. I am still always surprised when I pass my rare binder around and people tell me I still have few cards of value that I didn’t realize. I think my most expensive card is $40.

    Still, I can relate. I still have all my Pokemon cards from back in the day in hopes they would be worth something (They are worth less than ever) so at this point they are mostly just mementos. My roommates and I have actually pulled them out on occasion to play a game or two before we remember how horribly unbalanced the game was.

    • BarbleBapkins says:

       I still have a box of Magic cards somewhere. Always tried to get some
      people to play, but never really found anyone whose interest lasted more
      than a game or two.

      As a kid though, Pokemon cards were The
      Thing at my school. I had an ungodly amount of them, as did every other
      kid in my grade, and we probably spent more time concocting elaborate
      trades to get the one card we needed than we spent
      actually playing the game. Looking back at it now, the cutthroat economy
      that developed in 5th grade over Pokemon cards was kind of hilarious…
      I think some weird protection racket may have even evolved out of it before the teacher made us stop bringing our cards to class for some reason.

    • Melancholic_Rodeo_Clown says:

      I played my first game of Magic in the better part of 20 years last Friday. I was awful. It was awesome.

  2. Drew Toal says:

    Man I’m so bummed the Icy Manipulator isn’t worth anything anymore. It’s probably still in my parents’ attic somewhere, but now instead of going and hunting around for it, I’ll just sit around and drink beer instead. Steady as she goes.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:


      I can imagine Teti reading this at home, and yelling at the screen “Editing your Gameological contributions for sober clarity is my job, Drew!”

    • I think the only Magic Cards that have appreciated steadily in the last 20 years are mana sources: black lotus, moxes, dual lands. 

      • vinnybushes says:

        I just looked the price of my only dual land (scrublands) and it’s worth at least $40 but probably more than that! I have no idea why I’ve never checked before!

      • Smilner says:

         I think I have a couple of Taigas lying around somewhere.  The majority of my play was somewhere between Revised and 4th ed.  I’d pretty much hung up the boots by the time Ice Age was getting big.

      • kamrom dechu says:

         yep. Ive still got all my dual lands (I started playing during beta. I was like, 6.) I have a forcefield too. Whee~

    • Cliffy73 says:

      Alpha and Beta Icy Manipulators are still worth a nice amount.  Unlimited (the first big reprint set from ’94) reprinted it, and those are worth $8.  Later printings aren’t money cards, though.

  3. Citric says:

    I remember a guy I knew in elementary school tried really, really hard to get everyone into some Marvel CCG. I even bought a deck, the, er, one in the red box. 

    And then we all decided we didn’t care, and my deck sat on a corner of a shelf in my house. Eventually my brother bought that house, and I don’t know what he did with it.

    Later my nephew tried to explain YuGiOh to me. I mostly nodded politely.

    Never got into Magic, but my record with CCGs suggests that’s for the best. That is a pretty sweet squirrel though, it’s the kind of thing I’d hang in my bathroom as an odd joke.

    • Enkidum says:

      I still have, or more accurately my parents still have, several runs of Marvel and X Men trading cards. Worth probably 10 bucks for all of them. Sigh….

      My son actually just came home with about 50 Magic cards – was given to him by our neighbour who came home from work with a box of maybe 500 of them given to him by coworkers for some reason. Perhaps some day I’ll try and remember how to play.

      • The first two Marvel card sets (I’m figuring you mean the ’90’s stuff) can fetch a decent amount on eBay if you have a full set.  Especially with holograms.

    • Girard says:

       My main nerd compatriot in middle school tried and didn’t entirely succeed at getting me into Magic – I still have the started deck he made for me for my birthday in 6th grade, which I think I only ever used in 3 games, all against him – but we got really into Overpower (that Marvel CCG) and would play it all the time.

      I think the fact that your deck consisted of a ‘team’ of characters made it more attractive to me. I remember having a little recipe box with my ‘roster’ of character cards each grouped with their ability cards (with little tab dividers), so I could compose a super team suited to each game (except Deadpool was in every team/deck I played – because he was Deadpool).

      I remember at that time also getting a deck of Star Wars cards and Monty Python and the Holy Grail cards, neither of which we played even one game of.

      • I was huge into Overpower, but it suffered the similar problems of getting more complicated as later expansions added new features, like how all my Marvel cards didn’t have the Intellect stat the DC cards introduced (specifically so Batman and Lex Luthor would have usable, I’m sure). I also loved that you had three active heros and one “reserve” who could still stack cards to help the others. And that my Scarlet Spider card from the Powersurge could play all of Spider-Man’s power cards from the first wave, since I never found an actual Spidey hero card. Being a subscribing member of the Overpower Legion, though, ruined everything because you got these ridiculously overpowered (ugh) hero cards as a bonus, like Galactus (all 8s) and the Beyonder (all ∞s and he could play ANY character’s power cards, I think). Come to think of it, I think that may have been my first experience with modern paid DLC…

        I also have a starter deck for the Doctor Who collectible card game from the ’90s, but none of my friends liked Who at the time so I’ve never even played it.

        • Girard says:

           Wow, all that stuff sounds like a total drag. I was done with Overpower just before the DC cards came out (I remember reading about them in Wizard and thinking it was cool, but not cool enough to get back into them), and I’ve never heard of the OverPower Legion, thank heavens. The money I would have spent there instead went towards totally pragmatic useful things like the set of Dragon Dice I NEVER PLAYED ONE BLOODY GAME OF.

  4. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    I have no history with Magic at all.  But because of that, and I say this with no hyperbole,  this feature header on the main page was the coolest, most evocative header I’ve seen on a gaming website.
       It could be a single frame from Daniel Clowes’ Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.  

    • doyourealize says:

      I have some Magic history, but I didn’t know what that was. Couldn’t help myself from clicking that thing, though.

    • DrunkPhilatelist says:

       it really is amazing work. the stark nature of a squirrel with a six dollar price tag tapped straight into my brain’s curiosity node. seriously, if that image was left under an over-sized box being propped up by a stick i’d still have to get a closer look.
      i never played magic in card form, but i did buy one of the xbla iterations thereof. it was fun, but i can’t imagine having to buy deck after deck hunting for a complete set.
      hmm… immediately after writing that i flashed back to a 8 year old me buying case after case of topps cards until i got the entire angels lineup. i guess that jim abbott rookie card is my deranged hermit.
      i love this site.

  5. vinnybushes says:

    I started playing when magic first came out, (just barely post-Arabian knights) and would occasionally pick it up again at summer camp throughout my childhood. When things really went through the looking glass was when I started working at the same camp when I was in my late teens and I started playing again with the campers I helped take care of. It’s both amazing and exceedingly strange to tell a nine or ten year old kid that “I beat you with cards that were made before you were born!”. Play a card like “Wrath of God” and a kid who didn’t even know it existed will unfailingly lose his shit. I picked it up again in my mid twenties but consistently losing to my adult friends wasn’t nearly as fun.
     It really speaks to the staying power of the game that it now spans generations. It makes me feel like an old fart too.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      I beat a 12 year old at the Prerelease this weekend.  Which gave me no end of satisfaction because last time I played a 12 year old (at the M11 Prerelease, IIRC), he slaughtered me.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

         Unless you guys are, like, teenagers yourselves you should… probably seriously rethink your priorities if making some pre-teen cry about a card game is a highlight of your life.

        • Cliffy73 says:

          Oh my god.  Who said anything about making him cry? Don’t be a tool. (Too late I guess.)

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

            Dude up above you has a thing for making kids “lose their shit” when he plays cards that are older than they are. Juggz thinks ya’ll should maybe think about your lives if this is a source of joy in your house. I mean, seriously.

        • Idran says:

           “Losing your shit” can mean a good thing.  Like making a person go “oh wow I’ve never even heard of that that is so cool!!!”  That’s what I assumed they meant.

  6. Effigy_Power says:

    I gave away a lot of cards after college, unaware of the value. There were some “Black Orbs” and “Primal Force” in there, and some of them with hologram. I only found out later that I had given about $600 to someone I barely knew.
    Since then I just buy the cheapest pre-made sets and screw the rest.

  7. Fluka says:

    Somewhere in my parents’ house, there is a big box of Star Trek Customizable Card Game cards which I collected when I was a preteen.

    I never actually played the game.  I’d like to think that we live in a world where a 10 year old girl could find someone to play a Star Trek card game with, but I fear we don’t yet.

    But to be perfectly honest, I had no intention of playing.  I just bought them because Star Trek.

    • caspiancomic says:

       I had a similar relationship with my embarrassingly swollen collection of Pokemon and Digimon cards, mostly bootlegs. I never even once played the game- the rules always seemed like they were written by the kids who said you didn’t actually hit me, you missed, and I’m wearing armour anyway- I exclusively bought them because I liked the artwork on them. I went and saw the Digimon movie in theatres way too many times (more than 1 time) because they were giving away exclusive movie themed cards with every screening. 

    • I once bought a booster pack of the TNG CCG on a whim (my rare card was Wesley Crusher). There were so many games that looked and sounded really cool in the mid-90s, but no one was interested in a game that wasn’t Magic. (Fair enough; it was a huge money-sink). 

      • Bad Horse says:

        Those 90s Decipher CCGs all had some serious-ass problems, and the TNG one was basically incomprehensible. There was a contemporary TOS one by Topps or some baseball card company that, in retrospect, was actually the hotness, but it didn’t go far.

        • Fluka says:

          Wait, it *was* actually incomprehensible?

          One of the best parts of getting older has been finding out that things which seemed perversely difficult as a child actually were perversely difficult.  The Star Trek Card game?  Unplayably complex.  Sierra Online puzzles?  Fucking insane dream logic!  It reminds me of this XKCD cartoon.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Now that I know my daughter will be easily capable of being a scientist, or an active combatant in warfare, or marry another woman (which, given her infatuation with those dangerous older kindergartner boys doesn’t appear likely) my only hope remains that whatever esoteric sub-niche of nerdom she pursues will be enabled by at least one other child. 

      • Fluka says:

        Well, more happily, I picked up my interest in both Star Trek TNG and the Simpsons from other 10 year old girls (who knows? maybe they would have played the card game with me after all!), so I think the chances are good she’ll find another young enabler.

        These things are way more socially acceptable than they used to be, though.  Maybe she’ll be a rebel and turn into a jock!

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          I agonized over that very thing before I was a parent. What if my child is a jock? I’ve since realized I’d rather have a child who’s a good person and with none of my interests than an insufferable, petty person who share all my interests.
          I couldn’t handle it if she’s a Republican, though. God help me, I can only be so understanding.

  8. Israel Ortiz says:

    The last deck I made/played with was a pure black vampire deck …of foil cards.  [The Zendikar block was my fave.]  Yes ladies and gents, this was my Twilight deck; every single creature, land, instant, you name it, glistened with glory.  I miss Vampire Nighthawk, Gatekeeper of Malakir, and the fucking majesty of Vampire Nocturnus.

  9. George_Liquor says:

    I first tried MTG as a put-up-or-shut-up challenge by some nerdly former coworkers over a year ago. It was lots of fun learning the rules, noodling with some other guy’s deck and scrimmaging when we should be working. Then I changed jobs, which unfortunately put an end to those scrimmages. These days, I only play “for realsies” tournament games, which I usually lose because I still suck at it. 

  10. I have a squirrel deck! It’s only OK. 

    OK, now to read the article. I got excited because i saw the Deranged Hermit card.

  11. craigward says:

    Always floop the pig if your opponent derives his power units from cornfields.

  12. caspiancomic says:

    Magic: The Gathering is up there with hobbies like World of Warcraft, Warhammer 40k, Dungeons and Dragons, and drinking alcohol on the list of things I can never, ever try because I know I’ve got a dangerously addictive personality and everything in my life would suffer if I got even one taste. Plus, most of those hobbies seem wildly expensive- where do people get the money for these things?

    Sidenote: if you ever pay $5000 for a Magic card, you deserve anything that happens to you.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      When I was a wee boy, my father made me calculate all the allowance I had spent on Pokemon cards, and it turned out to be in excess of $100, which–given that my allowance was something like $5 a month at the time–was pretty eye opening. It’s was a lot like how they encourage smokers to figure out how much money they could be saving by not buying cigarettes, to continue with your addiction analogy.

      It did not stop me from becoming a Magic player in high school.

      Also, DnD is probably a fair bit cheaper, as it’s really just a few large lump sums up front for the rulebooks, and then you’re able to back off from there. Anything that causes you to buy piecemeal is going to drain your wallet a lot faster (like DLC!).

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         I had a friend in junior high school who started shoplifting in order to obtain D&D books.  Then the shoplifting became more of a thrill than D&D.  Then he started shoplifting porn.  Then I saw him a lot less than I used to, but his porn stash was legendary in our school.

        That is, sadly, a completely true story.  And the moral is obviously that D&D really is a tool of the Devil.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          That cracks me up, because for about a two years in High School I was a chronic shoplifter and it was all pretty much exclusively role playing books.
             I still marvel at my capacity to take something transgressive and turn it into something dorky.

    • Dungeons and Dragons is pretty safe to get in to, even if you have a tendency to obsess. You need other real-life people to play. It also has a relatively low up-front cost: all you need is 2 or 3 books, and some fancy dice.

      Magic is the worst, as far as cost goes. The core set is revised every 2 years, and a new expansion is released just about every month. When older cards go out of print, they are no longer legal for tournament play. In order to stay competitive, you need to buy new cards every month. And once a card goes out of print, it tends to drop sharply in value (unless the card is so awesome that it becomes in-demand for “Legacy” tournament play.)

      • zebbart says:

        It is such a rip off, and I can’t comprehend why the Magic playing community puts up with it. It makes it hard for me to take them seriously as gamers, like as compared to competitive chess or poker or starcraft or whatever. Why don’t they just set up their own tournaments where all the old cards that are not game breakers are legal, and where it is perfectly fine to play proxies? Imagine if in chess you had to buy each piece and you could only get a queen by paying a lot of money before the game or getting really lucky.

        • ToddG says:

          For constructed formats, you’re not wrong, but that’s why the creation of Limited formats with appropriately-balanced products was genius.  It both provides them with consumer incentive to continuously purchase more product, but also provides the consumer with a valuable, balanced, and also relatively low-cost playing experience.

        • igotbored says:

          I play Magic (albeit only casually, so I don’t spent a lot of money on the game) and I love the game, but I’ve never really been fond of the collectible aspect of the game. I guess it takes some amount of cognitive dissonance on my part to say that while still buying cards and playing Limited, but I just accept it as another hobby that I’m not going to make profitable. Your point about competitive Magic makes sense – I love watching high-level tournaments, but I think the appeal is necessarily limited by the steep learning curve (I know next to nothing about poker or Starcraft, but I can watch those things and it will be compelling – this won’t be the case for someone not familiar with Magic watching a tournament) and the monetary barrier of entry. It feels like the game has outgrown the collectible framework that it started with, which is kind of a shame.

        • Cliffy73 says:

          They do do that.  People buy new cards because they want to play with the new cards.  But more people play casually with whatever cards they have in their shoeboxes than anyone plays in major tournaments with $500 decks.  OTOH, those people like to play that way, too, and they like the idea that they could win a $40,000 tournament prize, and how is it a rip-off to let them?

          For instance, nowadays one of the most popular formats is Commander, a casual format that lets you use any card you want (well, there’s a banned list, but it’s 38 cards out of roughly 13,000), and people play with all sorts of weird stuff.

          Magic isn’t cheap, and no one should pretend it is.  But there are ways to play that aren’t break the bank expensive, and there are people who play that way.

        • zebbart says:

          What makes it a rip off is WotC creating artificial demand and manipulating the market. If it were a pure game all the required equipment would be available to everyone at a standard price and there would be no need to keep purchasing upgrades to stay competitive. As it is WotC pollutes the game with elements of gambling, speculation, and collecting.

        • Cliffy73 says:

          wtf is artificial demand lol?

  13. offalWaiter says:

    Monetary restrictions are one of the reasons I love the XBOX live arcade versions of the game so much.  I don’t have to purchase countless decks in hopes of creating the card combos I want.  Instead, I pay one price to customize several decks and play in several different scenario settings, based on how much I put into the game.  Sure, it doesn’t have everything, but for those of us that weren’t the mega-extreme it’s a whole lot of fun!

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       I’ve been curious about XBOX live arcade version for quite some time.  I am always weary of buying primarily multiplayer games since I never know until I spend the money whether anyone else is actually playing.  So two questions: 1. Is there still a decent amount of people playing, 2. would a complete noob to Magic have any chance at all at having fun?

      • ToddG says:

        It doesn’t have to be primarily multiplayer.  I bought each of the 3 yearly releases, have never once played a multiplayer match, and still feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth. The campaign mode is not bad (the AI sometimes makes some bizarre choices, especially on complicated boards/cards, but is generally decent), there are neat puzzle modes (where they give you a board and you have to figure out how you can win in one turn), and there are several other neat game modes, particularly in the recent release.  In short, there’s a lot there to make for a satisfying single-player experience.  As to your second question, I have no idea, as I skipped the tutorials, but I would assume they are reasonably helpful.

      • Cliffy73 says:

        I’ve got the iPad version and there’s still a lot of multiplayer availability, but I don’t know about XBLA (the multiplayer pool isn’t cross-platform).  But like @Mercenary_Security_number_4:disqus says, there’s a ton of play value for the original $5 investment.  And I think it’s a good way to learn to play — it’s contributed to a huge new influx of players of the paper game.  That said, I knew the rules already so I never went through the tutorial.  (Duels has made me a much, much better player though because I get to practice whenever I want.)

      • Channel 8 News says:

        The Duels of the Planeswalkers series (the ones for XBLA, PSN, iOS, etc.) are designed to get players such as yourself into the game. Great interface, easy to understand, and a very helpful tutorial to get you up to speed.

        What’s great is you can play against the AI (in the campaign mode, or in random pickup games) and really take your time. You don’t have to worry if the other player is getting frustrated with how long your turn is taking, because it will literally wait forever. You can zoom in on every card on the playing field, the graveyards, and in your hand, and even push a button to get an explanation of the rules that govern each particular card. Once you are comfortable, you can take the experience online and play against humans. I’d say that the newest edition on XBLA would have the maximum number of available players, but I seriously doubt you’d wait too long to find a match with any system or version.

        I’d recommend it if you are at all interested in the game.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        They work for PC, too. We’ve been known to play on the Steam group, from time to time.

        • offalWaiter says:

          Waiting on my tax return so I can purchase a new desktop, then I am all looking into this Steam thingy.  Time to chase the dragon.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          Everybody stopped playing with me when I started using that burn deck with the foil upgrades. I don’t need creatures (OK, maybe a Phoenix or two); I’m killing all of yours, hitting you, AND destroying your land. 


      • offalWaiter says:

        There is definitely nothing as serious as every card in the game programmed in, but even the 2013 release has a rather large range of decks.  It would be better if you can craft your own from the cards available, but I’ll take what I can get not buying booster after booster.  I haven’t played a multiplayer match yet, the AI is decent to compete against since have the struggle is what you draw next.  For some one like me that hasn’t played in almost 20 years it’s a whole hell of a lot cheaper and less time consuming.  All out best feature: restart.

    • It’s my understanding that the early Magic PC games let you use every card in the set. That would have been a bitch to program. Especially “banding”. No one understood that.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        There’s two versions. There’s Magic: The Gathering Online which has a piss poor interface but lets you play with every card and is basically a 1:1 translation of the analogue game. However, you have to actually purchase cards (and other virtual economy items) in order to play.

        Then there’s Duels of the Planeswalkers which has a polished interface, but has a set number of decks (expandable by DLC) that can be customized only within a range of available cards (for instance, you cannot tweak the land ratio) that do not change the way they play. So, you’ll have a deck of 60 cards that is heavy on Goblins, and the 20 additional cards you can unlock for it and sub in will also be Goblin heavy. It’s stripped down, but somewhat more accessible. Also, it only costs once (plus the DLC).

        • Channel 8 News says:

          I will say that in the latest iteration, the DLC decks do allow you some say in the direction you want to take a particular deck. 

          For example: There is a white/green deck that incorporates life gain and token generation. Through the customization options, you can push the deck towards one side or the other (removing the life-gaining cards, for example) and actually change the way the deck behaves.

          It’s a newer feature. Previous versions only let you remove or add cards that were “unlockable.” The newest version lets you remove any card from a deck, as long as you keep your total deck size to 60 (including basic land, which you rightly pointed out you cannot control the ratio).

        • I may be thinking of the interactive encyclopedia.

        • abysmalminton says:

           There’s also the old Magic: The Gathering game from like the 90’s, which was a quasi-RPG where you wandered around exploring the world and going in dungeons, only you fought by playing Magic and you would win or lose cards instead of gaining XP.

          It was pretty awesome, actually. I wish the new ones were more like that.

      • Cliffy73 says:

        The original Microprose game from the ’90’s did have all the then-extant cards (or close to it).  At the time that was like 600 cards I think.

  14. The investment return  on hoarding childhood collectibles is often overstated. There’s a fairly narrow window in a person’s life when they are willing to spend $100+ on a toy that their mom would have spent $10 on. G1 Transformers, for example, go for much less today on eBay than they did in 2001. (Even the ones that weren’t re-released). 

    • Girard says:

       My mom had made the mistake of giving away all of my older brother’s first-run Star Wars figures in the 80s after he passed in a car accident. And when she was young, her mom had thrown away/burned all of her first-run Beatles memorabilia when she moved out of state after college.

      This was all before I was born, but the spectre of those choices lingered as I was growing up in the 90s – we were a cash-strapped, single-parent family, and the awareness that those sorts of things were increasing in worth in the collectors’ market kind of stung.

      As a result, my mom kind of encouraged my brother and I in our hoarding/collecting cards/comics/toys – she didn’t want to be the “mom that tossed out all the Beatles stuff.” And even as a kid, while I genuinely enjoyed the things I collected, part of me was also regularly buying Wizard magazine to see where all of my cards and comics sat in the Price Guide, assessing the monetary value of my collection.

      But really, the end result of that “investment” is a basement full of old stuff that almost certainly isn’t worth enough to take the time to sort through and sell or whatever. It would be cool to have an enthusiast like Heisler’s friend pore through my old Magic cards and do an appraisal, but I personally don’t have the time or knowledge to do that sort of thing (and then re-do it with Marvel cards, and comic books, and He-Man figures etc. etc.).

      Which is probably why now the pendulum has swung the other way and I try my damnedest not to buy anything physical, to keep the detritus in my life and various millstones around my neck to a minimum (digital distribution and streaming has helped a LOT with this sort of thing, as so libraries of course). My mom didn’t want to be like her parents who tossed away all that priceless stuff, and now I don’t want to be like my mom, stuck with a house full of accumulated junk.

      This post turned into a cool story, bro, so gradually, I barely noticed! I probably shouldn’t post while still half-asleep before breakfast…

      • A few years back, I decided to finally rid myself of toys I’d collected as an “adult”. I started with eBay, with disappointing returns. Finally, I said “screw it”, and donated everything to a charity thrift store.

        • Girard says:

          A while back I did something similar, sorting through and selling most of the collectibles/toys I had accumulated as a teen/adult (various imported video game and anime robot figures, “Army of Darkness” McFarlane toys, that sort of stuff). I managed to get through that stuff okay, ebaying and whatnot.

          But the sheer volume of crap (toys, comics, cards, etc.) from earlier in my life, combined with its more potent nostalgic grip in some cases, made it so I didn’t even try to tackle the basement boxes full of my childhood. (I made an abortive attempt at self-appraising my Magic cards, but that was a chore and pretty fruitless, money-wise, anyway…)

          Hopefully that stuff will just all catch fire or something so I don’t have to deal with it!

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          I wonder if some day kids will be selling their Steam accounts. 

          Not that I expect I’ll ever completely outgrow this library that I’m amassing. Or ever get around to playing all of the games in it.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        If you haven’t eaten yet, perhaps it’s time to crack open one of those thirty boxes of C-3PO’s cereal in the basement.

    • ToddG says:

      Magic cards can be a reasonable investment, even short term, provided you keep up with the market and know when to sell.  The market can be rather volatile year-to-year as cards go out of and back into tournament-legal status.  I had a binder of cards when I stopped playing ~7 years ago that was probably worth at least $1000 at the time.  However, I haven’t kept up and thus have no idea how much that value has changed, or even in which direction.

      • Absolutely. It takes skill and knowledge, like any other investment. In fact, the best way to make money on Magic cards (and toys geared to adult collectors) is in the short term. They have a huge spike in value on the secondary market as they trickle in to stores. Then, as more units get shipped from Hasbro, and they’re no longer the newest thing, the demand on the secondary market dries up.

      • Channel 8 News says:

        I’d like to add that there are a plethora of internet sites that make keeping up with current card values relatively painless.

        It should also go without saying that selling to private collectors will always give you maximum value over selling to shops (though the shops are easier to find and more willing to buy).

      • Alkaron says:

        It really is impossible to keep up with the monetary value of cards unless you spend waaaay too much time researching it. I tried for a while, but got screwed by forces out of my control. I had a stack of valuable lands that I sold for something like $6 apiece because you couldn’t play them in any tournaments. The next year, the powers-that-be suddenly decided to make them tournament-legal again, and their value tripled. It was indescribably frustrating.

        • Cliffy73 says:

          Shocklands?  They’ve been staples of the Modern format as long as it’s existed.  But they’re only at $10 now, and I’m sure they’ll go down when they rotate out of Standard in a year and a half.  You didn’t lose much.

        • Alkaron says:

          @Cliffy73:disqus Yeah, but this was before the Modern format was created. They’d been illegal in Extended for a couple of years, and it didn’t look like they were ever going to be reprinted, and they weren’t really needed in Legacy. At the time, I was unemployed, so I sold off my entire stash (something like 20) of them to get a little extra cash. The next year, Wizards announced the new Modern format, which made them legal again, and their value skyrocketed. Their price has gone back down a bit since the new Ravnica block reprinted them, but until that happened they were worth like $20-25 apiece. If I had held on to them for just a few more months, that stack of lands would have easily sold for at least $150 more. That was when I learned: you don’t speculate on Magic card prices.

    • Persia says:

      I have two boxes of comics that will, no doubt, be worth less than these Magic cards, ’cause I wasn’t as careful as them. I can’t bear to look, honestly. I’m not sure I want to know.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        Oh yeah? Well I have a box of Magic: The Gathering *comics* somewhere, and I’m sure that’s worthless now considering the condition they must be in.

        I seem to remember them not being all that bad. 

    • Cliffy73 says:

      Interesting point.

      Does that mean I can finally afford an Optimus Prime?

    • Asinus says:

      It was relatively early on in my life, around the Beanie Baby craze, that I noticed that the antique toys that I found fascinating were incredibly expensive when they were new. Antique model trains, antique live-steam engines, etc. were never that affordable– not the well made ones. While, yes, they have appreciated, to some extent, the price hasn’t climbed as much as you’d think once you adjust for inflation. A giant, lavish, and well-furnish doll house was never in the grasp of most little girls, just as a large, well built electric train set was never in the grasp of most little boys. 

      There are those antique toy hunter shows (or is it just one? either way) where the hunter finds some plastic garbage that only has nostalgic value but not a lot of craftsmanship behind it. I always think, “In a generation or less, no one will give a shit about this plastic or cardboard crap.” Beanie babies fit that mold… that was my point. 

      Maybe I’m wrong on this assessment, I don’t know. But it seems like the things that remain valuable beyond the life of the people who grew up with them were always rare and always expensive. If I ever have kids, they sure won’t give much of a shit about a loud plastic toy gun that was made before I was born. 

  15. doyourealize says:

    My wife, early in our relationship, found a graph online that measured the amount of video games a (wo)man owns in relation to the likelihood that (s)he would cheat on you. Needless to say, the more games, the smaller chance of infidelity. She told me this made her feel more safe with me (I think a little jokingly, though maybe not) since the graph maxed out at 9 games with a zero percent chance. Research credibility aside, since my collection topped off at at least 20-something games, the chances of me finding something else to do while not with her were slim. I’d imagine you could do the same with Magic cards. I’m not sure how many potential one-night-stand prospects would jump at the chance to spend the night with someone who can say he has a collection of cards worth maybe $200, but maybe I’m wrong.

    Maybe by selling your cards you upped your extra-romantic chances, but you also compare the selling to a break-up. I think at this point, I’d feel more at a loss after getting rid of the card with a squirrel on it than I would at losing the chance to hook up with a squirrel at the bar.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       geez, I don’t think I even know anyone who owns less than 9 games.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Right? I was thinking 20-something sounds pretty low. Do you sell them when you’re done, @doyourealize:disqus ?

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          He gives them away to any of his five mistresses.

        • doyourealize says:

          When she found this, I remember counting, but I didn’t include games in the attic or elsewhere This was right after the next gen switch, so I may have only had a 360 and PS2 out to play. Now, the number is definitely closer to 50 and maybe more, and if we’re including Steam games, I could have 20 mistresses and never cheat on any of them…that’s the way this works, right?

        • doyourealize says:

          @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus Well, now it’s out there.

      • GaryX says:

        I think I have maybe 10 or so at my apartment.

        But that’s only because they’re only PS3 ones (+ SSBB) that I have here in NYC and the rest of my stuff from NES->Generation Xbox/ps2/gamecube is back at home in TX and the only handheld I have here is my old see-through purple GameBoy Color because I used it to make chiptunes for a bit.

        Oh, and I’m not counting Steam.

        Fuck, I’m a nerd.

        • Juan_Carlo says:

          I think I have like 400 games on steam, according to its game counter.  Although its game counter counts a bunch of weird stuff like mods and DLC and apps, so the real number is probably lower.

          And probably at least half of those games I got in “pay what you want” bundles and stuff like that, and the rest I got for 75% off in sales.  So it’s not terribly expensive to accumulate games on steam, but that’s still more games than I could ever play in one lifetime, unless I quit my job and dedicate myself to playing games or something.

      • Girard says:

         Seriously… Like nine games per system, maybe. Or nine game systems.

        Also, by that metric, my 65-year-old mother is more likely to engage in free-wheeling sexcapades than I am…

        …actually, forget it, that graph is spot on.

        • SonjaMinotaur says:

          I was thinking about this on the train this morning and I came to the same conclusion: I probably have (at least) 9 games per system… and, uh, 6 to 8 game systems. So I must be some kind of saint by this logic? 

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        These days, the amount of hard copy games that I own is remarkably low. I pretty much sell everything once I beat it, and that’s assuming I didn’t just rent it from GameFly. I do have quite a bit of digital stuff via Steam, though.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      I wonder.  The assumption is that with video games, you’re going to be siting around at home when you play them.  You can do that with Magic, too, but if you’re playing in paper, you actually have to get out of the house and meet people, some of whom are women.  (Not a ton, but they’re not a miniscule piece of the population either).  

      • doyourealize says:

        True. While the chance of meeting a woman at a Magic convention is probably pretty low (this woman says the ratio at one was about 30 woman per 1870 men), it’s still infinitely higher than if you spend your time sitting on a couch. Does Xbox Live sex chat count? Is that even a thing?

  16. ToddG says:

    Ah, Magic.  If there is a game more difficult to explain succinctly, I do not know of it.

    Also, I still have an absurd blue/artifact control deck, legal for Tempest-Mirrodin Extended, that I keep in the glove compartment of my car.  There is nothing quite like beating a UG Madness deck with Door to Nothingness at a PTQ event.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      Door to Nothingness is Standard legal again, BTW.

      • ToddG says:

        Haha, nice.  That has to be the most satisfying card to win with, or at least it was when I stopped playing 6 or 7 years ago.  I’m sure there have been plenty more absurd cards released since then.

    • Asinus says:

      I have never played it or watched it being played, so in my mind it’s War with better artwork on the cards. I don’t want to find out more because it’s one of those things that I’d hate to like. 

  17. Magic has never been more popular and along with all the other Wizards properties has almost single handedly kept Hasbro in the Black this past year. I don’t get to play as much as I used to but I still go to prereleases.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Not popular enough, apparently. They’re gonna lay off 10% of their workforce, although they claim it won’t affect their corporate HQ or other Rhode Island operations, which is lucky given that the state just gave them a pretty big tax break to hire more people here.

    • I’ve noticed that Magic cards have a lot more shelf space at Wal-Mart than they did 5 years ago.

    • Girard says:

       It, and the LotR CCG, were hella-popular among elementary-schoolers in the Czech Republic circa 2008, FWIW. It’s surprising how popular and pervasive the game remains.

  18. duwease says:

    All of you lamenting ex-Magic players need to pick up Duels of the Planeswalkers.. it’s only like $10, so it’s not the money sink normal Magic (or MTG Online) is.  Then you need to play it, preferably with me.

    • zebbart says:

      Is there a Gameological Steam group? I got DotPW a few months ago and played with a friend for a while, but that kind of dropped off. I’d like to play with people who are not jerks sometimes, so how do I find the rest of you in that category?

  19. Cliffy73 says:

    This isn’t entirely accurate.  New sets are released every three months (although sometimes there’s other stuff), and now the Core Set is released annually (with about half new cards).  There’s a new tournament format called Modern with cards from 2003 on.  It’s pretty expensive to get into, but cards don’t rotate out, and so loss of value is decreased.  

    If you’re going to play tournament Magic, even at a locl level, you’re going to spend some money on it, just like if you play tennis tournaments or ski competitively.  But if you just want to play with your friends, you don’t have to spend very much at all.

  20. zebbart says:

    My best friend from highschool recently got back into Magic, and it is endlessly bewildering to hear his accounts of the weekly tournaments he goes to and the supposed value of the cards he wins. To here him tell, he always gets more than the $10 entrance fee in winnings or door prizes. Of course he never actually sells the cards so he’s still losing money. Back in high school during the 90’s comic boom he and I would pour over the monthly price guides and get excited about how valuable our collections were, later to realize that those prices were what you might pay a dealer but nowhere near what a dealer would pay you. Being pre-Ebay there was no way to find other collectors who might buy them. Maybe that makes all the difference now and his winnings are actually valuable but I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Although, what go him back into it was moving into a house with 4 Magic obsessed roommates. They bought him some starter decks just so they could play against him and they offered to drive 2 hours to my house to pick up our old stash of 4th edition cards that I had been holding for 10 years until I found a way to get it to Pittsburgh for them. Those guys spend hundreds of dollars a year on Magic, so maybe my friend can find a way to unload his valuable cards before they become worthless.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      If you’re in, maybe, the top quartile of the group of regular players at your local store, you probably will get back your entrance fee in prizes most weeks.  That said, the prizes are free Magic booster packs, so for someone who doesn’t care about Magic they don’t seem that valuable (for the rest of us, they do).

      But it’s inaccurate to say he’s losing money because he doesn’t sell his cards.  He’s got the cards.  I don’t mean as an investment (I do know people who have made crazy profits on Magic, nd I know **of** many more).  But as an experience he enjoyed coupled with tangible items he can use to play over and over again, he’s received something of value, and the only person who can decide if it’s worth the money he paid for it is him.

      Most weekly draft tournaments cost a little more than a movie ticket, they last longer, you go home with something tangible instead of just memories, and very occasionally you get a piece of cardboard you can unload for fifty bucks.  In that light, it’s a better economic deal than going to the movies, which is something plenty of people do every weekend. I have kids and a mortgage, so I don’t go to movies, and I don’t buy that many Magic cards either. But I always enjoy the game when I do.

      • zebbart says:

        The cash value of the cards is his rationalization for why he’s not ‘wasting’ money on Magic tournaments. If I were single and lived in the city I could imagine being happy simply to pay $10 for a night of gaming so I’m not condemning that, I’m just dubious of his rationalization. But not so much skeptical, because I don’t know anything about it, just continually amazed by the values he reports and that Magic is still a big thing that now adults spend real money on. And that’s only because when we first quit at the end of high school it was after realizing that the probably $200 or so we’d each put into it was lost once WotC put out new sets with new rules and banned our cards.

  21. GaryX says:

    Card games like this were just something I couldn’t get into. I played Pokemon for a bit, but that was the extent of it. The whole thing is just such a money pit that I could never willingly commit.

  22. Jackbert322 says:

    I collected baseball cards as a kid.

    Gimme yo lunch money!

    But I performed statistical analysis on all of them, sorted them based on that criteria, shuffled for parity, created a league of teams, and played a complicated dice game between said teams for a whole season, so maybe I should be taking my own lunch money.

    • Fluka says:

      Someday, young man, you can grow up to be Nate Silver, King of the Nerds!

      • Jackbert322 says:

        I read Nate Silver before he was cool! Circa 2007 when he wrote for Baseball Prospectus. Sabermetrics actually are what I’d like to do in the future. Ideally as a GM though, so I can, y’know, get moola.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      If you get into Magic, I’m sure you’ll be on the ProTour within a year.

  23. Jeff Fischer says:

    I just got back into the game after a 15 year layoff. I lucked into buying some “fetch land” cards a few months ago for $15 that they announced they weren’t going to reprint so I managed to flip them for $30 a pop.  But the prices fluctuate so much it’s really difficult to use the cards as an investment.

  24. Jeff Fischer says:

    I just got back into the game after a 15 year layoff. I lucked into buying some “fetch land” cards a few months ago for $15 that they announced they weren’t going to reprint so I managed to flip them for $30 a pop.  But the prices fluctuate so much it’s really difficult to use the cards as an investment.

    ETA: Disqus hates me.

  25. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I’ve tried on multiple occasions to get into collecting toys and cards for future resale value.

    In 8th grade I tried collecting baseball cards, but the Ken Griffey Jr. Donruss rookie was (and is still) the most valuable card I found.

    In my late teens/early 20s almost all of my disposable income was spent on Star Wars toys, cards, McFarlane figures, Lego sets and Warhammer 40K armies.

    I had an entire wall of my bedroom covered in Star Wars figures in the package.  My biggest mistake was always wanting multiples of the figures so I could open and display some of them.  If I could have restrained myself and either kept them all in package or only bought one set, I actually would have made some money.  Thankfully, at least with the Star Wars toys, I probably broke even when I sold them.

    I ended up spending about $1000 on Warhammer figures to build a Chaos Space Marine army.  As is common, I only finished painting about 20% of those.  When I got religious again in my mid 20s, I unfortunately ended up throwing them all out…only partially because they were “demonic”, largely so I wouldn’t keep spending money on them.  But it was doubly stupid because I could have easily sold them to friends and recouped my investment.  Instead, they’re still occupying a space on my credit card debt ten years later.

    My personal experience with collecting Magic cards lasted about six
    months.  A friend of mine had started playing in Alpha, and had a bunch
    of the really valuable cards.  (He had several Black Lotuses, which I
    think were stolen from him at some point.)  I started playing about 4-5
    expansions in, but got bored after a while and sold my entire collection
    to the shop I frequented for a loss.

    The only collectibles I purchased that I still own are a complete set of the Decipher Star Wars Premiere cards.  I was sure that they would be worth something as a complete set, and ended up spending around $450 in purchases and trades to collect them.  And of course, within a year Decipher lost the license and now the set is worth maybe $100 if I’m lucky.

    The moral of the story is – if you intend to get into the collectibles market, don’t be me, because I’m a fucking idiot when it comes to doing it right.

    • Jackbert322 says:

      You had the Griffey rookie? Nice. I have a bunch of rookies from 90s stars; McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, etc. But the baseball card market dropped out a couple years after my birth. If I had been born ten years earlier (and had been willing to part with those cards at age ten, unlikely), I’d have a decent bit of cash.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Yeah, I still have two of the Griffey rookies I think.  I have a binder full of random useless cards that I’ve tried to sell several times with no success.

  26. Travis Stewart says:

    I once wanted to make an entire deck built around squirrel tokens. I didn’t have the cards for it but I made up a little deck list. I kind of wish I knew where it was.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Thalids, I think, were the token of choice back when I was playing. Something like that. Fallen Empires?

  27. Ralphie_in_Vegas says:

    I’m not a huge Magic person, but my husband is.  I think he would regard investment collecting as silly, and I would agree.  Get the cards and play if you like the game; otherwise, this will be your experience.  (This also goes for comic books or basically anything else people collect.  Make sure you enjoy things for themselves.  Otherwise, collecting will always be a disappointment.)

    • Cliffy73 says:

      Agreed. I think there’s slightly more chance of being able to turn over a Mtg collection for profit, but it would take a shitload of work.  You’re much better off just getting a job.

  28. Anon210 says:

    I had 3 or maybe 4 Force of Wills signed by the artist. (I didn’t want them signed, but that’s all the shop had.) I have no idea what happened to them, or any of my other cards; probably my mom threw them away years ago.

  29. Ryan Hunter says:

    I just brought my childhood collection of Magic cards (and Star Trek CCG cards) from home after Christmas and have been trying to sell them! It’s definitely a depressing endeavor. Selling cards in bulk is about $5 per thousand. I spent a silly amount of time culling out the most valuable cards, only to find that I’m lucky to sell them for half their retail value. I’ve tried to put a few up on eBay, but no dice so far. 

    I met a nice guy at a local card store who seems to care about fun gaming more than profit and competition, so I’ll probably wind up selling most of my collection to him if he’s interested. But I’m feeling the same tension as Steve, that these cards which I obsessed over so long as a kid are assigned almost no value by the market.

  30. seth says:

    I only play at sealed pre-release, or release tournaments, so every time I walk away with a stack of cards that just goes into a shoe box. Sorting and deck building are too much hassle, but I like sealed events where everyone’s on the same playing field.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      Gatecrash was the first prerelease I could get to in a year, and I did better than I expected, so now I’ve totally got the itch to play more.

      • seth says:

        Nice! That was a lot of fun, and I get the same itch, but then I think about it and I don’t have time or money for one more hobby!

  31. djsubversive says:

    I never got into Magic. My game was RAGE, the Werewolf: the Apocalypse ccg from White Wolf (NOT Rage Across Las Vegas or whatever the non-WW version was called). It was a fun game, but I WAS in high school at the time. I got a bunch of my friends into it, so we had a group of about 5 or 6 people who hung out at lunch and after school playing RAGE. We didn’t have a lot of Magic players at my school, or if we did, they kept it well-hidden (unlike us).

    I think my favorite deck was the Kailindo-focused Stargazer/Silent Strider deck I put together. It didn’t all-out win a lot of games, but it was fun to play (Kailindo is basically werewolf kung-fu). I’ve still got boxes of my old cards sitting around here, and occasionally I go through them and try to get some people interested, but it always ends with “well, let’s just play Lunch Money instead, since we all know the rules for that.”

    Lunch Money (Atlas Games) is another fun card game, since we’re on the topic. It’s not collectible, but there are “expansions” for it (“Sticks and Stones” and there’s a similar standalone-but-compatible game called Beer Money). The players are all assumed to be schoolchildren on the playground, having vicious fights with each other for pennies. It’s a good party game, and it’s non-collectible, so nobody gets an advantage by having rare or expensive cards.

    • Casper Wood says:

      I did love me some Rage. I only played a handful games when I was in middle school. Magic was a bit like Call of Duty—you want to play freaking BioShock multiplayer for some reason, but all your friends want to play Call of Duty.

      And so the tides turn.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

       Lunch Money was definitely a favorite game at the comic/game shop when I was a teenager. It was wonderfully crass and immature. And when we were feeling classy we would break out The Great Dalmuti.

  32. Kevin Keene says:

    The timing of this piece is so weird, my buddy recently got his collection out and has been making themed decks and blathering to me about it. He wants me to give it a try but the more he talks about it in excruciating detail the less I want to. Between Magic and live action role playing getting popular around the same time I quit gaming altogether.

    Reading the comments is pretty funny, much like many others he shop lifted like crazy when this and Star Wars were big. He only got busted once even though he was stuffing boxes worth into his socks and pants.

    • Cliffy73 says:

      It really is a lot of fun.  (Magic, not shoplifting.)  It’s an intrinsically tough game to get friends into because it is, we must admit, insanely complex, and once you have someone who appears to have the slightest interest, you can’t help but go on at length about all the cool shit your deck can do which might as well be Czech to them. But if someone gives you a deck, you can get pretty good at playing the cards and abilities in that deck very quickly.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

       When i was young I hung out at two stores. Atomic Comics was there since I was little, with comics, card games, toys and RPG books/miniatures. The other was the Silver Dragon, a short lived store that sold some random swords and knives, old used D & D books and modules, and Magic cards. I think the owner made more money selling soda to the people hanging out than anything else, and just had the place so he could Dungeon Master all day. I slowly came to realize like half the people at Silver Dragon hung out there because they were banned from Atomic Comics for stealing Magic cards.

  33. Brett says:

    I find it discouraging that future monetary value (or lack thereof) is something that actually has upset people. 

  34. SteveHeisler says:

    LIFE UPDATE: I just sold my squirrel token to John Teti’s mom. This is a real story.

  35. DrFlimFlam says:

    A friend and I briefly dabbled in a CCG called Wyvern, but it didn’t last long. It couldn’t hold up to weekends of chinese food, basketball, and NFL Blitz.

  36. Alex Gregory says:

    I went through the same thing back in the day. When I was in high school, I amassed a collection of 700-800+ Magic cards, including rares, holofoils, near-complete sets and more. I’d go to my local card shop every week and buy one or two packs, and got a thrill of opening and discovering what I had acquired, then using them in matches.

    Towards the end of high school, I realized that the cards weren’t worth as much as I thought (especially when I tried to have them appraised), and I wound up giving my whole collection to a fellow student who had an interest in them. I don’t regret it at all – I knew whatever money I made on them would be paltry considering how much I spent on the total collection.

    My brother is trying to make a living selling and reselling CCG cards and older collectibles, but I don’t think the money is there.

  37. Andy Tuttle says:

    I sunk so much of my parents and my own money on these dumb card games. I never got into Magic but I have Overpower, Star Wars, Magi Nation, Pokemon and VS. cards. My biggest problem was that no one ever wanted to play with me or take the time to buy their own stuff, so I would end up getting multiple decks just to try and convince friends to play with me, but they never did! I still hold on to all this crap with the hope that someone will see them and go apeshit and want to play with me, but since I never had anyone to play with I can honestly say i do not know how to play any of them.