Monday, March 7, 2016

So do you wear a cape? An unofficial Magic Story

When I started playing Vintage on Magic Online I sometimes encountered a player with the username 'sodoyouwearacape'. He was a nice guy and was a witness to my deck having some nut draws in some games (which made him talk). When playing the Power Nine Challenge my flatmate made a remark about that username and it made me wonder why would anyone pick that as his username. But then I remembered that I've actually seen that somewhere in relation to Magic already. But I wasn't really sure where but I was too lazy to find out at that time. I was rather stressed during the event.

Some time later when looking up something about what defines modern Legacy format I stumbled on Titus Chalk tumblr blog at the address There was an excerpt from the book talking about BoM (Bazaar of Moxen, a series of Eternal tournaments that primarily Vintage players used to go to each year, unfortunately no more Vintage nowadays). I was fascinated by the writing and actually became interested in what the book is about because that is something I did not know at that time.

The tagline on Amazon or any other site offering the book though told me what it is about - it was about Magic (the game) after all. It is an unofficial Magic story and not only that. You probably know the story about how Magic came to be but most probably you never tried to imagine how difficult it was actually to make Magic work. I knew that it had to be a lot of work but I had no idea what that involved and I was curious how Garfield (and others) actually tested the game. This book cleared those things up for me.

And it does not end with the first commercial printing of Magic cards. The struggle continued for quite some time. It goes further through new sets, World Championships, Pro Tour, Magic Online and Magic economy.

What is unique about this book is that we see all this from the perspectives of the players and people behind Magic. We can see the whole picture and we read about personal stories of people involved and what drove them. Even this small peek is something that makes me go WOW. Not only many of us can possibly resonate with Titus's story (I'm not a person who'd be casting Kird Apes...though) but we can see how some Pros actually ended up on the Pro Tour and what it meant to them. We can see how the future-to-be designers tried to come up with a balance between luck and skill in Magic among many other problems Magic faced in its history.

The book also covers all the problems we face as players and topics discussed for years. From format changes, bannings, proxy cards and such and it gives some players the answers why Magic is what it is and why it is more about creatures than powerful spells.

I'm not entirely sure what to write more. Just read the book!. The book is written in a way that the reader does not need to know what Magic actually is, which is a feat in itself. Titus Chalk is a great person and I really appreciate that he took all the time, gathered the information and wrote this book. I believe it was one long but very interesting journey and I'm very glad that through the book I could be part of it. It is nice to know more about how the game we love came to be.

EDIT: There is an updated version of the book. It is named Generation Decks and is available at stores (Amazon in my case) since April 2017.