You are my all time favorite game. I bought my first starter deck of Revised Edition in 1994, a year after the first release and I was instantly hooked. I started High School, Mtg and my first job in the same week of that year and over the next three years I spent a great deal of money I made at that job on your cards and played them on the floor in the halls of that school. A friend of mine and I taught ourselves to play from the little rule book, but a whole new world was revealed to us when we made contact with the local card shop that was running your tournaments in town. At our first tournament we were just playing every card we owned. Before a year had passed that little card shop closed and the tournaments stopped, but I wasn’t done with you. Far from it. I put up posters and organized my own tournaments every Saturday, eventually drawing 10 to 15 players each week. One thing I loved about you is that it seemed I could walk into any game store and find a game of Magic. Eventually new friends and I began traveling to larger cities for ProTour Qualifiers and Prereleases. We were good too. Especially for a group of players from a small rural town in the least populous state. I once qualified for the Jr. Pro Tour, but gave my spot to the runner up of that torney due to a family obligation. My senior year I qualified for the National Championship and went to compete at Origins game fair taking 19th out of about 180 qualified players losing only twice on day two to the eventual runner-up and the champion. You helped me through my adolescence and helped me to be less of a shy introvert. I loved you so much. You were my passion.
College was a busy time and I wasn’t able to be as competitive but was still known as the best Magic player around. The vanity plate of my car said “Magic Man,” and when I went back home one year someone spotted me that I hadn’t seen since the card shop days and he told me that I was a Magic “legend in this town.” I took a year off after a falling out with friends over a girl, but came back with avengence and finally won the state championship after a couple years that two friends won out from under me in previous years on decks I convinced them to play. I graduated that year and though I was still winning local game shop tourneys in the town in which I lived, I wasn’t keeping up with the new sets, spending my winnings on other things. So I quit again. It was a sad parting, but I still kept some special variant decks to play when opportunity arose. Years passed. I got married, became a father, and I taught my kids the basics, some before they could even read by using “vanilla” creatures. I was playing board and roleplaying games. Barely touched Magic, but I did miss it. Once a gaming friend of mine asked me what my all time favorite game was and without skipping a beat or thinking about it I replied “Magic: the Gathering.” He looked at me like I was crazy, but knowing he never really knew you like I knew you, I chalked it up to a lack of deep understanding of you, your complexities, and what you could be.
Finally after a fun 2015 Prerelease in which I opened an interesting legendary creature, I decided to try the Commander format. I knew of the Elder Dragon Highlander format from a blurb in one of the Magic periodicals I read in the 90’s but never tried it because, having a reputation meant I was always ganged up on in multiplayer and it wasn’t fun for me. But I was years and hundreds of miles away from my reputation and loved the format almost immediately. It was casual, which was what my schedule and budget required and it meant I could again walk into a game store and find a casual game where, with all the different formats, that had became difficult. But nearly everyone interested in casual games had a Commander deck with them. I was thrilled to see that you fundamentally had not changed and, overwhelmed with nostalgia, I fell in love with you all over again.
For five years I played every chance I got. Then in 2020 the company that produces you changed many ways in which they treated you. Many cards were released with different design treatments so that your game pieces didn’t look like they belonged to you anymore. Sure, they had played some with formatting of very rare cards that were found very infrequently in random boosters but suddenly each set contained three or four different versions of the same card, and it wasn’t different art like some of the commons from the 90’s but card frames or the complete lack thereof. Then the “Secret Lair” products were often further afield and being sold in a different way that was not the you I know. And then cards based on outside IP were brought into the game. I don’t want to see characters based on other things. I play your game for the nostalgia and I play Magic for Magic. I can’t do it anymore.
It hurts so much, but I can’t help feeling that this is the end. I wish I could say “it’s not you, it’s me,” but it’s totally you. You’ve changed. And you promised you wouldn’t, not only by the decades of consistency, but by statements Wizards of the Coast has made over the years. I feel betrayed. I’m going to try to work this out by meeting only with players who reject some of these changes, but I doubt I will be able to succeed and I have to change our relationship in an attempt to do so. No longer can I play with random players at the game store, because we will not necessarily be playing the same game. I’m sorry, but I feel this is the beginning of the end. Know that I will always love what you once were.
Take my love with you where you are going,