Fight the good fight by Liam Casserly
Thanks to Magic Origins coming out this summer, we’ve had a lot of stories about how people got into Magic the Gathering. I’m going to tell a story that goes a little bit beyond that.
Years before Magic was even a thought in Richard Garfield’s head, me and my brothers were annoying our mum during a particularly wet six-week school holiday. You see, back in the 80s there were only four channels of television and children’s programs were on just for two hours in the afternoon. If we were lucky, they added an extra hour in the morning during the holidays. So, we were bored, and we told my mum this over and over again. Now that I am a parent I am reaping the karma from all those years of demanding I be entertained like a little ceasar.
Like most houses in the 80s, we had a copy of Monopoly. The board game. However, I was not allowed to play it – because I was a bad loser. Monopoly is a game that makes all but one person miserable. It’s an awful game, but I didn’t know anything about games back then. When unfair – in my opinion – things happened I would flip the board and then, traditionally, me and my brothers would fight until an adult came and exiled me to my room. (I have grown up somewhat.)
This one day my mum dug out a chess set that, until then, had been at the very bottom of the pile of games. She sat patiently teaching us the rules. I was fascinated. Every action that the pieces made was intriguing. It was obvious to me right away how powerful the queen could be. That day, and nearly every day for those holidays, I played chess. It was so clear that if you made a mistake you would be punished. There was no random feel-bad moments – you either won or lost. If the weather had been better, my brothers and I would be outside playing war, just running round the wood throwing fircones at each other, but because it was raining we were inside being generals on an ancient battlefield.
I didn’t get into Magic, until my son was experiencing a similar sort of boredom to me. He is a few years older than his sister and, as such, is into wildly different things. We always have lots of board games in the house, but most of them are designed for four players and, even if they aren’t, they are less fun with fewer players. I decided to look up a few decent two player games and, well, here I am today.
I would love to sit down with my mum and talk to her about the day she taught me chess and see what she remembers about it. I bet she would say she was just pleased that she could get on with things without being harassed by us. I would dearly love to grab a few Intro Decks and sit and teach her to play Magic, and the thought of her playing a game with my daughter cracks me up. Those things aren’t going to happen though. My mum died of cancer before my children were born. She will never get to teach them chess or listen to my son tell her he made a Top 8 on a Game Day.
I don’t write this for your sympathy. It’s a long time ago now and, even though miss her every day, I’ve come to terms with my loss. So why do I write this? Well, a friend of mine, Sam, who I play board games with, for the past few years has run a charity event for Heroclix, where they raise money for Cancer Research UK. It’s grown over those years and recently he asked me if I would help him add Magic to this year’s event. Play Magic and help fight cancer? I’m in.
I believe that the Magic community and the geek hobbies in general are a really great place. I know that individual shops do good things for their members. I think we can take this and go bigger. Gaming vs Cancer is the new name for what was known as Clix for Cancer. This year it has grown to include a Magic tournament and a Netrunner tournament. The first time they held this it was done in a coffee shop but, because of the increase in attendance and the addition of two more games, he had to book a larger venue. This year’s event will be held on the 7th of November at Southampton University. Here are the links to the Facebook page and website so you can keep up to date.
I always talk about making a strong competitive community by having decent national competitons, but in this case I think it’s more important to have fun. With that in mind I’m hoping to hold the Magic event as a team event. I love travelling to Magic events. I enjoy the atmosphere in the car on the way, knowing that you and your friends are going to do battle together.
It’s my hope that shops from around the UK send teams, not only to represent them in this, but to reach out to the other shops involved in our hobby to make long lasting friendships that will go beyond what happens at larger events. I wrote a column recently that was somewhat controversial. In the comments I noticed a trend. Lots of folks said that their store was a nice welcoming place, but larger events were less so. I want this event especially to be very inviting. It would be great if the whole thing could be much more about players joining together to fight cancer.
And how exactly are we doing that fight by playing a card game? I hear you ask. Well, all the money raised will go to something called Stand Up 2 Cancer funding. This funds translation funding, which is one of those concepts that sounds complicated, but what it basically boils down to is that money raised will be used to get new drugs and therapies to the people who need it. Translating clinical research into trials and then effective therapies.
Sam, who has put this whole thing together, myself, and all the other people who are organising this, are not being paid. This isn’t one of those deals where we give a percentage of the profits to charity. After we’ve paid for the venue and any other expenses to get the tournament up and running, all the money goes to charity. We won’t even use any money to buy ourselves a sandwich. Promise.
As you can imagine, we need to be able to minimise our costs. We have reached out to a few shops and organisations for help with prize support and such. Places already involved are Esdevium Games, Stainless Games, Cheap Thrills, Fan Boy 3 and Warez. Oh, and Manaleak for letting me use their platform to shout about this. A big thanks to you all for your support. If you or your shop want to help, get in touch with us on the Gaming vs Cancer website or Facebook page. This is also where you can find the latest news about the format and side events.
Thanks for reading,