My Magic Origins by Christopher Cooper
Many of you don’t know a lot about me. You’ll know I’m a fan of the goofy combo deck, or a lover of Eternal formats, but you don’t know where I’ve come from or what I used to think was the best thing in Magic. Well, today I’m going to take you on a little journey.
*cue harp music*
The year is 2000. I am in year 8. Pokémon cards were all the rage last year, that is, until they got banned due to arguments and fights caused by thefts. As young geeks we looked to elsewhere to provide our gaming fix in the lunch hour. I wouldn’t discover Warhammer for another year yet. But then someone introduces me to Magic cards.
At first I am a little wary, I know that my parents will disapprove instantly. Their protective nature of me – while well-meant in theory – is rather hardline in practice and a banning of Harry Potter books sets down the benchmark for any magic-related parephernalia coming into the house. I have a locker, though: the cards need to stay at school.
My first deck is a real pile. My only place to get cards is school. I don’t know that boosters exist, or starter decks, or anything like this. Only that there are all kind of cards with names I’ve never heard of filtering through occasionally into our play group.
One of the first misplayings of the game that we came across was the “return hand to seven cards” rule, which along with the “play all lands at start of game” rule led to the potential for some pretty broken stuff. Fortunately, we weren’t really clever enough to notice this, and were more interested in having a good game than to break a format.
That is, until the one guy came along with his Swamp-heavy, Dark Ritual-fuelled Drain Life deck. That deck was very quickly ousted from the group. It was this experience that made us actually start to examine the rules properly and learn how to play “officially”. I still had no idea of what the actual rules were and was happy just to smash my Durkwood Boars into peoples’ faces.
Soon after this I found the Nightstalker tribe and made my first tribal deck. Go on, look it up, I can wait…
… yeah. Thay’re that bad.
Actually, I just looked at that page on Gatherer and I didn’t even have the good ones. My deck was just plain awful. But I had fun with it. It got me hooked, right up until I got too cocky, took them home from school one day and my Mum found them in my blazer pocket when she went to wash it. Goodbye, Magic cards.
It wasn’t until Ravnica block that I started to get back in to Magic, when I found a small local collectibles shop that stocked decks and boosters. I bought the Golgari and Selesnya Theme decks and took them back into school with me. Those two decks were incredibly well-balanced against each other, even if we were still getting the rules a little wrong. My buddies and I spent many free periods when we should have been studying instead performing complex calculations along the lines of “if I attack with everything, can he kill me next turn?” (probably yes, this is often how these games were decided).
From here, I went on to buy a few boosters. I got a few Planar Chaos and Time Spiral decks, giving me the first proper heavy-duty dragon I owned: Teneb, the Harvester. I got a foil rare in my first booster pack ever, Simic Sky Swallower. I started to merge my decks into one big deck, and then I went off to uni.
In 2006 I went to Bath to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. Long story short: I didn’t finish it. For the first year or so I was more interested in Warhammer, a game that had really taken over my life in a bad way, with me spending hundreds of pounds that I didn’t have on it and forsaking my studies for it to a large degree. Then, yet again, I came across Magic in a shop. I bought a booster of Shards of Alara and opened up Ajani Vengeant.
What the heck is this thing? Is it a creature of some sort? What does it do?
For the first time in my Magic-playing life, I took to the internet to find out. Whilst on the Wizards of the Coast website I found the ‘Places to Play’ button. I clicked it and found out that there was a group that meets in a pub not far from my house every Wednesday night. I went along and got taught how to draft. I got shown how Standard worked, though it would take a while before I got a proper Standard deck together.
It was here that had many firsts. My first proper deck was a mill deck that relied heavily on Archive Trap and TurboFog plans to win. My first EDH deck, Rhys the Redeemed, and my very challenging second one that had Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as a general.
I also had the biggest first of all in this group. My first Legacy deck.
It was Merfolk.
Fortunately for me, Lorwyn had just rotated out of Standard. Mutavaults were dead cheap. All of the uncommons were fairly common still and I was able to trade quickly for them. Then it was just a case of the big 8: 4 Force of Will, 4 Wasteland.
I picked them up in dribs and drabs, sniping auctions on eBay, trading for them when I could. Zendikar was the set in print at this time, so all of these stupid fetch lands I kept opening were doing a great job of keeping me able to trade for the stuff I actually wanted.
I still have those Force of Wills and Wastelands to this day.
Merfolk, a Legacy deck by Christopher Cooper, circa 2010
4 Force of Will
4 Aether Vial
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Merfolk Sovereign
4 Coralhelm Commander
2 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Back to Basics
3 Mindbreak Trap
1 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Controlled Instincts
It tells me something that I could still write this list from memory. It was my first real true love as a Magic player and helped transform me from a mostly casual player into a more competitive planeswalker. This is where I got my spark, and where my Origins story ends.
So I would like to thank all of the people who have helped me come this far. Sam, Matt, Alex, Tom, and everyone else at school who repeatedly ran decks at each other. Paul Smith for running the Bath Magic group, along with all of the regulars there, Simon, Nat, Mark, Natalie, Dom, Sean, and anyone else I’ve missed.
To my current gaming group at Geek Knight in Gloucester that I’ve been a part of for the best part of 10 years and is still going strong despite being at 4 different pubs over the years. Simon, Jinx, Noony, et al, thank you, and especially to the drivers who ferry me around, James, Jacoby and Chris especially (and Simon again!).
To the ladies who run Game On, Tania and Emma, for their fabulous hosting skills for holding the best-catered prereleases, FNMs and WNMs I’ve ever attended.
And finally to Manaleak, who give me a soap box to stand on and ramble on about Legacy and Vintage from, or whatever crazy idea takes my fancy this week, as well as hosting the monthly Legacy tournaments and Quarterly Win-a-Duals helping to keep me playing fun Magic and keeping the Legacy community going.
Community Question: What is your Magic Origins story?
Thanks for reading,