When I was in high school, I always envied the relationships between the band kids. I was in choir and drama and, while I knew how to play a couple of instruments, I was never interested in being in a band.
They were just so different. They played Ninja and Magic and Dungeons and Dragons. They read Homestuck and watched Doctor Who and played Skyrim.
But how were those hobbies productive? Being my workaholic self, I never thought I would understand those kids.
And then I started dating one.
Austin, while only a band kid for a short while, has all of the same interests (probably because he’s a computer programmer). He loves Magic, D&D, Homestuck, Doctor Who, and Skyrim. Basically everything that I avoided in high school.
The only video game I binge-play (a term meaning: set aside for over a year and then remember that it exists, further proceeding to play the game for seventy-two hours straight) is Diablo III. So, when trying to find similar hobbies, Skyrim was out.
Homestuck is basically an online comic series, going through a ridiculous amount of plot twists, made-up words, and things that I can’t even begin to wrap my head around. So that was also nixed.
The other three, however, have surprised me in ways that I can’t even begin to explain in words.
Dungeons and Dragons, with the right group of people, is probably one of the most interesting, amusing (and honestly fun) games I’ve ever played. To explain it simply, you sit in a circle or around a table with as many people as you want. Each of you have a character (or two, if you happen to have a stat sheet for another one in your back pocket). You start at Level 1, and you proceed from there.
In order to progress to other levels, a narrator (also known as a Dungeon Master or DM) creates a story or a scenario. Each player decides what they would like to do using their character’s abilities within that scenario.
It’s a role-playing game, at heart, and it leaves room for a lot of creativity, backstabbing, and excitement. You can pretty much take the story anywhere you want it to go. The DM decides when you level up and when you stop. They also monitor basic rules (if there weren’t any, the game would quickly get out of hand). Whether or not an action is possible is decided usually by a twenty-sided die.
And the game moves forward from there.
I’ve only played two or three times at this point, but it’s definitely something I want to do more often. It’s one of those hobbies that requires you to be social, but also allows you to use your mind and your imagination. As a writer, I love that.
Then, there’s Doctor Who. I always swore I would never watch that show, especially after my friends became obsessed during our senior year. But, somehow, I ended up caving. And, I have to say (even though I’m only in the first season and know almost nothing about the complex rules of the Doctor Who universe), it’s a cool show. I probably wouldn’t binge-watch it on a Friday night, but it’s something Austin and I can do together.
Finally, there’s the big one. The one that’s slowly starting to take over my life.
Magic: The Gathering is a card game built for teenagers who love science fiction, wizards, warlocks, angels, animals, creatures, lightness, and darkness.
The cards consist of five colors: Blue, red, green, white, and black. There are also colorless, or “devoid”, cards. Each card represents a spell, or a land. The land gives you “mana”, which helps you cast your spells.
Magic isn’t the type of game that gets old fast. I’ve been playing for almost five months, and I can’t get enough of it. Austin, over the years, has collected more than 10,000 various cards and tokens, and there are hundreds more that he’s never touched. New sets come out on an annual basis (we actually went to a pre-release for a new set about a week ago).
With so many cards and so many different abilities, the possibility of deck-making is endless. Each standard deck has about 60 cards, 20-25 of which are lands (to give you mana). That means, in order to make a great deck, you have to choose your colors and then proceed to collect anywhere from 35-40 cards that fit your intended style.
Some colors work better for you than others. For example, I found that I had an immediate attachment to black cards (surprise, surprise). Every single one of my nine decks has a black component to it, or is mono-black. However, decks can come in more than one color.
While Austin prefers three-colored decks, I prefer either mono-colored or dual-colored. Usually, I settle for black and white, my two favorites. I think they really compliment one another. Black and white are enchantment heavy, while red and green are creature heavy. I prefer to work with enchantments to win my games. Austin prefers big creatures and combo cards. Blue is a complex color in and of itself. It isn’t creature heavy, but it isn’t enchantment heavy.
My first deck was a black/white life gain deck. That means that nearly every card in my deck focuses on gaining life. I have a black/blue deck that focuses on “milling” my opponent (which means the cards are designed to get my opponent to draw and discard as much of their deck as I can). Once you’re out of your deck, you’re out of the game.
The majority of my decks are mono-black creature or token decks. One deck focuses on zombies, one deck focuses on skeletons. I have a demon deck and a vampire deck. Those are my “big four”. I was determined to cover the four main black creatures before creating any additional decks.
It’s one of those games that you can really sink your teeth into. On special occasions, we buy one another unique cards or card sleeves. Last week, when we weren’t busy with schoolwork or actual work, we focused on re-organizing the giant collection in Austin’s bedroom (no filing system is going to be efficient enough, I’m telling you).
Back in high school, I judged the kids who played D&D and Magic. I felt like they weren’t taking life seriously. Like they were too busy playing games and living in fantasy worlds to be productive in the real world. Now that I play? I realize how wrong I was.
Being at that tournament, or playing D&D with a group of friends, I realize how cool the kids who play these games really are. They are so unique, and nearly all of them have a higher-than-average IQ. These are the smart kids. The kids who want to use their minds to have fun, to be strategic, to organize, and to make friends. I’ve never been around more accepting people.
And you wanna know something?
It almost makes me wish that I’d been a band kid.