Picture me 4 years ago, entering the world of Magic the Gathering for the first time.
I walked into the card shop at the Diamond Run Mall in Rutland Vermont (population, not a lot). The shop was primarily filled with sports cards and memorabilia, but it had a small selection of Magic near the register and some boxes of commons and uncommons in the back. I approached the counter and told Chris, the store owner, of the plan to ruin my life.
“I want to play Magic, what’s the best way to get started?”
Chris was tall and still had the semblance of an athletic build, probably remnants from college baseball or some other sport that he played until he realized that his dreams of going pro would never materialize.
Chris scratched his head and pointed to the 9th edition booster packs.
“These are the core set; they have the cards that you need to start.” He walked over and pulled a couple ninth edition packs off the hook.
I remember opening my first three booster packs; I had no idea what I was doing. Hundreds of dollars in booster packs and a few weeks later I finally understood what it meant to build a deck and I had enough cards to do it!
Fast forward to now. I can build whatever deck in whatever format that I want. I’ve gotten comfortable playing with having every card that I need at my finger tips and I feel like I’ve lost touch with what it feels like to be a new magic player. As a finance guy I get the following question a lot:
“What advice can you give to people who are just starting out, for building a collection?”
My typical answer is, “Buy a box and grind it at the trade tables.” On some levels this is decent advice, but for someone who wants to play instead of grind trades all day this advice is pretty bad. It’s bothered me that I didn’t have better advice for a kid who just wants to play Magic. I wondered what it would be like to go back and start over. What problems would I face? This idea bounced around in the dark depths of my mind until recently.
I will enter the scene as a new player, with no collection, no friends, and a fixed budget of $100. The goal is to “Go Infinite”.
This new adventure was birthed when I was listening to Episode 30 or Horde of Notions. Chris Landsdell and his Horde were talking about how they would improve an event deck for FNM and my inner monologue started exploding.
“How sweet would it be to go to FNM and beat someone with an event deck!?”
“How hard would it be to win an FNM?”
“How hard is it for people who start with an event deck to play competitively?”
Amid the questions that were swimming around in my head there was one statement, “I have to try this.”
I’m no stranger to challenges. As some of you know, I traded a pack of Rise of the Eldrazi up to a Mox Pearl. This time I want to try something different. Let’s start with the premise and then I’ll define some ground rules.
What does “Go Infinite” Mean?
I can’t write this article series forever, so we actually need to make “infinite”, finite. From my perspective, if you can build the best deck in the format and double your money, then it’s safe to say that you can “go infinite”. The goal of this challenge is to make enough money to build the most expensive Tier 1 Standard deck and have $200 left over to keep grinding with.
No Value Trading
All trades that I make must be even (based on the same site) at the time of making the trade or I must be on the losing end of the trade. Let’s face it, you can give me a half-eaten McDonalds Cheeseburger and I’d be able to “Go Infinite”. Since I’m entering the scene as a new player we will assume that I’m not a Samurai Master with a trade binder. This series is more about a new player fighting his way to through FNM to build a good deck. It will have financial undertones but there will be a good amount of FNM strategy and probably stories of me raging after losing to people with real decks.
I cannot accept free cards directly from players and I cannot borrow cards or decks. This clause is here to make things more interesting but it’s a bit unrealistic. The Magic community is very accepting and generous. New players are typically accepted into the fold quickly and can rely on the “shop family” to provide support. This clause does not apply to free cards that are given out by the stores that I visit (as door prizes or otherwise), draft droppings or other random occurrence of free stuff.
Everything that I spend (with the exception of travel) must come from my budget. This includes tournament entry, sleeves and singles. The budget is the life blood of this challenge. Store credit via placing high at FNM will be the primary way for me to fund my adventure. I can also sell cards at the current market value (no more) to keep myself alive.
The challenge will end once I’ve met the requirements for “Going Infinite” or if I cannot enter an FNM via money or cards.
If you want to keep up with my adventures real time. Be sure to follow the #FNMHero hashtag on Twitter.
Today, I’ll transform from a Spartan of Magic Finance into unarmed peasant. Follow my adventure over the coming months. The next stop will be about weapon (deck) selection, and then it’s off to battle. Will I emerge as an FNM Hero, or will I die as a peasant?
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