The Mana Dork

Coming Home

I pulled my first planeswalker card from a booster the other day.

I’d been intrigued by planeswalkers ever since I started seeing them in the display cases at game stores. Beautiful, fascinating characters, with a completely alien mechanical design—almost as though the cards themselves had planeswalked into Magic from another game.

I’d bought single walkers—three Jaces during my time away from the game, Teferi and Nahiri when I started building my first Commander deck this year, then more and more as I raced to put together decks as quickly as my budget would allow. But I’d never pulled one from a booster pack.

And here was Sarkhan Unbroken, red eyes glowing, that one pale strand of hair billowing as he stood astride the Tarkir he’d reforged, almost bursting out of the card in my hand.

Call it a milestone.


I’d started playing Magic as a kid with my dad, building elf decks and bird decks and trying very hard to get away with using creatures that tap for mana instead of more lands. (Bad idea, by the way.) I can still remember him holding four Hypnotic Specters—a full playset—and telling me how powerful they were. Not only could they fly and hit for two damage, but they forced the opponent to discard, which took away their options, too. Eye-opening, for a kid like me.

We played from 3rd or 4th edition through to the Visions expansion, in ’97 or so. He moved on to other hobbies, and so my source of cards dried up… until I got my own part-time job, of course, and could join my friends as we dove into the dragons and wizards and Slivers and Myr and golems and angels and ninjas and samurai that were coming out in the Onslaught, Mirrodin, and Kamigawa expansion blocks.

That was about ten years ago. I went to university, and then Red River College, and all of a sudden I didn’t have time to planeswalk any more.

But I still played other games, and went to game stores, and saw the planeswalker cards in glass cases, and was intrigued.

And then this February, I decided to get back into the game.

A Muse N Games was open by then. I’d known Brian for a while, so I decided to stop in for a Thursday night booster draft. Good way to dip my toes in the water, I thought. Fifteen bucks gets me a few packs and a good time, and if I wasn’t sold, I could just toss the cards in with the rest of my old collection and be done with it.

Ha! Right.

I’m several decks into it, at this point. Four Commander decks (cannot get enough of Commander), plus a Standard deck and a Tiny Leaders deck or two. I’m starting to learn how to read signals and pick the right cards in the post-apocalyptic-scavenging format that is booster drafting. I’m digging through my old collection almost weekly for “new” Commander cards, gleefully seeking out neat little interactions and flavourful additions for everything, everywhere, ever.

And I’m happy. Because I’ve come home.

Whether I’m surrounded by piles of cards at home or surrounded by fellow planeswalkers at the store, I’m home.

sarkhan's triumph

A few days ago, A Muse N Games hosted three Magic events at once—a Standard tourney, a booster draft, and a Lady Planeswalkers event. We all started chatting and hanging out as the events were wrapping up, and out came the trade binders.

We had a player that was new to the store—she’d come for the Lady Planeswalkers event, and she was telling me about her favourite deck, which was her Dragons deck, and how she loved the new Sarkhan but she hadn’t been able to find him yet and he was really the only missing piece. So I traded her Sarkhan, for a few nice pieces that will work beautifully in some Commander decks I’m brewing.

Wait, what?

Yes, Sarkhan was a milestone for me. And I might go back and buy him again, just to remember that moment (and play all of the awesome dragons—she was right, of course, dragons are great).

But we don’t keep things fun, we don’t grow the hobby, we don’t evolve our meta if we don’t pay things forward, if we don’t make it welcoming and friendly and aren’t the best players, the best people, we can be on any given night. I’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of those people every week at A Muse N Games, and that was a wonderful opportunity to pay it forward and be one of those people.

I’ll be writing about my journey back into Magic here on A Muse N Games’ site every two weeks from here on in. I’ve got a few goals—go 4-0 at a booster draft, make it to Top 8 at a Standard event, win a game of Planechase Commander—and I hope you’ll join me along the way.

Thanks for reading!

By Jesse Mackenzie
Tuesday April 21, 2015