Getting back into TCGs: The Life Cycle of a Gamer

After a 15 year break, I’m stumbling back into the world of TCGs. If you are like me, this is not the first and will not be the last time you jump game types. The goal of this article is to describe how I internalize this change with the hope that you, the reader, can take some solace in knowing that all gamers go through this to some degree. Gaming is like learning, it’s an eternal process, and stagnation is death…

Deep Thoughts

It’s often referred to as the ‘circle of life’ or getting ‘back to basics,’ but I like to look at the phenomenon of “what was old is new again” in a more philosophical lens, the Hegelian Dialectic.

“A dialectic method of historical and philosophical progress that postulates (1) a beginning proposition called a thesis, (2) a negation of that thesis called the antithesis, and (3) a synthesis whereby the two conflicting ideas are reconciled to form a new proposition.” – Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

Please stick with me here. By definition, the dialectic method is when two or more people are engaged in a discourse about a topic. This discourse could be with your local gaming group or even yourself with the access we have to groups and people via the internet.

For me, the initial thesis was I am a miniature wargamer, and the antithesis to this is either I am not a video gamer or, more prevalently because we share a common space with them (gaming store), I am not a card gamer (aka dirty nasty card flipper). Eventually, my anthesis became so profound that I was drawn into that space and started to become a card gamer. Thus forcing a synthesis where my new proposition became, I am a miniature wargamer and a card gamer… or I am a gamer. Eventually, the proposition completely flipped, and I identified as a card gamer, not a wargamer, and more recently, it flipped again to wargamer.

All this to say, this phenomenon of ‘coming full circle’ as gamers or a gaming group is more of a core human experience and a natural evolution of ‘competing ideas’ than you may initially realize. It is then essential to not worry about what “type” of gamer you are and play games and try out new things. Often these classifications and sub-classifications are used to justify what we do as a hobby OVER someone else’s hobby rather than describe what brings us joy. I see too many people get caught up in this toxic mindset (including myself) and have missed out on some very cool gaming experience/games/groups.

The Story

What was the catalysis that sparked this dramatic shift in hobby effort?

About a month ago, I was at the game store with my daughter when she saw a Pokémon Let’s Go Starter: Eevee vs. Pikachu and said to me, “daddy, teach me how to play Pokémon.” Little did I know that this was the push that would get me sucked back into TCGs, specifically Magic the Gathering and Flesh and Blood. Don’t ask about Weiss. I don’t know what I’m doing; I just like Batman Ninja

After researching and playing Pokémon online to teach my daughter, I realized how much I enjoyed the mix of complex strategy, luck, and, more importantly, time (or lack thereof) a TCG demands. Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a big fan of miniature wargames, but with the hectic nature of being a dad and a gamer, this seemed like a high payoff pursuit considering I could theoretically head out at 8 pm when all the kids are asleep and play a good amount of games of a TCG. In contrast, a miniature game would be a hassle to start that late and finish multiple games before midnight.

So here I am, almost two months later, and I finally decided to put pen to paper and figure out how I got here. It’s nearly been 15 years since I played Magic the Gathering, and before that, Star Wars CCG and Young Jedi CCG (RIP Decipher), and I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made 15 years ago that burned me out.

Magic the Gathering

I was only interested in Draft or Sealed at first, but I discovered I never really used MTGO back in the day, but I was intrigued at the idea of renting a deck and playing a format that I always wanted to play but never had the money/opportunity, Legacy. It turns out it’s a pretty cool format, and it’s not as degenerative as people make it seem. At the surface (where I currently am), there appears to be an actual payoff for grinding in the format and understanding staple card interactions. I am working on streaming some MTGO Legacy games, primarily for people to tell me what I am doing wrong to get better. I can’t seem to do better than 1-5 in a Legacy League, and bizarrely I enjoy games with harsh learning curves (RIP Mk2 Warmachine/Hordes).

Flesh and Blood

I don’t know what to say about this game. At first, I was hesitant to try out a ‘new’ card game because I have been burned in the past (looking at you, Hecatomb), but this has become, by far and large, my go-to game. So much so that I play in a weekly webcam league at Kitchen Table TCG. This game has it all, from the collector/investor aspect to the competitive card gameplay. I think that gameplay is different enough that a world exists where I can play Draft/Legacy MTG and Flesh and Blood because they scratch two other gaming itches. More to come on this topic. There is an avalanche of information and hype right now for FaB, which is fantastic, but I don’t want to rush into a crowded space.

The Future

I hope to stream webcam games of Flesh and Blood on my YouTube and Legacy MTG on MTGO for the foreseeable future. I am working out computer issues right now. Still, hopefully, I will have some more Warmaster and Epic Armageddon games uploaded because they seem to be very popular (and are some of my favorite games). Still, I’m tabletop simulator’d out. I want to play these games in real life. In the Flesh and Blood, if you will.

Take Away?

Don’t be afraid to try new games; gaming is about interaction with other people and having fun! So try not to forget to have fun and don’t listen to the negativity.

As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy the hobby and check out my YT Channel@Decisive Operations

Ps. If you are wondering what happened to Monsterpoclypse, I feel like Privateer Press is trolling me by releasing a ‘new edition’ of Monpoc as I get into it and sucking all the air out of the game by creating this purgatory where no one knows what edition or game were playing… this feels like the Mk2 to Mk3 transition that killed Warmachine and Hordes for me.

PPs. I am still riding that high of pulling a Shiyana and Shard in the same box!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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