Off Topic: Just in Time for the Holidays

I awoke the other morning with ice on the windshield. This had me scrambling to find an ice-scraper. Time was crucial for my bus was leaving shortly and as usual, I was running a little bit behind. Taking the quick and lazy route, I blasted the heat and flooded the windshield with washer fluid. Half a gallon later, the window was clean and I zoomed off to catch my ride. The frigid cold got me thinking about the holidays coming up. Months away, but they will be here before long. It also means Magic cards.

All I Want for X-Mas is the New Expansion, the New Expansion

Over the years, I have slowly convinced family to get me Magic cards for Christmas. It took a while because many of them felt I was getting swindled out of presents. Those silly relatives of mine, they have eventually came to realize nothing could be better. Granted, I can be difficult to shop for during holidays. I don’t really ask for much or need a lot. I believe they felt Magic cards was a scapegoat gift. Now, they just give me cards. The first few years I asked for cards, I got nothing. A little irritating for it was one of the few things I asked for on my wish list. Part of me just feels like they thought it was a fad or phase. If my memory is correct, I finally got cards for Christmas the fourth year.

Getting the right present has had some ups and downs. None of my relatives have any inkling of what to get me. Those first few years, I would typically get boosters from Core Sets and an occasional pre-constructed deck. I found it interesting how non-Magic players are drawn to the core product. First time, I simply thought it was a fluke. But time and time again, I kept getting cards from the core set. I guess it feels safe somehow. After careful discussion with my sister, she elaborated she was going to get X expansion, but felt I would appreciate the Core set more. Magic cards are cards, but expansions are better. Eventually, I learned to tell them to just get boosters from the newest set. It solved a lot of problems. My side of the family can only find them at Wally World in my area. Needless to say, I get whatever Wally World has at the moment.

Gifts Ungiven

Before I tell a story, I will have to tell this one. Some time ago, I was out visiting my sister-in-law and her fiancée in Seattle. Amazingly, the entire trip consisted of cloud free skies and 80-degree weather. We did the usual fare, visiting Pike’s Place and camped at Mount Rainier. It was fun. Before heading directly to the airport, we made a short detour. We stopped at Wizards of the Coast. To be honest, it was a little weird for me. I felt like I was trespassing on holy ground and I didn’t really want to be that guy. The sister-in-law wasn’t with us at the time because she had that thing called a job. My cohorts in crime were my soon to be brother-in-law and wife. They weren’t too excited about the whole ordeal. But, we went, got to the lobby, and were greeted by an extremely nice receptionist who encouraged us to look around the lobby and feel free to take pictures. To my surprise, my wife and brother-in-law thought it was a lot of fun. For one, they didn’t realize Wizards of the Coast made more than just Magic. The brother-in-law was quite excited when he realized they made a few of his favorite games such as Axis & Allies. I took a couple of pictures in front of the daunting Shivan Dragon, my compatriots got into the spirit too, and we quickly left for the airport for we were on a time crunch.

Fast forward, my wife and I are driving to her parents for Christmas. She seemed especially bubbly, even for her. Being married for some time, I finally asked what she was so giddy about. All she would tell me is her sister had a story for me. I shrugged it off, thinking nothing of it, or pretending to at least. Later in the night, we began the ritual of opening presents, one at a time, at a slow pace, extending the shenanigans for a couple hours. Finally, I got my present from my sister-in-law. I opened it up. Score, I got Magic cards. My sister-in-law interrupts me from tearing them open to tell me a story. She begins explaining she had heard from her fiancée about our trip to Wizards. After hearing about our pleasant time, she thought she would stop by in order to find me something special for Christmas. So, she stopped by HQ.

Now, I feel like I should explain something. My sister-in-law thinks certain things about my hobby. She is probably the last person who would step foot into Wizards. It is definitely out of her comfort zone; going there certainly puts her out of her element. Anyway, she got to the lobby and asked the receptionist if there was anything she could get special for her brother-in-law who plays Magic. To put it bluntly, she nearly got her head bitten off. She immediately left the premises. To be fair, I totally understand why the receptionist reacted to such a degree. However, the customer service side of me thinks a little more tact could have been used:

(Big smile) Oh, I am deeply sorry you drove all this way. You are such a sweet sister-in-law to go through all this trouble, but it is against our policy to give away, sell or do anything else product-related for that matter at our headquarters. We don’t even carry any cash or any other way for you to make a payment here. Now, I apologize for your inconvenience. If you would like to take a look around the lobby, you would be more than welcome to. As you do so, I could find some local listing of stores who carry our products and directions if you so desire. (End with another big smile)

Besides our polar opposite experiences, I thought it was very, very sweet of her to go to such lengths for my Christmas present. It was the thought that counted.

A Letter to Santa

When writing to Santa for those Magic cards, make sure to include where to get them. Even though Santa has a lot of artistic elves, Wizards holds copyrights and will sue poor Santa if he infringes on their patents. Not to worry, Santa has a special department of elves to fetch those gifts. To help facilitate the retrieval of presents for the Department of Special Acquisitions, please include the location of various stores, hours, and the exact product. Otherwise, elves could show up at the stores at the wrong times and find the stores closed because they got lost trying to find it. Reindeer are very good with directions, but are horrible at finding places without them. Be specific in the letter, otherwise a pre-constructed deck might be found in those stockings. Santa’s elves don’t even play the game and refuse to play it. They find it offensive; they are depicted as violent creatures with no work ethic.

For those of us who aren’t asking Santa for presents, the same holds true for brothers/sisters, parents, and other relatives. More than likely, they have no clue where, how, and when to get Magic cards. Help them. Give them information. As I have found out, if you don’t, whatever Boxmart is carrying at the moment is what will be under the tree. For computer savvy relatives, give them websites and specifics. A really nice email would be much better. Links can be given directly to the desired site. Even better would be for links directly to the product you want. Don’t mess around worrying about them trying to find it. Have a link directly to the product. All they have to do is click "buy" and then proceed directly to checkout. A few days later when they get it in the mail, all they have to do is worry about hiding it for the next couple of weeks.

Making a Wish List, Checking It Twice

To me, gifts during the holidays should be something a person wouldn’t originally get themselves. In instances I have had Magic friends get me presents, I write up a wish list. The best advice is to ensure a variety of cards are available. It helps for many reasons. Some friends don’t have a lot of money. A list gives them options to fit within a budget. Some of those cards might be hard to find or acquire. Sure, you want a set of Cephalid Coliseums or Chainer’s Edicts, but those suckers are hard to track down at times. Don’t make it too large or you might not get what you want. Better yet, place the list in order from most to least. The most wanted cards first and the rest in descending order.

Honestly, finding specific cards can be a pain in the arse. I prefer to give boosters most of the time. Just find out what set a friend wants. It is easy and can be budgeted. The best part is when something awesome is cracked in the packs. Having a friend open up bomb rares can be a lot of fun. Good times for all. The flip side, it can be a little disconcerting when chaff is opened. The good part is they can’t exactly hold it against me. It is a booster after all. They can only admonish my bad luck. If nothing else, give both. Here are some boosters and a couple of cards on the wish list. The best of both worlds.

Since I have been a bad boy, I am not expecting anything from Santa except maybe for some Homeland boosters. Therefore, I am making a wish list. Making a list can be very fun and vexing at the same time. There are so many cards to choose from and not enough dough. Oh, the torture. Personally, I go after older cards I always wanted that were too expensive when Standard or Extended were around. Not all have gone down in price, but the years have dropped the prices down to less painful amounts. I look at getting cards for the infinite life gain Rebel deck I always wanted to make or additional cards to pimp out my reanimator deck, my big weakness. I've been trying to formulate a reanimator deck for Legacy. Yes, Iona, Shield of Emeria has me drooling all over it.

Tis the Season

This article idea may be a little early. I thought of it in the beginning of the week and contemplated it. Besides making for a decent article, the year-end festivities are not far away. If any of you are like me, it may take some time to come up with a wish list. I really find it fun and aggravating at the same time. I hate having to choose between all the cards I want to get. To weed out some of the candidates, I ask myself what kind of decks I really want to make or put the final touches on. Cards are great, but finished decks in my mind are better. Rebel Infinite Life Gain, here I come. The other reason is because the holidays before Christmas, Hanukah, Ramadan, or whatever, are coming up. It is nice to have everything in order. This way, those wish lists can be given to relatives at those gatherings.

Pre-Happy Holiday Greetings


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