The other day I was equal parts relieved, flummoxed and petrified. I realized, I am retired. Yes. Relieved because I no longer need to prove anything to anyone; flummoxed because am only dawning on my 37th summer; petrified because what to do with the rest of my days?
Okay, okay, maybe just a little tad of explanation is in order here. No I have not become “financially independent” or whatever it is called these days. I still have my day job – and I don’t think either a firing or an early surprise retirement is around a nearby corner.
Nope, of course it all has to do with Magic.
Today my good, old Magic Buddy Andreas, whom I have already talked about here, wrote a reply to the announcement of a tournament con come March, that he was ready to play some Modern and Legacy. Of course, I wrote: “Andreas, why don’t you just rotate to Old School and hand out some homework to all of us?!” (Remember, he is a very, very good player with a professional attitude towards playing Magic).
He replied he still had some business to attend to in “Real” Magic, but that we might meet each other over here in Old School some day.
First of all, Andreas knows that Old School is – or at least can be – real Magic. But what he means by saying it like this is – as far as I can interpret – that in his view “real” Magic requires competitiveness, prices and central support – probably also an unsolvable, developing format. I don’t necessarily disagree. At least I agree, that that is certainly one very normal take on what real Magic is.
But still his remark made me realize I am retired. At least Magic-wise. Of course it shouldn’t come as a big surprise, and maybe it didn’t, but I still think it was fun to think a bit more about.
Old School Magic is the Magic equivalent to retirement!
“Oh no you didn’t!”
Well, yes I did! My blog, my rules. I can write whatever crazy things I want, and even add exclamation marks right after.
But think about it. There are some very obvious similarities:
The average age of the players is probably the highest in any format. I sometimes feel almost young, when I attend tournaments.
Most of us don’t reckon we have anything to prove. Many of us play almost exclusively to have fun, or as an excuse to hang out and drink beer, without having to discuss children, mortgages, salary or the soaring prices of gas.
A lot of us have sold a lot of our belongings, to downscale. Example: I have gone from maybe 5000 cards in the active part of my collection, to about 1500 all in all. It is the same with (at least some) pensioners: They sell their big houses, and get rid of a lot of excess stuff, to buy few, but good things instead.
Still not convinced: Most of us play not for fame, glory, money or ladies (Magic may never have been the most direct road to any of this anyway). Nope. What do we play for? No. Stal. Gi. A. Yep. Nostalgia. If there is one thing defining old people in retirement, it is a longing for their days of vigor and strength. They simply ooze of nostalgia.
As. Do. We.
Is it all bad then?
Most certainly not.
Just think about it. What is the worst thing about being retired? It is that you are old – not Old-School-player-old, but actually old. One-leg-in-the-grave-old. That’s not the case for most of us here.
Oh, and another thing. My dad has always told me, that the only thing he fears in life is the period of time between his allowance money and his pension (just for the record, he is now able to retire, so he is out of the woods). Same thing goes for Magic. The only thing you have to fear is the period between not knowing anything about the game, not having yet discovered tournaments or actual rules and then the point where you just “retire” and buy into Old School, knowing that the deck you buy will never rotate out, or become obsolete due to new printings.
Exact. Same. Thing. Exclamation. Mark. One.
There is a lot of freedom in this train of thought, and it touches upon one of the main reasons why I love Old School. The point is that this is a format and community where you can still enjoy meeting new people at tournaments, but without the aggressive, competitive element that sometimes ruins an otherwise nice experience. And you don’t have to be constantly on your feet to follow the format or new releases, bannings or other crap.
Just before I started playing Old School, I played Commander with some of my dearest friends. But even in this setting – Thursday evening around a table in a close friend’s dining room, with beers on ice and tales at the ready – the atmosphere sometimes still became somewhat salty. Of course we figured it out, but it just says something about the game sometimes. Now, I know that Old School Magic games can also be very competitive and almost hostile, but personally I have almost never experienced someone really salty at an Old School match. I have been close myself a couple of times (for example in round two of this tournament where a one-of from my opponent resulted in exacsies…), but somehow most of us manage to simply put it away.
We have come to figure, that even though we of course want to win, it is not the most important thing in life. It is not even the most important thing about the game. At that may actually be the true meaning of real Magic…