This is David, long time editor of and one time contributor to this weird and wonderful website we call Australian Tabletop Gaming Network, as well as our sister site Pixel Pop Network. I have been with the team for a few years now, but this year I decided to leave Australia and travel around Europe for a year or so. At the moment I am working maintenance at a hotel estate on a small and somewhat isolated island off the coast of Scotland.
Out cottage is in the red circle. Apologies for quality, my photography is as bad as my magic.
Like the rest of the ATGN crew, I am an avid gamer. Most games, however, require some form of permanency of place. That is to say that some games may demand a stable residence to amass your collection of miniatures, cards or whatever you need, whereas others will require a solid community of players to generate opportunities for competition. There is not much chance of either when one is ‘on the road.’
How then can I game without such a state of permanency? This is the question I will be seeking to answer in what will hopefully become an interesting, and no doubt award winning, series of articles. Thankfully, I am not travelling alone. Along the way I will have my trusty assistant/fiancé with me to provide me with someone to compete against in whatever games we find along the way. She is almost as nerdy as myself, and it was her withdrawal symptoms that led us to the game that will be the subject for this first article – Magic: The Gathering.
I am aware there is already the very occasional MTG article on this website, but here it is anyway. On our way to our current job, we realised that spending 5 months in an isolated area of a sparsely populated island may lead to us getting slightly bored at times. Wandering Glasgow, we came across a place called ‘Geek Retreat’ and had a look in. We found a cosy shop below street level with a small café kitchen, a decent display of games and other products, a number of tables more suited to games than eating and a small area off to the side with couches and a TV hooked up to every console under the sun.
Pressed for time we missed out on the latter, but decided to grab two of the recent intro decks, Angelic Fury and Horrific Visions. We firmly decided that this was all we could afford and reassured ourselves that it would be enough to keep us entertained. Two minutes later, we changed our minds and bought the Shadows over Innistrad deck builders toolkit as well.
I should say at this point that I view MTG as a relatively harmless curse upon my existence. I am not particularly good at it, but I know I will never escape its grasp. I was introduced to it in high school, played for some years and then stopped when I went to uni. A few years later I found myself living with people who played, so I got back into it, attending numerous events and weekly FNM’s, none of which I succeeded at. Gradually, I played less and less as I felt I was just spending my money on frustration. Some years later an old high school friend introduced my girlfriend to MTG and she loved it. She is also better at it than me. I know now that I can never escape, and to be honest I still get far too excited when opening a booster pack. A friend once remarked that he ought to stop playing MTG and get a drug habit instead, because it would be cheaper and less addictive. He could have been on to something.
Either way, we bought our cards in Glasgow. The two decks and the toolkit allowed us to have a decent pool of cards without having to carry too much, which is a constant concern. Opening booster packs and discussing cards makes for a great way to pass a long bus trip. All the cards fit easily into the box of the toolkit, with some room to spare for a few more. With a phone app to count our life totals and a d6 or two for counters we are pretty well set.
The idea going forward is to create a few decks out of the cards we have. They might be a tad shambolic, given our reliance on the randomness of boosters, but it looks like we might have enough for a red/black vampire deck and perhaps some white human/spirits to go against them. With a few more decks available we should be able to entertain ourselves for a while. After we finish our self-imposed exile we will be travelling Europe and hopefully passing by the odd card shop. Unused cards can be offloaded and new boosters or singles can be found to take their place in our magic box, culminating in a set of perfectly crafted, unbeatable decks.
That’s the plan anyway. For now I must leave you. I will return with tales of games we come across, updates on our amateurish deck building and advice for anyone who yearns for the life of the travelling gamer.