I never had the chance to play with the oldest of the Magic cards. For me, the mythical Black Lotus was some kind of legend that would just never exist, something reserved for players from another era, a true unicorn. So why would anybody make the effort to go back in time, look for cards of what many consider to be a dead format, collect ghosts that nobody remembers? Why throw yourself into the void of an expensive format, forged from the deeper origins of the game, and perhaps a set of more basic rules?
Because this game is very similar to a wound that does not close.
For a good part of my friends, the story began at the time of our adolescence. A time both simple and complex, easy and irreversible, of questions and definitions. A perfect breeding ground, a vacuum to be filled: that’s the context in which this game took the spotlight for me. Because beyond the tournaments, the challenges, the international community and the passing glory, Magic is in the end, a true meeting community.
Back in the day each tournament was the final point of a week of preparation, the mental challenge of solving the metagame and the endless evenings of adjusting a strategy that many times collapsed on the first round of the day. For those of us who have never won anything playing Magic, which statistically will always be the majority, the tournaments are in the end an excuse to get together with your friends.
The game is in its essence a community and tournaments are a symbol and a celebration of that community. Recognizing these premises helps players to balance unrealistic expectations of winning at all costs. The goal, although initially difficult to recognize, is for the player to accept that we are not in the game for the game alone… That’s why I can choose a deck that makes the goldfish kill a turn later than all the other decks in the format and be at ease with myself, or buy a white-bordered fourth Edition Crumble instead of the Antiquities black-bordered version.
So why would someone make the effort to go back in time, chase cards of what seems to be a dead format, collect ghosts that probably nobody remembers? Because they contain everything essential that captivated us, and allow us to go back to the past. They take us to the time were we built ourselves. Old School and Pre Modern are formats that appeal to our nostalgic inner selves. These old formats exist to remind me that Magic is a wound that does not close, an abyss with a meaning that doesn’t have simple explanation, the first true reason we all felt in love with this game.