The Analog Gamer: It's A Kind of Magic
Magic is like paper crack to me. I find it consumes my life when I’m playing it. It becomes my goal in life, I will forsake food, personal hygiene and even intimate relations when I’m on a bender. It’s a sad part of my life but I thought it was behind me.
Struggling through Magic addiction is a daily challenge. I fight to avoid the Magic cards at the grocery, I refused the free Magic tournaments at the local game store. I’d been clean for almost a year when it happened.
I’m ashamed to admit my weakness but here, amongst a gathering of others with my problem I feel relieved to admit it. I had a moment of weakness and I slipped up. It wasn’t with that shiny foil packaging, I wasn’t huddled in the alley behind the game store.. no, I gave in to Magic last in my home and there was no physical evidence left afterward, just a note on my bank account for the purchase of 2500 Microsoft points. ( I only needed 800, but I wanted some extras on hand to buy cards later)
There is something so insidious about the digital version. It’s too perfect a translation in fact. While currently I can’t sidle up to the counter and pay for my next fix of booster packs and I don’t have access to the thousands of cards in my physical library I have little doubt the masterminds behind my addiction already have the plan for my digital downfall in the works.
What the online version of the game does do is simulate the game table well. The selection of cards is limited to the current core set and the ability to customize and modify the included pre-built decks lacks a bit of flexibility but overall this is the first time a digital version of Magic has come so close to stealing my soul. There have been a few other digital choices over the years, and Magic is no stranger to the online play space but unlike the old PC game, the horrible non-Magic Battlefront game and the long running Magic Online, the Xbox version is just insidious because its invaded my gaming life.
The once safe retreat of my recovery has become unsafe. Playing against others is as simple as firing up the 360 and hopping into a ranked match against people who are obviously just as addicted as I am. I’ve found the computer opponents pale in comparison to the challenge of playing my fellow addicts (except Ron), which in turn fuels the addiction. I feel the burn. I want to win.
The current selection of cards makes the game feel like its far more about the strategy and the deck build than it is about the cards you own – a problem that often plagues the physical games I’ve played. This is also a problem as it pulls on my addiction to new cards, new strategies and new options. I can feel my craving to buy more virtual cards, to build my library beyond the basics offered in the game currently.
Maybe Magic on the 360 is a safe alternative to going completely off the wagon. So far I’ve managed not to run to the store and buy a case of the latest release, Alara Reborn but I had to be emotionally honest and share with you all that I’d fallen. I’ve failed to resist and I wanted to warn you that the temptation to succumb is strong even with the seemingly safe Xbox 360 version.
I have failed to resist it, and I have to admit that some part of me wants all of you to fail as well. If you’re strong enough to resist its pull then I admire you. If, like me, you’re only human and give in, well… I guess I’ll see you online. I’m afraid this is my last visit to Magic Anonymous. I think I can manage the addiction now, thanks for all your help and support over the years.