It’s Sunday morning. After a restful sleep, I rub the sleepies out of my eyes and check my phone for notifications. After a few minutes of doom scrolling, I’m finally alert enough to make my way downstairs.
The first order of business is ensuring my two kids (ten and five years old) aren’t fighting each other. Once I confirm there is order in the household, I’m free to start my relaxing morning as I please. As recently as a month ago, that would have involved a few games of chess or a match or two of Magic on Arena. Currently, my drive has much diminished in the latter.
There could be a number of reasons for this sudden apathy toward my lifelong passion. I wasn’t thrilled with The Brothers’ War Limited, and I don’t currently have a viable Standard deck for constructed play. The Decathalon event didn’t grip my interest, though I do like watching streamers navigate these long and (in some cases) arduous events.
Overall, I’d say my indifference toward Magic boils down to one simple idea: I’ve found better things to do with my time.
The Cyclic Nature of Things
Rest assured, by no means does this apathy indicate my pending departure from the game altogether. Rather, this reflects a regular, cyclical nature of my appreciation for the game—I go through highs and lows on a regular basis, with the average timeline for each cycle in the two-year range.
Thinking back at the history of the game, my excitement and engagement with Magic tends to ebb and flow every couple of years. For example, below is a reflection of when I was most and least into Magic since I began playing back in 1997:
- 1997-1999: Excited for Magic
- 1999-2001: Disinterested in Magic
- 2001-2003: Excited for Magic (Odyssey block brought me back in)
- 2003-2005: Disinterested in Magic
- 2005-2007: Excited for Magic (Ravnica and Time Spiral were two of my favorite sets of all time)
- 2007-2008: Neutral towards Magic
- 2008-2013: Peak excitement for Magic, when I was going to FNM weekly and started playing competitively. This is also around the time when I got into Magic finance and started writing for Quiet Speculation.
- 2013-2015: Disinterested in Magic, though I remember distinctly when Fetch Lands were reprinted and I wasn’t thrilled with that. I did enjoy Modern Masters and Modern Masters 2, but these reprint sets triggered my departure from Modern.
- 2015-2016: I came back very briefly out of curiosity about Battle for Zendikar and the Expeditions within. This rekindled interest faded quickly this time.
- 2016-2020: Very little engagement in playing Magic. My daughter was born, and I really hunkered down to focus on Old School as my primary method of engaging in the hobby.
- 2020-2021: I started dabbling in Arena, and this got me back into Magic from Theros Beyond Death through Zendikar Rising.
- 2021: I didn’t play any Magic for about a year, missing all expansion sets between Kaldheim and Innistrad: Crimson Vow. During this time, I was most interested in playing chess.
- 2022: I really enjoyed Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and Dominaria United Limited formats, and this kept me playing Arena time and again. However, with the release of The Brothers’ War, that interest faded dramatically.
- 2023: TBD
Cycles weren’t exactly two years in length, of course, but my average duration of peak engagement with the hobby is about two years, as is the average period when I’m disinterested. Something tells me I’ll be diving back into the game sometime in the future. For now, however, I’m content focusing my free time elsewhere.
What About Magic Finance?
While my engagement with the game of Magic has been extremely variable over the years, my interest in the values of Magic cards has remained high nearly throughout my history with the game. In fact, I can mark four distinct instances where I de-prioritized my valuable Magic card collection in favor of some other objective.
- During my sophomore year in college (2007-2008) I sold a smattering of cards from my collection on eBay just to raise a little cash. I still distinctly remember being thrilled to sell three played Force of Wills for $28. I also remember selling an Artificer's Intuition for maybe $15 or so and being shocked this card was worth so much. I had no clue, really.
- In 2011 I moved from Cincinnati to Boston, and I traded away all of my bulk to lighten the load of moving. It wasn’t a huge quantity of cards (probably less than 2,000), but I regret severing ties with so many cards I had owned since childhood.
- After my son was born, I knew I wanted to start saving for the college fund. So in 2013 while at GP Providence, I sold out of my Legacy collection. Of course, in hindsight, this was far too premature, but it was a commitment to my son that I was serious about using Magic to fund the college fund. This is what started the plan in motion.
- Last year at Magic 30, I sold my most valuable Old School and Vintage cards to put a significant dent in the college fund (now requiring double the funds to support both my son and daughter).
Those are the only momentous occasions in my Magic finance career where I made a drastic change in strategy. It’s no surprise that my interest in the game has waned after selling out of so many cards last year. As I said before, however, this doesn’t indicate my complete departure from the hobby. Far from it.
Some Things Never Change
Despite the fact that I sold so many Old School and Reserved List cards, I still appreciate them for their nostalgia and collectability. For this reason, I’ll not be departing from the pastime for good. Rather, my personal rules of engagement are modified to maintain the right balance for my stage of life.
For example, I still have an Old School deck, which I hope to shuffle up once in a blue moon. Instead of filling it with Beta and Arabian Nights cards, however, I’m finding that a deck of wholly white-bordered Revised and Chronicles cards still plays just as effectively. After all, the cards literally do the same thing! Arabian Nights Erhanm Djinns are so much more expensive than their Chronicles reprint.
For collecting, I still have a smattering of cards I really appreciate for their artwork. In addition, I continue to scour ABUGames’ eBay listings for Beta rares in the hopes of snagging a cheap one or two. I have my eye on a heavily played Beta Disrupting Scepter—an auction that ends today.
If only it didn’t have the multiple creases, this would be a sweet deal.
Outside of the occasional Beta rare or nostalgic pickup, I really am prepared to step back from Magic for the next year or so. Of course, I’ll continue writing for this site, making observations about data and trends and sharing my endeavors related to all things collectible and finance. It’s safe to say, however, that the tone of my articles will be a little different… at least for the near future.
Wrapping It Up
Here we are. I’m staring at my computer with a near-zero desire to log into Arena to play Magic. I’m OK with this because I’ve been here before, numerous times.
As long as there is some component of the game that continues to glean my occasional attention, I suspect I’ll be sticking around for quite a while. In years past, despite a fading interest in the game, I still enjoyed the occasional game with old friends—that kept me involved. Later, after my kids were born, I still enjoyed the investment side of the game as I watched the value of Reserved List cards explode.
Today, my interest in the game rests on two factors. First, I still have a very nice display of sealed booster boxes on my shelf. Every time I go downstairs I see the impressive (to me) display and I wax nostalgic for the days when I cracked open packs for the sheer thrill of it. The Visions booster box is especially nice as it is a nod to the first expansion I ever opened.
Second, my son’s interest in the game remains an unpredictable wild card. In a way, we encourage (or discourage) each other’s interest in the game. As I go through a period of playing Arena and opening modern booster packs, my son will follow suit and we’ll enjoy the hobby together. Conversely, when I don’t log into Arena for a couple of months and focus my attention elsewhere, my son will step away as well (he’s really into Roblox right now).
These two variables will continue to change over time but should be sufficient in keeping me involved in the game, at least to some degree.
Last but not least, I still have this column, which I have no plans to abandon in the near future. For the past 11+ years I’ve always said, “As long as they pay me, I’ll continue to write.” I really love this role with Quiet Speculation, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I would not walk away from it so easily. If I had my way, I’d still be writing about Magic another 11 years from now, as my daughter starts applying for colleges. Every dollar made is going to be a huge help when my kids are starting down that route.
Even if my interest in the game fluctuates, writing for this site is one mainstay you can count on!