JOPLIN, Mo. —
I will always be a card flopper at heart.
Back in the '90s, gamers were divided into two groups: Dice chuckers and card floppers. The dice chuckers stuck to role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, with complicated character sheets and largely long, unproductive gaming sessions.
For about five years in the '90s, I was a religious, rabid player of Magic: The Gathering -- a card flopper. I loved the game's fantasy themes but appreciated its fast action, out-of-the-box play and intricate strategy. I had a pretty large collection of cards, from massive, bulky sets of common cards to prized-possession rarities with collectible black borders.
I spent a lot of time playing the game in various ways: by myself through experimenting with different deck ideas and card combinations, and with others in tournaments, leagues and simple Saturday-night sessions.
In fact, the best thing that ever happened to me happened because of Magic. I used to replenish my collection at a comic book store in Springfield, where the redhead behind the Magic counter looked at my cards and reviewed trading and resale options.
That redhead is now known as The Lovely Paula Hadsall. She wasn't a Hadsall back then, but she was still lovely, and that was the first of many times life would nudge us together. We didn't get married until five years ago, but I'm so glad we finally figured out that we really should stick together.
When I stop to think about it, I realize that this game, which has grown each year since I stopped playing, has taught me much about life. I don't have any cards now, but I do have these gifts, which are well-played:
How to appreciate visual and graphic art. Almost half of each card is dedicated to a fanciful work of some sort. I really didn't care about art until Magic -- I quickly developed some favorite artists and looked forward to seeing their work in future expansions.
How to appreciate well-placed literary references. The first editions of Magic featured flavor text from works such as "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Coleridge and "Watership Down" by Richard Adams. The pairing awoke an interest to rediscover some great fiction.
Cheapskates are always happier with their purchases. Many of my Magic friends bought booster packs in alarming quantities, hoping to get several rare power cards.
I never did that. I bought smaller bunches in more regular intervals. Every once in a while, I'd hit pay dirt and get a rare card I really wanted. But most of the time, I got stuff that I knew I'd never use.
But because I played with many others, I knew someone would want them. That gave me the opportunity to put into practice the words of a master...
Dale Carnegie was right about helping people get what they want. If people get what they want, then I get what I want, and we both walk away happy. There is nothing as bonding as a good trade, and nothing as souring as a bad trade.
Among my circles, I got the reputation of being Santa Claus, because when trading, I'd remember what cards other players wanted, trade for those cards, then take that new treasure to trade with the person who really wanted it. All the while my collection grew slowly and steadily, without having to spend big bucks on more boosters.
I learned how to play poker better. I didn't pick up Texas Hold 'em until years after I played Magic. But I applied plenty to my poker game, including how to read people, change strategies and mask my own hand. I'm no card shark, but at least I'm hard to knock out.
Losing a well-played game is better than winning a terrible game. In other words, Magic really taught me the value of enjoying a game for what it is.
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I will always be a card flopper at heart.
Green meanie: Seuss' famous fink adapted into dance by Midwest Regional Ballet
Dancers in the Midwest Regional Ballet Company may come from Neosho, Carl Junction, Carthage, Pittsburg, Kan., and other Four States cities, but next weekend they'll all be residents of Whoville.
New levels of classic Chirismas story revealed
Kylie Kimbley was very specific before accepting the role of Della Young in a production of "The Gift of the Magi": She wouldn't accept the role if she had to cut her hair.
Exhibit to feature photos of graffiti in major cities
For local artist Linda Teeter, creating her images of urban graffiti was about experiencing and capturing a different culture.
Children's Christmas play features fairy-tale siblings
Two German children from fairy tales get lost again in a Christmas play for children.
Dave Woods: 'Camp Calamity' spurs autograph pursuit
A little elf -- Bob Wolfe from Bob's Always Buying Books -- uncovered a treasure few but me would love. He discovered a rag-tag copy of "Janet Lennon at Camp Calamity" at his store.
Benji Tunnell: 'Frozen' helps Disney recapture a bit of its lost magic
This is a very refreshing change from weaker Disney offerings such as "Chicken Little" and "Meet the Robinsons," and a sign that the studio is finally learning how to properly meld its storied past with its Pixar-driven present.
Jeremiah Tucker: Country heavyweights help 'Duck Dynasty' sound clean
Released by Universal Music Group, the music on "Duck the Halls" sounds like any other handsomely produced country product churned out by the Nashville machine. For such a legendarily ungroomed family, not a hair is out of place here
Joe Hadsall: Tipping made awkward by tablet computers
I'm sure tablet computers are great for a lot of things, but I do not like how they are messing up tipping.
Unique Christmas story features familiar situations
New Christmas stories don't come along very often. When Mark Sponaugle discovered a Christmas play he had never seen, he was instantly drawn to it.
Jeremiah Tucker: Vacationing vegan Grimes has great advice for holidays
I thought of Thanksgiving last week, actually, when the mostly Internet-famous pop star and Earth-friendly vegan Grimes stirred-up a maelstrom of unholy terror by posting a photo of herself eating the new flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream "Scotchy Scotch Scotch" along with the comment "1 day hiatus from veganism is being had starting NOW."
- More Enjoy Headlines
- Green meanie: Seuss' famous fink adapted into dance by Midwest Regional Ballet