Letter from a Magic: the Gathering Fan

I received this letter today from a 24 year old man in Brazil who is, apparently, a fan of mine. I don’t often get fan mail, so I thought I’d reproduce it here. Note that it is hand written in cursive, and I can’t quite decipher a few words. I also think that English may not be Pedro’s native language, so there are a few grammatical errors, but what the hey. How many fan letters to do you get?

Hello Mr. Preston Poulter,

My name is Pedro. I’m 24 and a big fan of the Magic: the Gathering card game. I enjoy this game so much as I enjoy legendary players like you, man. I don’t know if it’s your correct address. I’ve been trying to find duelist’s addresses I admire to write to them (like you) but it’s so hard to find. The only 1 I found (I guess) is yours.

All of you contributed to build my love for this game and have a happier life playing it with friends and family. I used to build my own personal decks, but I used to copy the strongest duelists decks to make me feel more powerful. With movies and rock-n-roll, Magic is the one thing that’s part of my life and people like you make us, our fans, see you as idols and people that transform the game in serious ways. So I’d like to congratulate you, first because I love your 1996 deck, and, second, because I write to everyone that takes part and contributes for the expansion of this lifestyle everyday, since my brother, the players that are more close to me, until Mr. Richard Garfield, that answered to me twice (always kindly).

And, as a great appreciator of this funny game, I’d wanna ask you something: could you please sign these 06 cards and give them back to me?? I’ve included $3 for it. Because of the work (I’m a safety technician) and the family (I got married in Oct. 2009) I don’t have much time to play now, but when I can, I do it. So, because of it I review my Magic collection of signed cards, a practice that makes me happy to get exclusive cards and, more than this, bring to you, artists of this game, my admiration and attention to thank you for all you do for your fans.

When you can/ have time/ want to answer, my address is: REDACTED

Thanks again, now for opening my letter and reading it. Now my goal is almost finished, only waiting for your answer when you wish.

All the best from your Brazilian fan,

It’s always weird getting these letters from the past. They’re addressed to me, but really, the person they’re written to doesn’t exist any more. He was a 22 year old Graduate Student in Chemistry who’s only real love seemed to be hanging out with his friends (none of whom I talk to anymore) and playing Magic: the Gathering. Still, it always makes me smile to get them and to think back on that time. My life is a lot happier now. Fame is a strange thing and I’ve always considered myself lucky to have found that out by having it in so limited a capacity.

My Letter to Mike Long

Once, I was a Magic: the Gathering player, who had made the Pro Tour. The nature of the professional level of M: tG players forces players to make alliances with other players because you need to share information with each other on what strategies and decks best work in a given set. Obviously, you need to be selective in whom your sharing this information with, because if you’re not getting as good as you’re giving then you’re there’s a degree of inequity in the relationship. As such, these other players become close associations and friends that you wonder what became of them long after your game involvement has ended.

For me, Mike Long was one such person. He was a very controversial figure on the Pro Tour, and had attained a level of infamy for both his skill as well as his outlandish behavior at the tables. That, and he was caught cheating a few times. He was one of M: tG’s many “bad boys,” but I always enjoyed working with him.
I recently got back in touch with him again, and proof read a copy of a new book her wrote. A political discussion ensued, whereby I learned that Mike Long was now a huge devotee of Rush Limbaugh’s. I, of course, unsuccessfully tried to talk him down from the heights of political extremism.

Here is an email I wrote to him that I thought I would share with the class: Continue reading My Letter to Mike Long

Tournament Report: Austin Qualifier, 2009

The two playgroups in Texas that I have any experience with are the Dallas and Austin playgroup. At one point, when I first started playing in North Texas around 2005, both playgroups were of comparable size. Unfortunately, last year, the turnout and enthusiasm for the Austin playgroup began to wane. Come this year, it seemed that the entire playgroup had fallen off the face of the Earth. When asked who was going to be attending the Dallas Qualifier for North American Championship, Ethan, one of the players there, texted us, “Austin VTES is dead.”

That was unfortunate. VTES, like any collectible card game, isn’t much fun if there’s not a community to play with. With the failure of the Austin playgroup, Dallas stood as the only regularly operating playgroup in Texas that I knew of. Worse still, the Lafayette, Lousiana playgroup seemed to be following a similar fate. It’s understandable that CCG playgroups die, and quite frankly amazing that a game such as Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, which was originally published under the name Jyhad in 1994, is till being played at all. The vast majority of CCGs that came out after Magic: the Gathering have merely been splashes in the pan that died out shortly after introduction. I remember playing the CCG Netrunner, which was the third game published by Wizards of the Coast under the monicker “Deckmaster” and enjoying it a good deal, only to see if soon fade from play altogether.

Let’s face it. If Wizards of the Coast can’t get a CCG off the ground, it just doesn’t bode well for the viability of the genre. That’s not to say certain games don’t find an audience, they do. But the key seems to a small publisher finding, nurturing, and responding to the needs of a small market. In our case, the small market of VTES players seemed to be getting smaller by the month.

It’s can be discouraging to watch the player base decline. You start to wonder when you should just get out of the game altogether or find a new hobby. Of course, we in Dallas have also had some victories in attracting new players. So it’s not all doom and gloom. Still, I didn’t like seeing the Austin playgroup fall off the map.

Continue reading Tournament Report: Austin Qualifier, 2009

Dollar Falls Sharply as Gold Approaches It’s All Time High… Again

Vampire: the Eternal Struggle
As my personal friends know, I’m a gamer geek. My collectible card game (CCG) of choice is Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (VTES). It’s Richard Garfield’s (the designer of Magic: the Gathering) second CCG and he designed it for multiple players. It’s a game I enjoy playing competitively.

Every year, White Wolf (the company that publishes VTES has a North American Championship. In order to play in this tournament, you first have to do well in a qualifier tournament which every region has. This weekend, Los Angeles had its qualifier tournament and I enjoyed playing in it (I didn’t qualify). Since VTES has a small but loyal player base compared to other CCGs, you get to know everyone pretty well who competes on a national level. We’ve become a pretty close knit group despite the fact that we all live in different regions; our willingness to travel and our love of the game brings us together.

Well known members of this tight-knit circle include Ben Peal, and a married couple, Robin and David Tatu. They have all purchased my book and found it a good read. Both of the Tatu’s were at the tournament this weekend, and I commented to them that my investments were up some 50% over the last six months. They recommended that I sell my gold investments before they crashed. Now, I found it a bit peculiar that two people who told me that they learned a great deal about how the economy works from the book that I wrote would then tell me to sell gold.

It does make sense in a human nature kind of way. The knee jerk response I’ve gotten when I tell people how much money I’ve made off of my gold investments is “Sell!” It’s a bit of conventional wisdom that has its roots in reality. After all, trees don’t grow to the sky and what goes up must come down. If something’s up 50%, then it must be time to sell it.

Well, yes and no. Continue reading Dollar Falls Sharply as Gold Approaches It’s All Time High… Again