Friday, February 26, 2010

How it was opening a Starter Box

"How did it feel?" The younger players might ask.

Sometimes I read posts from people warmly remembering the days of yore, when they were popping out Black Lotuses and Dual Lands every time they opened a pack.

Well, I remember perhaps a little more clearly, and I can tell you things were much worse then than they are now. First off, I started opening magic packs when Revised was out. Legends packs were like 10 bucks each, and I don't think I ever saw a Beta pack.

And despite what I hear from plenty of other folks, and despite the prices I see on Ebay, I am confident in my knowledge that Revised was 95% garbage.

Which means Beta was about 90% total rubbish.

Heresy, you say?

Well you've probably already seen the video if you are on The Starkington Post at all.

But here, on Youtube, in a rare moment is the infamous "Card Wizard" digging into a Beta Starter Box.

He does the appropriate oohs and aahs over a Beta Fork and Beta Regrowth, but if you had been opening those in 1996…you would have been doing the "aw, nuts" dance.

Let's go over a few things regarding the particularly disappointing nature of the Beta (and Revised in my case) printing layout.

1. This was back when Wizards was trying to disguise the rarity of cards. Edwards notes this when he finds a couple a land thrown into the uncommon slots. Yes, that's right you could get lands instead of uncommons and even RARES in the original packs.

2. Rares, uncommons and commons did not display the tightly wound cohesiveness of today's modern sets. In the video, Edwards opens a couple of cards I am quite familiar with from my Revised pack opening days. Darkpact, which is an "ante" related card you might as well throw in the garbage and Deathlace, which is another card you might as well put in the spokes of your bike on your next trip down to Quik Trip for a slushie. These were the awesome Rares you had to look forward to opening again and again.

3. A Fork is pretty good, and really should have been a "score" for anyone opening a Core Set starter in the late 90's. But to be honest, back then we weren't looking for Forks. We were looking for Shivan Dragons. And this pack didn't have any. If you were a supremely cognizant magic player and wanted the Lotus, in this case you would have had a 1-in-60 chance…so over $400 (in 1996) worth of packs…to get 1 of the fabled card.

So there you go, a look inside a starter pack. And note that while Edwards is amazed that this deck he is opening originally retailed for 7 dollars, keep in mind that some kid was probably at one point sorely disappointed he spent 7 dollars on another Deathlace plus a bunch of cards he already has.

There is a visceral joy to opening random packs of cards. But most of the time you really want to open packs of singles you purchased off Ebay. It is a different sort of satisfaction that kid in 1996 would have loved to experience.

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