Today I'd like to say happy 50th birthday to the man that made my teenage years so thoroughly enjoyable. Richard Garfield is the man behind the combat collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, and it would not be remiss to say I was completely obsessed with it.
The direct descendant of President James A. Garfield got into Dungeons & Dragons at a young age. He'd already designed his first game himself by the age of 13. While still a mathematical grad student at University of Pennsylvania, he tried shopping around a game called RoboRally. What he ended up doing was crafting a fast-paced, minimal equipment card game aimed at tournament convention play at the personal bequest of Wizard of the Coast's Peter Adkison.
The rest is history. Magic: The Gathering remains an incredibly popular game, not to mention a really excellent set of spin-off books that brings their expansive stories to life. I haven't played much since the Ravnica set due to a combination of low funds and no time, but I check in on the happenings every now and again just to see what's there when I eventually head back. Thanks for the good time, Mr. Garfield. This playlist is for you.
Torches of Fury, "Three Black Mana": Back in before James Love got drafted to Dillinger's Escape Plan and later formed Golden Axe, he and Warren Hatfield, along with drummer Beau Beasley, formed the short-lived but excellent Torches of Fury right here in Houston. Their six song EP was one of the highlights of 2006, and contained "Three Black Mana." Love was an avid player of the game, and titled the song after the yield from the card Dark Ritual, which as a long time black deck player I can tell you is an essential card.
Zombie Cat Productions, "Magic: The Gathering the Musical": Last year the people at Zombie Cat Productions managed to raise almost $7,000 on Kickstarter to make a musical fan film of the game. Oh, and it has puppets, too, because why the hell not. This trailer hit the web last September, and the film debuted at the Atlanta Film Festival in March.
Tha Gatherin, "Jace the Mind Sculptor": Nerdcore is such an awesome thing simply that it exists, and few do it better than Tha Gatherin'. As you probably guess they do plenty of MtG-themed songs. This one is a tribute to the Planeswalker card Jace the Mind Sculptor. The card is widely considered to be the best Planeswalker card ever, and Tha Gathering makes no bones about calling it better than all.
Delain, "The Gathering": Now, I don't know for absolute sure that "The Gathering" is about the card game, though there's plenty of speculation by fans that it is. For example the lyrics read
My cards, the ones to choose from
The role they play tonight
Which ones embrace the loved ones?
Which ones will summon for a fight
But even if Delain's song has absolutely nothing to do with MtG at all I promise that the next time I play a game winning card I will definitely stand up and sing this unbelievably awesome tune at the top of my lungs.
Theo Dehaney-Steven, "Enchantress": Let's go out on a lighthearted note. Dehaney-Steven has this soft, acoustic bit of brilliance about falling in love over a game of MtG. I myself married a gamer, and can totally see throwing a game in order to make some small talk with a comely tablemate. Not really, though, my wife is pretty damned good. I probably would have lost anyway.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.