Friday, 11 April 2014

Camp Krusty

I have been away for a while supervising a Year 7 camp for work. It got me thinking about the gaming I used to do while I was on school camps. This particular camp reminded me a lot of the infamous “Camp Krusty” when I was in Year 10. Ironically, we didn’t play many games that year, just shot a lot of arrows and sang "The Lumberjack Song". Our Year 8 camp was something else entirely; let me paint a picture for you. Late the year before, we had all started playing Magic the Gathering...

It all began in at the Chapman’s residence in Tahmoor, just a couple of mates mucking about with a big brother's starter deck (I think it was 2nd or 3rd Edition). We split the deck in half and played the game out. I don’t think we even checked that both decks had lands in them! I was captivated by the artwork and the simple and satisfying way in which it captured Fantasy combat in a card game format. I asked my parents if I could start getting some pocket money specifically so that I could get a starter deck. It took me 2 weeks to save up for it and I went to the local tobacco shop to buy a pack. Don’t ask me what the link between Tobacco and MtG is, I still don’t have a clue (...but I need more...MOAR!).
I still remember my first deck quite vividly. My two rare cards were Demonic Hordes and Demonic Attorney, which should have steered me towards collecting black, but it never really did.
Fast forward a few months and we were on this long bus trip to camp woop woop. I started swapping away my deck for green and red cards, with a focus on dealing direct damage in any way that I could. It was all about lightning bolts and thorn thallids. After a quick pit stop in which I got to test out my new deck, I went even further and culled the deck down to mono-red. As far as I know this was the first time anyone in our group had tried to create such a deck. I swapped away a lot of good cards to get the common red cards that I wanted in the right quantity, then unleashed hell. Here is a little snapshot of what it amounted to (think fireballs, disintegrates and earthquakes as well):
This is the closest I think I have ever gotten to “power gaming” in any game, ever. The deck was horrendously powerful and was very quickly identified by my friends as being crap to play against. After a few weeks everyone had moved towards building more potent decks, each with powerful combinations and foils for other people’s tricks. My deck was still very dangerous and demoralising to play against. I think only one deck could stand against it (on average anyway), which was a mono-blue deck that could destroy my spells before they could do the damage. After retiring that deck I swung the other way completely and focused on themes, such as the famous “Minotaur” deck. It still packed some direct damage potential, but generally focused on getting as many cows in the air as possible (flying, fire breathing cows, to be exact!).
Many an afternoon was spent in the local library waiting for a lift home playing MtG. Many games were played on the concrete at school or in front of the fire in Tahmoor. Early on I played quite a bit of ante with friends during the Christmas break, which we found pretty hardcore. I won quite a few special cards which I gave away when I got back to school (I remember winning a Shyft and a Hand of Justice to replace someone’s stolen cards; damn you to Hades forever Milroy). The mechanics of the game were pretty simple back then, it was all about trample and regeneration, firebreathing and banding. Drudgees and Uncle Istvan, Kird Apes and Personal Incarnations. Things have obviously changed a lot since then, but I still enjoy getting out the old Minotaur deck every now and then. Man, now I want to play some cards! Maybe I can rope some people into it sometime soon…stay posted. In the meantime, here are some combos from back in the day. Some people reading may even recognise who owned them!

See you across the table,


...and here's a cryptic one for my old high school buddies: