I’ll Never Let Go, Jack – Saying Goodbye to a Format

Frozen Solid
A Titanic reference, always relevant

Half of you reading the title and seeing the card to the right has a terrible song stuck in their head and for that I really, really apologize. But what bothered me from this movie is that while he was being a gentlemen and letting her stay “dry,” body heat helps both of them keep warm and it would’ve helped them both to be on the door together. I guess I’m still just upset that my mom ruined the movie when I told her I was going to see it. “And the end, the boat sinks,” she said. Oh, Spoiler alert. Sorry.

What I’m talking about today is something that at sometime or another we have experienced at one time or another: people stop playing what you like to play. Some of you used to play the old Decipher Star Wars TCG (or even WotC’s version), or Lord of the Rings, or Heroclix; those games have died out, but if your friends have the cards/clix, you can still play them. What I’m talking about is a little different as it deals strictly with Magic.

Since I’m starting my new EDH blog (I Got 99 Problems But a General Ain’t One) next week, I looked at my EDH decks to give me ideas what I could talk about. While going through my cards, I found my 150 Highlander deck. It was a deck that I used to carry around with me everywhere I went, people were playing 150 at pre-releases, and I was trying to get players at my store to play it. Heck, I even wrote an article on MTGSalvation on the format (you think I use alot of links now?). Problem was, I hadn’t used that deck in over a year. I kept getting cool foils for it, but there was no one around playing 150 Highlander. After I started playing EDH, it seemed like most people wanted to play that instead.

So, what happened? Honestly, nothing. And that’s the problem.

Back before EDH became all the rage, 150 Highlander was the format that people played in Seattle and the surrounding area as an offbeat format to relax and have fun. As time went on, EDH became more popular and started to suck the players from 150 and convert them over. Eventually, I was taken too and stop carrying around my 150 deck. New players weren’t introduced because I wasn’t talking about it and the format died. Comparing EDH to 150 is like comparing Incinerate to Lightning Bolt: even though they’re both fine, something is just better. It’s natural that 150 gets faded out.

I don’t know if it’s looking at my deck, foiled and artist signed that most people do with their EDH decks that made me think this way, but I don’t know if I want to tear my 150 deck apart. I mean, I could play it one day, right? It’s fun multiplayer, kinda, except when I get my Recurring Nightmare/Eternal Witness combo going. Or Tinker second turn for an Inkwell Levitation. The astute ones will notice that both of those cards are banned in EDH but, come on, the rules haven’t been updated since 2006. There is a reason those cards are banned in EDH.

But it’s the nostalgia that keeps me wanting to keep the deck together. It was one of my first decks that I put together that wasn’t just  a Type 2, or Extended deck that was going to get torn apart after a few tournaments; it was a deck I was known for. When younger players wanted to play me, regulars would smile as I shuffled up my 150 deck as the kids couldn’t believe that I played with that many cards. They saw cards that were printed before they learned how to read, and were wowed with what I could do with it.

Like Rose holding on to a frozen Jack (Ah, here’s the metaphor everyone was looking for), clearly the format around me was dying and I was the only one holding on to it. A Conflux and Rupture Spire were the last cards I put in the deck (save for the Taiga I traded for to complete a set of ten original duels); both of those were from a set from more than a year ago. The trouble seems that it would be such a waste to have the cards sitting there in sleeves and never play it, right?

(Cracks fingers) Alright, it's coding time...

Some of you are saying, “Well, go do Magic Online where they’ve got tons of wacky formats and you can find people to play them.” Great answer! Let me just scan my cards in and see if I can get the MODO interface to accept it. Silly, right? Believe it nor not, some of us still play with physical cards with people we sit across the table from. So asking to move this to MODO is going to be the same answer: I will still stop playing with these cards.

Some of these other off-beat formats have been popular at first, but have now died down. 5 Color is a format that I really only see Abe Sargent on SCG talk about (and even he complained about getting new blood (what I talked about above) and changed the format just recently). There are different formats that you can create with your close playgroup such as these twitterers did:

We tried to create ‘Kingdom’, a format where five basic lands start in play for each player and if you lose all lands you lose. – @RobJelf

I and two others play with Legacy-legal, 250-card, five-color highlander decks in which all creatures share a creature type. – @nespron

Playing a format with a group of friends is a great idea and I highly encourage it. It’s much different to do a deck for a widely played format that everyone used to play and finally see it get thrown to the sideline for the newest craze. Older players, like myself, have decks that we’ve kept for a while. Most of the time, the decks are the usual size and don’t fit strange requirements. If you don’t have a regular playgroup who don’t do such different formats all the time, trying to find someone that plays that format is kind of like going online and wondering if anyone wants to communicate by Morse Code, it just doesn’t fit. Even if you play pauper magic, you can still play against other decks (though, might not work as well).

I’ve been trying to hold on tight to something that’s going to sink to the bottom of the sea. Investing all this time, money and effort into something that I really can’t play is what makes this decision hard. The deck I built is not for a collection, it’s there to play. So watching the format go to pieces and looking at my options, I believe got three I can choose from:

1. Try and get more people to play. Recruit like mad. Explain that while EDH is fun, 150 is fun as well.

2. Keep my deck together and maybe on the off chance run into someone who also plays 150.

3. Take my deck apart, use the cards in EDH, and cry myself to sleep.

I’ve been wrestling with this decision for the past couple of weeks I think I’ve made it, as some of you might have guessed while reading this. Seeing the format go away, I’m looking at this like another step in life: learning to accept change makes you a better person. The loss of playing 150 Highlander hasn’t be emotional on me, but the final step of it is taking apart my deck, and looking to salvage it for parts. It’s this final step I must do that I know that it’s really over. The first time I draw one of my old 150 cards in an EDH game, will a tear come to my eye? I just don’t know.

This deck has been like a first love: you remember the good times you had together, learning things about each other, then your heart breaks, and there will be reminders of her everywhere you look for a while. In time, you’ll forget that she exists and you’ll be a better person. “But, Robby,” some of you are saying, “Can’t you just build a new one if you find people to play with?” That’s like running into her at your class reunion saying it would be nice to keep in touch, reminiscing about old times, but you never really do; it’s just not the same. Eventually, you’ll take that one thing she gave you right before you broke up and drop it in the ocean.

Now if you excuse me, I think I hear a recorder in the background.


4 thoughts on “I’ll Never Let Go, Jack – Saying Goodbye to a Format”

  1. Personally, I think you should just choose 50 cards to eliminate from the deck and find an appropriate general for EDH and make it a new EDH deck. Sure, it won’t be the same, but at least you don’t have to disassemble it.

    To use a metaphor, it will be like meeting a childhood friend again but finding out they’re much nicer and fun to be around than you remember. Sometimes change is good, ya know?

  2. The format’s moved on, and so shall you. Look at it this way. When you draft a set for the first time, its fantastic, and you develop “favorite” cards, but then its time to draft the next block.

    You’ll invariably play some of the cards in like, Extended, or EDH, or any other format, and fondly remember kicking ass with it in draft back in the day.

    When you draw one of these old favorites in EDH, you’ll remember the times fondly, all the while making new memories with it in EDH.

  3. 150 Highlander? Hmm…. Sounds interesting. Before I played Magic, I used to play yu-ig-oh. The main reason I switched over was they way people acted at Tournys, but once I switch to Magic the game made so much more sense. I love how they’re so many different formats, so your not stuck with just one way to play the game. I always thought it would be funny if mtg made a L5R format, where you’d use 2 decks. Don’t know how it would work though…

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