In 2018 Arena was in beta, Dominaria was set to release soon, I was living in Greensboro NC, and I had not played the game since 2009.
In 2000 I bought a starter deck, a green-white precon from Prophecy, a widely derided set. I didn’t know that: I was just coming off Pokemon cards and chasing a similar high. Magic looked rad as hell. It still looks rad as hell. I put a ten dollar bill on the checkout counter of Media Play in Toledo Ohio and walked out, unknowingly changed.
I played at Interlochen Arts Camp in Traverse City Michigan, 2001. I placed second in a tournament, and won another preconstructed deck, this time the blue green one from Invasion. The game made a little home inside me.
In high school I went to my first prerelease, Coldsnap. I got a DCI number. I still have that card somewhere. I played during high school so much and so often that I taught other people how to play, I built decks that resulted in house rule bans of cards, I became A Magic: the Gathering Player. I fell deeply, madly in love with the game.
In college I attempted to get people into it, but the group never coalesced. After a M10 draft, I put the game away for a while, checking in sporadically. I never turned away from it, but it wasn’t something I could afford, in every sense of the word.
In 2018 I heard there was going to be a new set in the game’s first setting, Dominaria. Teferi, Jaya Ballard, Benalia, all of it was coming back. Dominaria, the world that survived a war of brothers, an ice age, an invasion, a false god, the fabric of reality shredding itself. Apocalypse after apocalypse, and Dominaria was still here. Not just surviving but thriving.
I told myself I’d check that out, that maybe it would be nice to get into Magic again. To have something like that in my life.
one night that year I came home in a terrible state, roiling with dysphoria and self-hatred and wanting to be anything and anywhere other than I was. I turned on YouTube. It recommended me a video of Nationals that year. Justin Andrus was playing a blue-white-black deck. That had always been my favorite style of play, patient and controlled. The deck was labeled on screen as “Esper Control.” I used to play Esper Control.
“That’s my name,” I whispered to nobody, without even realizing I had said anything. “I don’t ever want to be called Greg ever again. My name is Esper.”
EsperControl#31574 is my Arena account. please, add me! i’d love to counter your spells.