Following the signs

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to my blog. I hope you are all recovering from GP Las Vegas, and are getting adjusted back to your normal time zones if needed. I wish I could have attended as one of the things that I found appealing about large scale Magic: the Gathering tournaments was happening, and it wasn’t the format options. It was the number of artists available.

You may be asking yourself why, especially due to a lot of my posts being about the various decks I play. I have been wanting to talk about this for awhile now, and felt this was the perfect time to do so, but first we have to start at the beginning of a long road that eventually got us here.

I have only been collecting autographed cards for a short time, however this was not my first time trying to obtain autographs. One of my other passions beyond the game of Magic is baseball, and has been for about 30 years. My dad was the primary person who taught me about baseball, and through that baseball became our language. As I got older, started to watch NBC each Saturday regardless of which teams were playing on TV, and buying packs of baseball cards I developed a love for the game. He worked two full time jobs when I was young, and even though there were not a lot of traditional father-son times the decade of the 80’s is the one I cherish the most. When I hit my teenage years we started going to Cincinnati Reds games, and even if it was just one game a year it was always special as it was the Khans Baseball Card set day. Each kid would get the complete set (which was a special printing by Khans) for free just by attending. I even started collecting hats, which back then had the fishnet backs, and at one time in my youth had a hat for nearly all MLB teams. As I was going through Junior High he even found time to get autographs from players he would meet, and one day took myself & my sister to meet (then Reds Outfielder) Paul O’ Neil. He was my first MLB player I ever met, and even though I did not meet everyone I have autographs of they were all special because my dad got them for me.

So how does this fit with Magic? Well stay with me. I’ll explain.

As I got older, became a dad myself, and started to go to games myself I tried getting autographs from players at the ballpark if possible. More often than not my dad & I would wind up just waiting until the end of year Redsfest to try for autographs that way. What I found though through the years was a level of disdain, and lack of fun. There were fans who would get multiple autographs to sell to others, fans who would take someone else’s kid to get into a “kids only line”, and lines for season ticket holders only (which often times were the only way to get star players). Some stars also would not sign for anyone but kids possibly due to these issues too, and thus my interest in getting autographs faded.

My dad continued his passion when the Dayton Dragons came to town. We had a local professional team that is a minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, and since 2000 he has collected signatures from many who have played in Dayton then eventually make the majors (Joey Votto, Zach Cozart, and many others for example). My interest in autographs was sparked a little, but not a lot to pursue it yet.

I tried getting autographs on CDs of some of my favorite artists that I have seen live such as VNV Nation, and my friend Tom’s act Assemblage 23 for example, but shows did not happen often enough for me to truly get into this. My only other passion at that time was Magic: the Gathering which has become my primary hobby today.

While I started playing in 1993 (the year I graduated high school) I stopped around Odyssey. It wasn’t until my daughter wanted to learn how to play, which was the summer before Time Spiral, that interest in the game sparked again. At that point I heard about FNMs, and every Friday I could be found with my daughter playing Magic. While she got older, and moved away from the game I kept playing. It checked all of the boxes for me: strategy based game, collectible cards (like baseball cards in that respect), and sword & sorcery fantasy tropes. Through FNMs I met a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life, and played at various stores, but it wasn’t until 2014 when I went to my first GP.

GP Cincinnati was a lot of fun as it was during the time of Return To Ravnica through Theros block Standard. As many of you may know I loved that era as we had a true Azorius Draw-Go Control deck. Although I did not do well I was able to hang out with a few local players, and was introduced to artist signed Magic cards. My friend Warren is really the main one who showed me what he had been doing, but I was hesitant to get any cards signed. I attended a few GPs over the course of the next couple of years, with one of the most memorable ones being GP Cleveland in 2015. I went there mainly to hang out with friends, and play side events. However something happened about a year later that would finally set me on this path.

Christopher Rush passed away in 2016.

I walked by his booth at least 5 times at the Cleveland GP. I did not stop to say “hello”, or look at the merchandise, or let alone get cards signed. My reasons, or excuses, were several.

  • I did not know where to begin, nor what cards to get signed
  • I was still shy from my experience with baseball cards autographs
  • “What if I needed to sell my cards?” was a question that popped up often

The weekend after his passing I found a binder that had some Steve Prescott signed cards that might daughter & I had signed when we attended the Lorwyn pre-release in 2007. Then it hit me. I was not paying attention to things happening around me. I was selfish. I had been on a quest of “me, me, me. play to win” when playing Magic. Fortunately I grew out of that quickly, Sure to many it may not seem like a big deal that I did not get an autograph, or to have something as his passing trigger my interest – no my desire to have signed cards. However I failed to stop and appreciate his art, which was crucial to the beginnings of this game, and on top of that he was someone’s dad. At the very least I owed him that much. I felt a great sense of regret as I missed the boat on getting some of the most iconic cards, cards I enjoyed playing with, signed by those who made themselves available. All I had to do was pay attention.

With Magic artists there are no “season ticket holder only”, or “kids only” lines. While many may be upset if their card is signed, and then sold on eBay, for the most part in this community people get cards signed to collect or play with (or both). Many will also have a story about a piece of art they did for Wizards of the Coast, and others will also have their wife & kids with them at an event.  These are all very personable people, and they look forward to meeting us at each and every event. My desire to play the game was waning then, until I started meeting artists.

Through this pursuit I have met other people who are involved in the with more than just playing. These people have been content creators (whose videos I watch often), people who write for websites, and even cosplayers. It’s as if a part of the wold I never noticed before opened up before me, and I dove in head first.

After picking up a few cards on my own through purchases online I spoke with my friend Warren, who then directed me to some resources that I have used since to get cards signed through the mail. I have also attended a few events to meet artists in person to get cards signed. When taking this path though I had to make a decision. I could not get -everything- signed. So I decided to only get Legacy cards signed. I also had to set a budget as I wanted to play with the earliest printing of a card legal without sleeves (in many cases that’s Beta), but some cards I can not afford at the moment.

While I have had a few bumps in the road over the last 16 or so months, and have had to make adjustmentsI was able to focus on a few things at a time. I am fortunate that Legacy is a preferred format for many players as it tests ones skill at a very high level, and hearkens back to when I first started playing. One thing I have encountered though is that when sending cards out for signing I could be without them for several months at a time (especially with group signings where multiple artists are involved). Artists also sometimes have very small windows where they can accept mail for signing, and some artists also would like you to purchase items before signing cards (which is great as you can look for a gift for a friend).

So with that all said here are the projects I am working on at the moment in Legacy:

Azorius Stoneblade (aka: where I am post Sensei’s Divining Top banning)

UW Stoneblade 1
Unsigned on top.
UW Stoneblade 2
Wastelands & Karakas unsigned.
UW Stoneblade 3
Top row unsigned.

 

Punishing Jund

Legacy Jund 1
Dark Confidant through Terminate unsigned.
Legacy Jund 2
Top row unsigned.
Legacy Jund 3
Top row unsigned.

Burn

Legacy Burn 1
Top row unsigned.
Legacy Burn 2
I was so glad to get this part completed.
Legacy Burn 3
Top row unsigned.

 

Legacy Dredge

Legacy Dredge 1
Bottom row unsigned.
Legacy Dredge 2
There’s a Confluence of cards not signed here.
Legacy Dredge 3
2 cards to go, and the sideboard is signed.

As you can see there are several different styles of signatures, and some even used different colors. I always gave the artists the choice, and preference on how they wanted to sign, and when possible tried to send playsets so everything was signed in the same spot on the card. Some signatures are very elegant such as Sandra Everingham (Chain Lightning), and Margaret Organ-Kean (Lion’s Eye Diamond) while others are through the whole text box on the card. This uniqueness makes each one stand out, and reminds me a lot of the uniqueness of a baseball player’s signature. Some would be legible, and others made you wonder if they had a post playing career as a doctor.

If you have made it this far I thank you for taking the time to read through all of this. As I have been on this journey it was my mother who pointed out the similarities that my dad and I have with our passions. Although my game is different from his we still speak the same language: baseball.

Time is also very finite. No one knows what will happen next. Please take the time to say “thank you” to that person, or group of people, who have brought joy to your life. Say it to those who have inspired you. Take interest in what someone else is saying, or doing, and be appreciative of the time spent. It may not be there when you walk back into the game hall from the restroom. Or at the next GP you attend.

To dad I want to thank you, because without you and what you have taught me I would not be here. I love you, and Happy Father’s Day.

Until next time everyone…TAP MORE MANA!!!

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