I pretty much stopped collecting cards when Mirage and Ice Age were the two big sets. While the cards had fewer rules, they were all about the shit ruining. Let's face it, the primary goal of MtG is to ruin shit. Now the shit ruining has more variety, and more rules. The goal hasn't changed, and never will.
Last night was interesting because it was the first time I had ever participated in a draft. The experience was a positive one, and the drafting process is something that I can get engrossed in very easily and treat as the first game in the overall meta game of draft play. The three parts to this game would be draft, deck and sideboard creation, and play. Drafting is something that always interests me, in just about any possible type of draft scenario. The strategy of the counter-pick early on is something I believe in strongly, if given the opportunity. Sometimes this ends up being a formative experience and you draft your team/character make-up/deck around those early picks. You then have the choice of thematic picking or strong picking. You can also "draft bait" by leaving certain elements on the table and then either scoop them up or entice others to take them.
Part of the drafting excitement in MtG is that first pick when you open a pack. It's a moment of excitement, and you get to make an informed decision before anyone else. Each pack that opens grants this moment of suppressed excitement, though later packs are less exciting than the first, because your deck has begun to coalesce. Later picks become arguably more valuable, and you have begun to take note of what other decks might be forming by when cards are taken. This is somewhat guess work in seeing who took what, but it's much like a game of memory to see when cards are taken. If it's not clear, I treat this like a puzzle without a unified solution, and delight in the experience, even if my building and play aren't up to snuff.
I was lucky to open a deck that had this dude:
|From Standing in Fire|
Holy crap. I didn't know what any of that junk meant, but I was clear about two things:
1) Cards that look visibly different in MtG are better than cards that have a normal design. This has always been the case.
2) It had a red symbol, signifying Ultra Rare.
Planeswalkers are, as far as I can tell, from the Plane of Shit Ruining. They exist to be bullshit. Had the text on the first ability been clear, I would have begun the process of fecal destruction the next round. However, due to Text Parsing Errors, something now rife in MtG, this was not the case. The word next is confusing and exists only in case a card prevents your normal end phase. This lead to my moment of confusion driven embarrassing anger. This happens when I think I understand something and it turns out to not be the case because of some error and it makes me look foolish. I get a flash of anger directed at no one but myself, followed by embarrassment because I got angry. So the Venser, the Shit Ruiner died because of an error that turned out I was correct about, but there was really no way to tell. Oh well. That's the biggest issue with MtG, there are HUNDREDS of clarifications about the text. While the text is normally pretty clear, interactions are just not. This is a finicky barrier to play, not really to entry. Still, live and learn.
The next example of Redder is Better comes in the form of this swell fellow:
|From Standing in Fire|
Now, his cost is very, very excessive. However, we were playing a multi-player game, so the build was slower. Please note his red symbol. Now couple that with a -1 loyalty cost to make him unblockable. Yup, look at that, shit is ruined. The power level of red is just an order of magnitude higher. It's silly. Of course, some common cards are unbalanced in multi-play as well. I am fairly certain gaining 20 life off of a 2 casting cost card is unintended, but them's the breaks.
The other big path to defecation destruction is Infect. Infect negates regeneration, adds poison counters to make the game twice as short for you, and exists to make proliferate crazy awesome. This is working as intended and is awful. That being said, once you cope with it, it's neat. Then again, all of these counters everywhere are pretty bad. It's 4e higher tier debuff/buff/status tracking. There are counters and conditions everywhere. We had a lot of dice for visual tracking so it wasn't that bad, it was just...voluminous.
It has been hard to get back into the mindset of being a Magic player, but the experience has mostly been fun. I look forward to learning more of the rules and embarrassing myself less often. Seeing people's decks work as intended would be a lot of fun, too. I just need to get used to having my shit ruined as an acceptable way to have fun. I just need to remember that kobolds are too good to block.