Usually I don’t think or care much about such things, but today it occurred to me that Ancestral Recall is my favorite card of all time. When I was a kid I had a much larger collection than I do today and it was quite substantial considering my limited means at the time. I never owned the entire Power Nine, I just had two pieces that I had traded for. I never had the opportunity to own an Ancestral then, and even though I have more money as an adult it is still out of reach.
The thing that caused me to think about the prospect of owning (or having to proxy) an Ancestral Recall was that the “Ancestral Fish” play mat from MTGGoldfish was created and released for public consumption.
I was the first person to get this play mat. For Christmas I got a gift package from the website that contained this play mat along with a bunch of awesome MTGGoldfish swag. It was by far the best gift I got for Christmas and I loved it. It was actually quite touching as it made me realize how perfect the image was for me.
Ancestral Recall was always the card I coveted most, and I was never able to get one. The Time Walk and Library of Alexandria I owned were the favorites out of what I actually had obtained, but I was always sad I was never able to find anyone to trade me a Recall. The Type 1 cards that I did own were sold along with the rest of my collection when I quit playing Magic during the Mercadian Masques era.
Rekindling the Dream
When I started playing Magic again in 2013 one of the things I that excited me was the prospect of Vintage Masters. I had started with paper Magic and a bad Standard deck, but I was gravitating towards MTGO due to having a busy family life. When I saw announcements that said the Vintage format and its associated card pool would soon be added to Magic Online I was ecstatic. “Finally!”, I thought… I would finally be able to participate in a format that I’d been interested in since I was a young high school kid. .
My excitement about playing Vintage on Magic Online was soon crushed by the spoiler articles for Vintage Masters. It was announced that the Power Nine would be placed in packs at a rarity above Mythic Rare. The Magic Online finance community guessed at an opening price for power in the hundreds of dollars. Black Lotus was thought to be approximately a 300 dollar card, give or take a little bit. I know that $300 isn’t a lot to some people, and it’s surely a ton less than the price of a paper Lotus, but for me at that time the cost was just too much. I knew I wouldn’t have the time or money to grind enough drafts or constructed events to pay for a set of Power either, so I simply decided that I’d stop thinking about trying to play Vintage.
Eventually I started writing articles for a website that paid me in store credit for Magic Online cards. I became a regular contributor and built up my portfolio of published works. I began playing only non-rotating formats and drafts, and I had a decent win rate. Between writing credits and winnings, I slowly amassed a sizable collection of Magic Online decks.
When I smelled a Birthing Pod ban coming in Modern I decided to sell out of that format (right before my Pod deck became worthless!) and move into Legacy only. I loved Legacy for the power level and nostalgic experience the card pool offered. Still, as much as I loved Legacy I also remained interested in Vintage.
I used to listen to a ton of podcasts. I often burned through a lot of shows quickly and I’d go searching for something new to listen to. During this discovery process I came upon the “So Many Insane Plays” podcast and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t know a lot about Vintage at the time, but I was amazed at how the hosts spoke about the format. It was as if they were discussing Chess or some other strategic game. The depth of strategy in Vintage was what I was looking for, and I made up my mind that I’d try to break into the format.
Luckily for me (and unluckily for those already playing the format) Vintage was in a major lull on MTGO at the time I was deciding to get involved in the format. The Power Nine was at a then all-time low and the most expensive piece of Power (Black Lotus) was only about $120 (down from the approximately $300 price tag it had initially). Once I noticed how cheap the Power was I picked a janky five color Storm deck to build and I traded away the core of an unwanted Legacy deck to get the cards I wanted. I only had to put in around $20 of my own money to get my first Vintage deck online.
I was excited to be playing Vintage for the first time, but I was honestly pretty terrible at it too. I considered myself a pretty good player in other formats but there was so much more to learn in order to be a good Vintage player. Still, I pushed forward, and I never really went back to any other formats.
All throughout this time I had been a regular contributor for PureMTGO.com. As I got into Vintage I continued to do what I always had done; I wrote about what I played. I started posting my articles on TMD so that I could find more readers (there weren’t a ton of Vintage players on PureMTGO that I was aware of). After a few weeks of posting articles I realized that nobody else on the internet was posting weekly Vintage content. I loved Vintage and I wanted more people to learn how awesome it was, so I made it my mission to keep writing. To this day I have never stopped, and it has been over two years that I have posted an article about Vintage each and every single week.
Now I have a regular column on my favorite format and I’m very happy about it. Every so often I get a message from someone who tells me they started playing Vintage on MTGO after reading my articles and it makes my day. I know that Vintage is a tough format to get involved in from a financial perspective, so I’m glad that I’m able to at least help people with good info on how to get going.
The funny thing is that even after all this has transpired I still have never owned an Ancestral Recall (or Black Lotus, or Mox Sapphire, and so on…). I used to feel like that made me less of a “real Vintage player” than someone who does own all those cards. Nowadays I no longer worry about all that though, because now that I’ve been around a while I’ve noticed people who have amazing collections and not-so-amazing decks. The game is more about how you play the cards and less about what you own, and that’s the way it should be.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see more content like this you can contribute here to my Patreon. I’d also like to say thanks to my Patrons, and to all the people who have donated time, cards, or sound advice to my cause.