I played Magic: The Gathering a little when I was in my early teen's.
We were intellectual kids, we liked that sort of thing. Chess, Go, MTG, etc.
A couple acquaintances I knew went on to be pretty good, like competing at their big tournaments. I gather that the MTG world is big enough that you can actually scratch a pretty decent living playing, if you're good, and it's a lot of fun (though intensely stressful).
I think one of the reasons Magic was so much more popular than other similar games is because they got the "color" right - the names of the cards, their effects, and the general metaphors towards real life things are spot-on. Similar to how Chess thrives by its pieces being military/kingdom units, Magic thrives at least in part because the cards can be analogized to parts of human nature we all intuitively know.
This one has always fascinated me -
Costs: One blue mana
Enchants one creature.
The creature gets +3 offense and +3 defense when unstable mutation is played.
The create then gets -1 offense and -1 defense every turn, permanently, until it dies.
If you don't know the game even rudimentarily, it's hard to put this into context. But basically, it takes something weak early on and makes it VERY strong. It packs its biggest punch by coming out of nowhere into strength. Then it grows weaker and dies.
Coming into strength is hard. Enduring, lasting strength - no tricks - even harder. Unstable Mutation is a nice trick. It's like, BAM, that 1 attack 1 defense guy just became a 4/4. That's a big deal.
But then you die as the trick wears off.
That's life, eh? Building lasting strength takes 3-4 turns of training, prep, resource development. You can do a little trick, mortgaging the future to get more power now... but it costs you in the long run.
Of course, you could try to parlay that trick into huge gains, and consolidate before you die off.
But, of course, everyone thinks they can do that, but everyone's not always right...
Wow...sweet reply from Josh Kaufman...I bought his book a few months ago...really useful.
I played MTG for a while too as a teen. Great you were able to tie it into business strategy...good stuff, Seb.
Funny... I played MTG too. Here's what I learned: http://personalmba.com/power-of-screwing-around/. Amazing how many of these skills I still use today.
So my "Word of the Year" for 2011 is Cryptomnesia. This is one of the most fascinating things I've read about. Wikipedia:
Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognised as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.
There was a group of guys I played Dungeons and Dragons with when I was around 13-16 years old. One had a drow (dark elf) fighter, and he started a guild that he called "The Order of the Ebon Hand."
Later on, the guy running the game finds out there's a Magic: The Gathering card called... Order of the Ebon Hand.
Anyway, the guy with the guild, he swore up and down he'd come up with the name originally and never seen the card before. What a crazy coincidence, he says.
At the time of writing, I'm playing a game of chess online. All I know about my opponent is gleaned from his profile; we have had no direct communication. He is an 84-year old man from Israel, and he wins more games than he loses. The game is almost over.
I am going to win, and we both know this, but it takes 4-5 moves for me to make a single step of progress. He threatens and obstructs me every step of the way and I know he won't submit. The man only makes one move a day. Given his age, I am hoping to beat him before he dies.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this man. The life he's lived, the things he's seen, and his approach to chess. He's captured my imagination. I can see him walking through the streets, stopping in a cafe for a coffee, conversing with the locals. Maybe he plays chess there too. He is stubborn and relentless, even now in his diminished strength. He contemplates every move and will not be hurried (not that I have tried to hurry him). Earlier, when the field of play was more level, I considered making small mistakes to give the elderly gent an upper hand. I figured he would enjoy the victory more than I. After talking it over (yes, I talk these crazy things over with others) it was decided that the best thing to do was to play my best. He didn't come here for allowances or special treatment, he came here for the challenge and a realistic measure of his ability. I hope youngsters will afford me the same treatment when I am older.