As Magic Origins will launch within the next few weeks, I have become a bit more nostalgic. In case you don’t know, Origins is the prequel of sorts for the five planeswalkers – Gideon, Nyssa, Jace, Liliana and Chandra. There will be a number of people who will look at those names in nostalgia, because they remember their first appearance around the time that they started.

I have to admit seeing what they have planned is really cool. Seeing cards set in multiple planes and having cards specific to each planeswalker seems like a combo-lover’s dream. The planeswalkers chosen also seemed an interesting choice. I’m hoping that they will be doing some more Origin stories over the next few years – particularly Sarkhan, Sorin and even the OG Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas.

And this all made me think about my Origins in playing Magic. I started playing Magic the Gathering back when the OGs were the Force of Nature, Leviathan, Shivan Dragon, Lord of the Pit and Personal Incarnation. Most of this was before the time of the Elder Dragons whom I grew to love from Chronicles.

All of these cards were the big beaters – the heavies that I first loved to play. I was automatically drawn to these Forces of the colour wheel. And they were also the ones that I first tried to build 100-card decks around even though I didn’t have more than one or two of each of them.

Everyone has those growing pains before they learn about mana curve, deck size and efficiency. Everyone looks at those cards and goes “OMG this card is awesome!” Then you try to put it in an existing deck despite the high mana cost or despite the drawbacks like the deck has little to no creatures but the Lord will just decimate my opponents!

Of course at that time, I was playing against other guys who were doing the same as me. We were all building five-colour decks stacking decks with as big a beasties as possible. We’re talking stuff like Crash of Rhinos and the Elder Dragons. Needless to say, the games were long and epic unless someone played counter or removal. Frankly, then the games got longer.

Alas, we really didn’t know what we were doing. Truth be told – if we were talking about tournaments, then we know that some of us still don’t “know” what we are doing!

Now Origins is coming out with pre-Spark versions of planeswalkers. And for the people that are just starting to play now, those versions are going to require much more finesse especially in the current scene.

Back in my Origin story, the tournament scene was a pipe-dream, something that was just starting. And the noobs in my day were kitchen card slingers; they just didn’t cut their teeth at the local Magic shop with FNM or pre-release tournaments.

It’s much different now with the semi-noobs. Most new players who look at the Origins Chandra with nostalgia will also look at her in a much more calculated fashion trying to divine ways to Spark her change. They will not be looking at her as something really fun, they will be looking at her to see how best to win with her in a tourney if she gets played at all.

And that’s why I love Casual, or as a friend called it, Kitchen. You can look at that character not with tournament wins in mind, but pure joy at how cool it is to see her when she first started her journey. She will be played because she can and because you have her!

I believe that people should look at these Origins like comic book origins. These are the definitive versions of how the planeswalkers were Sparked. This game has such an awesome back story and this only embellishes it with beautiful detail and, yes, deadly cards.

Yep, I’ll be trying to get all five of the Planeswalkers, but I will definitely be doing it for my Planeswalker deck which I just play for sheer fun. They’re all bombs, they all rock and mana curve be damned – that is how epic stories originate!

— Nicol Billas

Originally Published June 16, 2015 @