You’re probably wondering who the dragon is in the picture above.
Yep, that’s a dragon.
Who is he? He is Nicol Bolas, the Dragon-God. His name inspires fear in the very beings of the multiverse. He is tens of thousands of years old and has held the power of gods in his palm. He has machinations that have lasted centuries, and he has bent entire worlds to his will as a means to sate his godly ego.
Nicol Bolas has been Magic the Gathering’s —the first modern trading card game — most recent archvillain, with years of Magic history dedicated to him. It all culminated in the expansion set, “War of the Spark,” where his army, built over generations of manipulation and strategic planning, invaded Ravnica, one of the great cities of the multiverse.
The story of Magic the Gathering is immense, far bigger than any one reader. Its creativity spans decades of writing, tracking back to 1993 when Magic was a fledgling idea, inspired by the creative mind of Richard Garfield after years of playing and creating board games.
So why is he important? What does Nicol Bolas, one of the greatest Elder Dragons of the multiverse, have to do with us, in the real world?
Well, he’s the reason I began to play this wonderful game, and his role as the archvillain of Magic gave thousands of players, including me, the chance to live out our dreams in the worlds of cards.
After all, people are pretty simple! We enjoy things that let us live the way we want to. We love video games, board games, music, writing, mathematics, science… anything that brings us closer to what we want to do and explore in our lives. In the Honors College, we crank that dial up. I’m sure there’s not a single Honors student who hasn’t found themselves soul searching for something to challenge them intellectually, physically, or emotionally!
And so Magic the Gathering is my challenge. Joining this game, through hours and hours of reading lore, finding cards, and building decks, was my challenge. And the biggest challenge of all? That challenge was to walk into Main Street’s local game store, sit down, and play a game with complete strangers.
After all, we play board and card games with the people we know! Isn’t that the most fun, when we know what makes each other laugh, cry, shout, and get competitive?
In the case of any board game, sure! But in Magic? Magic the Gathering is special, just like Harry Potter (Hufflepuffs unite!) or Star Wars is special. Yet what is it that makes it special?
The story. The creativity. The feeling of wanting to be there, of wanting to sling spells in the Triwizard tournament, to fly through the skies in an X-wing, or, in the case of Magic, to lead the defense of Ravnica as the multiverse’s greatest general, Gideon Jura.
No matter the game, no matter the place, and no matter the time, students of every trade and aspect of life get tired. We get exhausted, we get burnt out, and we crave relief. Games with people who are familiar are always worthwhile. But sometimes, maybe it’s worth it to explore a new world.
Learn a new story, find a new favorite character, and find new friends willing to embrace the challenge with you. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t.
But that’s the fun part, isn’t it? That’s what makes it worthwhile.
Lead your armies, plunder treasures, or heal the world. Whatever you want, there’s a card, a deck, and new friends willing to explore the world with you. So what are you waiting for, Planeswalker?
Nicol Bolas awaits your challenge.
(Image Credits: https://www.artofmtg.com/art/nicol-bolas-dragon-god/ )