Did you first get into Magic as fantasy or as strategy? Has your focus changed?
Tom LaPille: I first got into Magic as strategy. My gaming background before Magic was chess, which I took seriously enough to learn openings and read books. I played in a few tournaments before deciding that the work that I would need to do to get good at chess wouldn't be fun. At around the same time, a friend introduced me to Magic, which seemed a lot like chess but with fewer fidgety things to learn, so I jumped into Magic instead.
I brought my chess sensibilities with me to Magic, though, and a few days after I learned the rules, I found myself on the ancient Magic web site The Dojo devouring Magic strategy and tournament reports from people like Eric Taylor, Zvi Mowshowitz, and Erik Lauer. After a few more days, I had assembled a mono-red beatdown deck based on Dave Price's 1997 U.S. Nationals Standard deck out of my local store's common box and could already beat most of my friends. I was hooked.
I love most strategy games. The thing that makes Magic so special for me is that although it is just as hard to be good at as many other games, the work required to be good at it is so much fun that it doesn't register for me as work. I just want to keep playing and learning. I have grown to love the fantasy flavor more since beginning to work here, but Magic for me is first and foremost a strategy exercise.
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