To whom it may concern,

I started playing Magic back in 2015, after my brother introduced me to it. I still remember making fun of him for spending a whole $20 on pieces of cardboard...

My first deck was a RW combo deck, focused on Boros Reckoner, Dictate of the Twin Gods, and Boros Charm, and for better or worse that deck set the pace for what I love about Magic - finding cards that worked synergistically together, and creating convoluted interactions that felt powerful. Unfortunately, it also developed in me a tendency to build combo decks, since they are more reliable to playtest.

My next deck would be a thopter-sword control deck, using Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek. It was the dominant deck in my friend group, being nigh unbeatable, until we were introduced to a format that was fairly new at the time - a format called EDH, better known as Commander.

My first Commander deck was a Phenax, God of Deception mill deck, which taught me that EDH was a very different format than the 60-card Modern I had been playing. The deck was garbage - I had almost no ramp or card draw, and my removal was wildly overpriced and abysmal. Tired of losing to my brother's Riku of Two Reflections deck, which had all the things mine didn't, I built several decks here on Tappedout, playtesting them in my relentless pursuit of the perfect deck, until a set was released with a very interesting creature, one that at the time no one was using. To this day, that deck, The Gitrog Monster, holds a special place in my heart. Just like a frog it was slippery, with many different win conditions and a lot of resilience. I can't tell you how many times I won and lost games by going all-in with a Zuran Orb or Squandered Resources, sacrificing all my lands as I hoped to draw just the right combo piece I was missing. But no matter the final outcome the deck was a blast to play.

Unfortunately, I didn't actually own the deck - I proxied the cards to playtest it, and when I finally realized I was deceiving myself, that this was the final deck and I was no longer "playtesting" it, the card prices had more than doubled and many core cards were out of my price range. I still slowly built most of the deck, but it would never be quite the same.

Which is honestly for the best, because no one likes slowly losing to combos. Realizing how infuriating it can be to sit across from another player as you watch them spin their wheels for 30+ minutes, I tried to branch out and explore new strategies. Unfortunately, I was bad at it. I built almost every archetype under the sun, but no deck called out to me like the Frog did. And this was mostly because most of my decks were just netdecks - I was an avid visitor of EDHREC, and referenced it for most of my deck-building needs. But in the end, all my decks were generic, and every strategy I tried was one I had seen before. I got to the point that I was making several decks a week, and could add the basics (the lands, ramp, removal, card draw, etc.) by heart, regardless of the colors. In general, I didn't even need to research cards online - if I built the deck, I could reference most of the cards by heart.

This led me into a slump of deck building for some time, as I could never build a deck that I felt was truly worth spending cash on. I didn't just want to build a deck everyone else was playing, or a deck that just "built itself" like dragon tribal. I wanted to build a deck that was unique and of my own creation, just like my Gitrog deck.

Many years later, I finally fell on a deck that I enjoyed building and playing, one that felt unique. That would be my Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh and Tymna the Weaver background deck. It felt very original to me at the time, as I had not seen anyone build a deck whose goal was to slam as many Backgrounds into it, and never one that played so aggressively. Before I built it, I could never have imagined a deck that would play Skyknight Vanguard seriously. In all my netdecking, this deck was new to me - fast-paced, aggressive, synergistic in a way that none of my other decks had been. I couldn't just netdeck my way through this one - I had to dig through hundreds of cards to find exactly what I wanted. So I put it together and bought it - and proceeded to absolutely smash my friends' decks. It had been years since I had felt this thrill, the excitement of slamming cheap and efficient threats down, of going all-in as you prayed your opponents didn't have removal. Finally, I was no longer a punching bag, but was able to experience the sweet joy of victory again. But more importantly, I was playing a deck that operated differently than any other deck I or my friends had seen before, and I felt like I had created something that was unique to me.

The deck has changed a bit since its first inception, and now feels less original since most of the cards in it are also in every Isshin, Two Heavens as One deck (which came out after I built mine), but it is still great fun to play. And going through the process of building many decks, and the joy of that one, taught me a lot about myself that I didn't know. Wizards of the Coast prides itself in making a game that encourages self expression - it just took me a long time to realize that was what I was looking for.

If you stuck around, thank you for reading my story, and I hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to share your story with me as well - it's always interesting to learn how people got into this incredible game and where it has taken them.

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