When I first started writing Developments in Durdling it was about playing the long game, being a patient Magic Player and navigating the Metagame both locally and on a regional scale. As I’ve continued my experience as a Planeswalker, Durdling has come to mean different things. And I’ve become a different player as well. In the spirit of playing the long game I wanted to go over a collection based article. And talk about how I went from starting to play the game again as a drafter to (two years later) playing Legacy and looking at Vintage as a perspective format.

First Draft

March two years ago wasn’t my first time coming back to the game. Needless to say I was wary about spending my money on something I wasn’t sure I’d stick with. Draft seemed like the best option. I could build my collection and get a feel for my environment. Not the Magic environment inside the game, but the local environment. Were these people I wanted to spend my precious downtime with? I was working 5 days a week and with only Tuesday and Wednesday off I needed to make sure I wasn’t going to regret blowing a couple hundred dollars on a deck. Thankfully, some of my first opponents were awesome! Monique in particular, welcomed me back into the game on my second match. After my first draft I was 1-2. I knew I couldn’t just walk in and win immediately. So I decided I’d start reading up and doing some research.


After a couple of 3-0’s in draft, I decided to buy a box of the new set, Avacyn Restored, and work up some trades for a zombie deck. I purchased 2 event decks and started looking for singles. Within a week I had something that resembled a solid standard deck. After a couple of weeks of grinding I 4-0’d a standard event. At this point I maybe had a deck box of rares and decided it was time to out together a trade binder. Knowing that after the summer my New Phyrexia cards would rotate I quickly traded away the stuff I wasn’t going to play in the fall.


I entered rotation fully prepared to be a dominant force in the store. With a case of Return to Ravnica purchased I was ready with trades and and new deck ideas. The tourney scene was good to me and I was able to break even pretty often or better at times. Buying that binder was clutch, as I now had a lot of trades to make.

Moving on

Standard became tough, decks would fall in and out of favor in mere weeks. Prices of bulk rares that I traded for almost no value would spike and then I’d need to find them at inflated prices. That’s when I realized, I was doing it wrong. 3 months 3 decks each deck was a couple hundred in singles when I switched… There had to be a better way.

Modern kicks

Li Xu had been preaching of the greatness of Modern for a while, but I wasn’t really into paying MORE money to build another expensive deck. Just to go through the same thing I was doing in Standard. Then someone explained that Modern was an Eternal Format. This meant that the cards don’t rotate out. Decks don’t change as much because with such a large card pool it’s harder to affect the metagame with each set. You’re less worried about your deck falling out of favor and having to buy a new one every couple of months.

Merfolk SuperFriends PTQs

I decided I’d start with something cheap and see how I liked the format. Merfolk was a readily accessible deck with very few expensive cards. I was able to trade off a bunch of stuff to the store for most of what I needed. The Merfolk Deck was highly competitive and it was fun to play against different decks. Modern was a different monster than Standard (which had become a giant Rock Scissors Paper game). Word got around that there was a PTQ coming to the store in a month. I liked Merfolk but I wanted to play something else. So I traded into SuperFriends an Azorious build. I did ok for my first try in a big Modern event. But now I had a good idea about the format. I wanted to play something that was not just good but could beat a variety of decks.

Standard bows to Modern

The Store announced that they would hold weekly Modern tourneys and that was all I needed to focus on putting my collection into Modern. I bought and traded for 8 fetches and built UWR Geist. A deck I played for 3 months before I tried to play Gifts Ungiven in the same colors. Each week I’d tweak my deck here and there and then give it a go. I was definitely having more fun in Modern than Standard.

Modern gives rise to Legacy

At Christmas Dylan Hiester gifted me with a curse of sorts. Force of Will. And these words, “Get into Legacy!” I didn’t need much of a push. The Merfolk deck ported easily into a Legacy deck. I just needed some cards… Wastelands and Force of Wills. The end of January saw a Standard GP in Atlantic City. I went with a friend and built him a deck to play. In return for the deck he traded me 4 Wastelands. At the time they were $40 and the deck was around $200. I scrubbed out of the tourney. I threw down some cash for 2 more Force of Will and a year after I had started playing the game again I was solid with decks in three formats.

Here we go again

Now a year later I’m playing RUG Delver in Legacy and looking at playing Steel City Vault in December when the Vintage Masters happens again. With older formats it’s best to pick a goal and a date in the future and try to work out plans to make it happen. I was able to take everything I had in Standard right after rotation (Theros) and trade it for store credit in the form of duals and staples for my deck. In the end, cash is king and you can normally work out a deal with other local players for cards they aren’t using instead of paying TCG Mid or Star City.

The key is to take your time. Hash out a good goal and stick to it.

What decks are you working on in other formats? You’d be surprised what you can get away with until you have all the cards. An Island is 1/2 a Volcanic Island in a pinch!

Zac Clark, @DurdleMagus

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