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Subject: Magic in the Mountains rss

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Rob Lyon
United States
San Juan Islands
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If you’re read any of my posts over the years, you‘ll know I like to take my favorite games out on the magazine field projects I undertake. I could have just posted a pic with a caption but I like to think a little armchair adventure is a welcome thing in the winter months. This last trip was into the mountains to a long, deep lake that carves through the remote mountains wilds of BC and the US. The lake is entirely roadless but at the two ends, and even then, getting into Ross on the US side is an adventure unto itself. Desolation Peak towers over the lake, home to the fire tower perched at the tip where Jack Kerouac worked the summer of ‘56 and wrote a bit of Dharma Bums.

I had some of the new Ixalan ( decks along with me and would be meeting up to with friends that had arrived days earlier. A string of floating cabins is the only concession on the lake and provide a rustic, cozy base of operations for fishing and accessing a myriad trails leading off into the wilderness. To reach the lake you must either hike or take a Seattle City Light converted tug boat to the base of Ross Dam, then portage to the level of the lake above in an open flatbed truck. If you bring in your own canoe or kayak you’ll have to paddle it across the lower lake to the dam, then toss it aboard said flatbed for the ride up.

I had a kayak along with me, just recently back from a trip off the BC coast ( I launched at a deserted campground on Diablo Lake and motored out to the base of Ross Dam through rafts of enormous maple leaves floating at the surface. From there the portage up to Ross and from there I motored over to check in with my friends, and as it was already getting dark this late in October and too late to fish, see if anyone was game for a beer and some Magic.

It rained like hell and blew like Boreas’ great north breath the next day. I managed to get out in the lee of the log raft and catch one nice trout but played MtG the rest of the time in the comfort of a wood stove fired cabin rocking on the lake. It was pretty good duty. My buddy had filled our big DrinkTank growlers with local IPAs and between that and the Magic a good time was had indeed.

As for Magic, two things I wanted to mention. One is passé no doubt, an alternate tapping method involving cube placement in lieu of card contortion. We use tiny cubes to indicate state of card. For mana the cube is pushed to the top of the card if it is refreshed and slid to the bottom quadrant to indicate tappage. Same for remaining permanents. Furthermore, as regards mana, in lieu of laying down a long bother of cards we simply add another cube to a mana card when another is played. Now I don’t give a hoot if this flies in the face of tradition. Iconoclasm is alive and well.

We use counter and token dice. Quentin Empire ( has a good handle on these standard size dice and they appear to be a popular accessory with players. He just released a batch of smaller dice that he calls the minimalist dice. At 10mm and having faces reading from +3 to -3, they work well enough on certain occasions. Bottom line I don’t bother with them if I think I have a card token I can dig out without too much difficulty. But on occasion they have a place. The larger dice we use all the time.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, if you want to know more about the inner dirt of the game, read Generation Decks, by Titus Chaulk. Not only a highly engaging read about the extraordinary phenomena that is the history and reality of Magic the Gathering and the people that made it what it is today, but Chaulk totally nailed the writing.

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