Back in 1993 Wizards of the Coast introduced a collectible card game called "Magic the Gathering." Back then, I was a bona-fide comic book nerd, but I wasn't really up with the D&D or MtG or any of those other acronyms. Someone tried to teach me how to play magic once but I ran out of patience pretty quickly. Give me a break, I was probably 12. I would have rather just bought a pack of Marvel Masterpieces than bought a ton of Magic cards and have to learn a game.
So when a little while back a friend of mine said he had started playing Magic again, and asked me if I was interested in playing, I figured I had some free time to learn about tapping mana and casting spells and said okay.
I happened to be working out in California at the time and stopped by a local comic/game shop and told them I needed some magic cards to play with. They threw together a blue/red deck for me to learn on, which contained cards from a bunch of different series and no real strategy. I brought the deck home with me and headed over to Fat Cat Bar on Christopher St in NYC to Monday night Magic to test out my ability to play a 17 year old card game.
You can guess that head to head I was roundly spanked, though I did manage to eek out a couple 3-4 player games by essentially being so bad that I wasn't considered a threat until the very end of the game. However, my interest was sparked and I went out and bought a common uncommon play set of Magic 2010 and built a few decks. I will say that the largest evil about MtG isn't that everyone thinks you're a huge nerd for playing it, which they do, but rather the fact that people who have been playing forever have so many cards and you have so few, and playing against them makes you want to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a handful of the cards you've been beaten with. The habit can become expensive, so I've found it's in your interest to befriend people who have an over abundance of cards that they don't need and will let you borrow decks to try out.
After a couple weeks of playing, I decided to try drafting. For those not in the know, drafting consists of a bunch of people sitting around a table, or a few tables, and pulling cards one by one of newly opened booster packs that get passed around, and then building a deck and playing a small tournament with the cards you've pulled trying to win prizes or more packs. Again, I got pretty badly beaten, but I had fun and got a bunch of cards out of it. I have to give the game credit, it's a lot more fun than I thought it would be, and I apologize profusely to the magic players that I probably made fun of in the past for being huge nerds. Add one more facet of nerdiness to my resume.
If you're in NYC and you're looking for some people to play with, head over to Fat Cat Monday nights after 7pm and you'll find a ton of people (male and female) sitting around playing Magic, (also there's live Jazz every night along with pool and shuffleboard). And if you're looking for some more drafting, and Friday night Standard tournaments, check out Brooklyn Gamers. And if you've never played before, you should still go and check out those events. Everyone at both places is great and you'll have fun being a huge nerd playing a collectible card game.