Welcome to Dragon+ Issue 38

What’s a simple card game between friends? Over twenty-five years of lasting memories, for one thing. All cheating aside.


“Ramirez…”

…I growl in my best Clancy Brown/The Kurgan voice. Only in this case, my nemesis isn’t Egyptian-born Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez (played by Scottish-born Sean Connery), but rather a certain pirate whose tales are not always to be believed.

Ramirez DePietro.

It was 1994, and I was home from college for the summer. A good friend of mine, likewise home for the summer, had just introduced me to Magic: The Gathering. I was primarily a D&D player but willing to give this new game a try, and it didn’t take long before I was utterly hooked and introducing the game to the rest of our circle.

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My friend would beat me in Magic quite often that summer, in part because we were still learning the rules. In those years, for example, cards didn’t have helpful reminder text… such as how mana spent to give +1/+1 counters to Frozen Shades only lasted until the end of turn. Those damn shades built up to unstoppable levels very quickly, otherwise.

Of course, learning games is often about getting the rules wrong at first. My “official” understanding of Dungeons & Dragons came with the 1983 “Red Box” Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set. Before that, we’d make up the rules using six-sided dice stolen from Monopoly sets and overheard conversations from older siblings around the neighborhood (I recall scandalous talk about the first edition Monster Manual entry for nymphs. And much confusion about how numbered locations in printed adventures worked—at first, we assumed they were like a random encounter table; you rolled the dice to see what room you entered).

It also didn’t help that my friend would occasionally plant cards he really wanted to play within reach (such as Ramirez DePietro). ‘Hey, what’s that lying under the table?’ I thought one day… until I realized my friend planned to casually reach down for it when he had enough mana. His early version of a sideboard, I guess.

Not that I could blame him. Magic: The Gathering’s Legends set had just released, and in addition to the powerful mechanics, a lot of cards featured absolutely compelling characters. Johan. Kasimir the Lone Wolf. Livonya Silone. Nicol Bolas! Even if you didn’t win the game, getting them into play was a measure of pride (and not just because of their hefty casting costs). You wanted the glory of having them on your side.

My two great gaming passions have long been D&D and Magic, and so what an honor and a thrill it continues to be involved with the company producing both—and an added delight to work on this issue of Dragon+ that further celebrates these two brands intersecting. We have a number of exclusive preview cards to share with you from Magic’s upcoming Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set. Plus, the backstory of the very name “Wizards of the Coast”!

I still fondly remember playing those first games of Magic that summer, and the summers that followed. I also remember seeing Ramirez DePietro planted under the table… and casually sliding my foot over it, so my friend couldn’t palm it.

Sorry, pal.

(But I do still owe you for introducing me to Magic!)

Bart Carroll