Share Your Passion: Warehouse Assistant Damian on Magic the Gathering

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I started playing Magic the Gathering about three years ago. I actually started playing because I saw a group of local guys on social media playing Magic while sharing craft beer. I was just really getting into craft beer around that time and I thought this would be a great was to expand my knowledge. One of the guys that played was my local liquor store beer guru. He was my go to source for beer recommendations and he so happened to play Magic. He taught me the game and gave some pointers on deck building.

This is probably the hardest game besides golf that I have ever played because of the steep learning curve. It took me weeks to fully understand it, but eventually I caught on. And so my passion for this game and my collection of cards grew. We would meet up about once a week, along with a few other people, and would sometimes play until the sun came up. I had a group of personal friends who wanted to start playing as well. It was fine with me because that meant I could play Magic and drink beer twice as often. Drinking beer and playing Magic had always gone hand in hand, until I learned that some local shops held tournaments and events on certain days of the week.

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It probably took me about a year of playing Magic to finally gather up the courage to enter a tournament. I signed up at a shop in Hollywood and prepared a deck on site to play. I got my butt whooped. I wasn’t expecting to win the tournament or anything, but I was at least expecting to win one game. The awesome thing about that day though was that after every loss, my opponents helped me with my deck and gave me pointers on how to strengthen it. I learned that day that the Magic community was for the most part an awesome group of people that are very supportive and helpful.

I started returning to these tournaments and slowly started getting better. I would return to my group of friends and they noticed that my knowledge and skills were improving. I talked some of them into attending local tournaments. We started getting a lot more competitive and started taking Magic a bit more serious. I also learned how expensive Magic can really get to play with the top players. Our weekly meet ups, which we would end up calling “Magic Mondays” turned into practice sessions and we started play-testing our decks against each other.

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My first time placing at my local shop was a day I will never forget. I placed 3rd but I wasn’t satisfied. I tweaked my deck and ended up taking first place the following week, with some advice from another fellow Magic player. There was a stretch of about a month where I was placing in the top three at every tournament I entered. New sets of cards come out about every three to four months, and you have to adjust your deck with the new cards that are released.

Analyzing and play-testing each card to see how it will interact with my deck was another part of the game I had to learn. The biggest tournament I have entered was a pre-qualifier for a sanctioned Wizards of the Coast tournament held in Indianapolis. Players from as far as Arizona drove down to Whittier for this pre-qualifier. It was the most nerve-racking tournament I have ever played. I placed top ten in that tournament which was a lot better than I expected. It was a proud moment in my young Magic career.

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Magic has never been more popular than it is today. A recent episode of South Park that shows the characters playing Magic has boosted its popularity tremendously (and it’s also a great episode). Recently I haven’t been playing in as many tournaments but have gone back to just drinking with my friends and playing Magic casually.

I am the only Damian Caratachea in the United States. I love sports, and I have a mean jump shot. I also have a wicked slice when I play golf. Video game nerd as well. I also have a love for photography. I love Asian food and Anthony Bourdain is my hero. I once came out on America’s Funniest Video’s as an audience member, but sadly am not credited on IMDB.


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