As I mentioned, when we first started playing Magic, we didn't have a lot of cards. My one friend brought back, basically, a handful of cards from his trip to California, and we all ooh'd and ah'd over them, mostly for the art. We didn't even really know for sure how to play, because he didn't have a rule book, and he didn't even have enough cards to make more than one semi-serviceable deck. The first order for cards that we made was slightly conservative, because we hadn't played yet and didn't know what it would be like. When we got that first order, many of us (me) didn't even get enough basic land cards to be able to choose what color we were going to play. We had to play based on the land we had. You can't make a blue deck if you only have 4 islands, you know? Sure you do.
In some ways, those early games were the most fun. We had a limited card pool to draw on, everything was new and exciting, and there was a lot of sharing of ideas and card trading and all sorts of things so that people could try to get enough of whatever color they wanted to play in order to make a deck.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear, from the point of view of walking into a tournament, those decks sucked. Hard. It didn't really matter to us, though, because we were having fun, and, in all actuality, we were learning to really play the game because we had limited tools to play with and had to be innovative. In short, it was a good learning environment. And, well, tournaments weren't really a thing yet, anyway.
But we, all of us, continued playing and increasing the number of cards we had little by little. We increased our tools and we increased our skills and we got more competitive with what we were doing, which only lead to more card buying. There were two schools of thought about this ought to work:
1. You buy packs and you play with what you get. Trading with other players is okay, too.
2. You go out and buy the cards you want on an individual basis. You pay more per card, but you're assured of getting the care you want rather than buying 10, 20, or 50 packs without getting that one card you need.
I was (and am) more of type 1. I really don't like buying cards individually and would much rather buy packs to get the cards that I want. I ended with, well, everything I needed that way. Most of the time. That's how I built almost all of my collected sets.
We had a guy in our group, though, that was a type 2, and he started special ordering all sorts of individual cards through the mail. It wasn't very happy making for a lot of people in the group. Several of them (one of them being my cousin) really gave him a hard time about it.
There became a nickname for that kind of behavior: Mr. Suitcase. That was the general term given to anyone that bought up all the "most powerful" cards and carried them around with them. We had one of those guys at the comic shop. He'd come up from south Louisiana with a briefcase full of the "power 9" and other top cards. The thought, by a lot of these people, was that owning those cards and putting them in your deck insured that you would win. We'll talk more about that later.
But it was true... to an extent. Having better cards, increasing the tools you had at your disposal, allowed you to build a better deck. The more cards you have, the more options you have. The more options you have, the better your deck can be. Having a better deck is the first step to winning at Magic. I mean, before you can play, you have to build the deck, so building the best deck you can is the first step on that journey. I've known a lot of good players that couldn't build a deck that was worth spit, whether they had the cards for it or not.
Anyway, what I found kind of interesting about the whole "Mr. Suitcase" thing is that it was only applied to people that cherry picked their cards. I would have many more cards and, actually, sort of needed a suitcase for mine, because I'd buy boxes of cards all at once, but, since I was relying on the "luck of the draw," it was okay that I had that many cards. It always seemed a distinction without a difference to me, but, you know, oh well. I wasn't derided for it like Mr. South-Louisiana or the guy in my gaming group.
All of that aside, if you did tournament play, there would come a time when you ended up having to buy a card or two to make a deck ready for a tournament. Here is the very first card I bought all by itself:
Writing is a lot like this process of collecting cards. You start out with a very limited tool set as a kid. As you grow, you add to your collection which allows for greater innovation in your writing. You can do more. There are two ways to increase the size of your writing tool kit:
I suggest both.
To be a good writer, you need to increase the size of your collection. That's all there is to it. You're not ever going to have anything worth reading (to a larger audience), if you don't go beyond, "See Spot run." That's a very limited collection, and you can forget making it in a tournament with a deck like that. If you see what I mean.
Here are a few other cards that were highly sought after in the early days: