Everyone has a “gateway” story—how they got into playing Magic. Harder to explain is how you collect, if it can be explained at all. Harder still is why you like what you like and how you organize it all. For example, what are your rules or guidelines for when to trade, buylist or otherwise rid yourself of a card or a bunch of cards?

More vexing still, for some, is explaining what makes you acquire, particularly “buy and hold”? We all know those players who live from FNM/tourney result to the next, constantly following the meta and churning and turning their card pool to stay on the current wave. On the other end of the spectrum are card hoarders, who acquire almost everything, so they are ready to play something in any format.

For me, Magic ain't like the days of collecting E.T. cards or 1986 Topps (yes, I’m that old). While that was fun and lasting, cards you could play-- whose “playability” depended to some degree on things like “metagame” (what other people are playing and succeeding with)—was a whole new thing. Like cardboard PLUS a weird coffee buzz PLUS some only-somewhat solvable puzzle in GAMES magazine (again, old).

Part of the appeal back in the day, was cards that generate a STORY. While I’m a big collector/constructor of Magic complete sets, I LOVE cards off the beaten path. They may be simple variations, like FNM foils, or that date-stamped foil you got at prerelease. Maybe it’s a card you got artist-signed at a tournament. Cards with STORY! How about that German printing of Elder Land Wurm you found in some dealer's box for a quarter because he “don’t like foreign cards”…every time you play it in EDH you tell that STORY and all your friends are sick of it. Plus you can joke that it has tons of keyword abilities.

Not weird enough? How about 1-of-a-kind miscuts, misprints, and test cards that have made their way into circulation? Some go for hundreds of dollars and more; join a couple of Facebook groups and your face will melt from the Weirdness. If that’s not your thing, there are some amazing and clever altered cards, generally painted to expand the existing art or make a pop culture statement (how many Wrecking Ball alters must there be?) Even Wizards has gotten into the game by constantly innovating with specialty products (like horde decks during Theros release events), the Unglued and Unhinged sets, holiday employee cards, and various oversized cards.

Magic doesn’t have to be serious. Yes, we can take tight play and preparation seriously, but our COLLECTION doesn’t have to be. Yes, many weird cards are NOT tournament playable. But you know what, in my house they are! You want to explain to me why the 4 of clubs is in your EDH deck, I’m all ears. What is your take on weird cards? Do they have a place in your heart, or are they just a distraction to the game?