At the end of a year in which we could not explore much IRL, team OneZero is sharing our favorite places we found online.
If you are a nerd of a certain vintage — you probably had an uncomfortable adolescence in, say, the mid-’90s — there’s a very good chance that you have a soft spot for old Magic: The Gathering cards. I do, anyway.
This year, I spent a lot of time satisfying my nostalgia through Scryfall, a clean, multifunctional database of every Magic card ever printed. You can search according to a variety of parameters (cards that mention the planeswalker Urza in their flavor text, for example, or rare red vampires), but my favorite approach is to pull up the sets page and scroll through the expansions that captured my imagination as a young person: Legends through Exodus is my sweet spot, encompassing four years (’94–’98) of this game’s sprawling history.
Magic is still going today, but it’s not really the same. The evocative, often bizarre hand-painted art has, of course, largely been replaced by digital renderings — beautiful in their own way from time to time, but certainly homogenous in comparison to what came before. (And the less said about this year’s crossover with The Walking Dead franchise, the better.) Magic art used to stir my imagination: This year, I’ve appreciated having an online portal back to that time, when things were simpler and I was dumb enough to trade a Scroll Rack for a Crimson Hellkite.