Field of Battle

Writing that last post about Magic reminded me about one of the old forums I used to hang around in my hey-day of playing and collecting the grand-daddy of all CCGs. It had a few different names to it, but most people knew it as the Field of Battle.

I wasn’t around from the very beginning, but I’ll pass along a little of what I know. Inquest (the best of all gaming magazines around at the time) had message boards on AOL. Now these message boards had tons of different sections, but most of the people on them were magic players. This was around 97 or so, and the story as I understand it went like this. One of the people started talking about World Domination, which was contended by others, or supported by more. It almost felt just like any free form roleplaying campaign. After some complaints, those involved in this budding war moved into the stories forum, which was renamed as “The Field of Battle” where people could control their destiny and duke it out.

Once FoB and the war was started, Apprentice was brought in to aid in actually fighting the wars. For those unfamiliar, Apprentice was a simple program that let users have access to all the cards in Magic, and held a simple UI. It wouldn’t automate anything like the current versions of Magic Online (or the Magic XBLA game I had previously spoke about) but if two players knew the rules they had enough “useful bits” to play each other online. There were plenty of superstitions of Apprentice, and even though shuffling once should be “randomized” many choose a certain number to shuffle their decks.

Peoples personalties took over the boards, people had a good time, rivalries were started and enjoyed, with plenty of smack talk, and pointless posturing. It was the internet, and instead of just being anonymous selves, we all created unique personas and played a role. Factions would form, temporary teammates to compete on the field of battle and a rule system was formed for battles. Some battles would be for nothing but bragging rights, other battles forced factions to disband if they lost. The Alliance was able to gain a stranglehold on the boards at one point a well oiled machine, trimming useless players and improving their mediocre players.At this point, many of the players didn’t want to live with the historical implications of The Alliance, and migrated off FoB to a forum called BAR. Named after the three premier factions previous to the Alliance’s domination. I wasn’t around quite yet, so the other two names I don’t recall, although I may have some documents that show their name in my archives somewhere.

I was one of the “Fresh recruits” on the new boards. I had regularly scoured the Magic chat room on AOL, and apparently so had many members in the FoB, we had our own faction system where players were eliminated by losing two consecutive duels, and a scoring system that allowed encouraged playing. We enjoyed our time in the sun and refined our rules system and tried to improve everyone’s play style. Some people just liked hanging out, and wouldn’t play as much, but it was all in good fun. I couldn’t list the amount of factions I ended up being on, or even leading. The boards were fun, but since they were mostly teenagers they degenerated quickly, traditional bashings and rivalries takeĀ  a turn for the worst, recruits are scared off from this type of gesturing, other internet leagues formed with real prize systems that take away the stronger players.

But the biggest blow was the downfall of The Alliance. I’m not sure exactly what year it took, place but probably around 2000 a group of players made it their mission to take down the giant. Deep scouting was done on classic Alliance players, a few trial runs went in to see which players were weak. Hiding their own weak players, and manipulating the rules to their own advantage started occurring. It was a nasty fight. And it took a handful of tries too. I don’t even remember the factions name that took down The Alliance. But someone did it, and after they fell, a new rules system was implemented. A forced re-draft if things get stale basically saying “We will never let one team hog a board the way these guys do” the rules charter didn’t prevent teams from reforming with their favored members, but it destroyed everything that connected the new to the old.

In my case I stopped frequenting the boards when I went off to college and didn’t have as much access to AOL. I was also no longer keeping up with the game, and i think many were in the same boat as myself. I met a bunch of fun people, a few that I still chat with occasionally, but things happen and people move on. Since our boards were entirely based on AOL, things came to a close one fateful day when the Inquest boards were shut down for good. As far as I know noone has archived copies, and the only thing left is memories of the people, and some of the ridiculous things we did.

And if you are a former FoB-er I still have the Chaos Magic Belt and I am still accepting challenges for it.

One Response to “Field of Battle”

  1. […] already posted about my Magic playing days a few times. And this one is more of an in memoriam to my old card-playing days and […]