Fragment of the Book of Nod V: John F, and playing until dawn.

“I started playing Jyhad right after the game first came out. I had been working at a game store in Indiana for a couple of years, so I had lots of exposure to the first wave of CCGs that came out after Magic’s popularity exploded. I’d also been playing tabletop Vampire and running a LARP (which ended up being part of the creation of the One World By Night LARP network). The tabletop DM invited me to try the card game with his friends one night, so I borrowed a deck and started playing.

I remember one person learning the game by offering to be the Edge: they sat with whoever had the Edge and got to look at their hand and card plays and follow along, moving around the table as the game went on.

A few months after I started playing, I moved to Chicago and joined the regular home game that I’d already been dropping in on occasionally from out-of-state.. Which was typically eight-to-ten-player games with no upper deck size limit, in someone’s basement, compounded by players having different adult substances. Games that started in the late evening often took until near-dawn to complete as a result. 

My favorite very-early rules debate/play from that group: A bleed had been bounced sequentially halfway around the (massive) table, and a block declared. The blocker asked “Hey, do we actually -have- to punch each other? Can we just declare that we don’t make strikes and not hurt each other at all? He’s way across the table from me, we’re only fighting because it got bounced to me..” A long discussion ensued, along with much consulting of tiny little paper rulebooks. Eventually after at least ten or fifteen minutes of debate we all agreed that we couldn’t find anything in the early rules that made hand strikes mandatory, so play proceeded. 

Acting player: “Okay, so I don’t make a strike, no damage, you do the same..”

Blocking player: “No… I punch you for one. One to zero – Pulled Fangs. Take an agg and go to torpor. And Amaranth, I eat him instead. Thanks, couldn’t do that if you made a strike….”

Rest of the players: >pick jaws up off the floor<

It took a few years for the city to have an organized ‘local scene’ with folks meeting regularly in coffee shops and game and book stores, or people’s apartments. Things were always very disjointed here, with several small playgroups in far-suburbs that didn’t communicate much at all with the official playgroup in the city itself. I don’t think we started having tournaments until the early 2000s and even then it was hard to get suburban groups to pay notice.  And one group I knew used four-card-limit deck rules because they thought that made the game ‘less broken’ and definitely didn’t want to have to change that to participate in tournament-rule games. I took over as Prince of Chicago in 2009. My local group collapsed about five years ago when several players left the game, but we’ve resurrected it this year and are doing regular meetups again.

I’ve traveled to a number of nearby states for tournaments, plus most of the North American Championships for the last 10 or 15 years. As far as other cities’ playstyles go – for me, it’s been more of a matter of the individual players’ styles over many years. Certain long-time players in the Midwest had distinctive styles to where everybody recognized many of their decks… I’m pointing in part at Wisconsin when I say that, as their group had several players stubbornly refining specific concept decks over long periods of time.”

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