The Story of Magic Collection
The history of the Magic in a collection
By Juani Salas
César “CHaPuZas” Fernández is a Magic: The Gathering collector and authenticator from
Madrid, Spain, and has 99.4 % of all the English Magic sealed booster packs that exist. “I’m
saving a small piece of the game history“, he said.
Perhaps, when Richard Garfield created the game in the 90s, he did not imagine that an Alpha
booster, almost 30 years later, would be something so rare and unique that it would cost
thousands of dollars. Who could have the time machine to travel and buy all possible booster
Ok, we don’t have the time machine, but instead of Dr Emmet Brown we can talk to
“Chapuzas” (twitter: @Chapuzas) and have him tell us about his collection of 575 of the 580
English boosters that save the history of the game.
Juan: When did you decide to start getting boosters of every edition and why?
César: I came back to Madrid in 2001, and in my first store tournaments, they played Type 1. In
these formats, the most powerful cards where the older ones, and you could get very few of
them in the boosters, but the tournament prizes were about the new editions. I got used to
keep the boosters closed, because I thought they were cool, and also because there were not
many chances for me to open them and get valuable cards for my decks —or at least more
valuables than what people were willing to pay for the closed packets. Let’s not forget that
collectible packets of game cards are a sort of lottery where, by opening a high number of
packets –so as to make the sample valid– the player is never going to get back the amount
they have paid.
After a few years, around 2008, seeing that I had a box with hundreds of boosters both in
English and in Spanish, I thought it would be possible to find one boosters of each edition in
English. Afterwards, I decided that I could also do that with the Spanish editions. Seeing that it
was relatively easy, I expanded the selection to include all existing illustrations of every edition
and, around 2011, I decided to find boosters in as many languages as I could. I assumed that
this would be an interesting challenge, and I thought it was an excellent way to preserve a
piece of the game’s history.
Juan: Which was the most difficult booster to get?
César: The easiest reply to that question should be “all those I still don’t have.” Of the 4,500 in
existence (in all languages and illustrations), I’m barely missing 100, and among them, there
are a couple of dozens that I’ve never seen for sale. If we are talking about the ones I already
have, I would mention Limited Edition Alpha, Limited Edition Beta,and Unlimited.Today
getting those packets unopened and in good conditions is one hell of a task.
Juan: How can you not fall into temptation and open them up?
César: Many people ask me the same question, and this is the easiest one to answer: I simply
don’t have any interest in the cards that are inside, and it’s the boosters themselves that
I believe are worth preserving.
Juan: In the event of a chaos draft, which 24 boosters would you choose?
César: I think I would pick up those editions that might have more powerful cards, as well
as those editions I love the most. Let’s suppose I choose only from the English packets, I would pick Limited Edition Alpha, Limited Edition Beta, Unlimited, Revised, Arabian Nights,
Legends, Antiquities, all three Tempest, all three Urza’s Saga, all three Invasion, Planeshift,
Apocalypse, all three Conspiracy, and all three Conspiracy: Take the Crown. These last two
editions –for those that haven’t tried them yet– are really fun to play on draft. And for those
that haven’t played Unstable yet, they are also missing on a lot of fun.
Juan: You mentioned on Twitter that your booster collection is like a review of Magic’s
history. Would you like to see your collection displayed in a museum or something like that?
Do you imagine yourself doing an exhibition of that sort?
César: One of my friends has mentioned that more than once. To be honest, I would love if
people would consider this something worth seeing, but I don’t see that happening. I don’t
know who would pay to organize such an exhibition, or even who would pay to see it. Up to
today, Magic: The Gathering is not as popular as to gather enough interested people in one
city that would justify doing an exhibition. Perhaps in a few decades. Perhaps the future
Juan: What does Magic mean in your life and how would you describe your love for
collecting (and specially for your own collection)?
César: Thanks to Magic: The Gathering I’ve met some of the best people in my life. Besides
that, it’s a great hobby. When I played competitively, it gave me a reason to try and be better
in each tournament. Now that I’m just a collector and I play casually, this has turned into
another one of the things I hoard so as to keep having goals in my life. It’s probably an
obsession, but I like to think that I’m saving a small piece of the game history.
Juan: You are still missing five boosters: Summer Edition, Starter 2000 Greek/Turkish rules
Demo Game, 6-Card Pack Worldwake and 6-Card Pack Magic 2011. Do you already know
where to find them? Which one might be more difficult and why?
César: There are two answers to that question. There are four of those boosters that are rarely
seen. They are not valuable, but you will not find them for sale anywhere –and the people who
have them also keep them as part of a collection and they don’t sell them. Then we have the
Summer Edition booster, a rare edition within the MTG world. It was originally another
printing of the Revised Edition —such was the case that there are no differences in the
packets. But due to the amount of printing errors, Wizards of the Coast ordered to destroy all
of them. However, a few boxes were able to escape this fate and arrived to the stores —a
scarce number—,turning them into one of the most valuable editions in the game.
Juan: You also are a “Magic: The Gathering authenticator.” When have you started this job?
And what is it about? Can you mention two or three “gems” that you had to authenticate?
César: Before collecting MTG, I already collected coins, stamps, and bills, so I only had to apply
what I had learnt in that sector to the collectible cards sector. I’ve also learned what other
collectors before me had passed on. I’m not a professional collector, but I think it could be a
good professional possibility considering the increasing service demand. I have always
volunteered to authenticate cards, and I’ve published many articles online about the best
authentication techniques and tools —the first one was published in 2006.
A collection that keeps the history of Magic in closed boosters, with their cards inside. What a
story to open, discover, play and enjoy!