Magic Nomenclature: Christening Guildpact
So... What the heck does my title mean?
I am a Communications student. That's my degree, and it's been annoying me because the professors don't come out and tell me what it is, as well as the many chuckles The Simpsons fans make. We have this whole inane affair with figuring out things like: What are Canadians? What are Americans? Why are women associated with products?
Eventually, I realized that these questions weren't stupid but quite serious.
Being told “That's un-American!” or being asked “Who is the greatest Canadian?” seems like small potatoes in the face of world hunger or AIDS, but identity is important. How can you influence a mass of people if they feel no kinship towards each other? Patriots cannot be made without Patriotism... with nicknames being the fastest way to identify fellow comrades. Whatever job, lifestyle, or company you keep, jargon will be created to identify those who belong and those that don't. Serious Magic players - Magic patriots, if you will - love to nickname their men that they'll be sending into the Red Zone. This is the fastest method to identify yourself as a Magic player, and also identify other players.
My niche within my playgroup is remembering Magic culture (and incidentally makes me good at Mental Magic). It makes conversations interesting, because instead of discussing how valuable the Rock is in Extended versus Standard, I change the discussion up a little with “How did the Rock get its name?” My memories are vital to keep Magic culture alive, and especially to accommodate younger players.
“Why do some cards have nicknames like ‘Kai,' ‘Bob,' or ‘Jon?'”
“What are you guys talking about when you mention ‘Superman?'”
“One with Nothing is terrible, but why are all the good players calling it ‘OwNage?'”
These matters seem trivial to a veteran, but spreading such knowledge into a newer player's mind is a sure path to creating a Magic player. After expenses, the next threshold in learning how to play Magic is learning how to communicate. If a player is not talking Magic, he is not thinking Magic, and if a player is not thinking Magic, they certainly aren't winning. The small task of creating patriotism pays enormous dividends when a citizen sticks to their country, or when a Magic player sticks to their game.
Magic is a game of interactions, which is why creating an environment of Magic is important. Discussions of what you play and why are fundamental for Constructed formats, but I must say that card choice in casual is far more important than in Vintage. When players are in a competitive setting, they should know their stuff. Casual is where you can bend or break tournament taboos, which is fantastic for a beginner. Dusting off an obsolete deck to play against the new guy's B/R Samurai deck will be important for two reasons:
Firstly, casual is essentially Vintage without the tournament edge, so old sets are allowed. Newer sets have a better understanding of mana costs for their effect, so there will be aggressively priced creatures and spells. This means if the Samurai guy is your opponent, he has a chance - due to terribleness of whatever you're playing with. These are old cards, so their trade value is near nothing. You might as well do something with them. Playing with your Thallid deck you made when you were ten will bring back memories of fun games, as well as the second prong to why playing with old cards is important.
Old cards are Magic's foundations, whether they are classics like Hypnotic Specter, or the underplayed Scarwood Bandits. The new player will see old cards and their abilities, allowing themselves to understand that this game has a history... it isn't something that sprung up overnight. This will lead to discussion, and because the “good old days” should be fresh with the Thallids, you'll talk to your opponent about why you play Magic.
That's all I'll be saying on the topic of educating a beginner. While I could go onto many tangents of how to educate and include Magic players, I'd rather discuss what “us veterans” of Magic can do about increasing Magic culture. I am not going to discuss how terrible Magic players are to each other, or - God forbid - discuss any sort of viable strategy in some sort of metagame. Wizards of the Coast manufactures our cards, and can steer our strategies, but the one thing that they cannot do is creature our culture. That is your, our, job.
You want people to play, as that supports our hobby. The best method to make a new player feel included is not in teaching them some combat tricks, give them a few good deals, or giving away commons; the best inclusion is bringing them into the fold. Teach them some nicknames, such as Dr. Teeth or Superman. Explain common jargon, such as bounce or chump block. Explain some fan formats, such as Cubing, Type 4, or Mini Master. But the final and most important thing to make a new player feel welcome is include them in Magic culture by giving them a nickname.
The most ostracizing aspect of a new hobby is being known as the new guy. Give them a nickname that reflects them, nothing vulgar or demeaning; we're trying to encourage a new player, after all. Magic's creatures have colorful names, as well as the players to go with them. EDT, Friggin' Rizzo, and many others are prime examples of Magic personality with a cool nickname. The new guy likes playing Rats? Rat Boy. Wears thick glasses? Emo Glasses. Refuses to play with any color but red? Pyro. Aim to be humorous, as you want everybody to be laughing together.
Here's a Quiz, which one is something a Magic Player would say:
“Tally Ho! Psychatog's activated abilities are superior to our old chum, Morphling. Morphling's reliance upon untapped mana-producing lands makes him strictly inferior to Psychatog, but in dodgy formats such as Limited Infinity, it is Morphling that allows superior plays. Three o'clock, it's time for tea!”
“Superman is the sex in Type 4, but Dr. Teeth just shows obsolete he is in real formats.”
I personally enjoy the second sentence, as it is rife with Magic culture and flavor, and manages to make you sound like less of a tool (and less English, obviously) [And that's bad, is it? — Craig]. So, what's the point of Nomenclature, or Christening?
There's a new-ish set out, and I haven't heard of any good nicknames for cards in years. I doubt I can influence Magic players at large, but I'd be a hypocrite to say that you should be trying to create Magic culture if I don't give it a shot. To do so, I am going to completely mise someone's idea. Speaking of mise, how come Magic hasn't had a viable slang word in years?
So... Nomenclature. Christening. What do they mean, and more importantly, what do I mean? It's time to break out the dictionaries, but luckily, Dictionary.com seems to do just fine. Here's what the heck my title means:
n: a system of words used in a particular discipline; "legal terminology"; "the language of sociology" [syn: terminology, language]
1a. To baptize into a Christian church.
1b. To give a name to at baptism.
2a. To name: christened the kitten “Snowball”.
2b. To name and dedicate ceremonially: christen a ship.
3. To use for the first time: christened the new car by going for a drive.
Who said you didn't learn anything from a game?
With the many rules of Magic, with the many references to other things geeky, nicknaming the cards that Wizards print is definitely a feat of nomenclature. Giving nicknames to Guildpact's cards is the only christening involved. So, what was I talking about when I mentioned mise? Recently, Talen Lee's Guildpact Casual Critique saw him muse about what Skeletal Vampire's nickname should be. Little does he know that I have proof that Skeletal Vampire is Batman, and I will prove it with other things Magic players enjoy: comics, hypothetical situations, and bullsh**. Certainly, my method is silly, but my intent is not: it creates Magic culture.
The first proof of that is Gotham City. It exists in a part of Ravnica is the architecture; it's Goth, like the Orzhov. Second, as seen in Moonlight Bargain, the second cage on the left has Catwoman in it. Wouldn't you want to own a Catwoman? Third, Skeletal Vampire is a vampire, and therefore doesn't need to breathe... just like Batman. Fourth, Batman has Robin and Skeletal Vampire has Belfry Spirit; Belfry Spirit is useless, dies, and no one cares about him: just like Robin! Fifth, Batman can beat anybody because he plans ahead. To simulate this, imagine Skeletal Vampire within infinite mana. That's right, Batman has beat Superman on numerous occasions, and Skeletal Vampire can be Morphling in the land of infinite mana (or at least five mana).
Comic fanboys go elsewhere... I'm just trying to establish a nickname.
That's my piece. I didn't teach any new tech, but I hope I explained the importance of names and the value they have in a community. I'm missing the days when everybody knew what a Braincestral Recall was, or why monkeys hate artifacts with either Sex or Moxes. Hell, I even threw my hand in attempting to christen a Guildpact card, even if it is a junk rare.
All I can do is “say Go.”