Why Do I Play Magic?
Whenever someone makes a decision in their life it is important to ask why or why not. It can be as simple as to whether to play Rootbound Crag or Mountain on turn 1 as I proposed in an article months ago or it can be as hard as where do I want to go to college or is this person is the one you want to be with for life. The magnitude of the result of the decision takes into account a lot of different areas some of which are: time money fun and so on. For everyone reading this I would like to ask you a question:
Why do you play Magic?
I've asked myself this question multiple times. I have played Magic since I was seven years old (I am going to be twenty in a month) and have only taken a break this past semester in college. I feel like the motivation to play Magic and do any other thing that takes up your time should warrant an explanation even if the explanation is as simple as "I just feel like it." More often than not you will be able to find out a lot about yourself and how you honestly view the game if you really open up about the truth of the matter.
I don't mean to sound narcissistic but I encourage you to read the reasons why I play Magic to inspire you to think of the reasons why you play. Once you realize how you truly view the game you will be able to find out how much time you should commit to it a week what you are trying to get out of the game and it may make your overall experience with Magic more fun.
Here we go!
I don't mean to sound like Tea from Yu-Gi-Oh! but I honestly feel like friends are the biggest draw to this game. There are countless stories and memories that you make with the people you meet in this game over time.
For example when I was a little kid (around thirteen or fourteen) I had long hair past my shoulders. At my first States event I had to play against Nationals Top 8 Competitor Tim Sussino in the first round and got my butt handed to me. However he was surprised at how well I played for a kid. A year or two later my father older sister and I were playing a three-man team event. Tim Sussino walked up to my father and told him how cute his two daughters were and how they were really good at Magic. We had to inform him that it wasn't two daughters but a son and daughter…
It is great though; you just can't make these stories up! And that is the best part of living life.
With this sense of community and friendship people are usually willing to help each other out. I don't think I can go a week without someone messaging me a decklist and asking me to help them out. This is very flattering from my point of view people consider me worthy to criticize and help out with their personal decklists. It also must be a good sense of community and friendship if these people know that they can come to me for help whenever they need it.
These Magic connections can be extended to outside of the game too. During this past semester I was talking to JohnnyHotSauce (aka Andrew Shrout) about borrowing cards for a Magic Online Championship Series (MOCS) along with just how school and life had been treating me in general. I told him that I was considering taking a break because Magic is really doing nothing for me. It got me an article job with StarCityGames.com (still love it!) and pretty much lined me up for an internship. Other than that I felt like I may have been wasting my time with Magic and that I should have just focused on school more.
Andrew convinced me that there is no way that Magic was a waste of time. He said that the connections and networking I've gotten by playing Magic are hard for many other people to come by. Just the fact that I was able to have a weekly column and a possible internship meant that I was already getting more from Magic than expected. Also I know that I can go to certain people when I am in need of assistance. Andrew said:
"For instance you needed Shattering Sprees but didn't want to waste your money for just one tournament. But you knew that you could come to JohnnyHotSauce and he would be willing to help you out if he could. I am sure that other people are connected to you in the same way."
This much is true. Even when I am not playing Magic Online or even paper Magic I know that I can walk into a tournament be in need a few cards and still have my 75 together by the time the tournament starts. A lot of gratitude and good feelings are generated between people in Magic in this way.
Sometimes the friendships that are started because of Magic aren't just "Magic friendships." While I admit that I have people that I will usually only talk to about Magic I am usually also willing to talk to them about my personal life if asked about it. Likewise I have a lot of Magic friends that will come to me for Magic help but will also express to me concern about their personal life such as the juggle of Magic school and a relationship. Just because you have one thing in common doesn't restrict you from talking about other things.
For example I was able to meet the suite at college my freshman year because I decided to listen to a girl and attend a Super Smash Bros. Brawl Tournament. While there I bumped into one of my Magic friends of many years Silas Waltzer. He was with Alex "The Man" Wong and Hepburn "Best Blade" Best. Little did I know that the coincidence of running into Silas and all of the people who happened to be at this event along with our common interest in Magic would lead to my closest friendships at college. We do a lot more together than simply play Magic. In fact I do not consider them "Magic friends." I simply consider them awesome friends that happen to play Magic.
For these reasons I know that I will always play Magic (perhaps even after it "dies" if that ever happens) because of the people. The people make the game not the cards.
Speaking of the game… Time for the second reason why I play Magic.
This Game Is Awesome!
This is a point I can't stress enough. For pretty much my whole life I have played Magic. I can't completely recall how life was before learning how to play. At first it was simply just another card game. Ever since I was a kid I have always liked games in particular those of the board and card variety. Many games in my life have come and gone. Chess Pokemon Yu-Gi-Oh! etc.
However Magic has always stayed with me. I have always considered this game the most intricate complicated and hardest to fully dissect game I have ever played. Most of the other games I play I am usually very good at. This is simply because a lot of other games take a little aspect of Magic and simply focus in on that. Sometimes it is card advantage. Other times it is about tempo or playing to your outs. The most common games that I play right now besides Magic are Ascension and Tennis.
In earlier articles I have talked about how both Ascension and Tennis can be used to get better at Magic but the same is true the other way around. It is possible to know about an interaction in Magic and realize that you can extend it to the other games that you play. For instance when you draft a deck usually you want the average card that you will draw in a turn to be of a decent caliber. This can be magnified with deck thinning or card draw. The information that you gain about the cards that are not in your deck can tell you what good stuff is left in your deck.
The same is true in Ascension. As you buy Heavy Infantries and Mystics you are making your average card (and thus your five card hand) much more powerful. It is possible to understand the importance of cards like Hectic Scribe (which is Careful Study for those of you who don't play Ascension) if you play Magic even though they are slightly different in their respective games.
Do you know why it is possible for me to play this game for days straight and always have something to write about?
This game is that awesome!
In certain other games you can sort of figure out a cheap way to just always win. That or there is simply a best deck to play and no possible innovations can be made. Even in our Delver of Secrets filled environment where people herald it as the best deck hands down people are able to innovate it (such as Luis Scott-Vargas making the change to Sword of War and Peace over Sword of Feast and Famine along with Hero of Bladehold in the sideboard). The metagame is constantly shifting and once you think you've figured out the best 75 in a format you find out that your deck is actually obsolete or inferior because someone else discovered a bullet that shoots straight through your deck.
It is the complexity of this game that makes it great; it is always a tough nut to crack. I spent three years straight in high school going through lined paper just writing down decklists and ways to break the format. Some worked and some didn't. Playtesting sessions went on for hours on end and no one ever felt bored. This game is just so captivating.
Before I say "This game is awesome" again how about I discuss the last reason why I play Magic?
It Is a Really Good Outlet
Some people drink. Some people do drugs or smoke. When I need to take my mind off of the real world I don't do any of those options. I simply play Magic. I recall that winter break a few years ago that was a really hard time for me since my first girlfriend had just broken up with me.
For the whole break I literally played Magic Online for 13-15 hours a day. After about two weeks my father said to my mom (and me) "Do you know how some people drink when they are depressed? Well I think some people play Magic." While this little comment bothered me at first I realized that it was secretly a good thing. This was how I handled a lot of my problems. Instead of throwing a fit or wishing to not even exist I would challenge my brain and play Magic for hours on end. I was increasing my mental capacity and getting smarter at games and abstract thinking instead of wasting time. Maybe I should just be depressed more!
All joking aside Magic is a very healthy outlet for when things just aren't going your way. After midterms and finals every semester I go up to my buddies at the suite and tell them I am exhausted. "Oh so you want to go to sleep early?" My answer is always "Nope it is time to binge game!" And then I end up playing Magic with my friends by my side for hours to make me forget about not integrating correctly or putting the wrong kinetic energy in my LaGrangian.
I would like to conclude this by highlighting a bunch of reasons why people play Magic that aren't reasons why I play (and if you think I am lying you obviously don't know me well enough):
- To make money.
- So they can act like a jerk to people (either online or in real life).
- To find the love of their lives. (Well… I am still single ladies but I'm working on that one. :P)
My dream for Magic and me is to always be on good terms but maybe one day to travel around the world with my closest friends and my wife/kids in the future for minimal cost via Magic. While dreams don't always come true we will see about this one.
So…why do you play Magic?
Thanks for reading
Jonathan "Watchwolf92" Sukenik