In some gaming communities there are players who get a little too territorial or toxic and forget that other people play the game too. Perhaps you’ve encountered players who have been saying that the sky has been falling even though it never seems to actually hit the ground. You may have even filled their shoes and been one of those people(we’re all friends here, I’ll be the first to admit that I used to be). That’s what we’re here to talk about; how to enjoy the company of each other a little more and how to stop worrying so damn much. Over the course of the next few months I hope to touch on a lot of things and we may revisit older articles I’ve written as I gather more information and talk to more people. But for now I think it’s important that we start at square one and convey to you who I am and where I’m coming from.
I started playing Magic: the Gathering in September of 2004, between the release of Fifth Dawn and Champions of Kamigawa. I had previously played the Pokemon and YuGiOh TCG’s from 1999-2003 and throughout those years my uncle insisted that I should try Magic. I mentioned that I didn’t want to get involved with another game because I was content with the two that I already played at the time. One night he decided to bring his old Revised Edition cards down from the attic and insisted that I at least try it. He kept explaining all of the cool things he did when he played it a few years earlier, knowing that he was the one who got me into TCG’s and gaming in general when I was younger. He asked me one last time if I wanted to learn how to play and all I could do was smirk and nod.
He taught me the goal of the game and went over some basic things before setting up a simple demo. I was playing green and he was playing white. I played a Forest, tapped it for mana and played a Llanowar Elves. I asked what the Elves’ ability did and he explained that it could act like another Forest if I wanted it to. I was always been skeptical of trying new things throughout my childhood/teenage years but this was one of the first things that was so simple and compelling that there was no opportunity to be skeptical; everything made perfect sense. I immediately fell in love with Magic and knew I was going to be playing for many years to come. It was just a simple, effective, classical fantasy card game and it was something I never knew I needed to have in my life until that point.
I ended up framing that Llanowar Elves and it now hangs proudly on my wall as a reminder of much simpler, innocent days.
Breaking out of the Shell
The reason why I valued Magic so highly is because I was always a quiet, shy person throughout school and only had a handful of close friends that I spoke to. Talking to other people was a frightening thought and for that reason I mostly kept to myself and doodled in my sketch books. The thought of meeting other people and interacting with strangers was completely off the table because I felt overwhelmingly insecure. Even though I played Pokemon and YuGiOh, it was almost exclusively with my friends and friends-of-friends. That is until I started to play Magic.
The more I played the more I began to realize that the playerbase was more mature and approachable than other gaming communities I was aware of at the time. That’s not to say that the Pokemon and YuGiOh communities in my area didn’t have respectful older players but they were definitely the minority compared to the Magic community in my area. In a way the Magic community helped me come out of my shell and start to socialize a bit. It was exciting to know that I could walk up to someone I’ve never met before and immediately speak to them as if we’ve been friends for years. All because we had a common medium through which to meet and talk to each other. “Hey man Chimney Imp isn’t that bad of a card, it untaps for free!”.
Friends were made, laughs were had, games were played and it was just an awesome experience that I think everyone deserves the chance to be part of.
The Goal of This Blog/Series of Articles
Because I remember my beginnings so fondly and because I know what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed at just how massive, deep and complex of a game Magic is, I have made it my goal to help new players take their first steps, promote friendly interaction between players and help dissolve social/mental boundaries between players so that we can all enjoy and understand the game we play a little bit more.
A big thing for me is looking at each side of any statement or argument because a lot of things aren’t just black and white. Most issues come with more or less grey areas. Sometimes there might not even be a correct or accurate verdict at all. But that’s what I’m here to do; to analyze things from different perspectives, outline the key points and pros/cons of each and promote the idea of making logical decisions and informed opinions. I will probably pepper these articles with my personal opinions but I encourage everyone to question those opinions and think for themselves before reaching any solid conclusions. That doesn’t mean immediately dismiss any arguments either; do yourself and others a favor and take the time to really mull over the discussion for a few days before deciding you agree or disagree.
Most of the content will have a stress on Magic: the Gathering at an FNM level, since that’s what most of my experience is in but a good amount of what I’m going to be talking about could be more or less applied to gaming communities in general.
What is the Balance of Power?
The concept of the ‘Balance of Power’ comes from an older Magic card that has very seldom seen play outside of casual games:
Most cards that involve a player drawing additional cards are illustrated as them meditating and going deep in the think tank. Generally speaking the more cards you have in your hand the more collective thoughts you have. If you don’t have that many cards in hand, Balance of Power allows you to match your opponent’s amount of knowledge, regardless of what it is.
What does that have to do with real life and the Magic community? If I feel like I my knowledge of a particular area is lacking, I will reach out and ask someone to further explain things to me so I can bring my level of understanding of that topic up to par. That way if someone else asks me about that same topic I can bring their level of understanding up to par with mine. If we all practice and encourage this we can start understanding each other a bit better, a bit faster.
I hope to come up with at least one new post on a weekly or bi-weekly basis but for now a lot of ideas and topics are still being planned out. That’s about it for now but if anyone has any suggestions on topics that they want me to cover feel free to mention them in the comments. I’m brand new to this kind of thing and the blog is still in its infancy so bear with me as I figure things out – I’m not one to deliver something that I’m not personally satisfied with. I hope you will all enjoy reading these as much as I will enjoy writing them.