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Be That Guy! - Kendall Halman (3/22/2012)

I recently read two different articles about various groups of negative Magic Players. One focused on people who were bad for the community while the other focused on players who annoyed the author. That led me to write this article.

Since I started playing almost a year ago, I have found the vast majority of the Magic Community to be welcoming, passionate, and self-deprecating. Everyone knows that one guy at their local card shop who is a jerk. However, most people also have a group of people with whom they really enjoy playing Magic. Otherwise why would they keep playing? What follows is sort of a salute to all the people who make me happy when I see them on the other side of the table or in the chat window on Magic Online. If you are one of these people, thank you for being a decent human being. If you are not, maybe you should be.


Nice MODO People

MODO gets a bad rap, because people complain about the shuffler and generally aren't socially graceful.  I personally don't go out of my way to talk during a match.  It's nothing personal.  I simply am usually so focused on the game that I'm not able to maintain a conversation.  If I'm in a tournament, there is money on the line, and in tournament practice I'm trying to figure out exactly what my deck needs.

In spite of all that, occasionally someone strikes up a conversation with me.  Sometimes these people do complain about the shuffler or that they can't get any mana, but more often they wish me luck.  Even if that's the only conversation we have, it's evidence that there is a human on the other end.  The "Nice MODO People" I'm talking about are people who actually make an effort to talk about my deck.  They will ask me questions about why I made certain card choices or make suggestions about what I might include.

Players who go out of their way to chat during a game bring some of that element of social interaction back to the game that is lost when everyone is just trying to get in as many games as possible.  The other day, I had a guy start the game with "Hello and have fun" instead of "Hello and good luck."  He kicked my butt, but expressed empathy when I had mana troubles and seemed like a stand up guy.  This made my frustration from losing quickly go away.


Laid back FNM Round 1 People

This sounds like a rather specific category, and it is.  These are usually serious players or at least experienced ones.  I think the reason I usually run into them round 1 is that usually lose round 1.  If you don't know the Swiss system of tournament pairing, you are always paired with someone with the same number of wins/losses after the first round.  These people usually end up doing fairly well, so I usually either lose to them in the first round or work my way back up to see them in a later round.

Anyway, you can just tell that these people love to play Magic.  They smile quite a bit and aren't afraid to make a little conversation during the game.  If it's a Constructed tournament, they probably are playing one of the popular decks, and if it's a Limited tournament they have a better version of whatever deck I'm playing.  After they thoroughly stomp me, we've usually got plenty of time.  When I was first starting out, this is when they would teach me a few things about the game.  I particularly remember a few players who would look through my Limited deck and tell me what was wrong with it when I first started.  It turns out life-gain is not a very good strategy in a Limited meta-game dominated by infect decks.

As I get better at playing, I like to think I'm this type of guy.  One has to be extremely careful giving helpful advice to players, as many don't appreciate being told what they are doing wrong.  However, it does not hurt to let someone know that fire-breathing can be activated multiple times or explaining why they should be playing 40 cards, not every card they got in the draft.


60 Card Drafters

Speaking of people who don't play 40 card decks, I almost always breathe a sigh of relief when my opponent has a big stack of cards.  That's usually a sign that I've got a good chance of actually winning a round!  I usually run into this guy about round 3.  If you remember my explanation of Swiss from earlier, that means we've both lost the first two rounds and probably won't get any prizes at the end of the night.  Are either of us dropping?  Not a chance!

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I do not condone building decks that use more cards than the minimum.  It makes decks less consistent, cost more, and no less likely to lose to milling out!

Anyway, I often get to have a discussion and hear someone who completely disagrees with me on this subject when I run into the 60 card drafters.  That said, these guys love the game just as much as the Round 1 guys and those who are "Actually Better than Me" that I'll talk about next.  They don't care if they lose and want to tell me about all of their pet decks.  Sometimes can get a casual game in after their deck performs perfectly and I randomly lose.


Actually Better than Me People

Sometimes I lose round one and fight my way back up to face one of the top players in the final round of a tournament.  Whether these people are talkative or not, you can see how they take this game seriously.  It's just like getting to play chess with a master or playing in a band full of talented musicians.  This guy never makes a misplay.  Especially in Limited, his deck is full of synergy.  He might even take advantage of cards I've never heard of or interactions I've never seen.

I remember playing in a triple Innistrad draft against one of these players.  We were both playing UB Fliers, but his deck has a little bit more removal.  In our first game, I got two Delver of Secrets
Delver of Secrets
Delver of SecretsSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, look at the top card of your library. You may reveal that card. If an instant or sorcery card is revealed this way, transform Delver of Secrets.
to flip quickly and kept the advantage for most of the game.  He held me off for quite a while, but eventually I got there.  In game two, my deck did not quite get there, and he just always had a Rebuke
Rebuke
RebukeSet: Innistrad
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
29
Artist:
Igor Kieryluk
Text:
Destroy target attacking creature.
or a Bonds of Faith
Bonds of Faith
Bonds of FaithSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
C
Number:
5
Artist:
Steve Argyle
Text:
Enchant creature Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 as long as it's a Human. Otherwise, it can't attack or block.
to get rid of my creatures.  Finally, game three was simply epic.  My deck was performing, and his was coming through as well.  The entire tournament was over, and it was the difference between me placing in the top handful and him winning it all.  Everyone watched until he cast a Skaab Drake and I did not have the removal for him to finish me off.

Playing with people like this makes me a better player.  That's all there is to it.


Crazy Pet Deck Guy

This is the guy who builds a Mill deck in Limited or brings a home-brew to a Standard tournament.  One of my favorite things about Magic in general is its capacity for variety in play.  While seeing someone play a deck that I've read about online is pretty cool, it's even cooler to see a concept pan out that I hadn't thought of.

This guy is taking a risk playing his pet deck at a tournament.  He's risking either $5 or $15 depending if it's a Constructed or Limited event.  Often, the deck just does not work.  I don't mind winning or losing to this guy, but his deck will usually give me an idea to spring off of.

It doesn’t even have to be a pet deck. Especially in a Constructed format, playing with a unique card can make me smile. I was playing a terrible Temper
Temper
TemperSet: Stronghold
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
120
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
Prevent up to X damage to target creature. For each 1 damage prevented in this way, put a +1/+1 counter on that creature.
ZWQgU3RlZWw= Infect deck recently, a bit of a pet deck in and of itself, and ran into a guy playing a Birthing Pod
Birthing Pod
Birthing PodSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
8
Color:
Green
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
104
Artist:
Daarken
Text:
({(g/p)} can be paid with either {G} or 2 life.) {1}{(g/p)}, {T}, Sacrifice a creature: Search your library for a creature card with converted mana cost equal to 1 plus the sacrificed creature's converted mana cost, put that card onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.
Deck that used Blade Splicer
Blade Splicer
Blade SplicerSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Artificer
Rarity:
R
Number:
4
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Blade Splicer enters the battlefield, put a 3/3 colorless Golem artifact creature token onto the battlefield. Golem creatures you control have first strike.
(no surprise) and Wing Splicer
Wing Splicer
Wing SplicerSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Artificer
Rarity:
U
Number:
50
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Wing Splicer enters the battlefield, put a 3/3 colorless Golem artifact creature token onto the battlefield. Golem creatures you control have flying.
. It gave the deck a bit of a tribal feel that reminded me of my Splicer deck. Unlike my deck though, his was good.


New/Casual Players

Lastly, I want to talk about perhaps my favorite type of player. Magic could not exist without a steady stream of new and/or casual players. As grateful as I am for all of the competitive opportunities Magic offers, the game could survive and probably thrive without them. Running into these players is great. Plus, sometimes I actually manage to win against them.

I want to differentiate between this group and the 60 card deck builders. These are people who have not played in many tournaments, but want to do more. It is the burden, especially at low level events, on more experienced players to make sure these people have a good experience. Obviously they will probably lose and get frustrated. This is where the “Actually Better than Me People” shine the most.

As a side note, at my first FNM, someone was nice enough to give me his commons/uncommon from his prize packs. He’d gotten Zendikar packs, which I didn’t really want to buy too much of since it would be rotating soon. This helped me get the hand full of Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce
Spell PierceSet: Zendikar
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
67
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {2}.
s, Into The Roils, and other common/uncommon staples from the set while only buying Scar
Scar
ScarSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
194
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
s block packs. You’d be surprised how far something like this will go creating a sense of community with new players.

Magic Players have all kinds of stigmas associated with them. Most of us do not fit those stereotypes. Most of us bring something to the game. Don’t forget, though, that people occasionally get frustrated when they lose a match. Other people take the game too seriously. Every one of us has had mana problems now and then. Don’t let a negative experience when you see someone being a jerk or getting mad affect your opinion of the community as a whole. Most of us are decent human beings. The ones that aren’t just don’t know how to enjoy life and deserve their misery.

If you like what you read, please follow me on Twitter @khalman, e-mail me at kitchenfinkspodcast@gmail.com, and listen to my podcast “Kitchen Finks
Kitchen Finks
Kitchen FinksSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ouphe
Rarity:
U
Number:
229
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Kitchen Finks comes into play, you gain 2 life. Persist (When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to play under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)
” on MTGcast.com. I’m typically a casual player, but I sometimes talk about other things.


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