Card Games · Friday Night Magic · Psychology · Social Dynamics

Why I Hate Playing Magic: the Gathering With My Spouse

Tom and I have just entered our LGS, but we’ve arrived a bit late. There’s one pod still open, but there’s only one seat available. I gleefully flee from Tom’s clutches, running to claim the throne that is rightfully mine. (Don’t worry – another game opened up for him less than two minutes later.) On occasion, I rejoice in being seated far far away from my husband’s artifact loving, graveyard recurring, “life is a resource” quoting self. Likewise, I’m sure he enjoys time away from his politicing, card drawing, sneak-attacky wife.

Tom proudly showing off his favourite mana colour and me supporting him in his life choices.

It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Let me explain.

The two of us have very different dispositions. Where as I’m the definition of an apologetic people-pleasing Canadian who might ask for permission on any given play, Tom is calm, confident, has an excellent recall for rules and no problems with confrontation when needed. He’s one of those people that seem to be proficient at anything he puts his mind to and he speaks clearly and with authority. Stereotypical INTJ if you’re into that Meyers-Briggs stuff. Me on the other hand? Well, let’s just say that opposites attract. (Har har.) Jokes aside, I ask more questions than Tom does and have a quieter voice that sometimes people have to strain to hear. At the same time, I seem to have an awkward-charisma (going to have to copyright that term) that allows me to make connections with people quickly. My ENFP self delights in the acquaintances I make during my games and, on occasion, how I can best use deals and partnerships to my advantage.

With the two of us in direct juxtaposition, it somehow influences both of our games negatively.

Tom waiting for a game at CardHaven in Bellingham, WA.

For starters, Tom gets targeted immediately if I’m at the table. And hard. It doesn’t matter what deck he’s playing, he gives off the feeling that he knows exactly what he’s doing and nobody’s going to like whatever it is. The Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking published a study that identified connections between personality types and card games. Tiffany Myers Cole helpfully summarizes the article by pointing out that successful players are generally cool under pressure, decisive, and confident. This could definitely factor in to how Tom is perceived by other players when he sits down at a table – particularly with his helpless, quietly extroverted wife in tow. He looks like the epitome of a successful player who’s been playing for ages whereas I look like I just purchased my first precon. No one would ever guess that we both began playing together and have roughly the exact same amount of knowledge, experience, and wins under our belts.

Due to an assumed “bold and daring” personality on Tom’s part, many players could be motivated by a fear of expected confrontation or failure and decide to try to go all in to preemptively deal with the problem. Generally, before he’s even been able to develop a board state, he’s put into stasis. However, this dynamic seems to change if I’m not there to further highlight his self-assured personality traits. He has relatively normal and balanced games with only a few instances of targeting, but usually in response to a threat that he’s introduced.

Tom and I finishing a game after eliminating two opponents – a rare occurrence! Mugu Games in Everett, WA.

On my side of things, if Tom and I are at a table together, I tend to get waves upon waves of input and suggestions and reminders and advice from other players. My board state gets commandeered by people I’ve only just met and I start making actual mistakes due to a mixture of frustration and anxiety. People tend to assume I’m only there because Tom brought me and that I need all the help that I can get. Endearing as the assistance is, it also puts me in an awkward situation because I might have to have a dreaded conflict in having to ask people to back off and therefore assert myself. (Pretty much the scariest thing ever to me.) My entire game plummets in a whirlpool of nervousness and loss of focus. This is, after-all, primarily a social experience to me and receiving this kind of reaction from others makes me feel like I’m failing miserably.

If I’m at an entirely different playgroup from Tom, opponents don’t make the assumption that I’m only there because my partner is. I’m simply another player at the table. This doesn’t mean that I’m never going to miss a single trigger, but I’m in no way overwhelmed with backseat deck pilots. Instead, I’m able to relax, crack jokes, and react more mindfully to my opponents’ plays.

Caleb Durward wrote an article for Channel Fireball titled On Stress, Tilt, and Anxiety. In it, he points out the psychological factors that influence a game of Chess, which could also be applied to Magic. “Never blame yourself for blunders during a game. Otherwise you may become so obsessed with it you will make matters even worse”, he quotes. Man – if this hasn’t been my experience! Of course Tom is completely faultless regarding the way that other players perceive and act towards me. However, without having potential blunders constantly being brought to my attention, my games are much smoother and I’m able to secure more wins.


The title of this post was a bit misleading. I’ve complained a lot about sitting at the same table as Tom – in part, because it makes this article write smoother. The truth is, I love having a hobby that we can bond, enthuse, and brainstorm about together. Although our games might often suffer when seated in the same pod, it’s still fun to go home and spill the tea about what we thought about our shared matches and how our decks performed.

After-all, EDH isn’t all about winning. Sometimes it’s about what we learn about ourselves and each other along the way.


What’s your Meyers-Briggs personality type? How does it match up to your game-play? Let me know in the comments!

Amateur Hour · MTG · Wizards of the Coast

Don’t Make Your Girlfriend a Commander Deck

Credit to Vectorstock images.

I’m sitting with three regulars from our LGS. One is Mr. Alela, a man who I owe a lot of my MTG knowledge to due to how he patiently sat through hours of precon and battle-cruiser games when Tom and I were just learning. He’d point out our missed triggers, remind us to tap our cards when needed, and bide his time as we figured out how our decks work. Oftentimes, he’d have the cards in hand to win for a full hour before he finally took us out in one fell swoop. For Mr. Alela, it wasn’t about the win (well, except for later, when we’d edge a bit closer to his level). It was about an enjoyment of the game and helping get us up to speed.

Second at the table is Mr. Hazezon. In one of my first limited events, he kicked my ass so hard that I can still feel it. At the end of the match, he admired the deck I’d constructed and gave me a pack of cat sleeves he’d won in a previous tournament. This man’s kindness has won me his allegiance forever. I still use those sleeves in my limited events to this day.

Image of the super cute cat sleeves that Mr. Hazezon previously gifted me with.

Lastly, there’s a man I’ve seen before a few times in the shop, but have never got a game in with. He’s playing Vega, the Watcher. We exclaim in delight over our bird commanders when I put down Syrix.

“Team Bird!” We declare ourselves. Team Bird is short-lived.

In between plays, Mr. Best (as the name suggests, the best player at the shop and also one of two employees aside from the owner) is bringing Mr. Vega an assortment of cards that he’s requested.

Alela is churning out more fairies than we know what to do with and Team Bird is trying to cull them before they take over the entire board. Hazezon is lost in the desert trying to find his way back to a board state.

“What cards did you pick up?” I ask in between turns.

Vega grins with excitement and passes over a boulder box of newly acquired treasures. “These are for my brother-in-law’s girlfriend,” he announces. “I’m making her a Lulu deck!”

“Oh, the elephant one? Cute.” I rifle through a few of the cards that he’s obviously put a lot of thought into. This man is positively beaming with pride.

“Does she play a lot of Commander?” I ask. Other women are a rare occurrence at this LGS and I’m always in search of my long lost EDH gal pal. I don’t have a single one yet.

“Well, no.” He admits. “I made her a different deck a while ago but she hasn’t really played it more than once.”

My heart drops. This is, without fail, a conversation that I witness or am a part of on a weekly basis. I also frequently see these posts on MTG social media posts and forums.

Case in point. It took me two seconds of scrolling to find this.

We’ve all seen them. The “Look-at-the-Deck-I-Made-for-my-Girlfriend” or “Help-Me-Make-a-Deck-for-my-Girlfriend” posts.

He’s already purchased the cards so I keep my mouth shut. Instead, I suggest that he brings her around sometime. EDH is a social game and maybe she’d benefit from seeing how it can allow her to meet new people. However, he tells me she rarely wants to play – period. She absolutely hates it.

After Alela murders us all in a whimsical flurry of fairies, Hazezon asks me if Tom and I share all our cards. I explain that we make and have our own decks but share the rest of our collection. However, we do regularly borrow from one another as demonstrated by Tom playing my Marchesa, the Black Rose deck across the store.

“Do you have a partner? Do they play?” I ask.

“Yeah. I made her a deck, but she had a bad experience the first time she tried it and can’t be convinced to come back.”

It turns out that Hazezon’s girlfriend ended up being placed at a high power table and was bored to tears by Azorious bullshit. Shame.

Both Vega and Hazezon’s stories bring to mind the Chatterfang deck I was shown last week at a different LGS. “I made it for my wife. She played it once and never came back. But look how great it is!” Thousands of dollars were put into this sad, lonely squirrel deck. I felt bad for the guy. (And the squirrels.)

Sensing a common thread here? Although I’m sure all of these women appreciate the thought and money put into these decks, it’s rare that they play them more than once.

Credit to Vladimir Gjorgiev at Shutterstock

Instead, these efforts usually result in their creators sadly showing off their invention with no one to pilot them.

Please, for the love of Purphoros, stop doing this.

Below are my tips for getting your girlfriend, wife, or brother-in-law’s female cousin (twice removed) to start playing and enjoying Commander.

Step One. Invite her to visit the LGS with you. Explain the very basics of each colour. Show her the collection of precons and give some tips on how each of them will ultimately function. However, the most important part is to let her choose. Let this decision be entirely her own. Remember the excitement you had over choosing your first Pokémon? Your girl needs to have this initial experience in choosing her very first deck!

Step Two. Find some willing participants who either have precon level decks or are willing to sandbag it a bit to let her learn the mechanics and find her groove. Let this be a social experience and not one that’s too serious and feels like her worst memory of a high school math lesson.

Step Three. If she enjoys her time and wants to continue, provide resources on game-play and deck building. Don’t just hand her cards.

Remember, this lady doesn’t have your investment in the game yet. She needs to experience her own failures and take pride in the successes of her own decision making. You handing her a deck and fancy cards she hasn’t worked for and doesn’t understand the significance of will not form this love and attachment to her deck – no matter how awesome you built it!

Image depicts a ziploc bag of tastefully chosen Magic cards

I still remember the hot mess I created when I tried to update my Aesi precon for the first time. I put in vanilla crabs and Jade Avenger and things that I thought looked cool but had no synergy with the rest of my deck. I carried around this sad beaten up baggie of cards labeled “Aesi Maybes” and continuously swapped out cards while looking for that perfect balance. I hated it. I complained and I tantrumed and I swore off the game several times over before ultimately coming back and trying again to make my deck work. Eventually, things started coming together. And man, did I feel proud when I saw my deck take off like it was meant to.

Your girl needs these memories to look back on too! You can’t just do all the work for someone and expect the hard won love for the game that you already possess.

Simply handing her a deck and expecting her to be fully entrenched in the game is like handing someone a pizza and expecting them to be a chef the next day. You’ve given them none of the experiences, knowledge, or passion for cooking in simply giving them an item of food.

I think these are the best starting points that I can suggest for introducing any woman in your life to the game. However, if you have any additional tips or experiences, please share them in the comments!

With a bit of luck, time, patience, and the types of kind mentors that I was blessed with, our game stores will soon be teeming with other Lady Planeswalkers. I’ll have no shortage of gal pals to cry to in the bathroom about how badly I got bullied by Approach of the Second Sun in my last game. We’ll commission Wizards for sparkle encrusted versions of our favourite commanders. Rhinestones will be used as counters. Stickers will be used as outfit changes for our Najeela decks. We will threaten our opponents with Hallmark-Christmas-Movie themed dice.

Are you having regrets yet?

Whatever your feelings towards that last paragraph might be – my point remains. Do not make your girlfriend a Commander deck. (And if you’re dead set on it, at least do it together.)

MTG · Story

I Applied Real Men, Real Style’s ‘Weird Ways To BOOST Self-Confidence’ to a Magic Game

Screen Cap of a Real Man with Real Style

For starters, I am not a man.  Nor do I wish to be. However, after having my ass royally handed to me in my last game at our home LGS, I decided that I was in desperate need of assistance.  Or at least an added bit of self-entertainment.  Being a sucker for instant gratification, I looked up the quickest ways that I can boost my confidence and thus secure my next win in Commander.

Enter Real Men, Real Style.  This is a website dedicated to mastering “your personal presentation so that you command instant respect when you walk into a room”.  Their video provides ten ways to instantly boost your confidence and achieve your goals – mine being winning a game of MTG, of course.

To be clear, this video was not intended to be used by … well, me – a lady.  It was also not intended to be used in a nerdy game of Commander.  Minutes after I took notes on all of the points that were made, the video was taken down.  Too late, Real Men.  I already know your secrets.

Below are the notes that I took on my first watch through of their dearly departed video.*

To prepare for my EDH game, I first decided to focus on three points: Go for a walk, take a cold shower, and duct tape my back.  Problem being, there was a bear sighting in my area so I decided to skip the walk and do a Youtube fitness video instead.  My pets looked on in horror as I crunched, lunged, and stretched my way into being a confident EDH player. I could see the Akroma’s Will coming into my hand with every squat I conducted. Every lunge brought me one step closer to drawing that Beast Within. I could feel the burn… of the Fiery Emancipation. My opponents wouldn’t know what hit them.

This is what confidence looks like

The shower was next. I set the temperature to just above freezing and wished I had thought to turn the AC down in advance. However, this was part of my Karate Kid journey and I knew that I had to continue.

I threw myself into the frozen hailstorm of a shower and struggled to breathe. However, Real Men was expecting me to overcome any obstacles in my journey to achieving my final form.  I couldn’t let them down. 

I came out of the shower as an ice cube.  A confident, fresh smelling ice cube.

Perhaps I had transformed into Thing in the Ice and once my final ice counter was removed, I would become a Kraken Horror and wreak devastation upon my LGS.  I hastily applied my makeup and layered a pink v-neck over my white daisy print shirt in order to continue with the rest of the list. My metamorphosis was almost complete.

Well, we didn’t have duct tape so that one was out the window.  Real Men instructed it’s viewers to put a piece of duct tape on their lower back to encourage them to have better body posture.  (Yeah, I’m as baffled as you are, trust me.)  I put on a tight pair of jeans and hoped that it would have the same effect. I would just have to continuously remind myself not to sit like a literal shrimp/Jin-Gitaxius.

Building a personal fragrance to instill fear in my enemies

Next, I was to get rid of body odor.  Real Men were very insistent on this point: “Don’t stink.” In fact, they turned this into two separate points.  While #5 urged us all not to stink, #6 suggested applying a personal fragrance.  These two points were in addition to the stern direction to shower. That’s thirty percent of their list dedicated to what is essentially the same point! Perhaps they had an inkling that a Magic the Gathering player might be tempted to put their video to use.  Touché, Real Men.  Touché.

Bath and Body Works’ strawberry scented lotion, Guilty by Gucci, and Secret’s Shower Fresh deodorant should all do the trick. After-all, what’s more fearsome than smelling like fruit and flowers?  Nothing.  The answer is absolutely nothing.

Right before leaving, I followed Real Men’s instruction to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, “YOU ARE GREAT.”  My shivering, icy cold reflection looked back at me and told myself to go put on a sweater.  That shower had really done a number on me.

There were only four directions left.  Focus on my breathing, tunnel vision to my destination by walking right to my spot, do the Superman pose to impart confidence, and take my clothes off.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to work that last one in, but I figured I’d know what to do when the time came.

The LGS was absolutely packed save for a small amount of table space that was covered in board games bound for the shelves. It was time to “walk right to my spot”. I was born to do this. Tom and I walked confidently to the end of the table and shimmied ourselves and our belongings into the remaining two seats. As the store owner removed the wayward board games, we marked our territory with our game accessories. Mission accomplished.

Problem being that everyone else was already in a game so we would have to wait a while. It was positively steamy with sweaty Magic players so I knew what to do. It was time to remove some clothing. The list was almost complete. I peeled off my sweater. I could feel the confidence oozing from within.

Yes, I absolutely forgot my playmat.

Two people soon joined us for a game. I decided to play a deck that I’m in the middle of upgrading – Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait. Tom chose his Osgir artifact deck.

I only had two steps left to go. Concentrate on my breathing and do the Superman pose. In and out. Inhale, exhale, inhale. I slapped down my Ghost Town and attempted to do my best Superman pose that I could while still being seated. Either nobody noticed or they attributed it to my natural weirdness.  It was time to show everyone the very definition of a confident, cool, and collected Magic player. The process was complete. In just a few moments the world would know my-

“Wow, that’s a nice card,” the man playing Geth commented. “Who made your deck for you?” He gave a knowing glance in my husband’s direction as if already awaiting my answer.

“I did. I made my deck. Who else would have made it?” The outrage! And the fact that this wasn’t my first time receiving this remark.

“Well, I just meant it was a really good card.”

“I know. That’s why I put it in there. Who made your deck?” Confidence radiated from my solar plexus.

“Well,  I did. I just assumed…”

I gazed on in a radiant fire of self-worth as Geth stumbled for words and avoided having to outright tell me that he assumed a woman wouldn’t have made her own deck without assistance. I could feel Tom silently cheering me on while the Nekusar player found something very interesting to scrutinize in his card text while slumping in his chair Grixis-ly.

We moved on from the conversation and had a lovely game afterwards with minimal comments or suggestions on my deck or game-play. It was a welcome departure from how my usual experience at this particular LGS goes.

I might not have taken the win, but I felt like this was still definitely a huge victory for Team Real Men & Nichole.

Before hitting up your LGS this Friday, consider empowering yourself with the 10 Magical “Ways to BOOST Self-Confidence”. You won’t regret it.


* It appears that Real Men’s instructional video is in fact back online and has made a glorious resurrection for all of our viewing pleasure! Hooray.

LGS · MTG · Review

LGS Review: Moon Dragon in Everett, Washington

Image credit to Kristel Hallsson

BEWARE AND WARNING!

You and YOU ALONE are in charge of what happens in this story.

You’ve just pulled into a parking spot behind a 7-11 and beside a brewery. For a minute, you didn’t think that your destination existed. It took you several attempts to find the secret location and now that you’re here, you can’t wait to find out what adventures await you inside.

Moon Dragon didn’t have a ton of current information online, which has fueled your curiosity and added to the intrigue surrounding this place. You’re not quite sure what you’ll find inside, but the giant blow up dragon outside is waving it’s elongated neck and wings, beckoning you in.

The front door offers a full month of events as well as a list of house rules for prospective Magic players. One item of interest is that infect damage here is doubled and is thus harder to obtain. You make a mental note to leave your Atraxa infect deck at home.

If you open the door, continue to the next heading.

If you turn around and go home, close this blog and weep in misery at never knowing the treasures that could have awaited you.

Overall Aesthetic

Image depicts a large blow up dragon outside of one of the gaming areas

If you could combine the childhood nostalgia of gaming in your best friend’s basement in the 80’s/90’s, your favourite easy-to-make comfort food and snacks, the setting of that weird dream you had last night, and all of the latest Wizards of the Coast products, you would be magically transported to the interior of Moon Dragon.

Do you remember those SNL skits with Bill Hader where he plays Stefon? Stefon is a news correspondent who offers the viewer a list of one-of-a-kind experiences and destinations to visit in New York, but the outlandish descriptions always seem too whimsical to exist in real life. Good news for you Stefon fans out there, because Moon Dragon does exist and it’s calling your name.

Gaming Area and Events

You’ll find an entire room of Egypt styled tapestries with a small table for you and your pantheon to conduct rites for the dead play endless hours of Commander at. Also available are canine companions to help ease the sorrow of a Cyclonic Rift that was played right before you were bound to win the game. Two additional curiously decorated gaming rooms offer a huge amount of tables for your gaming needs while the massive assortment of products that Moon Dragon offers are found in a separate designated space. A covered tent outside with some lawn chairs offers.. well, I don’t know what. I didn’t go over there. That’s a mystery for another day.

This place is truly a mini labyrinth of wonder.

Unique events are set for every Friday with prize support and are extremely well attended and managed.

Selection

Image credit to Jesse Skellington. Image depicts some of the boxes of bulk singles available.

Whether it’s singles, packs, Commander decks, boulder boxes, board games, dice, Beefaroni, a wish to partake in the communal bottle of ranch dressing, D&D merchandise, or specifically: The Red Neck Life board game, Moon Dragon has you covered.

They carry the latest selection of Dragon Shield and Eclipse sleeves and always have a ton of merchandise available that I hadn’t seen in another setting.

Customer Service

Almost every time I’ve purchased something, it’s been with Michael or Adam. These guys have so much excitement and passion for the game and it’s made clear through even a couple minutes’ worth of conversation.

One thing that I’d love to mention is the presence of female employees or volunteers here. This sadly isn’t something that I experience in a ton of other LGSes and it is so welcome. I think it was Sarah who gave us our introduction to the shop and she was quick to offer a tour, an explanation of events and products, and how to quickly get involved in a game.

Staff are encouraging in your purchases and always keen to provide additional information or suggestions – though not in a way that feels pushy.

Will There Be Children Under the Age of 13 There?

I have never seen a child here.

What’s the Average Level of Experience?

Diverse, but with a large amount of proficient and high powered players. Staff do an excellent job of sorting out tables for FNM and events to make sure that people (and their decks) are well matched.

Anything Else to Note

These people care a lot about their community. We noticed that they provided birthday cake for two of their regulars and really go out of their way to welcome people in. They have a super diverse and bustling player base that truly feels well looked after.

I just wish they had a Discord & consistently posted more information online for those of us who live out of town! I suppose it all just adds to the intrigue.

This is definitely a place that focuses on building in person, you-had-to-be-there, #FOMO inducing friendships.

For more information:

http://www.moondragongames.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MoonDragonGames

Conventions · Events

Commandfest Bellevue 2022

Tom and I have never been to a Magic convention before and we are screaming inside as we walk in the door. The Meydenbauer Center is extremely large and spacious with ample room to move around and practice social distancing. Vendor booths fill the outside walls with the middle being occupied by tables and a modest stage.

Near the front door are tickets, judges, and prizes. I immediately fix my eye on a Neera playmat featuring the Commandfest logo. It will go perfectly with my janky as heck Neera deck and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Spoiler alert: Totally got that mat!

I have to hike my mask up to the bridge of my glasses so I don’t fog myself in with my heavy breathing. 

Tom leads us over to the first vendor booth and we delve into singles, packs, and merchandise. I can see Joey Schultz from EDHRECast sitting with someone who appears to be dressed as the new Tasha card. However, my glasses are soon too foggy to see if I got the cosplay correct. I want to go over and say something, but it feels inappropriate to interrupt. Besides, I can’t think of any good dad jokes that he’ll appreciate.

It’s worse when I spot Melissa DeTora. I recently saw her on the Enter the Battlefield Pro Tour documentary and decided that she’s my new hero. She’s at a table with a bunch of other girls and they definitely have a cool-girl-vibe going on and I don’t feel like I should go over. Tom suggests I ask her to sign something for me. I briefly consider it before realizing that I’ll probably get so awkward that I’ll overshare and tell Melissa everything about my childhood cat and what his favourite brand of potato chips were (Old Dutch Ripple) while her cool-girl-pals are forced to witness the entire exchange. She doesn’t even know the bullet that she dodged that day. Be thankful, Melissa.

Gavin Verhey is wearing the brightest pink pants that I’ve ever laid eyes on. He’s in a deep exchange with someone near the Rhystic Studies and Nicol Bolas shirts. I try to purchase a shirt but I’m told that they’re out of my size and I’ll have to order online. I assure them that I will. (I’m a liar. I don’t.)

However, Justine Jones is signing cards and she gives us an in-depth description of the inspiration behind one of her prints. It’s an intricately lined snail that’s rising from the sea in a myriad of psychedelic purple, pink, and turquoise waves. We pick up two snail prints and I get my Ganax signed for my Miirym deck – deciding that Justine has my heart forever. (Move over, Melissa. My list of MTG heroes is growing.) Absolute sweetheart of a human being.

My first signed card!

Soon, it’s time for our scheduled Two Headed Giant tournament. Tom and I sit down with our Willowdusk, Essence Seer and Liesa, Forgotten Archangel decks. Our first match goes well. We all agree to split the prize tickets before we even play. Tom and I narrowly win after he’s forced to use a Bojuka Bog on my graveyard because our opponents milled my deck so badly. (One of them had a Consuming Aberration out or something similar.)

Our next game is over within seconds after our opponents pretend to be on the same page as us in regards to power level, but then simultaneously do a collaborative grand reveal of their commanders. It is truly villainous and I can’t believe it’s real life. Tergrid and Tiny Bones have us scooping by turn three. Oh well, you can’t win them all. I’m still not over their Team Rocket style hand gestures as they unveiled their evil plot. The audacity.

A truly meme worthy experience

Luckily, I’m able to snag my Neera mat and we go for lunch with a good friend who’s signed up to run one of the vendor stands. At the very least, we’re able to laugh about our Tergrid experience over drinks while sharing our loot with one another.

Maybe next time I’ll finally be able to approach Melissa and she’ll tell me her cat’s favourite type of chip. (I bet it’s barbecue.) Maybe Gavin will tell me where he buys his pants and Joey will share his best dad joke.

For now, I’m thoroughly satisfied with our first experience at a Magic convention and can’t wait for the next one!

Trying to take a selfie in front of the MTG backdrops. Note to self: Next time, bring more friends!
LGS · MTG

Don’t Break Up With Your LGS

Credit for Image to BIGAR. Image depicts a group of friends playing cards at a game store.

Walking into your local game store might be similar to an old episode of Cheers. Have I ever seen an episode of Cheers? No. But I know that the theme song celebrates a place where you can “take a break from your worries” and count on the fact that everyone “knows your name” and “are always glad you came”. These are places that, as Magic players, we spend a lot of our free time.

The ideal LGS experience is one that cultivates a community of acceptance, shares mutual standards in relation to game play, provides engaging events and has an assortment of quality products on hand. This is a place where you feel excited to attend and know that you will be respected and feel safe.

However, what happens when this isn’t the case?

Perhaps things used to be sparkly and exciting and you were looking for ways to meaningful contribute to your LGS, but suddenly something changed. Maybe you feel tempted to immediately cut ties and find a new LGS.

Speaking from personal experience, I’m here to tell you to stop and consider your options. Below are my three relationship counseling guidelines to use with your LGS before considering sending that fateful breakup text.

1. Identify the Problem

Vector illustration of a man and woman hand holding each part of heart symbol

For me, identifying the specific problem was a difficult task. I had let so many different (related) issues build up overtime that I was having trouble in figuring out what the root issue was.

Personally, this was an individual making particularly slimey and absolute garbage comments towards women that made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in that environment. My attitude and game-play both suffered as a result. In addition, any further comments or behaviors from others were amplified due to my feelings about this one particular individual. He caused me to see the entire LGS in a different light.

Think back to when the problem that you are dealing with first occurred. How did it make you feel? How has it continued to influence your experience when you attend events? It might be worth writing these things down to better understand the core issue.

Note: It’s important to figure out if this is a problem that’s only annoying to you or if it’s something that is negatively impacting others as well. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to love every single person you interact with at your LGS. That’s okay. Every community has these types of individuals and it’s doubtful you’ll find a magical LGS dreamland where this is not the case.

Assess the severity of the problem by discussing it with a friend or family member before moving forward.

2. Communicate the Issue to the LGS Owner or Manager.

Now that you know what the problem is, you can hopefully put it into words to the staff at your LGS. This might be daunting to do, but think about it this way: Would you accept this particular behavior in any other environment? If you encountered this problem at a restaurant, in your workplace, or with a family member, how would you deal with it?

This is honestly where I personally failed. I saw my issue as being too big or bothersome to worry anyone else about. In addition, I didn’t want to be dramatic.

Clipart Image of a Ghost

You know what’s more dramatic than bringing up your issue? Ghosting your LGS!

I can almost guarantee you that if there are any issues that you’re encountering, your LGS owner or manager will want to be made aware of them so that they can remedy the problem. They would much rather have your continued business than lose a paying customer and valued member of their community.

If it’s too intimidating to bring this up in person, send an e-mail or an IM.

In the meantime, sit back and wait. Don’t spread gossip about the issue to other game stores or on forums in which you identify your LGS by name or in which people will know exactly where you’re talking about. You don’t want to create further toxicity at your LGS before you’ve even given them the chance to fix the problem.

Think about that time your friend broke up with their significant other and you all bad mouthed that person only to find out that they got back together a week later. Talk about #awkward.

3. Assess the Results

Now that the problem has been identified and reported, think about how it was handled. Was it dealt with in a way that you felt respected and acknowledged?

If a compromise had to be made, what was it? How does it make you feel?

Best case scenario (such as in my own experience), the LGS owner was grateful that you brought a potentially harmful situation to light and fully remedied the problem. It took me ages to finally sum up the nerve to communicate what was happening to the owners of my LGS. Even despite my belated imparting of information, they were quick to act and regretful that they hadn’t known about the problem earlier.

If the problem wasn’t addressed adequately or you feel ignored, perhaps it is time to find a new LGS and a community where you (and your hard earned dollars) will feel more appreciated. At the very least, you’ll know that you did everything that you did to rekindle the relationship.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. And if not, there’s always Spelltable.


Note: Worst case scenario is that this is an actual instance of discrimination, violence, criminal activity, or hate-based actions by a large amount of your LGS and not one individual that can be simply removed. If this is the case, cut ties. Run. Ignore all prior advice. Just leave. Tell everyone you know.

LGS · limited · MTG · Uncategorized

Returning Home for Dominaria United: Jumpstart

Tom and I haven’t been back to our home LGS in nearly six months. We’ve had a busy summer full of absolute chaos. In addition, there were a few problematic aspects of our LGS that we didn’t know what to do with and weren’t aware had since been resolved. In the meantime, we pub crawled between several other shops. We wandered as desert nomads, selling our wares and completing trades with those we met along our journey. During this time, we greatly identified with The Littlest Hobo because, we too had no home.

“Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on,” we sang.

Alright, I know. I’m being a bit dramatic here. I couldn’t help myself.

We still enjoy the locations we found and will absolutely be back to them, but ultimately decided it was time to finally return home.

Now wizened and with more experience under our belts, we prepared for our glorious reestablishment.

What better way to show off all we had learned in our time away than with Dominaria United/Jumpstart, we thought. Spoiler alert: It turns out that there are many better ways.

We were hard pressed to get any of the Commander players to take part in our Jumpstart shenanigans. It ended up just being a four person event between Tom, myself, the store owner, and a store employee.

On the one hand – awkward. On the other hand – sweet that they participated just so that we could do the event. The other people there later claimed that they had wanted to do the event but didn’t know it was happening because they were so enamored with their games. You snooze, you lose, suckers.

…Except I lost regardless.

The problem that I’ve been having in Dominaria United Limited is that if you don’t get enough (or in my case – any) black cards, you’re pretty much done for. There doesn’t feel like there are enough answers in the other colours or as many big powerful crazy effects. However, let me know in the comments if you feel differently.

Jumpstart was no different of an experience for me.

I had my mono green (and later Izzet) butt handed to me in every single match. Luckily, the shop owner took mercy on us and offered up a Silverback Elder, a Shivan Devastator, Braids, Arisen Nightmare, some stained glass basic lands, and two additional unopened packs all for free. One of them contained a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. (I was more than happy to pass this over to Tom who had a deck that was begging for it. It also gave me an excuse not to look at art that made me dry heave. Keep your centipede body to yourself, Sheoldred.)

All in all, our prodigal return to our favourite LGS was bittersweet. We got around $70 worth of new fancies for our decks in exchange for a bit of damaged pride. Maybe we’re just being humbled into staying. If this is the case, it’s working. On the other hand, it could be a gentle nudge to “get good”.

Whatever the situation might be, I’ll probably win the next one, right?

Card Games · Friday Night Magic · limited · MTG · pre-release · Tabletop Gaming · Wizards of the Coast

Pre-Release: Dominaria United

We pull into the game shop with seconds to spare and are immediately chastised for not being fifteen minutes early. Tom apologizes. I sheepishly order a coffee.

The couple in front of us say thanks for letting them not be the only ones who were almost late. 

“Any time. Our work here is done.” We’re pretty much heroes.

The event doesn’t end up starting for another fifteen minutes anyway. Tom and I squish into a table near the back with some very quiet and serious looking men. They don’t acknowledge us. 

However, when the pre-release kits are handed out they immediately spring to life showing fire and vigor as they rip open the Dominaria United packs, stained glass styled cardboard flying in every which way.

Tom and I stare at each other in amazement. “Did the employee say we could start?”

Sounds of cardboard being ripped and plastic casings being crinkled and discarded soon fill the room from every other table. It’s like Christmas on crack. 

My defeated looking cat sleeves were a sign of things to come.

Tom and I decide to delve into our own pre-release kits. We trade our dice to each get our favourite colour. 

My kit is a bit disappointing and I can’t identify any bombs. Worse still, there isn’t a single fancy worth more than two dollars. I gaze over at Tom who’s deep in concentration and hope he’s having better luck than me.

I end up coming up with some sort of Green/Blue/Black monstrosity with only a little removal and some pretty pathetic creatures.

“Hopefully I’ll get a bye,” I joke.

One of the quiet men tells me there will be no byes in this match. There goes that wild pipe dream.

As I sit and wait for the matches to be announced, I realize that I normally would have been fretting about my sub par deck. 

I’d think, what if, because I didn’t win, my opponents assumed I was the worst Magic player to ever exist? What if they thought I was too stupid to make a proper deck? What if they thought I was only there because Tom was? 

These types of thoughts used to give me so much anxiety.

Today I’m just wondering who I’ll be matched with. There’s a girl I always see at pre-release matches that’s super funny and I have high hopes of friending. I pray we’re in the same pod. (Spoiler alert: We were and she kicked my ass with Sheoldred two times over and we laughed about it as we gathered a small audience over our ridiculous antics.)

In the end, I realized two things:

  1. I’m not going to be inspired by each and every set when it comes to limited events. Dominaria United is one of these sets. That’s okay.
  2. The new Sheoldred is absurdly good.
Tom made out a bit better than me as shown by his resting-smug-face
Amateur Hour · Card Games · MTG · Spelltable

Conquering my Fear of Spelltable

You know how some people get anxious about going out and meeting a brand new group of people at an event?

Maybe they’re afraid that they won’t have a fun time and will have to wrack their brains for an excuse to leave. Maybe they fear saying the wrong thing and getting scrutinized and judged by everyone else. Or what if no one talks to them and they have to stand there by themselves missing their cat and wishing they were home in pajamas?

Normally, I’m excited to meet new people and live for attending social events. However, this enthusiasm all goes out the window when a meeting is done in digital format. I’m not sure if it’s because I fear that my humor will get lost somewhere inside my computer hardware, if I don’t know how well I’ll be able to connect if I can’t see someone’s facial expression, if small talk seems impossible because we have no physical environment to comment on, if it’s a mix of all of the above or something else entirely.

Regardless, the idea of playing on Spelltable has always terrified me.

In the past, I’ve only played on this website with my family or Tom.

Spelltable was (and is) many people’s way of dealing with the pandemic and continuing to play Magic when in-person meetings were either outlawed or unadvised. It opened up windows of possibility in playing with people from all around the world. All you need to do is finagle a way of suspending your camera above your cards and playmat and set up a microphone. Away you go to your next game!

One feature of Spelltable that’s really convenient is the way the user can click on someone’s card (if they have a camera with high enough resolution) and see the details pulled up on the right hand side of the game. You can also consult the details of any player’s Commander at any point to refresh yourself on what that person’s deck is focused on without having to actually ask.

Also – it’s totally free to use.

Despite all of these convenient features, I was still reluctant to try my hand at Spelltable alone with no Tom. Since we started playing, we’ve played nearly every single game of Commander together. I was afraid that I’d get grouped with a bunch of people playing high powered decks who would play too fast, maybe they would make fun of my card inclusions, or shame me for playing something wrong. What if no one was there to stand up for me and I didn’t know what to say for myself so I’d awkwardly try to hit the “leave” button but somehow flip the camera around in the process showing everyone that I was still in my butterfly pajamas.

My stomach tightened as I hit the “join” button and I was glad that Spelltable doesn’t force it’s users to have face cams. I was pretty sure my panic would be spelled across my bulging eyeballs, flared nostrils, and clenched jaw. Then again, maybe it would let me roll an intimidation check with advantage against my opponents.

Deep breaths. It’s going to be fine. You are being ridiculous.

I was matched with three individuals from three different places all over the world. Veyran, Voice of Duality & Glissa the Traitor & Ognis, the Dragon’s Lash all loomed at me from my opponents’ boards as they shuffled their decks with precision and ease.

I chose my Arjun, the Shifting Flame deck. It’s rare that anyone has even heard of my commander and the deck fits in easily with most power levels below a mid 8. It felt like a safe and interesting bet.

I clumsily shuffled half my deck upside down and hoped they wouldn’t notice or comment on it. They didn’t.

By the end of the game, the four of us were laughing like old friends despite having no idea what any of us looked like, where we lived, what we believed, how long we’d been playing, or what one another’s favourite dinosaur is.

It was pure… well, Magic.


On top of this, it seemed like I might take the entire game. I couldn’t believe my luck!

That is, until I realized that I forced myself to draw my entire deck with Teferi’s Ageless Insight. If I didn’t find an answer before my draw step, I’d murder myself when I tried to draw my next card and there wasn’t one available.

The table of course found this hilarious.

Thankfully, the Veyran player took me and my 60/60 Oneirophage out of our misery right before my turn and snagged the win for himself.

As we were all packing up our items and signing off, Veyran commented on the uniqueness of my deck and Izzet creature-based play-style. We chatted together about Izzet ramp and the difficulties of getting high CMC Commanders out in a timely manner.

In the end, Spelltable felt like a similar experience to any other game at my LGS. Sadly, the only downfall was that I probably wouldn’t see these people at my next game night.

Card Games · LGS · MTG · Review · Tabletop Gaming

LGS Review: Stupid Geeks, Inc in Lake Stevens, Washington

Stupid Geeks, Inc was recommended to us by our very good friend. This shop absolutely did not disappoint.

Walking in, you might feel like you’ve entered into the gaming equivalent of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. The visitor is immediately treated to the nostalgic beeps and bops of arcade games while a myriad of every format of game imaginable are presented in an organized chaos of delight.

The cash register stands proudly in front of at least ten different boxes of Magic packs that a hopeful customer might try their luck at. Fair warning, other regulars might make remarks at your decision to purchase packs instead of only buying singles or drafting with them. Don’t listen. We got an alternate version of the new Smothering Tithe and have absolutely zero regrets.

However, if you want to do the responsible thing, these guys have a massive assortment of singles to purchase and we were able to also snag some specific items from our wish list.

You can find the Discord link on their website to submit a list of desired cards ahead of your visit.

Gaming Area and Events

I’m going to be honest, the gaming area isn’t huge. However, this is remedied by having scheduled events in which case more space can be cleared to set up additional tables. As it stands, there is a table set up for about four people to drop in and play.

Drafts seem to be a regular occurrence and Commander is played Fridays at 7 until late. Join their Discord or call ahead to get the scoop on what their current schedule looks like.

Selection

Glass cases provide a view of some of their fancier cards while massive white boxes are labeled with set symbols behind the cash. Many boxes of draft and set boosters are available including some collector boosters.

Much of the store is taken up by retro video games, which is great if that’s your jam. Even if it’s not, it can still be fun to take a trip down memory lane or at least admire the cute stuffies and other paraphernalia.

Customer Service

Josh, the owner, was a huge sweetheart and obviously has a lot of passion for the game. He has the demeanor of a long-lost friend alongside the ability to make you feel right at home in his store while providing tons of information on his products and events.

I didn’t catch the employee’s name who was working with him, but he seemed knowledgeable as well and had a great sense of humor.

Will There Be Children Under the Age of 13 There?

Judging from their Facebook and Discord, yes. There’s a strong chance of encountering one or more children if you attend an event. Children are encouraged to attend if they have a basic familiarity with the game.

What’s the Average Level of Experience?

We were told that many of their Commander players are new and precons are often viable options. Other regulars have more experience so any prospective Commander-night attendees should bring a variety of decks ranging in different power levels if possible. What’s that? You only have a precon? You’re still good to go.

This place seems exceptionally welcoming to newcomers so if you’re new to the format and live nearby, definitely consider heading here first.

Anything Else to Note

  • We loved the projector screen showcasing NumotTheNummy conducting an Arena draft on Youtube.
  • For those of you who are into other games outside of Magic, this place is a treasure trove of hidden gems.

Find out more at https://stupidgeeksinc.com/