Friday Night Magic · LGS · Social Dynamics

Libraries Vs. Local Game Stores

It’s Friday night and I’ve completed my brand new Queen Marchesa deck hours before our arrival at Local Game Store. Tom and I are currently in a showdown between Jack (the store owner), and Kyle (one of the other regulars). No, these are not their real names.

Our game has been going for two hours already when the store abruptly loses power due to a wind storm. It’s pitch black for several moments and every dude in there does the “OooOooOo” sound that everyone has done since grade school for this monumental occasion. I miss the memo and instead yell, “Quick! Draw extra cards!”

Before long, two plastic camping lanterns are brought out and distributed to each table. The store was prepared for this exact event. Our game continues for another hour due to Jack’s pillow fort shenanigans, Marchesa’s politics, Necrons’ reanimatey-ness, and whatever the hell Kyle is doing. (It nearly wins him the game in the end before Jack steals the victory for himself.)

Most of the town is out of power for the next three to five days. However, commercial areas such as the one that our LGS is located in are prioritized and quickly get power back before the residential areas do. Thankfully, Jack allows us to soak up the heat and light from Local Game Store like the lizards we all are. He even directs us to where we can charge our phones.

While completing my Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies, it was continually driven home that libraries are one of the last existing community hubs that exist. They are safe havens that connect people of all ages to resources, information, and other human beings. More than that, they’re toted as the last remaining space where one can go to engage with their community completely free of charge.

Seeing the way that our LGS functioned during a power outage made me realize that game stores function in much the same way.

Of course, they are still businesses that hope for some of our hard earned dollars to go into purchasing new cards, snacks, sleeves, and event fees. However, unlike other retail outlets, most LGSes welcome in community members to simply sit and exist and play a game of Commander even when they don’t have a single penny to spend. They offer a warm and dry place for their patrons to come when disaster hits and, if you’re as lucky as Tom and I are, they foster a safe environment where nerds like us are free to be ourselves and connect with other like-minded people.

Contrary to what my professors and employers would have me believe, libraries are not the last places in every town and city that people can simply exist. In an article for World Literature Today, Linda Stack-Nelson decries that “in a library, no one is asked to pay anything simply to sit. For those with few resources besides time, this is a godsend. Libraries are unofficial playgrounds for low-income families on rainy days, homeless shelters in cold months, reprieves from broken homes for grade-school-age children. They are the last bastions of quiet and calm where nothing is asked of one but to exist.”

It’s true that libraries are all of these things.

However, I think it’s worth acknowledging that local game stores like my own are valid counterparts in offering up a sense of sanctuary for diverse groups of people to relax, unwind, learn, and feel free to be themselves.

That being said, one of the key differences between these two locations is that at one of them, you have a significantly lesser chance of being shushed.

MMO · Video Games · World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft: Is It Morally Okay to Return for Dragonflight?

Credit: SOPA Images (Getty Images)

Tom and I met playing World of Warcraft. Well, to be more precise, we met on Twitch while he was streaming World of Warcraft. One dark and stormy night in Vancouver, I decided to look for my sister’s channel and had no clue what the website even was. Instead, I found Tom.  Or rather, “Demandred”.

Four years later, we were happily married, living in Washington, and enjoying our life surrounded by cookbooks, cats, and all the nerdy things we could possibly get our hands on.

Well. Except WoW. 

In July of 2021, we packed up all of our World of Warcraft posters, t-shirts, books, and other paraphernalia. We closed down apps and Discord channels devoted to the topic. It wasn’t just us. Nearly our entire community followed suit. Whereas we had been dedicating two nights a week to raiding and more to running Mythic+ dungeons and Random-BullshitTM with friends, we couldn’t find a way to feel morally okay with continuing the game. We just didn’t see a place for ourselves within an environment ripe with allegations of harassment, discrimination, and a toxic workplace culture for women.

Many of our favourite streamers agreed and took a step backward. My World of Warcraft loving mom also stopped playing. This was heartbreaking, because I knew how much she loved adventuring with her beloved Hunter.

Surely, something will be done to fix this, we thought. We leaned into playing Magic: The Gathering and Final Fantasy XIV and continuously looked for any positive developments from Activision-Blizzard.

What ensued was an embarrassment to the entire organization. The company seemed to have been brought kicking and screaming to conducting any positive transformations. Yes, they instilled Jen Oneal to help lead to the company after J. Allen Brack was booted left to pursue “new opportunities”. She left shortly thereafter due to an unfair pay discrepancy between her and her co-lead, Mike Ybarra, that had been left unaddressed for months.

Another example is that a mere four days ago, Activision-Blizzard was hit with yet another lawsuit regarding, you guessed it, sexual harassment in the work place. It still feels like the company is trying to deny any wrongdoing and brush these incidents under the rug, hoping people will forgive and forget.

I understand why many of my friends haven’t returned to the game. Tom and I thought that Blizzard would make a concentrated effort to publicly celebrate the achievements of their female staff, players, and affiliates. Instead, it feels like they tried to win us over with sparkly dragons and an entirely overhauled crafting system.

The idea of engaging with World of Warcraft in any capacity is undeniably a difficult and complex subject. On the one hand, the game is how Tom and I first met. Key game locations such as Stormwind, Grizzly Hills, or Dalaran are all akin to memories of home. The familiar interface and the faces of the characters we’ve known for years brings a certain amount of comfort to an incredibly topsy turvy last few years. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way. On the other hand, the idea of supporting execs who seem to be in denial over their intensely problematic past is absolutely nauseating to think about.

In Taliesen and Evitel‘s August 17th, 2021 weekly reset video, Taliesen points out that Blizzard is a better place than it was before due to the sacrifices and efforts of the staff, the women coming forward with their grievances and trauma, and the change that all of this has instilled.

Taliesin discusses the future of WoW

Furthermore, no WoW dev/staff has called for a boycott on the games. People stepping away from the situation can make the struggles for the improvement of the game and video game culture, in general, a bit worthless. Many people with the company are still advocating for change and positive developments. Taliesen goes on to point out that if the people who care about these issues and the treatment of women leave, that “just leaves the assholes” and that’s a pretty sad prospect for all the work and investment that has been poured into improving the situation for the community as a whole.

Although Taliesen made some solid points, I found it difficult to personally own the words of someone who makes their income off of providing WoW content. Streamers and content creators who have their livelihoods at stake could be tempted to find justification to continue playing – wherever they can make that argument.

For someone like myself, the situation isn’t as dire. I don’t depend on WoW for financial stability.

In order to arrive at some sort of informed decision, I reached out to someone who wrote one of the most read articles during the height of The Shit Storm. I’m not providing their name, because at the time that we had our discussion, I wasn’t planning on writing this blog post and didn’t indicate that I would be citing them.

However, they pointed out that the company “can and is” still being held accountable. Change is happening. While this person couldn’t state that Activision-Blizzard is an exceptionally good and moral company now, they urged players to have hope. Good people within the company are still working hard to create effective change, and they’re still asking for and need support. In a way, this journalist echoed Taliesin’s arguments for continuing to support the change that is being developed – however slow it is occurring. It made me feel better to have a second opinion. One positive change is the new social contract that was introduced in order to curb toxicity. While I think a bigger deal should have been made over the announcement of this feature, it’s still an excellent development to begin setting the tone for a healthier atmosphere.

I took about a month after this conversation to deliberate. Blizzard isn’t making things easy on players to return. Rather, every individual must do intense mental work in order to decide if re-subscribing is the correct choice. It would make a lot more sense if, through Activision-Blizzard’s actions, they took away a chunk of this burden. Instead of quietly making systematic changes at their organization, they should be loudly and very publicly celebrating the transformation and the achievements of their staff members and letting us know how they intend to do better. Unfortunately, in this regard, they’ve been absolutely negligent. It’s like they don’t want the frat boy portion of their player base to judge them for caving in to demands from all those who were horrified over the revelation of abuse and discrimination towards women.

Nevertheless, on (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, Tom and I made the decision to return. Although we’ve been let down by many recent news stories about the company, we still have hope that Blizz is changing from the inside out. When the first few subdued vocals of the character loading screen poured out of my headphones, I felt excited and relieved. Excited for future adventures to come and a renewed engagement with people I previously loved tackling content with. Relieved to be returning to the comforts of game-play that have aided me through two university degrees, a couple of breakups, countless jobs, meeting my husband, and moving to another country. Similarly thrilled about the prospect of playing together again, my sister immediately re-subbed and sent me the new cat mount that I’d been dying to have for the entire five minutes that I’d known of it’s existence. It felt like Christmas had come early.

My WoW loving mom is less confident in giving Blizzard another chance or any more money, opting to dip her toes in the water first with some trial game-play. This is okay too. Both of these reactions are just as valid as the other.

For all of the positive changes that are being made, there is an equal number of unsettling news items popping up on a regular basis. I hope that this is just part of the process of taking out the trash. However, taking a cautious approach in regards to who and what we are supporting is something to be commended. It’s important to honor our feelings of outrage, discomfort, or even heartbreak over a company that has permeated so many facets of our lives. The betrayal caused by the executives at Blizzard is still just as real today as it was when it first launched. Their level of accountability has been entirely unacceptable.

Receiving the Sunwarmed Furline as a “welcome back” gift

Tonight, Tom and I spent the night in Discord running dungeons while laughing with old friends and new ones. We weren’t sure if we should return, but our desire and nostalgia for our gaming community won out. What ensued was a re-vitalization of our Discord server, time spent with friends that had dropped off of our radar to a small extent, a renewed enjoyment for spending time at home in our comfiest clothing with our favourite snacks close at hand and a shared joy in our virtual achievements.

For me, World of Warcraft has always been about community. The face of that community may shift and change over the years, but it’s always been a way to connect with friends, coworkers, and family alike. Many people on my social media accounts are people that I originally met playing WoW. It felt a bit unfair to myself to turn my back on a game that has enriched my life in so many ways. A game that I know has enriched so many other people’s lives and provided joy and companionship where otherwise, there might not have been much to have. I’m not saying that my decision is final and that I won’t change my mind at a certain point. However, I’m feeling relatively confident in seeing how the next few months pan out.

A screenshot of recent gameplay with friends

Activision-Blizzard is still an intensely problematic company and the decision to return to a game like World of Warcraft remains deeply personal. My experience and perspective can’t solve this question for anyone else. However, I’m hoping that my journey can at least shed some light on how to go about processing these issues and help another prospective player identify what factors are most important to them.

Blizz has a long way to go, but I feel hopeful that it’s worth it to stick around for the sake of the friendships that I’ve made and the content that has continually comforted, challenged, and inspired me. At least for now.

What can I do?”

  • Discuss the situation with your friends, family, and guild mates to gain further insight and raise awareness over the ongoing issues.
  • Add your voice to the demands for change by making a post on social media and using the #EndAbuseInGaming hashtag.
  • Follow female game designers and lend them your love and support! Two of my favourites are FelOlivia and SarahCotner. I find that seeing their posts and how they discuss their work aids my understanding of the situation as a whole.
  • Engage with websites such as to further encourage more thought and critical discussion about how women are portrayed and treated in video games and gaming workplaces.

Events · Friday Night Magic · LGS · MTG · Story · Wizards of the Coast

A Fight to the Finish at FNM: Unfinity vs the Warhammer 40K Precons

When Tom and I walk into our LGS, we’re immediately at a crossroads. (I use the word ‘walk’ very loosely. Due to a freak nacho-related accident involving an R.V and a dark road, I’m currently hobbling around in an air-cast with a broken foot.) Two rows of long white plastic church tables are set up at opposite ends of the store.

At the first table, Mr. Best and his friends slam down high powered cEDH staples and talk about which new 40k Commander deck has the most value in it once disassembled. 

The other table hosts a gaggle of children and their mothers. The children continuously run up to the store owner, Jack, and ask if it’s time to draft Unfinity yet.

However, there is also a third table. A round table in the middle invites players who don’t quite know where they fit to take a seat and wait for further enlightenment. Make no mistake, Tom and I want nothing to do with Unfinity. In fact, after the announcement that some of the cards were made Commander legal, we decided to avidly hate everything about the latest unset. Especially stickers.

However, we don’t really want to sit down with the competitive players either. This table has already purchased their 40k decks and are in the process of dismantling them.

“I thought it was supposed to be a pre-con event,” I say to Tom. “Not an immediately-rip-apart-the-deck” event.

He shrugs. “Yeah, I thought so too.”

To each their own though.

Mr. Alela joins us at the round table with a giant box of Unfinity and an even bigger smile plastered over his face. His shirt reads “I don’t have OCD, I have CDO (in alphabetical order, as it should be).” He also has the white, blue, and black Forces of the Imperium deck sitting at the ready. I’m not quite sure how he intends to do both events, but I suppose he’s ready for whichever way the wind blows.

The Necron Dynasties and Ruinous Power Precons.

I pick up the blue, black, and red Ruinous Powers deck and Tom takes the black Necron Dynasties. We’re trying to get the store owner, Jack, to purchase Tyrannid Swarm so that we’ll have all four in our play group, but he isn’t budging. Besides, he has his hands full with two events scheduled at the same time and an unruly group of Magic players swarming around him, making purchases, and demanding answers to their questions.

Mr. Alela’s Christmas-Came-Early wrappers being discarded everywhere.

A child runs up and asks Jack to explain the Devil Kenevil card and he’s whisked away to Unfinity land. We hear Jack playing a video and explaining how to ‘jump’ the card from the edge of the table to make it fly over other cards in order to gain counters. I make eye contact with the child’s mother who is looking as content as a mother hen watching her child light up over the silly unset cards and their unconventional mechanics.

Meanwhile, Mr. Alela is giggling to himself as green and purple wrappers go flying over my purse (and very threatening-and-scary Ruinous Powers deck) in direct opposition to the mantra emanating from his OCD/CDO shirt. I can’t help but feel like the Grinch at the end of the story when his heart grows three sizes. The pure childlike excitement is contagious and even though I still don’t want anything to do with the product myself, I can appreciate the joy that it’s bringing to those around me.

After a certain amount of time has passed, it’s clear that Jack doesn’t have enough people to run both events. The high powered Commander players have finished completing the upgrades to their existing decks and have already launched into games. The Unfinity children have gotten bored and the adults who were interested in the product simply walked into the store, purchased boxes, and fled the premises.

I feel bad.

It feels anti-climactic.

I wanted to rejoice in Unfinity being a massive failure, but instead, all I feel is remorse for the mother hen packing up her child’s cards and telling him that it’s time to go. The other two kids are being loaded up into mini-vans and promised McDonald’s for a late dinner. Mr. Alela tucks away his Unfinity cards and prepares for a game of Commander with us.

In the end, we had three people play the new 40K precons and Mr. Vega joined us with his pirate deck. He stated that he wants one of the decks, but has to wait until his next payday. There’s no denying that the first Universes Beyond precon set is a massive hit when it comes to quality. The decks are well put together and fun to play even for those who are completely unfamiliar with the Warhammer universe. Mr. Vega and Mr. Alela are both excited to spout off lore about the cards we play and my deck centered around something called “The Warp” is absolutely kicking off.

When I try to foil Mr. Alela’s plan for galactic domination, he takes me out of the game in one of the sickest burns I’ve experienced in a Magic game to date:

(I’m still laughing about it today.)

Tom’s Necron deck is undoubtedly the most powerful of the bunch and we have to keep him from taking over with his army of Egyptian zombie skeleton robots the entire time. I can see this becoming one of his all time favourite decks.

The Warhammer 40K pre-cons were an absolute blast and I look forward to playing Ruinous Powers at least another three or four times before I upgrade it. Jack ordered 48 decks and at the end of the launch, he only has 8 left. We live in a fairly small town so this is impressive.

My heart goes out to those who were genuinely excited for Unfinity. If the launch dates and card legality had been handled differently, it looks like it could have been a really fun experience. It’s hard to fully enjoy the massive success of the new pre-cons without taking into account the disappointment experienced by other community members of our LGS. Hoping they find other ways to enjoy the latest (and likely to be the last) unset.

If anything, the experience has taught me to try not to be such a Grinch about other people’s fun.

MTG · Social Dynamics · Uncategorized

What Commander You Should Play Based off of Your Astro Sign

Whether you’ve invested interest in your daily horoscope to the point of compiling a detailed personal portrait or you think it’s all a bit silly but you’re still here for a laugh, I’ve assembled a list of what types of commanders I think each sign would feel the best playing. Let me know whether you agree, disagree, or have any further thoughts to add on to my predictions!

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

Creative, compassionate, intellectual

Alright, Aquarius! You’re a bit eccentric, a bit intellectual, and a lot of positive energy. That’s why I think that a group hug commander like Zedruu would be the perfect fit for you. You not only want to try to save the whole entire world (or in this case, play group), but you have the intellectual know-how to figure out how to do so. At least for a little while. Your sign is known for thinking outside the box and a group hug strategy is something that fits the bill. Not to mention, the artwork for Zedruu is absolutely bizarre. It’s the stuff that Aquarian minds are made out of. However, just because you want to see your fellow players thrive doesn’t mean that you don’t have a way to ultimately take the win for yourself. Whatever commander you end up favoring, chances are that people love your quirky play style.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Imaginative, idealistic, mystical

My fellow Pisces! Our daydreamy selves are drawn to wild pipe dreams, fantasy, and escapism more than any other sign. The problem can be with the follow through. (Lucky us, right?) I think that Neera is a perfect fit for our high hopes. This commander allows us to stack our decks with Eldrazi and other powerful and expensive spells in hopes of cheating them out at a critical moment. However, there’s a huge element of chaos to the process and the odds of us pulling off our ingenious plan are about 50/50. This deck also tends to focus on a lot of scry effects which feeds in perfectly to our dreamy secretive natures. What Piscean doesn’t want a deck built on secrets and daydreams? If anything, our water loving selves can at least delight in feeling like we’re going fishing with every turn.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Driven, competitive, reckless

Aries! You’re known as the strongest, bravest, and most raw of the zodiac and you guys tend to have warm and passionate natures. On top of this, I can’t think of another sign that’s more competitive. You guys needed a commander that would reflect your innate desire to not only be first but also the best. Who better than Najeela? Her attack heavy strategy offers Aries players an opportunity to put their fearless and ambitious energy to work almost immediately. You guys aren’t afraid to hear the groans at the table when you activate those extra combat phases because hey, it’s a game and you’re here to win!

When it comes to getting what you want, you’re not afraid to do whatever it takes. Najeela is here to assist with this and give you that feeling of invincibility. At least until someone else dares to step up to the plate. (However, chances are, your head-start might give them a run for their money at this point.)

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Patient, Sensuous, Reliable

Tauruses are all about returns on their investments, living in a chilled atmosphere, and prioritizing consistency in any way possible. If it aint broke, don’t fix it, amirite? For these reasons, I’d expect my Taurean pals to seek out Commanders such as Oloro, who benefits it’s controller even when it isn’t in play. It’s a great way to secure a stable life total as well as card draw while reliably dishing out damage to opponents. Taureans love a tested strategy that can be entrusted to secure wins time and time again. Problem is, they might have a hard time ever veering too far off from that path once they find a Commander that they enjoy! These people definitely have a dog earred, well loved “pet deck” that they turn to time and time again. They can now kick back Oloro-style and watch their opponents scramble to make their overly ambitious or too inventive (read: disorderly) decks work.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Versatile, inquisitive, clever

Hello my super sly, curious, and flexible Geminis! You’re known for wanting to keep your options open and keeping tabs on everyone and everything going on around you. Your bunch definitely needed a commander like Elminster to reflect the desire to keep opportunities and information constantly at your fingertips. This planeswalker allows you to be constantly gathering information from your deck by scrying. Creating evasive Faerie Dragons also gives you a method of preparing for a multitude of situations that might be thrown your way. This deck will accommodate your analytical tendencies by allowing you to brainstorm a solution to almost any problem the game might generate. In addition, the ability to churn out spells seemingly out of nowhere seems to be a good reflection of your quick-witted natures.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Self-protective, enigmatic, sentimental

Holy charismatic Cancers, Batman! Your lot are able to secure total loyalty and attention from those close to you. What better commander to demonstrate this incredible superpower than Breena, the Demagogue? This deck is centered around offering your opponents benefits for attacking one another instead of you. As long as players are loyal to you, you’ll dole out rewards for their companionship.

On the other side of things, crabs are known to be a bit, well, emotional. Their moods and motives can turn on a dime. It would be wise of your opponents to make sure that they stay on your good side rather than risk the wrath of all those +1/+1 counters when your good humor has come to an end!

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

Glamorous, Luxurious, Popular

While Leo’s might have a flair for the dramatic, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re all the most outgoing people in the world. Because of this, I avoided commanders that focus on group hug strategies or large-and-in-charge legendaries like Sen Triplets. Instead, I think you most likely gravitate towards flashy or flamboyant products or mechanics. See Prosper. This deck is all about treasure creation and casting spells by exiling cards off of your own and other players’ libraries. I think exile decks such as this satisfy that need for Leo’s to avoid a dull experience while also providing them with a plethora of options to give them exactly what they want. The treasure aspect satisfies their desire for luxury. On top of all this, a popular commander such as Prosper highlights Leo’s love for appreciation and praise. Whatever the case might be, FNM with a Leo involved is never (tome) bound to be a boring time.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

Hard working, perfectionist, modest

Virgos are methodical, industrious, and possess a passion for excellence through hard effort. Virgos want to devote their mental energy into a strategy that will both challenge and reward them through a practical game plan. Enter Sefris and her dungeon venturing. It’s not unusual for Sefris players to often spend upwards from 10 minutes sorting out triggers and collecting rewards from their dungeoneering adventures. This game-plan isn’t the most obviously powerful to any onlookers as the rewards can often seem minimal and board-states can require a lot of set up. Sefris’ modest strategy can often allow Virgo players to go unnoticed until it’s much too late for anyone to put an end to their game plan. Through diligence matched with lofty ambitions, Sefris often collects wins in addition to all of her other dungeon treasures due to being overlooked. Keep durdling, Virgos. It’s working for you!

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Diplomatic, charming, well-balanced

Librans are everyone’s kindly family member or friend who can always be trusted to provide balance, harmony, and peace at what might otherwise be a volatile holiday gathering. With the ability to be persuasive, charming, honest, and in tune with other’s emotions and desires, Librans are well-equipped to see all sides of a disagreement. Kenrith is a great commander for Libran players due to his accommodation for several different play-styles. Kenrith decks can vary greatly due to the way that he can satisfy almost any motive. More than likely, Libra players might be drawn to make a good-stuff-deck and balance all of the best cards from each colour. (Plus, it seemed pretty fitting to give the Returned King to a sign full of natural born leaders.)

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Strategic, Shrewd, Charismatic

Scorpios often give the impression of being calm and subdued – much like our beloved Yuriko, the Tigers Shadow. A 1/3? How threatening. However, underneath the surface, we find people who are extremely passionate and tricky. Scorpio players love to lie in wait and strike at an opportune moment. At first glance, Yuriko might fly under your opponents’ radar when it appears all you want to do is swing in with a measly 1/3.

However, it’s important to note that Yuriko can come out incredibly fast and has the ability to cheat out powerful creatures dealing an intense amount of unexpected damage. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto, a “planet” that’s characterized by both destruction and transformation. For this reason, Yuriko and her ninjutsu sneakiness seems perfect for our sensuous, passionate, and sometimes deceitful Scorpios.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Spontaneous, philosophical, humorous

A first impression of a Sagittarian might provide an image of a chaotic, free spirited Shambala enthusiast. However, although it’s undeniable that these players love a deck that’s both fun and amusing, they’re also surprisingly philosophical. After-all, what came first – the dinosaur or the Egg? Atla Palani offers Sagittarius players the opportunity to have a unique adventure every time their deck comes out. They never know what plan they might hatch this time around, but they’re going to love the spontaneity of whatever comes out of it. This deck also caters to their tendency to stretch rules by essentially cheating out big stompy creatures at a moment’s notice. Whatever deck Sagittarians gravitate towards, it should offer a sense of adventure and intrigue.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Stubborn, Traditional, Self-Reliant

Alright, Capricorns. What’s more traditional in a game called “Elder Dragon Highlander” than dragons? Due to your guys’ love for time-honored convention and doing what you know is going to be acceptable choice, I decided that it was pertinent that I choose a dragon commander for you. I would expect my Capricorn opponents to not only choose a widely used commander, but one that would allow them to do all the things without having to depend on their allies. Dragons. The answer here is dragons. Do I need to say it again? Dragons have natural evasion and are heavy hitters which allows my Capricorn friendlies to dominate playing fields without having to spend too much time politicing. In addition, choosing a commander that highlights your persistence seemed important. Whenever Vrondiss is dealt damage, you come back swinging with even more dragons. What’s not to like for you guys here?

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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


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.


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:

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!

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.