Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Yes, I am THAT Guy in Casual Magic

The Mana Pool is one of my favourite Magic: the Gathering podcasts, and one of the few geared towards casual players.

The most recent episode, #377 Aaron’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame, hit home as Aaron talked about being THAT Casual guy:

Aaron comes on to talk about being That Guy. No no, not THAT That Guy. Not one of the bad ones. But the guy that’s been playing forever and has lots of cards and lots of decks and actually has some money to spend on the game. Some casual players frown on That Guy, which gives That Guy some kind of stigma. Aaron wants to address that stigma and help change the opinion of That Guy. That Guy might not be all bad. You might even be able to learn something from That Guy’s experiences! So don’t dump on That Guy!

As you might have guessed, I am also that guy…and my wife, I guess she is THAT girl ^.^

We’re the ones that have been playing for years (2007), have a huge collection, make far too many decks (over 200!), and spend an excessive amount of our disposable income on the game.

We have met a lot of new people playing Magic, yet it’s been eight years since we’ve had the feeling of being the newbies. Most everybody we play with has varying levels of experience, and some even have been playing longer, but my wife and I always tend to be the ones with "all of the good cards".

On this ‘cast, Aaron brought up some good points that I’d like to connect with our personal experience.


Magic: the Gathering is a very complicated game, and there have been over 13,000 unique cards printed. When we first met some very experienced casual players, it was an overwhelming experience. I had played back during the REVISED era, and the card pool was fairly tiny compared to today.

Not only did we have to stop and read every card, but with so many (new) rules to learn, and so many strange interactions, our hastily put-together new decks were often destroyed. It was great to swim with the sharks and learn to swim without a floatation device, but it can be daunting.

The players we played with we far from cutthroat, but the nature of the game, combined with their massive card and deck pools, meant that we had a lot of catching up to do.

Thus, it is important to be patient with new and very casual players and do your best to explain what your cards do (let them read them carefully) and how things work. Try not to overwhelm them right off the bat, or they might get discouraged. Information overload is a real possibility.


If you are playing with newer or unfamiliar players, it is best to have a variety of decks to choose from. If you curb-stomp them with your Tier 1 Standard deck, and do it constantly, they won’t even want to play with you again.

This isn’t the military, and we don’t need hard-knock boot camp training. I don’t suggest going ‘easy’, but bring out a mid-level ‘fair’ deck and try to have interactive games.

I always bring a good range of decks to play against new and unfamiliar opponents. If I notice that they have some serious game, then I can bring out the big guns. Otherwise, I have goofier decks that I can play and foster a more social setting.

As for Combo decks, most of our playgroups frown on those these days. I know only to whip them out around other players that are at ease facing them, and only on rare occasions. Best leave the combo decks in the box until you know it’s safe.

** One little caveat that amuses me is just how much more powerful creatures are compared to 10-20 years ago. Even newer players can match up well against old decks, simply by the virtue of how much better today’s creatures are.


Maybe he should change his diet?
One intimidating factor can be the fact that my wife and I tend to have a lot of splashy mythics and rares. Yes, we’re the lambs that usually buy a box of every new set, tend to do a bit of trading, and like to tweak and evolve our decks from time to time.

It’s important to note that money isn’t everything in the game, and newer players should be taught that...

1.    Many of the expensive cards that we might have were acquired when they were cheap. Liliana of the Veil is now over $100, but I got my copy from a booster pack. Simply put, long-time players will have expensive cards, just by the nature of the game as a collectible and popular hobby. 

2.    Not all good cards are expensive. I love to ‘bin’, and search bulk boxes for $1 gems. Some of the best cards are commons and uncommons, and I like to challenge myself to build good decks without spending $ and by using cheap cards. These two cards, for example, are amazing, and can be found very cheap.
3.   If you have a large collection, with lots of excess cardboard lying around, donate some of those cards! We have a bulk box that any of our friends can search and take some freebies from, and we’ve also put some bulk rares into a binder. If we won’t use them, and they aren’t very tradable, maybe one of our playgroup can find a home for them. 


It goes without saying, but try not to be an over-competitive ass. I know I had a few spurts where I was getting far too angry about losing casual games, and it was making the other players uncomfortable. If you are feeling very competitive and want nothing to do but win, find a different arena.

Remember, nobody is keeping stats, and you want to be able to foster relationships that will last. I know I was close to driving away some people because I was acting like a prick, and appeared to not be having fun, so cut that crap out.