Yes I use a diary!… Alright, I don’t—not usually at least. One of the more common questions I am asked is what it’s like to be a Professional Magic Player. My initial response is that it is an amazing honor to do what you love for a living, but often, that leaves people unsatisfied. Rather, they want to know the ins and outs of daily life when it revolves around cardboard and digital objects.
Normally, I answer with short and sweet answers, not knowing really how far to dive into the topic or even what I would say. But a recent email I received got me to rethink that approach. I am a lucky individual with a unique perspective on things, so why wouldn’t I be willing to describe that to the best of my ability when someone asks?
So, over the last 3 days, I decided to keep a bit of a diary. I basically put down all of my thoughts and some activities related to gaming and Magic on paper. Today, I thought it would be interesting to share that with everyone. Most of the thoughts are raw scribbles of information, so at times I will need to elaborate from the present day, but the idea seemed neat at least. Now seemed like a better time than any to run this little project, as spoiler season always gets the juices flowing, so I have definitely been in a Magic state of mind.
There might be a lot of similar topics, but I didn’t want to doctor anything I wrote down after the fact, so what you see is what you get! Of course, I could not record everything I thought or did, but there should be enough substance here to make up for that. I have never done an article like this, so I expect mixed feedback, but please let me know below if this is something that might be improved upon and reused at a later time, specifically something like in the testing house for a Pro Tour. For now, I will quit babbling and let my past self get to babbling!
(Some discussion of officially spoiled cards from Return to Ravnica is below for the heads up!)
Monday, Sept 10th
Normally I would be waking up to go to work right now, but instead I am getting ready for court… ugh. Still, I couldn’t help but set aside some time for the cards that were spoiled last night.
Trostani – I do love a Soul Warden effect, especially one with so much potential behind it, but I can’t seem to figure out the populate mechanic for Constructed. With the Pro Tour approaching, I definitely need to get in some games before I can figure out if this is actually good or not.
Nivmagus Elemental – Uh what? Not sure I am reading this correctly? Or understanding it? 1 sec, gonna go check the official card… All right, looks like the spoiler I read was right. This seems very strange. Basically, you have the option of turning any instant or sorcery into Giant Strength. While neat, I can’t imagine this being good in Standard, especially with Phyrexian mana leaving. Older formats might want this? Honestly not sure…
Court is over and it was miserable. I should definitely get a draft recorded today since I finally got my computer in the mail. Lunch, then I am off to do that I guess.
Another round 1 loss… sigh. My deck was actually pretty good this time, but a coin flip call went against me in one game and a million Mogg Flunkies jumped on me in the 3rd. I really like this format and even did pretty well live, but my online record is not keeping up. Pretty frustrating, mostly because successful drafts have more content and these recent ones have not been that. Oh well, that’s Magic, just gotta keep at it. Probably won’t get too many more recorded this week, with work and all, but should get 2-4 this weekend.
And the beautiful thing about not reading spoilers the night before is that you get a double dose the very next day. Let’s check these out!
Cyclone Rift – This one seems exciting mostly because it is an instant and because it can just be an Into the Roil without kicker at times. In the late game, this can absolutely turn around a game or cement a win. Seems situational but strong and this will definitely be on my radar.
Jarad’s Orders – While I appreciate the idea behind this card, 4 seems like a little too much to spend (especially when gold) on a tutor and a half. Maybe I am wrong and the scavenge ability is strong enough to make this a tutor for 2, but I doubt it.
Off to bed. Sadly, neither of the officially spoiled cards tonight did much to get my brewer sense tingling, as one card did not excite me while the other is definitely one of those cards that is utility, or metagame dependent. The Limited format is tough to get a firm grasp of as most of the stuff we have been seeing is rare or mythic, so we can’t really know the environment too well. Still, the uncommons do like nice, including the lands, so hopefully this ends up being similar to the last Ravnica. Goodnight!
Tuesday, Sept 11th
Back to work as usual, with no court today. While I was in the shower this morning thinking about what I would write, the impact of my “new” job really kept surfacing in my mind. Basically, being behind the scenes of making a game has taught me so much about the one that I play for a living.
I am really being pushed to see things from angles I have never seen before, which I hope turns me into a better deck builder, player, and teammate. Exact examples need not even be given (and I can’t even if I wanted to), but the experience in general has really been eye opening. I have also grown to appreciate how amazing of a game Magic really is. Of course I have always thought this on some level, but I have a whole new appreciation for the game now and everything it encompasses. Oh well, time to snap out of my head and get on the road!
Just had lunch and some great discussion about game design and how it pertains to Magic. This was exactly what I was referring to this morning. One thing that did catch my attention was the complexity of some of the rares and mythics in this set. I wonder if there is a general shift to more complexity with gold inherently, or whether Wizard’s feels the pressure to give us bigger, better and more complex things simply because they are gold.
That said, Angel of Serenity and Guild Feud are two of these complex cards, and they are not gold at all. To be fair, we just got past a core set where cards tend to be more simple, so maybe it is just the comparison between the two that makes these look over the top. I wonder if the perception of 2nd sets or 3rd sets in a block is generally different than perceptions of the first for this very reason.
Things are winding down for the day as I just stepped inside. Time to go check out the spoilers for today!
Epic Experiment – Genesis Wave say what? I love Genesis Wave more than most cards printed in recent times and this is just the instant and sorcery equivalent. There is a trick here due to lands though. Unlike Genesis Wave, you cannot make sure 57 or 56 cards in your deck are spells, as you need mana, so this is likely weaker, but still intrigues me. I will be jamming this into many decks during testing lol.
Wednesday, Sept 12th-
Up and getting ready for work. I have a bad habit of putting off travel when I get the reminder over a month in advance, so I definitely need to figure out my travel plans for PT Seattle and GP San Jose soon. Balancing price versus convenience is something that never gets solved and usually means a decent amount of time in search for the right flight and hotel.
If there is one thing I have learned about Pro Tour travel over the years, it is that price should never be the sole variable. Too many times I hear of people sleeping in horrible situations during a Pro Tour and it always seems miserable. If that is the only option, I understand, but your comfort level improves your performance so much. Remember that you are also there to have a good time. Winning is nice and all, but enjoying the situation, the people, and the city are all amazing opportunities to have. Do not get tunnel vision and ignore the amazing elements of the Pro Tour that don’t involve tapping lands.
While viewing some of the new cards from Ravnica, the guys at work began talking about some neat effects and I instantly replied with “Isn’t that a card? What’s its name?” As I wracked my brain for a minute, I realized that it in fact, was not a Magic card, well at least not one that had ever seen print.
Back in college, between 2007-2008, I worked on this personal block of my own, intended to be a draft-only format for me and my friends. The card I had thought of was from that custom set. Fortunately, I kept a large box with many of my old cards in it which I instantly went for after remembering this effect. While rifling through some of the set, I stumbled upon my Paul Cheon planeswalker that Luis put out onto facebook and it definitely made me smile.
That was really my first attempt at doing any sort of design for a game before, even if it was all unofficial and off the market. I was proud of what I had done, despite it not being perfect. Working on that project definitely made a lot of lonely nights at the front desk of my dorm, where I worked, go by a lot easier. Here are a few pictures of some of the cards I managed to dig up:
(This set was intended to be a little more powerful than normal and be able to track things that Magic does not normally track due to the friendly nature of the games we played with the set etc. And yes, I included a land death card in the batch!)
And while my set did not have reprints in general, I had to fit this bad boy in so that we could have a format where it was actually legal!
It’s that time of the night again. As a Magic player, I get to experience Christmas morning 3-4 times a year for 2-3 weeks straight, and it’s awesome! With a glass of wine in hand, I prepared myself for the night’s offerings.
Sphinx’s Revelation – WOW. I don’t really know what to say about this card yet, but I would be utterly shocked if I did not play it multiple times before it rotates. Blue Sun’s Zenith, you will hardly be missed.
Mecurial Chemister – Despite feeling like neither word in this guy’s title is a real word… might I say… WHAT? I get that he is a 5-drop with only 3 toughness, but WHAT? This will easily give me nightmares when one of each of my opponents crack it on Day 1 of Grand Prix San Jose…
Well, I hope that was enjoyable at least. I am sure I could improve in plenty of areas, this being my maiden voyage and all, but it was interesting to take time out each day to record my thoughts. I focused a little more on spoilers this time, simply because that was definitely a big focus of mine during the week. Let me know where I could improve or what you liked in the comments and as always, thanks for reading!