What type of Magic player are you? A Constructed Spike? A Limited guru? An FNM warrior who occasionally also crushes PPTQs? Maybe you’re a Commander player, or like casual Magic, or are simply a devourer of Magic content on the web.
If you’re at all like me and most Magic players, one of these made you think, “Yeah, that’s me but I like to categorize myself like ____. Also, that description is so one-dimensional. There’s a lot more to my Magic experience.”
Alongside the complexity of the game itself, the networks we create with each other are also very complex. I’m a competitive player, but also a Magic writer, consumer of content, and lover of exploratory deckbuilding both within the confines of Constructed and Limited Magic. That can’t really be summed up in any single label.
Without sitting down and thinking about your relationship with Magic, you might never even know what type of player you are. Throughout your experiences you’ll develop certain attachments to the game that become integral to your understanding. An example is simply attending your friend’s Thursday game night each week. Another would be when you wake up each morning and read as much Magic content as you can before heading off to work—maybe instead you do that before going to bed at night. Perhaps you book two months of travel at a time and are a Grand Prix warrior, looking to explore the game as competitively as possible, hitting up every convention center inside your country and even out.
In the end it doesn’t really matter what type of Magic player you are as long is it makes you happy. You can be perfectly happy fighting your way to get to the pinnacle of Magic, Top 8’ing Pro Tours, playing at Worlds, and being recognized as a household name in the game of Magic. Similarly, you might never attend a Pro Tour at all, and be completely happy with that fact. What’s important though is the choice you make with what you want out of the game. Also remember that these two examples aren’t the only options.
I’ve seen a broad scope in this game. Each aspect, both competitive and casual, have made Magic mean more to me, and I love that I can understand it in different ways. Sometimes my interactions with the game are figuring out what my last sideboard card is, how a matchup plays out, or how to best play around my opponent’s potential topdecks. Other times they’re first-picking Panharmonicon in a Magic Online draft when I know it’s the wrong pick but a sweet one, interacting with the community, or writing articles like this one. In that whole experience I am happiest. I experience Magic the way I want to.
So what’s all this mean for you? Magic can be experienced in so many ways, and I encourage you to make Magic the best game it can be for you. I also encourage you to be honest with yourself. If you want to absolutely be the best Magic player in the world and start winning at the highest echelons of tournaments, act like it. Set priorities and constantly think about and play Magic. Being among the best is a tough road. Find your way to embark on that journey and make it a realistic goal. Know that there will be sacrifices. You will have less time to spend with friends and family, less time to explore other passions you might have, and less time for simple day-to-day routines. I know all these things are true for me because I’ve taken that path. It was a tough road to truly become better at the game, but I’m happy I took it and had that journey. I’m happy looking forward to my next Grand Prix and hope that it might be the one to spike again. I’m getting fired up thinking about testing for it just writing this.
Ultimately though, each Magic experience is an evolution. For me, I’ve spent three years travelling to more Grand Prix than I can count, attending 10 Pro Tours, and putting in considerable effort aimed at improving on Magic Online. Recently I’ve decided to pull back some. I’m attending an average of a Grand Prix a month instead of two to three. My scope with the game is much wider. I’m back to more frequent deck building and exploration, which is something I’ve really always loved about the game. I’m writing more, streaming more, embracing the community as much as possible, and spending more time with loved ones. This road that I’m on came through a lot of self-reflection that let me experience Magic in a way that coincided with what I want out of life, and so I simply changed my direction a bit to more accurately reflect those desires. Honesty with what you want out of the game can only ever come from within.
Experience Magic the way you want it. The great news is that it is a game of exploration. There are countless ways to enjoy the game and the best part is that there is no wrong choice as long as you choose it for yourself. Be honest with yourself with what you want out of your experience. Maybe you’re happy attending FNM each week and that’s your only time spent playing the game. Maybe you spend 40 hours a week practicing for tournaments, tuning your deck until it’s perfect, and getting ready to crush the current metagame. Both these approaches are fantastic! Know who you are, set a realistic pathway to experience the game in the way you want, and don’t let anyone else tell you what that experience should look like.
Do you want to skip an upcoming tournament and just hang out at home? Great, do that. Are you excited to travel the next month straight going to every tournament possible? That’s fantastic too. Maybe you weren’t thinking about either of those things and are more excited about collecting foils and trading for your Kaladesh collection. Therein lies the game’s beauty. Embrace it, know yourself, and enjoy the path you’ve chosen. Magic is great and I’m so happy to take part in it in my own way. I hope you’ll reflect and do the same for yourself.