Woo Brews – Psychology of Magic Players

We can learn a lot about people by the decks they choose to play. Different players find different effects and interactions gratifying, and I believe that by examining which of these a player is drawn to, we can learn a lot about a player’s deep underlying psyche. This is Magic: the Gathering psychology.

Maybe the idea is right, maybe it’s wrong, but there is one thing it is for sure. It’s for sure hilarious.

The Burn Player

[draft]Lightning Bolt[/draft]

The Burn Player likes to chuck [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s at the opponent’s head until they are dead. Take 3, take 3, take 3, take 3, take 3, take 3, take 3. The rhythm is intoxicating. The Burn Player is a boxer who enjoys a good pummeling. Rhythm and predictability are nice. Do the same thing turn after turn and eventually we will get there.

This is always a recipe for some guaranteed quick fun. This type of play can be nice to come back to every once in a while.

The Aggro Player

[draft]Wild Nacatl[/draft]

The Aggro Player likes a nice interactive wrestling match. A physical contest is always appreciated and highly interactive games are fun. It’s more fun when both people are playing! The Aggro Player likes to get down to business from turn 1—no pretenses.

The Control Player

[draft]Supreme Verdict[/draft]

The Control Player likes to call the shots in order to establish emotional and physical dominance. It’s fun to give orders and sometimes it’s fun to obey! This is a special type of person that enjoys one-sided or back and forth commands.

Control players enjoy a long game. It’s not a rush to finish. The game itself is fun!

The Combo Player

[draft]Mind’s Desire[/draft]

The Combo Player favors self-gratification. Manual interaction means more control! The Combo Player does enjoy a good Goldfish from time to time but has more fun when playing against an opponent—it’s fun to finish a game with someone else!

The Combo player does actually enjoy interaction—he/she just sees interaction as a race. First player to assemble their combo wins! Play again next time!

The Opportunist

The Opportunist plays whatever deck is best for this weekend. Why not? Sometimes it’s fun to get some no attachment wins! For The Opportunist, Magic is just about scoring points—as many points as possible. The Opportunist cares about his resume. The number of tournament conquests and nice finishes is of the utmost importance.

The Opportunist might even brag about how little time was spent developing the deck they went all the way with. It was a spontaneous act.

The Fortress Player

The Fortress Player is the strangest deviant of them all.

The Fortress Player might build a deck focused around these:

[draft]Island Sanctuary
Howling Mine

The Fortress Player might take that deck to school in the sixth grade… and use it to TEACH friends how to play Magic. (This story could be about anyone).

The Fortress Player is the type of person who would invite their “friend” over to watch a movie, let their “friend” into the house, but lock themselves in their room with the “friend” locked out and wait for them to leave.

Why?? What is the motivation??

I mean seriously. That is what you are doing when you are playing a fortress deck. You are building a wall right in front of the other player and waiting for them to leave. So why? What compels people to do this? Who ARE these people??

Pillow Fort is a Social Experiment

[draft]Sphere of Safety[/draft]

Why the hell are the boys erecting these forts with “NO GIRLS” signs? Why are the girls screaming about “COOTIES”?

Well, it comes down to curiosity.

The Fortress Player enjoys a good social experiment. He or she locks the door and waits for their “friend” to leave. And here is where it gets interesting!! What does that friend do? Do they bang on the door? Do they get mad? Do they get confused? Do they plead? Do they leave right away and disappear forever? Or do they wait by the door until the person has to come out? I mean, they have to use the bathroom or eat eventually!

The Fortress Player is interested in the other player. He or she is curious.

Psychology of Conceding

Just like we can learn a lot about someone by what deck they play, we can also learn a lot about someone from how and when they concede. The Fortress Player knows a lot about people because he has studied a lot of concessions over the years.

The Fast Conceder

The Fast Conceder gives up quickly, but not for lack of confidence. The Fast Conceder is similar to the Opportunist—it’s all about getting on the scoreboard. She is good at identifying a losing situation. If the Fast Conceder is losing, who cares, there are a million other opponents out there. One of them will cough up a win. Maybe even two!

The Fast Conceder might not have the highest rating or the best match win percentage, but the night always ends with a match win.

The Fighter

The Fighter will try to win until the very end. REFUSE TO LOSE! The Fighter will consider a scenario where the opponent draws 7 consecutive lands while he [card]Demonic Tutor[/card]s every draw step and play to that. The Fighter will hope he can deck the opponent the moment killing with damage becomes hopeless.

The Fighter doesn’t care about wins so much as fears losses. Rejection hurts and untarnished match win percentage and rating is very important to self-esteem. As such, he won’t play with as many opponents but he will invest more time into winning against each.

The Fortress Friend

Finally, we have the Fortress Friend. The Fortress Friend is like the Fast Conceder in that she will identify a losing game. However, she is like The Fighter in that she won’t concede.

The difference is in motivation. The Fortress Friend isn’t trying to win, but isn’t going to quit either. The Fortress Player is nice. It’s nice to spend time with the Fortress Player. The Fortress Friend cares about the Fortress Player and wants to see him succeed.

The Fortress Friend doesn’t mind the fortress being erected between them. These are just walls. People put up walls. And the walls come down eventually. The Fortress Friend knows that eventually this game will end, the Fortress Player will take down his walls, they will touch hands, and they will walk off together.

Maybe do something else. Magic is fun, but for these two the company is better.

The Fortress Friend could be a Burn, Aggro, Combo, Control Player, or Fighter, but not an Opportunist. You never know when you sit down with someone. You just have to play to find out.

The Return of Pillow Fort

If you are a Fortress Player, I recommend building a Fortress out of Pillows. I have a list I’ve been playing around with the past week online to varying degrees of “success”.

[draft]Sphere of Safety[/draft]

I have built my Fortress deck around [card]Sphere of Safety[/card]. If we have more enchantments than the opponent has mana, the opponent will never be able to attack. If they can never attack, there’s a good chance they can never win, as most Standard decks right now are all about attacking with creatures and killing creatures.

In order to have more enchantments than the opponent has mana, we are going to have to play more enchantments in our deck than the opponent plays lands. This is a tall order. It means we can’t really play any non-enchantment spells that don’t draw cards. I mean, sure a card like [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] is great, but if we kill all the opponent’s stuff, they will eventually play 1 more thing, and even that 1 thing will kill us if we don’t have more enchantments than they have mana… and instead of enchantments we have [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. Makes sense?

This guided my deckbuilding. Every card in the deck was to be an enchantment or a card draw spell.

The Kill Condition

The kill condition is concession. I mean, eventually the opponent will get fed up, nod off, or starve to death. One way or another it will happen. I mean, actually winning the game isn’t the point anyways. It’s all about identifying the psychology of the opponent.

But, in case the opponent hangs around, I have included a flashy win condition to finish them off.

Yes, it is the lightning fast combination of [card]Blind Obedience[/card] and [card]Mana Bloom[/card]!

[draft]Blind Obedience
Mana Bloom[/draft]

This combination of cards can be used to kill an opponent who doesn’t gain life in just TWENTY turns! That’s barely any. And, if you are in a huge rush you can draw into more copies of each to win even faster. Talk about a rush!

The rest of the options for the deck are a bit lacking right now. [card]Pacifism[/card] and [card]Sensory Deprivation[/card] aren’t the best and [card]Chained to the Rocks[/card] is a huge stretch to our mana. [card]Detention Sphere[/card] is nice, and that with [card]Sphere of Safety[/card] will have to do.

We do have the new addition of [card]Commune with the Gods[/card] which allows us to find our [card]Sphere of Safety[/card] even more consistently.

Pillow Fort


[deck]4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Temple Garden
4 Breeding Pool
4 Temple of Mystery
2 Plains
2 Island
4 Forest
4 Commune with the Gods
4 Blind Obedience
4 Nylea’s Presence
4 Detention sphere
4 Verdant Haven
2 Urban Evolution
4 Sphere of Safety
2 Opportunity
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Mana Bloom[/deck]

This is my version of the deck. You can tweak it however you want, but remember, when you are adding non-enchantment cards you are cutting enchantment cards, and that means the whole efficacy of the deck suffers.

One thing to keep in mind right now is that a lot of decks play cards like [card nykthos, shrine to nyx]Nykthos[/card], [card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/card], or [card]Fanatic of Mogis[/card]. These cards can be serious problems so keep them in mind when playing or constructing your version. You might have more fun with access to a couple copies of [card]Dissipate[/card] over extra draw.

How Viable is Pillow Fort in the Metagame?

Depends on what you mean by metagame. If the metagame is to conduct wild social experiments, this deck is extremely viable.

As for the competitive metagame, the deck is actually fairly positioned. The majority of decks play a lot of creatures and a lot of creature kill and can’t necessarily fight through a [card]Sphere of Safety[/card]. Games can come apart from certain unsavory cards, but in general this deck will produce some memorable matches.

Hope you have fun, learn a little something about yourself, and learn a little something about your opponent! Maybe you will even make a Fortress Friend!

<3 Travis twitchtv.com/Traviswoo Questions!! Comments!! Think there's something I forgot?!


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