What We Learned—Not Playing Magic (Jan. 28)

Hello reader! What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.
Greetings hipsters and welcome to another edition of What We Learned. This week I want to talk about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart as someone who started playing Magic nearly 20 years ago, and that is the topic of not playing Magic. My personal Magic career began as a child in 1995 when my brother and I got some Revised Edition gift boxes as holiday presents. I was immediately hooked and would play consistently through Mirage, at which point most of my collection was stolen and I decided to focus on being a musician in high school instead.

Enter my college years and I picked the game back up with Invasion block and played until Mirrodin came out, at which point I didn’t have the disposable income to keep playing regularly. Not long after  I graduated I would find myself living in Binghamton, NY, future home of Jupiter Games, where I connected with the Magic scene up there (Ryan McKinney, Seneca Hobler, Ken Adams, and Eli Kassis). This was the most prolific stint of my Magic career, spanning Ravnica through Zendikar (and including a move from Binghamton to New York City). During this time I grew the most as a Magic player, participating in almost every event I could go to in every format.

I took a break after Zendikar because of a girl (yes, very hipster of me) and got back in when Scars of Mirrodin came out. The Magic scene at Twenty Sided Store was about to pick up and the time was ripe to make a comeback. I played consistently for a time, including my memorable top-16 finish at an SCG Open in Washington, D.C., with a mono-green Infect deck. However, things began to wane for me with the release of Avacyn Restored and I soon found myself bored of the game not long after Return to Ravnica came out. I took a hiatus about two months ago, only playing Cube and Momir Basic on MTGO in the interim. This past weekend, I thought that perhaps the Gatecrash pre-release would get me out of my funk.

I built what I felt was a solid Orzhov deck. In round one I nearly went to time as my opponent was a very meticulous player, but I managed to overpower him. Then in round two I lost a tough match to my arch-nemesis Jason Chan and felt nothing. I didn’t care that I had lost. I didn’t care that I had played well in game one. I didn’t care about the mistakes I made in later games in the round. I had literally stopped caring about playing Magic and had no idea what to do. I caught a train home (it was the midnight pre-release) and then installed the beta for the new SimCity game and went to sleep.

When I woke up I came to a sudden realization. For the first time in my life since I was 12 years old, I simply didn’t enjoy playing Magic anymore. There wasn’t animosity, only apathy. Other activities and games have simply replaced the passion I once had for being a planeswalker. I still enjoy the community and enjoy reading about and watching Magic, but the act of playing I can do without.

We all go through phases like this. Personally I am now going on my fourth hiatus from playing Magic.  Every time in the past I would take my collection, box it up, put it in the closet and let it collect dust until I was ready to play again. This time though, I find myself contemplating if it will be the last time I put them away. Will I ever have my spark rekindled or will I live out the rest of my days, competitive Magic sitting in my rearview mirror, fading into the horizon? Should I sell my collection? A good friend of mine is turning his collection into the down payment on a house. I could certainly use the money. We all could.

What I learned at the Gatecrash pre-release is that the part of my livelihood that Magic fulfilled is now satiated by other endeavors. Advancing my career, writing for this wonderful blog, acting as a Game Master for two ongoing RPG groups, playing other card games such as Netrunner, and my passion for ice hockey have all taken a higher priority in my life than Magic. While I will continue to be part of this community and an avid casual player I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about competitive Magic again. And that’s okay.

The Quick Hits

  • CFB is issuing a new Martin Juza token and it couldn’t be more perfect in my opinion. [Channel Fireball]
  • The new art for Swords  to Plowshares, on the other hand, is rubbish. [Judge Promo]
  • The changes to the MTGO Cube seem fair, which is the opposite of what the MTGO Cube is anyways. [Magic Online]
  • MJ Scott interviewed RK Post at GP Atlantic City. From a scale of zero to Arting Around With Matt Jones I give it a 613.  [Gathering Magic]
  • There’s a new podcast over at GM that features Robert Martin interviewing various Magic personalities. Episode one is Darwin Kastle. I approve. [The Magic Studio]
  • Carlos Gutierrez has a weekly wrap-up as well. This week he picked two articles I linked last week in WWL. Maybe I should just outsource this part of my column to Carlos. [Gathering Magic]
  • Hey, to all those trolls on the GameFAQs boards who think I’m an idiot: I’m not the only one who thinks highly of Glaring Spotlight! [Legit MTG]
  • I think people should have more fun with Cube design and John Cuvelier agrees. [Snow Cube]
  • Finally, Jesse Snyder takes a look at some of the most gruesome pieces of art ever featured on Magic cards. [Vorthos Is Magic]

Wallpaper of the Week

This week we got a planeswalker, specifically the new Gideon, to adorn our desktops, mobile devices, or whatever. This one is a great piece of art, with the Boros guild emblem in the background. I put it up and have been enjoying it this week.

Grade: B+

The Week Ahead

Personally I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are all thrilled about the huge release coming out of Wizards of the Coast this week. That’s right, I’m talking about the latest playtest packet for Dungeons and Dragons Next (hitting the Internet today!)

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Comments
6 Responses to “What We Learned—Not Playing Magic (Jan. 28)”
  1. David McCoy says:

    I’m only one year into my return to MtG (after 12+ years off), but even when I’m not feeling the Magic and am not thrilled to play any format, the community at 20SS keeps me coming back. The social aspect of the game is really what keeps me interested and can really make up for a lot of the game’s failings.

    • Rich Stein says:

      I completely get that. I spend a lot of my time at 20SS with the gaming community at large. I’m often there on Wednesday nights to play D&D, and Thursday nights for Board Game night. Weekends I can be found there for casual gaming.

      Honestly, the 20SS community exists beyond playing Magic. Even on Friday nights I can come down, hang out with folks and watch some matches and talk about the game and other games with Giaco, Lauren and Luis and I don’t have to actually play Magic.

  2. Matt Jones says:

    1, whoever does the art for CFBs tokens is awful.
    2, StP’s new art is a little obvious but TOTALLY SWEET!!!
    3, cube is the worst so this summation is meaningless to me. 🙂
    4, I don’t understand your rating for MJ’s RK Post interview – if it’s negative towards me I say “in your eye” but if it’s positive towards me i say “GREAT! Thank you! WOO!”
    5, i’m afraid of podcasts
    6, Rich “The Scoop” Stein
    7, Glaring Spotlight rules.
    8, I still don’t like cube.
    9, that ARTicle is awesome.

    You’re my favorite anti-MTG Magic player!!!

    • Rich Stein says:

      I love me some enumerated lists. You know me so well Matt!

      1. Technically yeah, the art is awful. Thematically I like Juzam Djinn = Martin Juza
      2. The new scale of obviousness for Magic Art goes from Beta Stasis to Judge StP
      3. I agree about powered cube but think you’d like a cube that was more thematic
      4. It’s neither negative nor positive nor comparative. For the record, my rating for your RK Post interview is Banana Walrus
      5. Most of them are awful so I don’t blame you
      6. I’ve been called worse
      7. It does
      8. What specifically bothers you about cube?
      9. Agreed

      • Matt Jones says:

        ha!
        1. art is only good when content and medium merge in harmony; 2. ha! mtg art HAS become more obvious over time–womp; 3. i don’t enjoy playing matchups that i don’t understand – i have neither the time nor desire to study a cube so I can get the potential, know what my opponents have in their decks, and certainly am less interested than almost anyone else interested in playing cube that i will be facing; 4. agreed; 5. agreed; 6. you know, cuz you scooped that other guy!; 7. good; 8. i don’t like formats where opponents have distinct advantages over me because they’ve focused their energy in memorizing cards, figuring out archetypes, etc. and I haven’t – and i won’t – it’s one of the things about being a grown up, having limited time to do the things you want to do, and having to choose the things you like best and will spend the most time on. Cube gets the short end of the stick along with EDH and all other non-video games that aren’t Magic: The Gathering; 9, Good.

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  1. […] saw many of the HotC writers attend Gatecrash prerelease events. After attending a midnight flight, Rich Stein realized that he had lost much of his enjoyment of competitive Magic. Matt Jones spent his prerelease GRUUL […]



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