When my friends ask me about Magic or ask me to teach them how to play I always make sure to include a disclaimer before I offer to help them. Having played kitchen table matches when I was younger and now playing competitive tournaments on a weekly basis I always feel like I have some good input for anyone looking to start.
Before committing to helping them I like to tell them that Magic is not fun. Because it’s not. It’s an addiction or an obsession. Sure at times its pleasurable and you enjoy yourself, but the comparison I like to draw is to that of a drug addiction. Rarely have I met anyone who has found their addiction to be even remotely practical. Sure it’s a way to spend your money effortlessly and with reckless abandon; (which is the reason I compare it to Magic) but there are few people with heroin addictions who would describe them as “fun”.
When I see new players out purchasing a starter deck or even talking about buying their first few cards I feel as if it’s my obligation to forewarn them. It takes a lot of effort to not throw myself between them and the front counter at the game stores just to save them from their future peril.
“But it looks like so much fun!”
Yes, I’ve heard that one before. Well you, good madam or sir, are very wrong.
It is often frustrating, disappointing and at times it can be an overwhelming roller coaster of bad luck. Not only that, but it is extremely time consuming. Prepare to say goodbye to any and all friends you had before Magic. From now on your schedule will revolve around FNMs, play testing and getting your Magic fix whenever you can. Still sounding like a good time?
Of course like all hobbies, Magic does have some redeeming qualities. My personal favorite being that it can fill your tedious midnight hours with something to keep you busy. Spending hours and hours lying awake thinking about nothing except your last match loss, what you’re playing post rotation and why its a bad idea to blow your next six months earnings to buy into legacy are all things you can look forward to. You know those nights that you are in dire need of sleep, those ones where sleep deprivation becomes your loving and devoted partner and your brain function is at a phenomenal low? Well now you have something to fill those wee AM hours with, you can thank me later.
The second, and realistically probably the only other favorable quality that comes with Magic for competitive players is the sacred time that is spoiler season. The highs and lows associated with spoiler season present a roller coaster similar to that self induced addiction comparable only to hard drugs.
For players, each spoiler eve entices a similar reaction to that of a junkie not receiving his or her favored drug for more than a few hours. This is especially true if it is around rotation season. Half of their cards have now lost much, if not all of their value. Their favorite and familiar decks have all taken a turn for the worse, losing the key components that made them a top tier deck. Spoiler season means that they may receive some salvation if Wizards is kind to them. They wait; red eyed and in a daze, night after night for the latest released cards to the public; scavenging corners of the internet previously unknown to mankind searching for cards yet to be revealed. Sketchy images, fake spoilers and a variety of under developed theories have made them weary and led them to both criticize and critically examine every card spoiled with exhausted anticipation.
This is spoiler season for most, if not all avid Magic players. Rehabilitation is always an option. Brief retirements from play rarely, if ever work. Most players have tendencies to return with just as much, if not more vigor and intensity. Unfortunately this is a lifelong obsession for over 90% of those who start; it is however 100% preventable. Please if you can, be a disclaimer and help others before they become a cardboard crack junkie like the rest of us.
This is an extremely sarcastic public service announcement from a card junkie. If you’re reading this, its probably too late for you anyways.