To the surprise of no one who knows me, Magic is one of the most important things in my life. Like most hobbies, everyone who plays it has a different level of "immersion" and different goals for it. For me, with where my life is at and headed, Magic is a source of three main things: The three C's of Magic. Community, Competition, and Creativity.
Community is the heart of Magic for me. It's the reason I started playing and the reason I have continued playing through half of my life. The game isn't named "Magic: The Gathering" for nothing! It is a source of commonality amongst an ever-growing niche of people. It literally gathers us together for both small games with friends and large tournaments with enough people to fill convention centers worldwide. Social interaction is at the forefront of playing the game, but it goes further as well. Numerous websites have articles on strategy, from deck construction to play skills, as well as personal pieces like this one that help to foster a sense of community. In addition to written content, there are a whole host of audio podcasts covering every aspect of the game including finance, casual play, competitive play, news, and everywhere in between. I will provide links to my personal favorites at the end of this article. My t shirt from the Brainstorm Brewery podcast has led me to meet a number of new people at larger events through conversations that never would have started without it.
Competition is what fuels my fire for Magic. There are many levels on which to play Magic, but the competitive aspect is the same regardless. Every casual playgroup has “that guy” or “that deck” everyone is trying to beat. Every local gaming store has a group of “best players” who always seem to place at the top of events. Every competitive level event like a Grand Prix or Pro Tour has the grinders and professional players who play Magic practically for a living. Climbing the ladder of success requires a great deal of self-improvement and I am always looking to better myself. I love the feeling of “leveling up” and achieving something I've never done before. Recently, I was able to reach a goal I never thought I would ever be able to: I went 8-1 on Day 1 of GP Cleveland and made Day 2! Even though I went 2-1 and 0-3 in my draft pods on Day 2 and narrowly missed prizing, I still felt a great sense of accomplishment. The depression of coming so close to leaping up to even the next level only serves to drive me that much more.
Creativity is something I value in my life and Magic helps to both foster it and allow me an outlet for it. The most common method is through deck building and tweaking. As a primarily Johnny-type Magic player, I consider my deck to be a source of self-expression and have to have my own personal touch on any deck I play. A thought exercise I use when bored or stifled is to build a deck within a set of excessively specific rules. These rules can be anything from restrictions on budget or casting cost, to names and flavor. I intend in the future to have you, my readers, dictate a set of constraints for me to build a deck within and write a post about. Stuff like that is super fun for me because I get to look at cards from a different angle and see strengths and weaknesses I would not have otherwise. Tweaking decks is another strength of mine where my creativity can be put to use. While I’m not great at being the genesis of the next great deck, I consider myself very good at taking an existing deck and tweaking it. Whether I’m adding cards from a new set, taking cards out after rotation, attacking a specific matchup, or taking an archetype in a new direction, I love the challenges of altering an established strategy. Another way for me to flex my creative muscles is my Cube. Designing and maintaining my Cube is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in Magic. There is a great sense of satisfaction when drafting a set you've put together yourself. I absolutely love turning all of the knobs I have control over in my Cube to increase/decrease power levels or add/remove a particular strategy.
Funny thing is, blogging about Magic rings the same bells for me as the game itself. It helps me connect to the community. It is a source of competition with myself to become the best blogger I can be. It’s a wonderful creative outlet. Magic means a lot to me, more than I can put into a single article. I have a question for you, readers: What does Magic mean to you? Let me know in the comments section or on Facebook.
Podcasts I Subscribe To:
Brainstorm Brewery - A finance cast with tips on how to make money with Magic.
Pitt Imps - The SportCenter of Magic with tournament coverage from guys located in Pittsburgh, PA.
Money Draught - Magic personalities on a cast less about Magic and more about life. Parental Advisory.
Monday Night Magic - The weekly news of Magic.
The Mana Pool - Four longtime friends on a more casual Magic cast.
Card Advantage - A cast about the cards themselves filled with flavor and personal stories.
Top Level Podcast - Professional players Patrick Chapin and Michael J Flores give advice on how to level up your Magic play skills and deck building.
There are so many more than just these. Search for MTGCast and you'll find an entire network of casts.