Magic: The Segregated Gathering


I’m a nerd. I don’t say that because I think it’s cool, it’s just a statement, an item on a list of items that make up me. I love comics, I can spend an entire day playing Magic: The Gathering and I’ve seen the Original Trilogy more times than I can remember. I once won a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit before anyone else had a chance to take a turn, I’ve even thought about putting that on my resume.

As with any group you’ll find a lot of great people that identify as nerds, and then you’ll find the people who have surpassed drinking the koolaid and are now bathing in it. Magic players are particularly susceptible to this. These are people who invest a lot of time, and often a lot of money, into this hobby. They collect cards, know hundreds of them and can recall them by name at a glance. They keep track of new legendary and mythic cards – and they know the ins and outs of spells and abilities possessed by these cards.

This might be confusing if you’ve never played Magic, so I’ll try to summarize quickly:

The player, you, are a Planeswalker, a wizard (pretty cool so far, huh?). You have a deck, usually containing 60 cards. Decks are any combination of black, white, red, blue or green. Representing swamps, plains, mountains, islands and forests respectively. In the deck are ‘lands’ or ‘mana,’ and creatures and spells. You use the mana (a black card needs black mana, and so on) to ‘cast’ those spells and ‘summon’ the creatures. The point is to take 20 HP (without losing your own) from the other Planeswalker to win the game.

Attending Friday Night Magic, wherein nerds gather at comic shops to play Magic in a tournament setting, is like immersing yourself into a group of people who have a lot more in common with pageant moms than meets the eye, without the perfume and manicures. At the last FNM I attended another player was incredibly offended when I shared that I only have one deck with red in it. He jumped in and started reaming blue players, my own dominate playing color.

Without delving into Magic politics, his arguments were mostly valid. Playing against a blue player, which is a color that focuses on interrupting and controlling the game, can be particularly crippling to the typically much more aggressive nature of the red deck. When I tried to point out to him that a blue deck requires the player have a unique strategy – to have the ability to hang back and subtly manipulate the other player (basically, be a woman) – he was already too blinded by explosive, Bruce Banner nerd rage to understand that an individual not liking or agreeing with something is not them making a statement against those who do.

In a perfect world we could accept and celebrate our differences. But that would probably be a boring world where all the kids get participation ribbons and eat their vegetables, like those Hidden Valley commercials. If anything we should avoid that reality because it seems to involve way too much baseball. Magic isn’t about a perfect world, it’s about smashing someone’s face in and celebrating over their broken body – and then shaking hands to move on and get your own face smashed in.

Note: If you’re a red player, good on you. Your brazen, “guns a’ blazin’” playing style is something I admire, but if you’re a black player – well, you’re kind of an asshole.

Note on that note: ‘Black player’ was probably a poor choice of words. For the record, I am 100% okay with black people playing Magic.


3 thoughts on “Magic: The Segregated Gathering

  1. I was never much for Magic– ignored it heavily when it first came out as collectible card games just aren’t my thing. This remained true even when WotC had their flagship store in the U-district in Seattle that I visited a few times when a mutual friend of my wife’s lived there.

    I do have gamer friends that were or are heavily into it, but not my bag, I guess. I’ve been a gamer and married into a gaming family, though, so I’ve been around the block, so to speak. My daughter asked to go to our local con again, so, we were all at RadCon last Friday and Saturday.

    • That sounds like a great time to have with your daughter.

      I got into when I was about 15 through a cousin of mine – and something about it sucked me in. I don’t play any other type of collectible card, table top type of game, no Yugi-Oh or anything like that. I’ve attempted to get into Dungeons and Dragons, but it always fell through and it requires too much of a synchronized time commitment among a group of people.

      Someday I’ll make it out to a Con of my own – I’ve never had the chance.

      • it requires too much of a synchronized time commitment among a group of people

        I’ve heard that said a lot about tabletop RPGs (including D&D). I think the Digital Age and modern busy lifestyles have taken a toll on its more relaxed pace. I think it’s just about shattered the even older wargaming traditions– I mean those with the old battlefield dioramas and paintable figures that gave rise to Warhammer and the like. Didn’t see any of that at the con.

        Obscure board games are on the rise, especially on those reasonings– even Wil Wheaton is getting heavy into it. But I quit the local group recommended to me by a friend… I rather hated that the host shamed me in online session reports when I lost badly (which was often). My cousins way back in the day weren’t even that bad (and I’d always take a pounding from them playing any board games).

        Cons are typically on weekends for obvious reasons– but I know most health care professionals like yourself don’t typically have 9-5 M-F schedules… right?

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