This week, I’m in the midst of midterms and have barely had time to test Standard on Magic Online, so rather than making assumptions about matchups and criticizing decklists I have little knowledge on, I’m going to talk a bit about what Magic means to me and what it did for my life. Magic has 100% changed the way I view a lot of things in the world. I’d never before been in an environment where people were so competitive, yet welcoming. The competitiveness that I’m talking about is the drive to always do better, but not for others to do worse. My first experiences were in upstate New York, where I played in a FNM with an intro deck and failed to win a game, but it certainly got me started. I continued building decks and practicing on my own.
EDH appealed to me, but I didn’t really understand Standard or Extended. Magic simply made me want to try and do crazy things. By this time, I was in middle school, which wasn’t great or awful by any stretch, but Magic was the main extra-curricular activity that appealed to me. I started to draft regularly, and soon I learned that the cards had rarities. I went 2-1 a couple of times in these drafts, and it motivated me to do better and accomplish more. When I got better and started to regularly practice when I was in High School, it leaked into the other parts of my life. But, that wasn’t a bad thing. I was really enjoying Magic and I wanted to get more competitive.
I got 10th at Grand Prix Mexico City in 2014, after an undefeated day one finish with a filthy (when I say filthy, I mean filthy) sealed deck. After understanding that I could succeed in something, it made me want more. That sweet taste of triumph (or near triumph) motivated me and I worked harder, not just on Magic, but on everything. I started to work on my writing and schoolwork much more than I ever had before and I dedicated a ridiculous amount of time to Magic. It never felt like a waste. During that time, Premier Events were still running on Magic Online and I top 8’ed a bunch of those with Soul Sisters. I would continue to do better in tournaments, but that’s not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how Magic can be a positive influence on your entire life.
Make Magic a reward. Remember that it is a privilege to be able to play.
Magic can be used as a great motivator, especially if you are one of those people (I know I am) that thinks about the game day and night. I find myself frequently saying “once I finish x or y, I’ll let myself play Magic Online, or work on this deck, or go to FNM.” Whatever in Magic intrigues and interests you, use it as a reward. This way, Magic doesn’t become a burden on your life that weighs you down. More than anything, making magic a reward will make Magic more fun. I frequently see players in the competitive scene talk about how it was “such a bummer” that they had to wake up early to play in a PPTQ, or that they felt obligated to play in an event. Magic should never be a chore. My opinion is that people who feel that Magic, even the less fun parts, is a chore are the people who have lost their excitement for Magic. Rewarding your hard work with Magic is a great way to always be excited, and never see this game as a chore.
Make Magic a point of pride.
While many people may be afraid of telling people that they play Magic, a way to make yourself more accountable for your results and work ethic is making it a proud part of your personality. This way, people in and out of the game will be invested in how you’re doing with the game and it will help you stay sharp. It will make you want to do better in your life and in Magic, so that people in your life will be proud of you. I wear my love for Magic on my sleeve, and there is not a day where I regret being proud of playing this game.
Detach yourself from results-oriented thinking
Sometimes after I play badly in Magic, it really screws up my whole day even with stuff that has nothing to do with Magic. Losing in anything can be really taxing, but doing badly in Magic is not-so-secretly a blessing. If you lost because of variance, then you can chalk it up to that, say it won’t happen again, kiss your copy of The Law of Averages, and then move on and regain good vibes. If you lost because you did something wrong, that is fantastic. That means you learned something and that is one of the single best things that can happen to you in Magic. If you say to yourself, I am now better at Magic because of that experience, it won’t ruin the rest of your day and rather it will be a huge boost. If you make enough mistakes and react to them the right way, you’ll see yourself get better and better at Magic.
I get asked frequently, “how do you stay interested in Magic constantly?” For many people, Magic is something they really identify with. I am definitely in this camp. However, the reason why I find myself always engaged with the game and still having that child-like wonder I had when I couldn’t buy myself a win at FNM, is that I use Magic as an outlet, as well as a tool to drive me in life.
See ya’ll next week.
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