Blog Fanatic: My Interview With Jamie Wakefield (Part 1 of 3)

Years ago, Jamie Wakefield was the most popular Magic writer anywhere. His books still go for $100 on eBay, and and when Mike Flores pretended to be Jamie on April Fool’s Day, we were flooded with emails from disappointed fans who thought that the King of Fatties himself had returned.

Well, this is the real deal! Ben Bleiweiss has finally tracked Jamie down. Find out what Jamie has been doing for the past five years, and hear his thoughts what he thinks about Green these days! Plus, an update on the lovely Mare!

[Ben’s Note: When I started Blog Fanatic, I had a few columns in mind. This week’s columns are the fruition of a search for one of the most popular and interesting figures in the world of Magic. It took weeks to find the man himself, but I was determined. After much searching, I located him and arranged for a little chat. Without further ado, I present my interview with the King of Fatties himself, Jamie Wakefield. All comments in italics were added after the interview.]

Ben Bleiweiss: As I live and breathe, it is Jamie Wakefield!

JW: Morning, Ben!

BB: An epic chat weeks in the making – two-fisted action the way you demanded it true believer!

JW: Heh! Well said.

BB: You ready to get this thing rolling, Mr. Wakefield?

JW: I believe I am.

BB: Well first of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview – it’s both a pleasure and an honor to get to talk to you one on one.

JW: Thanks for the kind words Ben. Careful, I blush easily.

BB: You might be blushing a lot, because there are a lot of accolades to lie down on your feet. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say you are the most popular Magic: The Gathering writer in history.

JW: I miss writing about Magic and being a part of the Magic community. Joshie [The best trashtalker in Vermont]keeps me updated, and from what I gather it’s still thriving, even doing better than when I was playing. Massive turnout for qualifiers and Regionals.

BB: Yeah, who’d have thought? All these years later and the game keeps growing and expanding.

JW: I always thought it would achieve a stable number and then lose and gain a few players a year, but remain constant. That certainly hasn’t been the case.

BB: It says a lot that you stopped writing about Magic, what, four years ago now? And people still keep hoping that you’ll come back.

JW: Its been at least five years. I think we’re just past five now.

BB: About that – you wrote your farewell column here at [author name="StarCityGames.com"]StarCityGames.com[/author]..Gaming seems to be becoming much more widely accepted in society as a whole. Certainly Magic has thrived, but games like Counterstrike also have large cash tournaments, and poker has become virtually a national pasttime.

JW: Yeah. It certainly is a good time to be a gamer. I watch TechTV sometimes and the amount of people that game, from celebrities, to hot women to the average Joe is higher than it’s ever been. Everyone games now and enjoys it. And poker is on all the time in ESPN2.

BB: Plus, look who finished second this year at the World Series of Poker.

JW: No idea who that was. Well, no idea who finished second, I should say.

BB: Do you want me to spoil it for you?

JW: Hmm, I’m guessing Ben Affleck or else a Magic player.

BB: Yeah – it was Dave Williams.

JW: Nice!

BB: $3.5 million

JW: *ponders taking up poker and writing a column…?*

BB: There was another Magic player at the final table as well – a guy named Mattias Andersson

JW: Awesome.

BB: Magic players seem to be accomplishing everywhere in the world of gaming these days.

JW: Pretty much, yeah. 🙂 A friend of mine, David Montgomery, came up from Florida to stay at the house for a few days and showed me Versus, designed by very famous Magic players. Great game.

BB: Brian Kibler just won the first Vs. Pro Circuit tournament at Gen Con, netting $40,000. In fact, the entire top 8 was dominated by Magic players. I found it absurd that you said this to me in our first couple of e-mails:”I’d be happy to do an interview, but I think most people would be bored.” Do you really think that?

JW: People want to see me back writing about Magic. They know I’m not playing right now, and I’m afraid they’ll be bored to know I’m still just online, gaming with my wife.

BB: Let me give you a little perspective: Every April Fool’s day, we have each of our writers submit a column under someone else’s name, and we leave our readers to guess who wrote what for a week. [author name="Mike Flores"]Mike Flores[/author] wrote a column as you this past year, and more people read that article than any of the others – in fact,”Jamie Wakefield” beat everyone a two-to-one margin. Those who didn’t realize it was April Fool’s day were genuinely disappointed that it was not you.

JW: Ah yes, my”Awesome Strike” Tournament report. That was hilarious! I have friends who point out those articles to me, and I laughd and laughed. Of course, Flores was always one of my favorite writers. Well, as I said, they want to read an interview about me where I say”I’m coming back to Magic.” Since I can’t say that in this interview, I imgaine quite a few readers will be bored. For your sake, I hope I’m wrong. 🙂

BB: Have you considered it at any point?

JW: Many times. I’m extremely competitive by nature, and I so very greatly miss sitting across from someone with my own creation against whatever they might be playing. I miss the trash talk with Joshie and K and Alan and Hilary. I miss the stress and the exhilaration and the writing. I miss having new experiences to write about every week that drives me to the keyboard, almost forcing me to write them down and share them. Yeah, I’ve thought about it a lot.

BB: So what’s keeping you from acting on that thought? If it’s lack of product, I’ll happily mail you a box of Champions of Kamiagawa once it’s released.

JW: There’s no comic store in Middlebury. Most of my friends play MMORPGs now, with me, and Mare will never return to Magic. And I prefer having a common interest with my wife, than having her doing one thing while I’m doing another. Much like MMORPG’s, Magic is an obsession. And as I’ve stated many times, I can only be obsessed with one thing at a time. And I have to be the best I can be at it. I only have sixty hours a week to game, and that sixty hours is going to go into one game – not thirty into one and thirty into another. I’d like to take this moment to say that Hilary and Michelle have opened a fantastic, beautiful store in St Albans Vermont called Heroes Kingdom that has a nice play area and a huge selection of cards and comics and its been a huge success for them.

BB: Cool – I remember that in your book “Tournament Reports,” you had made quite a glowing dedication to the two of them. [Side Note: copies of”Tournament Reports” frequently sell for 0-0 on E-Bay and Amazon. Jamie has graciously made the entire book available at the link above.]

JW: Hilary and Michelle have been, and remain, two of the greatest friends a man could ask for. We’re seeing them, Rod, Pam, Brian and Doug this weekend for our annual Lobster Fest and game day. I’m sure we’ll be playing Magic, we always do.

BB: One of your strengths as a writer comes from your ability to get us to care about all these people who are in your life, even though we don’t know them. : How is everyone doing? You’ve barely even mentioned the lovely Mare yet!

JW: The Lovely Mare is doing the best of all of us. She’s playing the Worlds of Warecraft beta right now next to me. She just made up a pink Gnome Warlock and loves it. She’s killing some sort of frost beasts as I type this.

[author name=

BB: Hi, Mare!

JW: Mare says,”Hi Ben!” We’re all doing okay. We get older and fatter as the years go bye and look forward to retirement in fifteen years. Oh yeah, and I just helped Joshie get a job that pays him ten grand more than he was making. So he’s doing damn well, too.

BB: Do you still talk to Alan Webster at all?

JW: Once every couple of weeks. He hates MMORPGs. We still talk about Magic and movies and how much crap is on TV since Buffy isn’t on anymore

BB: Crystal, Pete Hoefling wife, feels the same way. She held a small funeral procession the day Buffy went off the air. Then she came to work dressed all in black for a week.

JW: Nice!

BB: I have to ask – ’cause you keep mentioning that you play Magic, at least casually and at get-togethers – what’s your impression of the game itself right now? You have to at least browse through the new cards every time a new set is released.

JW: When I play Magic, it’s with cards that are five years old. The only thing I know about the scene is that it was all about big creatures and then Mark Rosewater released a set and they had to ban a bunch of cards and it became four-turn kills. I don’t look through new sets. I’m too much out of it to understand well enough what the new mechanics do.

BB: Ah, the irony – many credit you with lighting a torch under R&D’s ass to save Green as a color. Green’s arguably the best color in Type 2 right now, and a lot of the changes to Green came about right as you were leaving the game.

JW: Green was amazing for a while. I did see that they actually made green Powerful, and from what I saw from Joshie and Alan no one was exploiting it. With access to Disenchant and Creeping Mold and a ton of amazing creatures – mostly elves – well, that was when I most wanted to play again.

BB: Green’s the main artifact-killing color in Magic now. Given that we’re in the artifact block (Mirrodin/Darksteel/5th Dawn), it’s really risen to the top. They reprinted Uktabi Orangutan, but as an elf.

JW: I saw that. They had some fantastic elves.

BB: Then they made Eternal Witness. A lot of your green decks were decks that had heavy utility and the ability to react to board situations, and I somehow can’t help but think you would have loved that guy.

JW: I’d have to agree.

Tune back in on Wednesday as I talk to Jamie about Secret Force, his famous 62-card decks, and the origin of the term”King of Fatties”! Don’t miss it! Ben can be reached at [email protected]