Magical Group Therapy For The Holidays

Three formats and two online platforms gather for coffee, doughnuts, and group therapy. But will their season turn the holidays into hellidays? The twists and turns of Shaun McLaren’s mind are on full display!

[You are about to witness an important and intimate conversation.

Gathered in a tiny office room setting, sitting on cheap foldable chairs arranged in a small circle, sit five different personas. Coffee and doughnuts are arranged on a plastic table off to one side, along with a few stacks of Magic cards.

Legacy, Standard, Modern, Magic Arena, and Magic Online have gathered for group therapy.]

LEGACY: Hello, everyone, and thank you all for coming. My name is Legacy, and it’s been 245 days since my last ban. You’re all looking good and I hope that you’re feeling good too.

I know we’ve all made a lot of progress this past year and I wanted to use this time together to share how we’re all feeling right now, how you’ve felt this past year, and where you want to be next year.

MODERN: Pfft, I can’t believe I show up to this…can you hurry up? Some of us have places to be, since people actually play our formats.

LEGACY: Ahem, as I was saying… I want us to be able to share our repressed and suppressed emotions in a safe, understanding place with one another. We can all grasp the challenges we all face. That means no Judgment… and please keep the Torment to a minimum so we can all succeed on our Odyssey. Would anyone like to start?

STANDARD: Umm, actually, I have a lot to get off my chest…

LEGACY: …Actually, I’ll just go first to kick things off, since I have seniority and you all need guidance anyway.

I’ve had my ups and downs, but overall it’s been a good year for Legacy. I was afraid banning Sensei’s Divining Top might disrupt my metagame, but I feel I came away the better for it and I’m still a strong, healthy format with plenty of fans. Miracles even managed to survive and adapt. People are even playing Search for Azcanta now! What a time to be alive.

For the New Year, I’m hoping to be less Reserved. I have a List of ways, to start doing so but I need to start letting go and embracing the new while still retaining what makes me special.

Ultimately I plan on continuing to do what I do best as a format. I have a defined metagame, a dedicated playerbase, and challenging gameplay. I feel comfortable in my own sleeves. Thank you all for listening. Standard, do you want to share next?

STANDARD: Okay. Thanks, Legacy. Hi, everyone. I’m Standard and it’s been 195 days since my last ban.

This therapy has been really helpful as I’ve gone through some tough times this last year. I’ve taken some heavy flak just for pushing my boundaries with overpowered cards. It’s great having you all for support when it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, especially when I make a tiny mistake every now and then. I get a lot of hate sometimes, and I’m just trying to do my best. Basically the past year has been rough and I’m just looking to move beyond it and look towards a bright future.

I’ve got Dominaria to look forward too. We all do. I’m hopeful.

I’ve been trying to recite a mantra and visualize what I want in the New Year. It goes like this: “This year I will be healthy. I will have fun new sets with interesting mechanics, balanced metagames, and most importantly no bans. Oh, and if all that falls through, just any new deck that can compete with Energy decks. Please.”

Overall, I think I’ve set realistic goals and I’m coping well. I’m ready to be back on top again.

MODERN: Pfft, yeah, right.

LEGACY: Modern, it’s your turn to share. You have the floor.

MODERN: Yeah, yeah, fine. I’m Modern and it’s been 350 days since my last ban. Almost a whole year. Wow, I’m doing much better than youm Standard and Legacy, go Figure of Destiny. Actually, now that I think about it, there isn’t really anything wrong with me at all. Next!

LEGACY: Modern, you’re in Arcane Denial. We all have issues to overcome.

MODERN: Hmm, I guess you could say my biggest problem is that I’m too popular? I have trouble keeping track of all the interesting different decks in my metagame.

STANDARD: Oh, please, this is the most ridiculous narcissism I’ve seen. You’re more broken than a one-mana 13/13. You really think you’ll last one month into 2018 without a ban?

MODERN: I’m a strong, confident format! I don’t need a ban!

LEGACY: Okay, let’s move on to our other participants, Magic Arena and Magic Online. Go ahead, Magic Arena.

MAGIC ARENA: Thank you all for inviting me here! I’m just excited to be attending and a part of all this. I know I’m a newcomer, but I’m hip, and I’m fresh. I just hope I can live up to my full potential after overcoming a few hurdles and be a great new way to play Magic.

MAGIC ONLINE: The unbridled optimism of youth. It sickens me. You’re about to get a cold hard slap of reality to the face, kiddo.

MAGIC ARENA: Just because you’ve had a hard life doesn’t mean that’s what’s in the cards for me, Magic Online.

MAGIC ONLINE: That’s right. I have had a hard life. You know why? Because life is hard! Old Magic Online knows this and old Magic Online has still survived. You may be sick of me, you may think you can replace me, but I’ve been around for a long time and won’t be dethroned by the likes of you, Magic Arena.

MAGIC ARENA: I don’t want to dethrone you! Surely we can exist in harmony…

MAGIC ONLINE: I don’t want to hear it! I’m sick of it and I’m sick of all of you! I’m gonna air out my grievances! I’ve got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it! I had a good thing going before Magic Arena showed up! I know you’re trying to kill me! Don’t try to hide it. I might be worried if you weren’t so obviously unthreatening. I will gobble you up and spit you out. Everyone always comes crawling back to me…

LEGACY: If we could just keep this civil…

MAGIC ARENA: You know what, Magic Online? Maybe you’re right. Maybe I am trying to replace you. You’ve been holding an unhealthy online monopoly over the Magic Online Monopoly-money economy. You’re a gold digger and you’re demanding. I’m not. I’m chill. You’ve been in thousands of one-sided relationships and are basically the poster child for Stockholm Syndrome.

MAGIC ONLINE: My relationships aren’t one-sided. I give so much. Don’t you all see that? I made you all. Without me, you’re nothing. I’m the main attraction.

STANDARD: Actually, it’s exactly the opposite… Magic existed before you, and you’re just a vehicle to be able to play it. Plus, kitchen table Magic is still the best.

MAGIC ONLINE: Lies! I write my own reality, even if it’s full of bugs!

MAGIC ARENA: See, this is why you need me to attract new players. Sure, you’ll always have a core base of die-hard competitive players, but I’m sleek. I’m everything you should’ve been.

MAGIC ONLINE: How will anyone take you seriously when you can’t even tap your cards properly! That’s like the main thing you do with Magic cards! You tap them! Not tilt! Tap! You’re less flexibile than a geriatric yoga class. The Leaning Tower of Pisa looks at your tapped cards as role models for how to stand up straight.

You don’t even have trading! You’re limited to Standard! You’re training wheels! I’m a known entity. You’re new, and new is scary.

MAGIC ARENA: I’m still in Closed Beta. All these issues are going to get fixed, no problem. What’s your excuse?

LEGACY: This isn’t couples counseling, people… just take a few deep breaths and pause for a phase. Maybe we can come to some common ground?

MAGIC ONLINE: Common ground that’s slanted like Magic Arena’s interface…

LEGACY: Magic Online and Magic Arena, you can both exist and be successful together. Just look at us formats. Modern and Standard have a begrudging respect for each other that has even secretly blossomed into a true friendship, like with Legolas and Gimli. We exist to put smiles on faces. During the holiday season, it’s important to remember that. We’re here to help and improve the players’ lives with smiles. If we all just work together and treat each other with respect, compassion, and patience, we can overcome anything.

MAGIC ONLINE: …You know what, maybe you’re right, Legacy. I’m sorry, Magic Arena. I lash out because I’m scared.

MAGIC ARENA: Apology accepted.

LEGACY: Excellent! We did great here today, everyone. I think coming out of here we’ll be better-adjusted and more balanced. Seeing you all feeling healthy makes me feel special. Congratulations, everyone.

[Legacy gets up to leave and gives everyone a thumbs-up before departing. Pause.]

MODERN: All right, now that Legacy is gone, we can begin the real therapy. I’ll see you all outside in the parking lot for fight club in five minutes.