Play The Thing Or You’re Wrong

Who’s up for a round of sweeping generalizations and biting sarcasm from Mark Nestico?

That was a rhetorical question and we both know it.

Hey there, dumb-dumbs.

Yeah, you.

So the last few weeks everyone has been telling you that if you don’t play X, you’re wrong. Emma Handy was all like, “Play Humans or you’re wrong,” and Brad Nelson said, “Play U/W Humans or you’re wrong,” and then Brennan DeCandio told us, “Play one-cost interaction cards or you’re wrong.”

Wow, cool.

Well, your old pal Mark is here to tell you something completely different, and you should definitely listen to me and take my advice seriously because I’m a better Magic player than you are and I write for this big and powerful website, so…you know…just do it.

Play the thing or you’re wrong.

The thing.

Play it.

Or you’re wrong.

We’re going to go over the various formats and talk about the thing you should be doing, and if you’re not doing it, well, you might as well throw your deck in the trashcan and then you should also get in the trashcan with your deck and live out the rest of your days as a garbage-dwelling bad-deck-haver, while simultaneously being really grateful that you’re not paying for this article.

I’m going to teach you how to win tournament, friends, and influence people by playing…wait for it…”The Thing” and using that thing to win as many games of Magic as your heart desires. It’s going to make drudging around between two- and three-star hotels worth it as you rake in the hundreds of dollars you’ll no doubt score for winning tournaments when you buy into my philosophy of battling each week with “The Thing.”


So Big Bad Brad, as I like to call him in my dreams and fantasies, told us on Premium how we should be playing U/W Control or we are totally wrong. Brad is the best Standard player in the world, right? So whatever he says should be taken as gospel and there is no possible way to argue with it.

But for the sake of argument, which we shouldn’t be doing in the first place, we should argue with Brad anyway.

Hey. Brad. Bet you think you’re such a big shot over there with your Pro Tour Top 8s and your Grand Prix Top 8s and your SCG Top 8s and your Hall of Fame ring or…whatever other hardware you have…probably a cape or something that says “MTG” on the back of it or something.

The best part about Standard is that it changes a lot, and eventually Kaladesh will mercifully rotate out. Should we be playing U/W Control then, Brad? Whoa. Enjoy the mental gymnastics you’re going to have to go through to win that argument.

But until Kaladesh is gone we must deal with this format, so let me tell you why Brad isn’t playing “The Thing” and why he’s wrong. Players, and I use that term loosely, don’t want to always play ludicrously long and grindy games where your win condition is explaining to opponents who may or may not understand the lock with Search for Azcanta and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. I don’t even understand how it works, but I know when I have them both on the battlefield and I’ve untapped, people tend to scoop up their cards.

Take that, interaction!

So the flaw in Brad’s logic is that U/W Control is really boring to play and to play against, unless you’re down with that kind of thing, in which case Green Day was right and you’re probably having the time of your life. However, it’s a hard sell to make to some kid at FNM. “Sorry, pal, give me your Mono-Red deck and let me put this U/W Control deck into your hands or you’re totally wrong.” The kid starts crying, I get banned from the store, someone’s car gets keyed, it’s a freakish mess, and I’m really trying to avoid any of that.

Point is, you’re not wrong for deciding against playing U/W Control. If everyone took Brad’s advice, imaging how ridiculous 500 mirror matches would be at the next SCG Tour stop. You’d all go to time, the draw bracket would have 1000 people in it, and the record to get in the Top 8 would be 2-0-14.

Thankfully, there are no Standard SCG Tour stops. Ha!

Next level thinking by Cedric. Guy is such a boss. Seriously. He’s my boss.


Emma, who sends me strange GIFs at night, told us that if we don’t play Humans we are living in a perpetual state of incorrectness. Whether or not she was serious remains to be seen, because Humans is a really amazing deck in a dumpster fire of a format that has 57 good decks that all race to kill you before either person gets to play Magic.

However, where Emma was wrong was the part where she didn’t place enough emphasis on playing “The Thing.”

It probably jumps out at you that, hey, why didn’t the Classic in Louisville have a copy of Humans in the top slots, or why was there only one in the Modern main event? Aha! Proof that what Emma said was hyperbole, or maybe she was stringing us all along and had a secret pact with Marshall Arthurs (who has two first names), knowing full well that Mardu Pyromancer is pretty good against Humans? Half the room is on the Noble Hierarch deck and Marshall is cleaning them up with the deck with seventeen removal spells. Emma, you sly little minx.

And then there’s Brennan, who did his impression of me and yelled “Everything Sucks.” Well, I have some news for you, buddy, the good people of SCG aren’t going to fall for your clickbait articles anymore when they can just click my clickbaity articles instead. I am the Godfather of Clickbait on this website, and some extremely handsome game developer whose sexy hair and glasses isn’t going to take my oh my God I completely forgot what I was talking about. I got lost in that smile and…

…hold on, I remember what I was going to say. Basically you ain’t me, and they hate you cuz you ain’t me. They need someone like me who is pretty much on their level, because when you say something, it’s coming from a much better player than they are, but when I say something…whoa boy, I’m a bum, so leave “this deck sucks” to the guy who gets the highest rate of pay around here for pissing off the rabble.

Wow. That felt great to get out.

So Modern is pretty lame, but a lot of people like it, and they like the fact things are in constant flux and a new deck wins every week. They’re super into it. When you say “Play X or you’re wrong,” they think you’re actually attacking them as a person. They want to play “The Thing” and be left alone, so when you come at them and tell them they’re nuts for not playing it, they immediately want you fired. I’m serious.


Whoa! This person is coming for your livelihood! Your opinion on Magic should result in not being able to feed your family. Take that, Marketing Department.

Brennan, babe, “bae” as I call you…you need to learn that if they aren’t playing “The Thing” that they aren’t wrong, but instead it’s a teachable moment for you to shine a light on something better, or worse, or not “The Thing.” This is how you get a following, and not the kind from that Kevin Bacon show where everyone dies at the end. The good kind of following, where people actively don’t want you to get fired. Trust me.


I think they should ban that thing in Legacy, and then unban the one thing and then the other thing, but leave “The Thing” alone. If you’re not playing a deck with Brainstorm or Deathrite Shaman, are you even playing Legacy in the first place?


You’re likely playing a deck that you enjoy and have invested thousands of dollars and hours into and it’s your baby and no one is going to stop you from playing it, especially some author who isn’t an authority on Legacy.

But for the sake of argument, maybe you should be playing Four-Color Leovold instead of whatever crap you’ve been sleeving up for the last five years. You’re not going to win any tournaments like that. Trust me, I know. You should be ashamed of yourself.

However, I’m open to playing devil’s advocate. Maybe you really like your Elves deck. That’s a good deck, right? I mean, it Top 8s events randomly every few months, and you enjoy counting really high and then attacking for arbitrarily large numbers because of Craterhoof Behemoth. I think that’s really nice.

Until it isn’t.

I’m giving you the opportunity now to unsleeve those Gaea’s Cradles and begin putting “The Thing” together and finally string together some high tournament finishes. You know you want to, so stop being such a blockhead. Can you believe they printed this?

In Conclusion

I want to reiterate that you’re not wrong from playing whatever deck you like playing or are limited because you haven’t sunk thousands of dollars into Magic. You’re not. I promise. If you’re playing Snakes in Standard, that’s totally cool. If you like Scapeshift in Modern, you’re not wrong. Battling Lands in Legacy? Go get ’em, Tiger!

The best thing about Magic is that you can play whatever deck you want, and if you had fun during the tournament and had some epic matches, then you’re the real winner. Stressing over a little bit of money and if you’re going to earn enough to maybe off-set the cost of your hotel room is no way to live. When I see two people having the best time of their lives in the 1-5 bracket…I wish I were one of them, because they never forgot what was important about Magic and somewhere down the line the rest of us did.

Nah, I’m just kidding. Seriously. I’ve given you the tools today to crush your opponents mercilessly like your name was Kaervek. You just strap yourself to “The Thing” rocket and watch yourself blast off into the stratosphere.

Wait, wait, wait. Before you go it has dawned on me that I may have not explained to you entirely what “The Thing” is and how best to utilize it when you’re preparing for a tournament.

Well, it’s simple. “The Thing” is