Greetings, my gorgeous galavanters! Pray silence for the Chorus Invisiubule! Doctor Mox is, as they say, “In Da House!”
Yes, it is I, the good doctor, back once again to grace the fair, forthright and dolphin-friendly pages of StarCityGames.com.
Much time has passed since my last regular column. Loyal readers will be pleased to know that, despite our hideous toboggan-related accident, both myself and my Swiss ladyfriend Jetta are relatively unscathed. We may have finished dead last in the Toboggan World Championships, but we escaped with our lives and limbs intact… though sadly in Jetta’s case, the superficial splinter-damage that blighted her prosthetic leg was not covered by our Sports Insurance. Apparently, the small-print disqualified all accidents stemming from faulty equipment and unsupervised sea-lions, leaving us without a case to argue.
As before, I am here to serve a valuable purpose: I shall take your problems, and solve them. After all, a man of my vast experience and encyclopaedic knowledge has much wisdom to deport. My mail-bag is bulging, and I’m stuffed with wholesome advice. I am ready to cram my meaty nuggets into the ears of all who beckon me in. So reach for the Q-Tips, and let us begin.
Dear Doctor Mox,
Last week, I attended my first Magic the Gathering tournament. I was looking to make new friends, trade some cards and have fun. With me, I took a pre-constructed deck, a modest trade binder and a pocketful of sunshine.
In the first round, when I won the dice roll, my opponent punched me in the face. I called a judge, and HE punched me in the face. When I appealed to the Head Judge I was leery of a facial attack and was therefore unguarded when he kicked me in the stomach.
Over six rounds of play, I was mocked, spat on, kicked and punched, drenched in vomit, “touched inappropriately” and even forced to drink my own urine. I am only thankful that the urine wasn’t someone else’s, as the menu at the venue canteen was entirely asparagus-based.
Tell me, is this the sort of treatment I can regularly expect if I return to the tournament scene?
In short: why are Magic players such *ssh*les?
Mike L, NYC
Mike, I’m so sorry that you had such a wretched experience at your first Magic tournament. I can thoroughly sympathize, as both Jetta and myself underwent some relentless taunting when we ventured forth to our own inaugural sanctioned event. Luckily for me, Jetta is a fine pugilist, and she managed to knock all five of the taunters into unconsciousness in mere minutes. It’s true that bullies are often cowards, but I’d say they put up a remarkable fight for eight-year-old girls.
Sadly, there is no simple answer to your question. Some people are simply rotten, rotten to the core. Evil comes in many guises, Mike, and we must be vigilant if we are to overcome it. I’d like to be able to tell you that such pernicious folk will one day face their karmic comeuppance, but this is often not the case. Such flagrant disregard for the feelings of others can lead to positions of inscrutable power. To illustrate this, one has to simply look at Mark Rosewater.
We as players (and as humans, for the most part) should demand a certain standard of civility from those we choose to play with. Yet all I can offer, Mike, is a guide… a guide to those arrogant, intolerant, malignant cankers that plague our fair game. It is with these fickle dregs in mind that I present…
Doctor Mox’s Guide to Gaming Etiquette.
Hopefully, my dear friend, those that need it will read it, and heed it.
1: Be polite to your opponent, even when you’re losing.
When your opponent arrives and sits down, smile and offer up a handshake. Ask him his name. Engage him in light conversation: after all, you have a shared hobby. Make him feel respected, and welcome. Then, when your deck bitch-slaps him into another time-zone, he’ll thank you for it.
Indeed, when you’re winning, it’s essential that you keep a modest charm and collect coolness. So your Blue-Mage opponent it tapped out with no cards in hand, and you lay down double Blistering Firecat? Nice play, but hardly an excuse to leap onto the table with a victory whoop and gyrate your skanky pelvis into his protesting face. This can lead to disqualification, suspension, and in extreme cases, biting.
On the flip side, it is also important to display a modicum of grace in defeat. I don’t care that you think you’re Budde’s Gift to Magic, or that your opponent eats glue and uses safety scissors. If your thousand-hour test-tweaked uberdeck gets creamed by Jonny Jellyfish and his eighty-eight unsleeved squirrels then smile and shake hands like the professional you dearly wish to be.
After all, you can always take a dump in his holdall when he’s handing in the match slip.
2: Remember that, in Magic, LUCK plays an important role.
The worst thing about this game, other than cleaning out turds from your holdall, is the damn manascrew. My Swiss ladyfriend Jetta, on the other hand, believes the Discard Step to be the worst thing about the game. Of course, she is a natural hoarder, loathe to flush away even the most personal effluvia (as our modest cellar of self-decanted Aqua Vitae admirably demonstrates).
Manascrew is officially No Fun At All. Everyone’s been there. Three lands, four spells… a keeper. Draw no more lands, have no more fun. It’s hard to remain pragmatic when you fall foul to the whims of the Mana Gods. But you’ll be a better person if you rise above it all.
When the land just ain’t flowin’, we all bemoan our heathen luck. Similarly, when our opponent cold-calls his only out and then proceeds to pull it from his deck like a white rabbit from a black topper, even Ghandi would start kickin’ ass and takin’ names. Jetta informs me that Switzerland, that great bastion of neutrality and peaceful relations, lays the blame of its one and only civil war at the feet of a top-decked Urza’s Rage.
Remember this: In the end, the luck will even out. Just as one day the land will, like the attendees at a proctologist’s convention, congregate somewhere around the bottom, the following day you’ll be Firewalking with Sliths on turn 1 and Raining down the Molten stuff on turn 2 game after game.
Life is all swings and roundabouts, my friends. And maybe a little seesaw if you’re lucky.
Magic is a game. Nothing more, nothing less. An enjoyable pastime that can lead to wealth and fame, for the elite few at least.
And at their most basic, games have a single, unifying law that is undeniable: Games Should Be Fun.
Logically, we can extend this to the following: Magic Tournaments Should Be Fun.
When you mock your opponent, intimidating and upsetting him… This Is Not Fun.
When you throw pre-teen tantrums over rules disagreements… This Is Not Fun.
When you disrespect the other players, the organisers and the venue… This Is Not Fun.
When you skank kiddies in trades, or misrepresent the game rules for illegal advantage… This Is Not Fun.
When you do comical monkey impressions, dragging your knuckles on the floor while picking imaginary fleas from passers-by and mumbling “ook-ook”… This IS Fun. Keep doing it.
Magic tournaments display the public face of our much-maligned game. If we’re seen to act like children then both we and our hobby will be forever branded childish. I for one am tired of taking the path of least resistance when questioned about my hobby, falling back to the stock “well-it’s-a-bit-like-Poker” answer, that Grand Old Lie and self-confirmation of our unnecessary shame.
If we ensure that all involved are having fun, then we can only grow as a community. And I for one want this glorious cardboard frippery to continue for many years to come.
That’s all for now, my majestic moon-pups. I hear the Cry of the Night summoning me to bed. Of course, I could be mistaken: it’s either the Cry of the Night, or Jetta’s adenoidal infection has returned with a vengeance.
Join me tomorrow, when I tackle the best of the Kamigawa Block decks, giving you the exclusive skinny regarding what to play should a qualifier loom.
Until next time, keep spinning your Tops.