SCG Daily: “My London, Part One”

To a lot of you, I’m probably an unknown quantity; I’m a writer who’s recently appeared “on the scene” here on StarCityGames.com on the Premium side, seemingly out of nowhere if you didn’t already know the story. For those of you who don’t know me or my personal back story, that seems like the place to start.

To a lot of you, I’m probably an unknown quantity; I’m a writer who’s recently appeared “on the scene” here on StarCityGames.com on the Premium side, seemingly out of nowhere if you didn’t already know the story. My name is Sean McKeown. I’m 25 and starting out in the professional world of chemistry after going to college for five years to get two degrees in all that (while also somehow finding time to play Magic; somehow I guess that seemed more important than, y’know, “homework”) and just getting back into the game these past few months. It’s that last part that makes me think that to many who will be reading this, I’m a stranger. I used to write for The Dojo, then parlayed that into a weekly column that helped launch the Neutral Ground website back in the stone age of Internet Magic, and turned that into a scheme to widen my appeal by writing for Scott Johns in his time as editor for MindRipper.com and later Brainburst.com.

For four weeks in there somewhere, I wrote for Star City Games, launching a series called “Oaf of Mages”, displaying my self-deprecating sense of humor onto the glowing screen before it was cool. And then… I disappeared, like I’d never happened.

My Dailies for the week will tell some of that story… and provide a little dig at some professional you-know-who’s that will probably only read this to make sure I’m playing nice and not mauling them when they aren’t looking.

Here on Star City, I’m a Constructed specialist (so far), at least in part because that is something you can look at as a known quantity and actually talk about intelligently. In actuality, I’m just waiting for the next Limited Pro Tour season, because I tend to pick my topics based solely on their relevance at the moment. I’m also dying for the Magic Online Mirage release, because I drafted it the first time around and think it’d be pretty awesome to revisit an old Limited game from the bygone days of yesteryear with the modern depth of analysis that lately has been put into looking at draft. I don’t have enough time for real-life Constructed Magic, and haven’t had anything truly intelligent to say about it for the last two weeks while I started a new job that eats most of my daylight hours and moved apartments besides, and I won’t get Magic Online until the 27th of this month, when my Internet gets installed in the new apartment.

But now that I’ve said “hi” (in a lot more words than it should normally take to do so), I’m going to tell you what you can expect to find here on my Dailies – my “bad beats” story in many parts, hence “My London” in the spirit of Tim Aten and Gadiel Szleifer. I was given a broad creative space to talk about anything I want to, and I have to admit “elegance” was one topic that crossed my mind, but instead I’m going to talk about how I quit Magic, how I cheated while I was away, and what finally brought me back, because that last part can be a lesson to those who haven’t gone through or considered the experience, and can give a lot to those who are trying to get something back from the game when it just doesn’t seem to be giving.

Magic has always been an oddity to me. I’ve played it since I was a junior in high school; my origin with the game overlaps in some of the same places as Zvi’s origin story, and doesn’t miss his by more than a year of time or so. As I’ve grown from a traumatized introvert at high school to a brash and arrogant “contributor” through my original spate gigs from back in the day when I wrote more about Magic than anyone else had yet conceived of, this game has always been with me, meaning different things at different times but always finding a way to be important to me. When I was young, I was really bad at this game, but so was everyone else except for a dozen or so people, so it didn’t matter so much. I learned to play and love the game of Magic around friends’ coffee tables, or more accurately for a traumatized introvert like I was then, my brother’s friends’ coffee tables, because I was too shy or too self-absorbed or too something to get friends of my own.

Back then, I was the Big Spender. I was fifteen, and already was working as much as legally allowed at that age in the U.S., paying to support a comic book addiction, a burgeoning Magic addiction, and the very beginnings of an Internet addiction. (It was 1996 after all – the Internet outside of CompuServe and AOL was a scary place back then.) Before my younger brother and his friends taught me to play, I was a meticulous comic book collector, interested in the stories of a dying age of comics just as holo-foil covers and alternate-art editions and all those worthless fads were just beginning to replace good writing and good art on the scale of cosmic importance. As such a meticulous collector, I had connections with several mail-order houses, and once I was introduced to Magic and decided to play, the urge to be competitive struck up, and I clearly had the advantage: I had money and nothing better to spend it on. I started up during Ice Age, and it was a simple thing to mail-order some Antiquities packs ($10 each) or Legends packs ($14 each; $10 for Italian) so I could have access to better cards.

Join me tomorrow as I start to wise up to the fact that having money and better cards doesn’t make you any less of a scrub, the hard way.