SCG Talent Search – Knowledge, Profit, and You: A Twitter Primer

Thursday, December 9th – Want the inside scoop on how to use Twitter to further your Magical career? In a break from his tales of drunken debauchery, Dan Barrett tells all.

Magic is a game of information, and generally speaking, the more of it you have, the greater your chance of success. This applies to both specific game
states (Duressing your opponent and seeing no Daze or Force of Will with two Dark Rituals and Ad Nauseam in hand, and spare black mana is
quite good

) and more broadly, to what decks are in the metagame, the composition of those decks, and results of recent tournaments.

Consider the current Standard format – having studied the




you should be able to pin your opponent on an archetype after seeing just a few cards. Leading on Darkslick Shores, then Island, pass? U/B Control, and they may well have the Mana Leak in hand. Mountain, Ornithopter, Kuldotha Rebirth? Better hope you’ve got some Pyroclasms for the Goblin horde!

While the Internet as a whole is a fantastic source for a lot of the information we seek, it’s still much slower than we’d like it to be: At the time this article is published, Day 1 of Worlds 2010 in Chiba, Japan, is underway, but there’s a delay of a couple hours between what occurs and coverage on the Wizards website. Want to know if your idol Brian Kibler won his last round? Need to know what cards to pick up on MODO right now? You have to wait. Articles are even worse in this respect – a tournament report with the latest build of RUG Control won’t be posted until days after someone wins an event with it, by which time we’ve moved on; it’s a constant game of catch-up.

However, it’s possible to obtain relevant Magic information almost instantaneously— say, you want to know what’s happening over in Chiba
right now?

Click here

and you can do that.

Twitter is
the best way to discover what’s new in your world


It is

fastest source of Magic information we have available and a rich one too, once you know how to use it. Just by sharing short (140 characters or fewer) messages and reading those posted by others…

Twitter is coverage

– Find out what’s taking place at any major Magic event, first.

Twitter is the latest tech

– Discover the hottest new decks and learn what cards you need to stock up on before everyone else.

Twitter is a forum

– Discuss draft picks and Sealed builds while you’re on MODO. Get feedback on your articles. Debate the latest WotC announcement, real-time. Some even think it may replace article forums…


So now that I have your interest, I’m going to tell you: (1) how to use Twitter’s basic functions, (2) illustrate exactly how it can make
you a better, richer, and happier Magic player, and finally (3) share some words of wisdom from fellow Twitter evangelist,
Evan Erwin.

1 – Basic features and functionality: a walkthrough

a) The very basics

Creating an account

– Before you sign up, realize that your choice of username is important! Ideally it’ll include your real name (if you’ll be recognized by that)
or be the same as your forum handles, but most importantly it should be short: under twelve characters is ideal. Now head

to sign up.


– The basis of Twitter are short (140 characters or fewer) messages, called “tweets.” Once signed in, send your first one by clicking in the text box under
“What’s happening?”

The number of characters you have left is shown as you type, and it will appear in the

once you click the “tweet” button.

first tweet

Followers and following

– Not just your own tweets will appear in your timeline – also shown will be tweets of those you “follow,” and “mentions” of
you by others (we’ll get to that in a second). You’ll need to find some Magic players to follow – you can start by going to
my profile,

, and clicking “follow” under my picture – now you’ll start seeing my tweets in your timeline. Likewise, your tweets will appear in the timelines of other people who are following you – hence the following/followers numbers in the right-hand column.

following followers

We’ll look at “lists” in more detail later, but to start off,
here are 30 Magic Twitter accounts you should follow

– just go and click the “+” follow buttons next to each name on the list.

Filling out your profile details

– If you want people to follow you, you’ll need to tell them a bit about yourself – fill in your profile details and bio, and upload a profile picture


– A “mention,” or “@ reply,” is when a user specifically refers to you in a tweet. This is the primary way of sending tweets directed to a specific user, even if they’re not following you. You can send one by putting an “@” in front of a username, anywhere in a tweet (usually at the beginning). E.g. to send me one, type “@dangerawesome” followed by your message. You can include multiple users, simply by putting an “@” before each of their names. A tweet starting with an “@” will appear in that user’s timeline, as well as in the timelines of people following both of you (by default). However, if you want to send a message to all your followers, referencing one person in particular, don’t start your message with the “@” — e.g.

mention middle


– A “retweet” (RT for short) is when you pass on a tweet originally posted by someone else, such as a news story. You can do this easily by clicking “retweet” in the options that appear on mouse over just below the message you want to pass on. There are also options here on each tweet to @ reply to that user, or store that tweet in your “favorites” to read again later:

tweet options


– A “direct message” (DM for short) is a private tweet only seen by the recipient. You can send one either by writing “D ” before a username (e.g. “D dangerawesome xxxx”) or by clicking “message” on someone’s profile.

b) More advanced usage


– A “hashtag” is a word or short phrase (no spaces) preceded by a # that identifies your tweet as being relevant to a particular topic or event. These appear as links, and clicking on one will take you straight to the timeline of all tweets for that particular tag. This is an efficient
way to keep updated on an event, e.g.

right now, or

last weekend.

Link shorteners

– With only 140 characters per tweet, space is at a premium, particularly if you want to share a long website address. Use a link shortening service
such as

and a link too long to be tweeted becomes a much more manageable 20 odd characters. For example:

(originally: 136 characters).

Adding images

– As well as links, you can include images in your tweets. There are many quick and easy image-hosting sites you can use for this – I use

as it offers the time-saving facility to tweet the picture straight after uploading.


– A Twitter list is a simple way of filtering a timeline to only include certain users – for example, if you only wanted to see tweets from StarCityGames.com feature writers, Wizards of the Coast staff, or Magic players, you could use these lists:

SCG writers

(created by SCG’s Lauren Lee a.k.a.


WotC staff

(also by


Magic players

(one of mine)

#FF / “Follow Friday”

– A good way of both getting more followers and finding new and interesting people to follow is using the “follow friday” hashtag, #FF. Each Friday, users recommend accounts they think will be of interest to others (sometimes with explanation), like so:

follow friday

Desktop clients

– On your PC/Mac, you needn’t only use Twitter through the main website – there are a range of superb desktop clients available, which streamline
your twitter experience. I can’t go into detail about its usage now, but both myself and Evan Erwin (

) highly recommend (and use for work purposes)



Mobile client

– Don’t let not being at a computer stop you from staying up-to-date – download a mobile client for iPhone (the
official app

is free) or Android, and use Twitter anywhere. This is particularly useful for tweeting how you’re getting on in an event, and you can even attach pictures or a location geo-tag. This level of connectivity on the move is one of the most advanced technologies we have available to us right now and was unheard of until recently. Case in point: two weekends ago, while hurtling towards Edinburgh on a train, I was having conversations with people in Moscow, Australia, the UK, and USA.


2 – The benefits

Now that you have an account, how can you best use Twitter to improve your game, make money, and have fun? Let’s explore a few examples:

Live coverage of events

– A player, spectator, or coverage reporter at a GP, PT, or SCG Open can tell the world the result of a match mere seconds after the handshake – and they often do! Find users tweeting from the event, or the appropriate hashtag, and you can follow along in real-time, hours ahead of coverage reports. This means you can have the latest tech before anyone else and can stock up on cards sure to spike in price. I did such coverage of GB Nationals this year for

and Twitter will be used for coverage more and more in future. Just make sure you don’t spread someone’s decklist or sideboard tech without their permission if you get involved – there’s a good article on such etiquette


– Get feedback on your latest brew, and check out those of others – especially easy using a decklist link-shortener such as

Reviewing other people’s lists regularly helps your own deckbuilding and tuning skills, and seeing many rogue lists may give you an advantage the next time you play against someone playing something a little unusual – you may have seen it before! Some well-known players, such as Kyle Sanchez (

) even post their latest decks on Twitter before anywhere else – here’s Soul Sisters, posted four days before it was a breakout hit at US Nationals this summer:


Articles and podcasts

– Twitter is an efficient way of finding articles to read, and keeping track of those you’ve not read yet – I’ve created
this list

to filter out links to articles, which I can then “favorite” and store until I’ve read them – far more elegant than having a huge list of “to read” bookmarks! Many writers also maintain personal blogs with useful content you won’t find on the major sites they usually write for – follow them to ensure you don’t miss out on bonus
articles from the likes of Gerry T (

), or AJ Sacher (


Talk to pros

– In almost no other competitive sport or game is there so much interaction between the average player and the top tier of professionals. Want to get the opinion of a pro player on a deck, draft pick, or article idea? Chances are, they’re on Twitter, and if you ask nicely, they might have a minute to help you out. I’ve asked many well-known players (and writers) questions and gotten responses from almost all of them, including great
advice from


, and



– Have a difficult decision to make in the MODO draft you’re in? Fire up Twitter and get a few more opinions! Draft picks are a common topic of discussion among all levels of player, and the more opinions you see, the better informed you’ll be in future. Plus, while there are many draft
recaps on the major strategy sites each day, you can always find more through tweets referencing sites such as

– and the more of these you look at, the easier it’ll be to “draft to spec”
in the future, better knowing what a 3-0 deck looks like, such as this strong forty from the

, Chris Pikula.



– If you’re preparing for a Sealed event coming up, an important part of your practice will be evaluating and building as many pools as possible – again, there are articles containing these, but if you want to have seen 100+ pools before playing in a GP, these alone won’t be enough. It’s also useful to see what other people would’ve done with the pool you opened in a Daily Event, for example. Taking a screenshot and posting this could get you some valuable extra opinions – perhaps even allowing you to change your deck between rounds, if you do so during the event. Two recent Sealed postings:

Sealed pool

Financial recommendations

– It’s not only play advice you can find on Twitter, there’s money to be made too. By following coverage of events closely, while having MODO up with some tickets to spare, you can invest in breakout cards before everyone else – getting a bargain for yourself and allowing you to resell any additional copies at a profit just hours later. I know SCG’s own Jon Medina (

) made some tix by investing shortly after these bold statements from Gerry T:


More examples from the SCG Invitational just last weekend:


Twitter-exclusive content

– Some great Magic content can only be found on Twitter. WotC’s Aaron Forsythe (

) posts detailed comments on a random card every weekday using the

tag, and parody accounts such as

post some genuinely amusing set reviews and comments.



– How does “free cards” sound to you? I thought so! Sadly we won’t be getting any more Magic Player Rewards, but fortunately for us stores and generous traders like giving away high-value cards to their loyal followers, usually for a token effort such as retweeting a message, or commenting on an article.



– Written an awesome article and need readers? Made some sweet Magic art you want to share with the community? Twitter is the ideal audience. On the articles front, I highly recommend signing up for an account with link-shortening service

– this allows you to see analytics for your links (and even generate QR codes): useful if you’re in a writing contest, say!

article analytics

Art-wise, do check out

who shares token and planeswalker emblems you can print out
to use at home, and

(husband of SCG Cube writer Thea Steele,

), who does a lot of great work and has even started selling


hoodies –
get yours


What’s the best thing

get out of Twitter? Here are some of the responses I received when asking this question, but do share your own in the forums (or @

or course!), as I’ve barely scratched the surface.

you like

3 – Twitter Q+A with Evan Erwin

Evan Erwin (

) is a fellow champion of Twitter, using it every day in his work at StarCityGames.com (

), sharing news and building the community around the site. A few last words and nuggets of advice from him:


I know you’re a huge fan of Twitter – can you recommend some “pros” and “joes” you’ve found useful/interesting recently?



every once in a while


breaks out some nasty technology (I recall he tweeted about Spikeshot Elder a

time before anyone thought that card was any good), and good ole


remains hilarious with snarky tweets when necessary.


is always notable and who could leave out





As for the “joes” I suppose


counts… he’s simply an awesome artist who makes sweet clothing. Thanks to him twittering, I noticed his work, and it ended up with me getting one of his hoodies:



What have you seen on Twitter before anywhere else?


Twitter will

update with the most recent hot topic. For example, I was busy around midnight and didn’t get to check dailymtg.com… then I see a huge flurry of MTG: Commander activity on Twitter and know what they must have announced. It’s nice that you don’t need a computer/web browser to get access to new information.


Have you any tips/tricks even an established Twitter user might find useful?


Use lists to their fullest. Even I’m not doing this, but I recognize the power in separating out topics you like into different streams of information. Twitter is simply Blogging 2.0. We figured out that blogging is hard and takes too much time, but texting people feels good and natural. So we merged these things.

Now you can listen to all sorts of chatter, but the ability to filter the noise is key – using lists, being vigilant on keeping up-to-date, getting used to checking Twitter as a reflex. It’s great to keep track of current events, friends’ whereabouts and activities, and simply keep you entertained.

use hashtags.

It took me awhile to warm up to this one, but I assure you it’s worth it. The ability to click on one link – like


– and see the entire “conversation” is brilliant. This was a completely user-driven feature, and it works perfectly – sure you don’t want to follow @joe_rando, but you’re curious what everyone else thought (or is thinking at that moment) about the event. This is important and allows those who aren’t following you to find you.


Lastly – What’s the #1 reason any Magic player should start using Twitter?


Because it’s the future. I know that sounds stupid and cliché, but you can’t stop the tide. Your mother (and probably grandmother) is on Facebook now. I don’t think they’re going to be rushing to create Twitter accounts, but I think you can tell that social media is changing things. The ability to create cohesive thoughts and conversations in 140 character chunks is an art form and those who do it best get the attention they deserve.

In our interwebian world, we need to communicate efficiently and effectively, and nothing can showcase that better than Twitter. I love it 🙂

I hope I’ve sold you on the power of Twitter to improve your Magic life, be it to enhance your play, make money, or to find new friends to chat

with. Provided you put the effort in, by talking to others and building your follower/following numbers, you can really get a lot out of Twitter – I hope to hear from you on there soon. Don’t forget to vote* and leave comments in the forums, and once you have, why not click one of these links below…? (Make sure you’re signed into Twitter first).

I signed up to Twitter after reading this article!

I’m on Twitter already, but this is great advice!

I have a question for you!

Thanks for reading,

Dan Barrett


* = How else will you get strategy for the best two formats you’ve never played, and coverage of the drinkingest tournament in the history of Magic? Next time…!