Thank You—No, Seriously

Michael Martin explains why he’s stepping away from Magic at the moment and thanks his loyal readers for following his writing throughout the years.

I’ve never written one of these before; in fact, I hadn’t planned on writing this one either. Truth be told, I presume most collectively regard my absence from Magic with general disinterest. However, Cedric Phillips brought up a great point.

Some of you have come to look forward to my articles on this here website, and for once I think that my leaving the game will actually be noticed. Cedric thought it’d be best if I wrote to you guys and gals specifically, and I agree. I’ve always been of the mindset that if you’re willing to take precious time out of your day to "tune in" and read what I have to say, then I sure as hell have the time to reply and have a conversation with you.

I’ve had the greatest gig there is to have in this game, which is being a regular columnist for the biggest and best website for Magic strategy content. I don’t take that lightly. I fully understand that it’s a privilege and an honor. I know that I’ve got no appreciable tournament results that validate my existence and ability to regularly provide content; it’s the fact that you all have found something in my writing that you enjoy and return to read. It seems I’ve connected on some level with all of you. I’d like to think that this is because in all reality I am all of you.

I’m not a Hall of Famer.

I’m not a Pro Tour winner.

I’m not a Pro Tour Top 8 competitor.

Who am I kidding—I’ve never even gotten to go to a Pro Tour.

I was truly excited when I made day 2 of Grand Prix Washington DC this past year; it wasn’t a "yeah, this is the result I should get" as much as I tried to tell myself. It was truly a personal accomplishment even though it’d be a mediocre result for almost any other writer on this website.

And all of you came along with me. I can’t thank you enough for tuning in every week and reading my content.

I’m just like you all; I tune in to the Pro Tour coverage in wonder, watching the awesome innovations and cheering for pros. I brew when I’m sitting at work with nothing to do. There are multiple notebooks sitting on my desk at work with decklists from years past. I’m a gamer and love playing Magic, and years of writing and working my way up have led me to where I’m at now.

You guys don’t know this, but I actually started writing back when I used to browse MTG Salvation right around the time that Zendikar came out. I had just moved to Northern Virginia to take a position with the government, lived alone, and knew no one in the area. I spent all of my time at my apartment or at work and really had no way to even play Magic, but I still kept up. I found a store to start going to for FNM, and randomly one day I noticed that MTG Salvation allowed anyone who requested to write (and knew how to write obviously) to put an article on their front page.

That, my friends, was the "big time" for me back in those days.

When they accepted, I was happy, but it was the kind of happy where you stop the microwave right when it hits zero and turn around to see that no one else is there to see your big accomplishment. No matter, I thought; I’d have an article up for thousands to see soon enough.

I put time into testing the list by sitting at my coffee table jamming multiple decks against my weapon of choice, worked on putting the head graphic together, and edited the article 50 times before telling the mods that I was ready.

They published the first piece of public writing I’ve ever done: "No Angels Needed Here." Yes, it still exists in all its glory.

Within a day, the owner of a prominent Magic website sent me a message offering me a position to write regularly for the site. Completely unsolicited, and it paid! Not much, mind you, but the fact that someone was willing to pay for my opinions based solely off of one article showed me that I could do this.

After a couple years that site decided to move "in a different direction"; this was right around the time of GP Pittsburgh and the Alyssa Bereznak "scandal." In fact, that was the last article I wrote over there. It was the first time I’d been "fired" from anything, and my feeling that "I don’t really belong with the rest of the writers" was confirmed.

That was until Ali Aintrazi asked why I didn’t try writing for StarCityGames.com. I didn’t want to tell him the truth of "I don’t feel like I’m someone they’d want and really don’t want to get rejected again." He said he’d talk to Steve Sadin for me.

Things went pretty well from there. Steve gave me a tryout article, I wrote "A Heartless New Linchpin in Standard," and Steve offered me a position that week. That validated feeling returned, and when Gavin Verhey accepted a position at Wizards of the Coast a couple of weeks later, Steve even offered me a weekly position to take the slot that Gavin left void (though I knew I wasn’t supposed to replace him, as those are some ginormous shoes to fill).

Since then despite a couple of hiatuses due to life and whatnot, I’ve stayed here at StarCityGames.com. Through three content coordinators, I’ve stuck around despite each presumably having the power and ability to can me at any time. Again, that might not mean much to others, but the fact that each has allowed me to stay is a point of pride for me.

So even though I haven’t openly stated it, I’m stepping away from my position as a writer for StarCityGames.com. This is purely my own decision, as life has definitely shown me that this block of text from an article a couple weeks ago was a hilarious example of my "eyes being bigger than my stomach":

There’s a decent chance I may not be writing as much in the future as I do now. This has nothing to do with me or Cedric or SCG at all but rather my schedule. As of today, I’m going to start attending college full time in addition to my full-time job, four children, and two or three hours spent in traffic a day. I’ve not given any indication to Cedric that I want to write less yet, but I’m aware that I may not be able to keep all of this going.

Honestly, knowing what I know now, I probably should have just let Cedric know on the spot that I couldnt keep up; however, I always think I can handle anything, and this was no different. Being out of school for over ten years and jumping back in to full-time classes is incredibly taxing unfortunately, and Ive not gotten much of a chance at all to play Magic.

So I finally admitted to myself that Im not capable of handling everything.My kids are amazing and deserve as much of my time as possible. My job isnt overly difficult but is a full-time job, and the traffic that Im required to go through is literally the worst in America; yes, its even worse than Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and whatever other city that has bad traffic. A 35 minute commute turns into a minimum of an hour commute one way on a daily basis.In fact, Im lucky if it only takes me an hour to get to work.

Ive had all of those things on my plate since October 2010 when I accepted my current job; they were manageable, and I could still do regular articles. School is the straw that broke the camels back. I thought I could do it all, but . . .

I was truly sad when I sent Cedric an email this past week letting him know that I was tapping out; I was nervous about his reply since I knew that he had a ton on his plate with recent turmoil in the ranks. To his great credit, he was super supportive and assured me that I had nothing to apologize for. Presuming that nothing changes, he even let me know that if I get the chance to come back and write that I’ll be welcomed back.

And we all know that I’ll be back, as you never truly quit Magic. In fact, I’m not truly quitting. I simply have lost the time needed to play this game regularly. As such, I don’t feel confident writing regular content on a game I doubt I’ll have the time to play much. It’s not that I have zero free time at all; it’s more a matter of school nights cutting into what I used to be able to use for Magic nights.

So this is it, I guess.

For those of you who have followed me through the years, I cannot possibly thank you enough. I know that you’ve read similar things from other people in the past and the words, though likely incredibly genuine, come across somewhat flat and emotionless. I truly wish I could find the phrasing to rectify that because each of you deserves to know that I’m incredibly thankful that you’ve taken the time to follow what I had to say.

I’m the guy who had never done anything of note results-wise but hoped that he could write well enough to stay on board here. I grew up as the kid who never received attention that wasn’t negative, so I suppose that plays into this somewhat. I truly like seeing that you guys enjoy what I do. It means more than I think I could ever explain.

As always, I’ll have some hobby. I’ve gamed since I was old enough to understand what gaming was; I’ve just had to find one that I can fit into my new schedule.

A lot of you have probably tried out Hearthstone, and luckily for me it provides an outlet for my gaming needs while being flexible to my schedule (I don’t have to set aside hours or even days to participate in ranked play, which is really nice for me based on my current schedule). I’ve started streaming Hearthstone on my Twitch page, so if you want to check out my latest adventures, I hope you’ll join me. I hit Legend last season in my limited time (and was in the Top 100 until hours before the rank reset), and I stream after work, school, and putting the kids to bed (which is literally my only free time and shows why I can’t play physical Magic. I can’t even play Magic Online, as my schedule doesn’t line up with their tournaments sadly).

However, there’s good news if you’re wondering when I’ll be back; Sarah and I are buying a house away from the Northern Virginia area in a couple of weeks. This means that after the summer I’m going to quit my job and just go to school full time. I’ve even seen the local card shop in Culpeper that I’ll be able to attend, so there will come a day soon when I’ll have the time to game.

When that happens, I hope Cedric (and you guys) will have me back.

Until then I truly hope that you enjoy every moment of gaming you have. Now that I have less of it, that time definitely feels much more precious, and I wish I’d taken the opportunity to go to a few more FNMs or agreed to do more testing. It’s sad how much I miss that stuff.

Thank you, each and every one of you.

Thank you, Cedric, for letting me continue to do this.

Thank you, StarCityGames.com, for giving me an outlet to write and express myself.

Thank you.

No, seriously.