The End Of The Road

In his final column (at least for the foreseeable future), Mark has some big-picture lessons he’d like to impart about what it means to play Magic and how we, as a community, are so very interconnected.

Writing this is bittersweet.

Usually I’d either give you a community piece, something I hope is considered creative, or decks that I like. Today won’t really be any of that.

In fact, this will be the last thing you read from me. For a while, that is.

Today is my last article with StarCityGames.com. I figured I’d just get that out now so we don’t have to sift through the thinly-veiled references or allusions. You finally won, Jimmy Dean. Your relentless trolling has gotten to me and I’ve decided to walk away.

Just kidding! You’ll have to find someone else to obsess over like a pre-teen girl with a crush, baby.

Am I going somewhere else? Taking my talents to South Beach?


In fact, I am stepping away from Magic altogether.

The last few years of traveling to tournaments, writing, and being away from home have taken a pretty big toll on me. I’ve lost what’s left of my hair… yeah. Blame Magic.

As I’ve talked about in the past, I’ve returned to college. My desire to get out of the rut I’ve been in has taken precedence over my desire to be a wizard, and with a new, more demanding job on the horizon, it was time to make a life-altering change.

Before we go our separate ways, I’d like to leave you with a few nuggets of wisdom that have helped me through the years. Some of them I’ve talked about with you before; others, I haven’t.

If when we part ways I’ve taught you anything, please let it be these things.

#1 – View Things Through A Child’s Eyes

Jace, the Living Guildpact.

Reflect for a moment on what you’ve read about this card through social media.

“It sucks.”

“This Jace is terrible.”

“Why would they print this?”

It’s funny. Magic players always feel the need to downplay a card. A lot of us have the need to be right, to be the person that called it from the start and prove to everyone just how smart we are.

The one thing I wish I could change about our community is how goddamn sure it is of itself when it comes to tearing down cards.

You know why Patrick Chapin has been dubbed “The Innovator?” Because he is a man who looks at every card in the format as a potential blockbuster. Has it always worked out? Surely not, but there is nothing gained from writing off something just because we don’t understand it.

Let me paint the picture for you: Block Constructed Pro Tour. What were the two format-defining cards? Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid. Do you, even for a minute, understand how insane these two cards are with the new Jace?

Playing him on turn three means a six-loyalty planeswalker that will set up each of your next draws.

You’re playing blue. Perhaps you bounce a troublesome non-land permanent with him on the next turn. Cool. You start to build up your loyalty again and now you counter that threat. You are so far ahead of your opponent that they are about to be buried by superior draw steps and an ultimate that is, for all intents and purposes, one of the best we have ever seen. Imagine this with Courser! How many times do you flip a land off the top only to see another on top? Instead of drawing it, you put it in your graveyard and possibly draw something really good. Maybe you need that land? Bin the other card, leave the land on top, and flip it into play. The synergies are unreal with this card.

Look at that ultimate. Don’t have an answer for the board? Eliminate their hand and then draw seven cards to search for one. They have no cards, potentially no threats in play anymore, and you have a full grip.

Every player, professional and otherwise alike that I have talked to about this new Jace thinks it’s unbelievable. Why is it that people without a deeper understanding are quick to dismiss it?

Because those people do not view things with a clean slate.

You don’t always have to be right.

Sometimes it’s OK to just try something before you judge it.

#2 – Be Excellent To Each Other

It’s no secret that I love writing community pieces.

Usually they’re about accepting losses, not complaining, or working harder to be better players.

Forget all that.

It all boils down to being better people, not just in Magic but in every aspect of your lives.

The attitude we bring into a game of Magic is indicative of the kind of person we are. Years ago, I was so completely unhappy with myself that I treated other people like garbage when I lost. I was, without a doubt, a miserable human being.

As I grew up it became easier and easier to let that kind of nonsense go, shake someone’s hand, and smile. Sure, I’d get upset after a rough loss, but everyone loses at something. That doesn’t mean that it’s OK to take it out on the person.

Whether it’s a game of Magic or any activity that you partake in, remember that we all struggle. Everyone has something in their life that hurts, causes them stress or pain, and suffering can be amplified by the chastising and harmful attitudes of other people.

This isn’t just about a game, but instead is indicative of our very lives. These kinds of attitudes can have serious ramifications across the board when it comes to work, family interactions, or romantic relationships. It’s probably pretty hard to feel like a good person in other aspects of your life when just hours prior you called a person a “lucky bastard” and threw a fit over a children’s card game. Trust me, I speak from experience. You don’t need to go down that road. That road sucks. People still hate me to this day because of it, and with good reason.

Do as Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan instructed and “be excellent to each other.”

Make this community a better place. Don’t just talk about it.

Do it.

#3 – Exit Your Comfort Zones

I’ve always been a Standard player.

Other formats freaked me out. I didn’t understand them, and I didn’t really want to.

It wasn’t until the last couple years where I got more involved with Commander, Limited, Cubing, Modern, and Legacy that I realized I’d been missing out the whole time.

Magic is a game that should be played at all levels. Sure, there are certain formats that will always hold a special place in your heart that you’ll enjoy the most, but broadening my horizons not only made me a much, much better player… it also helped me to have a lot more fun and explore different facets of this game that I hadn’t dared dream of.

Afraid you’re going to suck at Limited because you don’t understand it? You can’t get better at something unless you try.

Worried Legacy is too complicated? There are always decks out there for beginners, and thankfully SCG has a great amount of content that comes out that can help teach you all about the format from top to bottom. I’ve written about being a better student, and that certainly comes into play in a format like that.

Commander too “babyish” for you? I’ve heard that complain so many times and it makes me want to pull out my beard hairs because I don’t have any left on my head to yank off. Commander is, without a doubt, the reason I feel like I’ve gotten so much better at Magic. My interactions in the format have caused me to look at things from a ton of different points of view, expect the unexpected, and challenged my deckbuilding skills to the maximum. If you want to hone your game, I suggest getting on the 99-card bandwagon and putting yourself to the test.

#4 – Love This Game

Magic is a gift.

It’s not about cards, tournaments, or prizes.

It’s about the people. The interaction. The sense of community and belonging.

When you head to an event, the memories created by it are the trip itself: where you ate, what you drank, who you were with and how much debauchery took place. Not all of us are professionals who can go deep in a tournament every other weekend, and believe me when I say that’s OK.

Of course we want to do well whenever we play, but (puns aside) that’s not always in the cards.

What we can do is enjoy and savor every single moment we are in that tournament hall. We can laugh and play in side events and trade and battle pickup games and just sit and bask in something thousands of people convene on and love.

The Magic community is one unlike any other. Treat it like it is special.

#5 – Leave With Your Head Held High

I certainly will be trying my best to do that.

For those of you that enjoyed reading my work every week, thank you.

For those of you that hated my guts and hoped I would die, congratulations! I’m out like a fat kid playing dodgeball!

I’m trying to not think of this as goodbye, but rather a “see you later.”

You might have heard the last of me. You might not have.

One thing is certain, though – you all mean the world to me.

Cheers, and catch ya on the flip, folks.

Until next time.