I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t play in every Magic tournament.
I don’t go to every FNM. I don’t go to every PTQ. I don’t drive 2 hours to get to the latest Legacy tournament on Sunday morning. Midnight drafts on MTGO don’t work for me ’cause I got to be at work the next morning. Currently, I don’t have a playgroup where we meet every week to test our decks hoping to break a format in twain.
Most of you would then classify me as a “Casual” player. That’s perfectly fine and understandable; I know you would call me that. Here’s what my twitter followers said after I asked what’s a casual player (and links for what they write):
BottsThoughts: @mtgcolorpie They don’t pay high $ for “tourney pedigree” cards. They don’t bother w/ sideboard(s/ing). And they slack on technicalities.
Mechtroid @mtgcolorpie I’d say me. I don’t try to win, I try to play a game that both players enjoy. THEN I try to win.
CharmanderLynch: @mtgcolorpie Someone who doesn’t care about pricing or winning all the time, more Johnny/Timmy than Spike, doesn’t use sleeves either.
GonSmithe: @mtgcolorpie Someone who plays creatures that are horrifically bad, or decks that they know will not win, but they enjoy. Slivers, etc.
joelniddrie: @mtgcolorpie someone who loves the game plays a lot but, does not play in organized tournaments regularly, and does not chase single cards.
Clearly I must be a casual player then. I love to play rogue decks, and I play EDH (as well as write about it) and I play with my Japanese playsets and can’t wait the next day’s Magic articles on dailymtg, and SCG, and Mananation, and ChannelFireball… Wait, what?
I do know that Jund is ruling the standard environment at the moment. I know that several people were disqualified from Worlds for cheating and heard their sides of the story. I keep an eye on the rumors about what’s happening with Worldwake. When a set comes out, I buy at least a box (always more). I make time to go to an event like States or a Pre-release and keep those as sacred dates.
Sounds like a paradox, right? Believe it or not, I believe I make up a good portion of the Magic playing population.
But am I a casual player? Are you one?
None of the people who gave me an answer for what is a casual player is wrong; none of them are dumb (except for that mtgmetagame guy), it’s just what they believe when they heard the word casual. It’s clear that the lingo in Magic is if you’re not a Pro (good enough to be on the Pro Tour), or Semi-Pro (not the Will Ferrel movie), or trying to go pro, you’re a casual player or even a noob.
Most of the blogs and words written about Magic pertain to one topic: trying to go pro (or staying there). They’re all about how you can win mathup A, or which card you should draft third out of this pack, or tournament reports. They write for that group because those are the people that will go and read them, it helps them get the most eyeballs on their site. But they don’t reflect me and my game. All of that is perfectly fine and I read them from time to time because they help me become a better player. I couldn’t tell you the win percentage of the decks I play, nor what kind of archetype I should draft before I’ve opened my first pack. I’m not that person.
But where do I fit in?
I spend money on Magic, I know what I’m doing most of the time, I play with and have good cards (a playset of Baneslayer Angels and Tarmogoyfs, 7 Force of Wills), I plan to play at the Star City Games Open Series when it comes to Seattle (and try and play both days). I won’t play test as much as the other people, but I’ll show up, deck sleeved up ready to give it my best. I know I won’t win, and I’ll only get 2 points for showing up and not travel to the East Coast to try and get more points. I’ll do my best though.
See, Magic isn’t the only thing in my life: I have a lovely wife, a house to maintain, family and friends to spend time with and a non-Magic job that pays me money. Being in my mid-20’s I’m at a prime demographic for Wizards of the Coast: a geek willing to have some disposable income to spend on their product which I love (less then my wife). Currently, I go to my local store at least once a week to hang out. Sometimes for 10 minutes, other times for a few hours.
I know that if I wanted to get better playing Magic I should spend more time playing it. My life doesn’t consist of more time to play cards though. You know what, I’m pretty okay with that. Sure, I would love to spend a little more time slinging cards but for the most part I’m okay that I don’t go to the PTQs or FNMs every weekend. Some days I’m craving to play cards and get sad that I can just go and shuffle up, but I get over it.
To me, Magic is a hobby; something I do to pass time with friends with an activity I enjoy. Just because I don’t try to become a Pro doesn’t mean I don’t want to play like one from time to time. I get that because I don’t play test enough I don’t know what the proper situation should be if I’m facing a matchup. I do know my deck and what it can do and play for that. It’s not the best answer all the time, but it’s enough for me.
Wizards has given names to different player psychographic profiles: Spike, Timmy, Johnny, Vorthos, Melvin, each with their own special meaning. These are how/why they play/see they game of Magic. I’m a Spike/Johnny/Melvin if you follow that list (And please MaRo, update it) which means I like to play to win in my own way and love the pieces of the puzzle of Magic fitting together. But there’s nothing about the extent of in terms of what they play in the game. I know Spikes who draft rather then play constructed, I know Johnnys who enter into every FNM with a different deck just to see what happens, I know Timmys who bought FtV: Dragons and like to play Warp Word in PTQ’s. Wizards likes naming profiles, and I want to know where I fit in.
What do you call me?
And I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m sure that there are people wearing business suits, thinking about what deck to put together for the one night they’re not entertaining clients. I’m sure that there are players in college/rural towns that have the cards, but no one to play against. I’m sure there are parents trying their best to raise their kids and hopefully have some time, money and energy to go play cards once in a while. None of these group would consider themselves casual, but most likely get grouped in as well.
I’m not saying casual is bad; casual is not a dirty word. Just like “geeks” you get a certain image with the word. Casual is most likely the largest group of players of the game. Being lumped in with these people doesn’t bother me at all, but that’s not where I feel I belong. It’s like calling me a nerd because I play Magic, but feel like it fits if you call me a Geek. If you asked the other regulars at the store and asked them if I was a casual player, they’d laugh. “He just doesn’t play enough,” is what the response would be. “He doesn’t play normal archetype decks, but they look alright on paper.”
And I’m sure there are more people like me. Just like how I don’t believe we’re the only intelligent life in the universe, there are Magic players out there who are in my situation. To you people out there who read this and know what I’m talking about; don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I know how you feel.
The lost people between the wanabe pros and the casual crowd.
We’re the middle children of Magic.