My Own Private Metagame

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When deciding on topics to write for your blog, you have to wade through a ton of ideas, or things you want to get to (such as the winner of the Twitter Game 2 which will go up next week). Sometimes an idea is just that, or you it’s something you want to explore more in detail and you get your fingers working on the keyboard.

I was going to write about how I love to prefer to create my own decks rather than taking them from online and playing them. It’s been a hot topic online recently and I was thinking of throwing my hat in the ring. But, two things stopped me: 1) I took a net deck to SCG Seattle because I didn’t have time to test and I it was my type of playstyle so the big argument would consider me a somewhat of a hypocrite (which is ironically one of the only times I have taken a net-deck to a large tournament), and 2) Do you really care?

A few weeks ago I wrote on 99EDH about the whole issue about the EDH argument that was going on Twitter (Hygenic Products, John Locke and The New Way). Some of the people who read it thought I was crazy and even wondered why I’d even wrote a post like that. It’s here that I have to take a step back and look at where I am. A lot of my Magic interaction is through Twitter (@mtgcolorpie) and I encourage other people to join in on the conversation. If you ever wonder why sometimes different Magic writers sometimes write some of the same stuff at nearly the same time or close enough together, it’s sometimes that an idea gets on twitter, or someone’s article inspires another author to write something else and get their opinion out.

And that’s great to get the dialogue out there to get different opinions here and there. But, sometimes I tire of reading the same old thing like you do. When it’s a hot topic like the Reserved List or the Extended changes, then sure it’s good to hear different opinions. However, when it’s another hash on the “netdecking” vs “building your own deck” conversation that’s been slowly building for the past few weeks, you don’t need to hear it from me. After all, the only deck lists that have been on this site were from a guest post.

The recent controversy has been about learning how to build decks vs. just taking decklist from online and playing them without even understanding how and why they work. MTG Pro Player Patrick Chapin’s been leading this charge (SCG Premium, sorry) to get people to go with the adage “If you give a man a fish” and get them to build their own decks, or at least understand them. This has spawned to Chapin talking on The Magic Show about this, to throw up a post, AJ Sacher saying you’ll be no good at Magic if you don’t build your own decks, and‘s Dave Heliker response to that AJ Sacher post. As you can see, even without doing heavy research, there’s plenty of different views you can go to about this topic.

But I go back to point 2: Do you really care?

I’ve talked to some of my readers (Yes, more than one), and I usually end up asking. “What other Magic blogs/sites do you read?” Some say GatheringMagic, which makes sense since we do some of the same material and kinds of topics, others say StarCityGames and DailyMTG, which again make sense. But from there, it differs. Ignoring the non-long time twitterers who I talk to, I don’t end up getting a lot of the same readers as some one like Patrick Chapin. A good portion of you might not even know who he is, and you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that. I cater to a completely different audience than he does; Chapin goes for the pros and everyone else that I was talking about in my Middle Children of Magic post while I go for, well, I don’t know; people who want a something different in their MTG writing. I am not saying if you don’t already read his stuff don’t bother; it’s very intelligent and it will change the way you look at Magic (and very recently at Magic). I also see his stuff as things I want to take a look at my own writing, which is why at the moment I’ve been following what he’s been saying closely.

I guess I have a little bit of a man-writer’s crush on him currently.

But if you don’t follow him you wouldn’t get where my view of the world comes in, nor of any of the other MTG blogs I read. On the flip side, I don’t know what you, the reader has or hasn’t seen. You could read every Magic blog every day and know exactly what’s going on, or you read one or two blogs a week just to see if anything’s updated. In a round about way, that’s the whole point.

I’m my own private metagame.

Just like a local metagame where you know what kind of decks people are going to play, in writing if you know your audience then (unsurprisingly) you can write towards them to something they’re interested in. The more in tune you are with the metagame, the better you can prepare for it and be ready to crush it. For a writing analogy, if you know your audience you can give them what they want. But what happens when you don’t know who your audience is (besides the obvious Magic players response)? Chapin has an audience because people want to know about Pro Tour type thinking and tinkering around with decks. Mine? Well, that’s a bit harder.

See, the world isn’t full of people who write about the different aspects about Magic besides playing. Sure, some of it’s filling up, but you don’t see a whole bunch of them besides on dailymtg (Savor the Flavor, stuff like that). Not everyone wants to read about decklists all the time so eventually they start to flock over to different “alternative” blogs such as mine and GatheringMagic’s. The culture of Magic is very user-end driven; WotC just gives us the tools and we make our own content. People write blogs, do podcasts, make videos, draw art, write fan fic, create their own cards, etc. Each of these actions, as well as the people who follow them, create their own metagame knowledge.

I know that sometimes WotC people tend to browse blogs from time to time and knowing that may influence my writing because I would perceive them as my audience. It it like Heisenberg uncertainty principle where watching the experiment changes the result? Well, besides my last post about Tom LaPille (which was a poor attempt of a creation of a meme after I realized it) I tend to write about something that I would be interested in reading myself. But for every time I try and miss, there are some that I feel really good about. Let’s go to a quote:

I try to write stuff that I would read. Sometimes it works, other times it falls flat. – One Year Later

Yes, I just quoted myself. But, that’s the thing, since it’s my blog I can do that. Since I’m God around this part of the internet I can write incoherent babbles about what I think other people should read just because I have the ability to.

But I don’t.

Why should I write something that I wouldn’t read myself? I get ideas in my head all the time and start to write and see where they go. After a while I stop and re-read what I’ve just written; if it’s something I wouldn’t read and I can’t rearrange it to be something I’d be interested in, I toss it out (or salvage it for parts I like for different posts). That’s the other reason besides work/wife/life why you don’t get updates everyday, if it doesn’t interest me, you’re not going to see it. The fact you’re reading this suggests there’s something in this pile of words that I think is worth sharing. Most of the ideas that I think of don’t make it online for a good reason.

Know your audience? Yeah, I guess I can shoehorn that into design, right? Catering to your audience and giving them what they want? It’s the idea about why Multi-color keeps coming back, as well as those damn Slivers. That could be it.

Be confident in yourself? Sure, you can say that about anything. Confident in your designs by making sure they work within the rules (or every trying to create your own rules) can be a great way to boost your ego. After all, even MaRo said most of the cards he makes are bad [citation needed].

Be original? It doesn’t mean that I’m going to copy someone’s material word for word or even remotely close because that would be plagiarizing (and that’s bad). I may use an idea like the mailbag (which hasn’t made its appearance this year and no one has complained), but I won’t ever completely copy someone’s idea. Even with decks, where the only time I have ever taken something that wasn’t completely put together by me was at SCG Seattle, I see what other people have suggested and see what I can do to make it fit my style. I’ll take concepts or ideas that I enjoy from other works online and see if I can incorporate them in my works.

On the other hand, sometimes you get a thinly veiled post about blogging that could or could not be about something else entirely. It all depends on how you read into it. It could very well be about writing for your audience; a peer behind the curtains of Magic blogging. Or, maybe about something else. For those of you who don’t see this as anything but face value, don’t worry I didn’t plan anything. Just be thankful you weren’t getting a fixing computers analogy that I abandoned in favor of this.

But knowing my audience, you might not care at all. And you know what, I’m fine with that. You realize that next time I’m going to do something different.

Because I know my metagame.

2 thoughts on “My Own Private Metagame”

  1. I didn’t find this article very interesting – just writing about writing? Reminds me of mark rosewater’s daily mtg column where he talks about design and development of cards. More articles about hot topics! Lol

  2. I read your stuff because its interesting. KEEP IT THAT WAY!

    I write on my blog about just gaming stuff. Mostly Warmachine / Hordes / Magic the Gathering to be honest. Do people read it? No farking clue half the time.

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