No Internet Magic Arena

I Have No Internet, So I Can’t Play Magic

The date is July 28, 2020. And after returning from a three-day camping trip, I have planned to sit down and play some Magic – only to find that I can’t. You see, Comcast has decided (randomly) to cancel my internet. Which means the only methods I still had for playing Magic in the midst of the pandemic are gone.

My internet service should be restored within a couple days. So I will have the ability to play Magic again soon (hopefully, well before you’re reading this). But at nearly any other Magic-playing point in my life, I would not have hesitated to drive to my local game shop and play in a Draft, Modern tournament, or Commander event to scratch my Magic-playing itch. Given two or three days in which to find an event to attend, I would have easily found one I wanted to play in.

But now, I can’t play Magic without internet access. And I’m finding that, given how my day is already dominated by screentime and non-social activities, I’m not really that excited to play Magic Arena, anyway. I have access to Commander play and my playgroup via Tabletop Simulator, but even that is not the same as just sitting down and playing Magic with friends. Staring at a virtual tabletop and talking with people I cannot see, even my best friends, just does not recreate the feeling of slinging cards and bullshit in person. So even the prospect of playing Magic socially, over the internet, just doesn’t excite me.

Which makes me wonder how long it will be until I just don’t play Magic at all? I play Magic because I enjoy building decks. But for the last four months, I have barely considered buying new cards in paper. I play Magic because I enjoy socializing, especially within an established context. But for the last four months, most of my Magic play has consisted of me staring at a screen, alone, in my living room. I play Magic because I enjoy chatting with my friends about the latest cards, decks, bannings, and designs. But as I find myself becoming less interested in playing the game, I find myself less interested in keeping up with the “news” of it all. And so I don’t have as much to say about where Magic is, where it’s going, or even what I want from it.

What Is Magic’s Future?

What I really wonder about though, even more than the fate of my own relationship with Magic, is how common my story is. How many other players have considered just dropping Magic altogether? How will that affect game stores’ futures, when they are finally allowed to host events again? How have Summer 2020’s sets sold, and has Wizards begun adapting their release schedule and product model to account for the fact that, more than likely, this pandemic will continue another year? Is Magic: the Gathering going to survive 2020?

The answer to that last question is likely Yes. I believe Magic will survive the mess that is 2020. I think it is too good of a game for it not to survive. But I know that my relationship with Magic has changed drastically, to the point where I don’t know when I’ll bother buying paper cards again. Or whether I’ll still be playing Magic Arena when Zendikar Rising releases. Or whether you’ll be reading new entries in this blog come 2021. Without its real world benefits, Magic is losing its luster for me. And I really wonder how many other Magic players feel the same.

Ikoria Lair of Behemoths Featured Image

Let’s All Get Hyped for Nightmare Squirrels

4.7.20 Update: The nightmare squirrel cometh. And it is adorable.

Short post this week because I’m moving across the country in the time of coronavirus, but who cares because we’re getting a NIGHTMARE SQUIRREL y’all:

Everything is crazy right now, and we all have to find joy where we can. For me, that joy is located in the words “Nightmare Squirrel,” “different name(s),” and “X is the number of times this creature has mutated.”

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths seems set to include some straight-up weird Magic cards and mechanics, which is the kind of nonsense I specifically want out of new expansions. Give me your crazy creature types, your inventive mechanics, and your Johnny build-arounds. Prior to seeing this zany teaser list, I was not especially excited for Ikoria. Now, I’m incredibly hyped for it.

So after I finish moving, after the coronavirus recedes, after I find a job – BRING ON THE BEHEMOTHS. If Maro’s teasers are any indication, I am going to play the heck out of this Magic set. Which is good, because my new local game store is likely going to need my money.

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Magic: The Gathering Slang for Beginners

As someone who has both learned and taught people how to play Magic: The Gathering, I can tell you that learning this game is hard. Even after learning the rules, there’s a wealth of Magic knowledge and sub-culture that new players have yet to absorb – complete with a set of game-specific slang.

To help Magic newbies understand at least some of this slang, I’ve listed some of the more popular Magic terms of the moment. I tried keeping this list to twenty or less terms, but ended up wanting to write about twenty-two. If you have no idea what a lord is, or what people mean when they tell you your deck is medium, you’re in the right place. And if you’re ready for a more comprehensive guide (beware – they might be overwhelming), you can check out some of the resources I used to assemble this list.

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My 2020 Magic: The Gathering Resolutions

While I typically set yearly goals for myself, I’ve never gone out of my way to set goals for how I’ll interact with Magic.

However, 2019 was a year of major upheaval for our favorite game, and 2020 seems set to introduce even more changes. With that in mind, I wanted to set myself some 2020 Magic resolutions, to keep my efforts focused and ensure that I continue to enjoy playing, thinking about, and writing about Magic.

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