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Cheating and Why It’s Bad

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Magic Culture

You’re probably taken aback by the title of this article.  That’s okay.  I think it is an interesting title for an article too!  We can all probably name a few surface level ideas right off the bat for why we intrinsically know that cheating is bad.

  • It makes the integrity of the game shaky.  You can’t know if you lost because of your skill versus your opponent’s skill, or if it is because your opponent is a cheater.
  • It’s unfair to people who don’t cheat.
  • It’s “embarrassing” and people “will lose respect for you.”

These are the typical things we say when someone cheats.  They’re all true, but is there more to the cheating issue and why it is so important?

The Issue

If you’ve been living under a proverbial rock for the past week, you won’t have noticed that Trevor Humphries, an SCG grinder, was accused of cheating via stacking his opponent’s deck last Saturday (October 18) at SCG Worcester in the finals.  This news broke late Monday afternoon and certainly gave the Magic community something interesting to talk about in the meantime.  The Reddit Thread on this issue was full of good information and posts from confirmed higher level judges (think like level 4s and 5).  This is a pretty good screen cap from that threat that emphasizes how craftily the cheat was done.

Basically, he looked at the bottom card of his opponent’s library.  If it was a non-land, he’d ship it to the top.  His shuffling never changed the top ten cards of the library.  This cheat, of course, mana screws your opponent and makes them mulligan into oblivion.  If it means anything (and I sort of think it does), not only did he “win” the SCG Standard Open, he “won” the Modern SCG Mega IQ the following day.  So basically, he cheated on camera and got caught.

If you’re following the news further, you’ll notice that today, October 24, Mr. Humphries himself posted on Facebook that he has received a 4 year ban from the DCI.  His Facebook post, which I will screen cap to in a hot minute, is as comical as it is infuriating, but I will leave that pleasure of reading and interpretation up to you.  His conclusions are staggeringly idiotic.  Essentially, he got caught cheating on camera, everyone everywhere knows it, and he got punished.  He seems as if he is completely unaware that actions have consequences.  Anyhow, here’s the gem he posted on Facebook:

Ahhhh.  The old, “I’ll cheat at a game in front of thousands of people and disrespect the greatest game ever made and all of its players, but I’m too good to use the ‘F’ word.”  Goodness.  Let’s analyze this post really quick before we get onto the real heart of this article.  First, you’re selling your collection.  Good.  I don’t want you in the game anymore.  Second, no one is saying you’re as bad as all the “nasty criminals of the world yea [sic] the rapists murders felons etc…”  We’re saying you’re one of the worst Magic: The Gathering players in the world, oh absolutely.  I wouldn’t equate you with a rapist, but I would certainly say that you are someone who lacks the ability to think about others before yourself and that you are devoid of anything that resembles the mark of someone with good character.  Third, “…yea [sic] I messed up I gave into temptation I AM HUMAN…” Here, he acts as if actions don’t have consequences.  He lied, deceived, and extracted money/other rewards from an organization that he didn’t rightfully earn.  These things have consequences whether you like it or not.  And yes, it may be “A FREAKING CARD GAME”, but it is one played by actual human beings who have actual feelings and who actually care about the integrity of the game that they are playing.

Anyway, that’s enough of me tearing him down.  I truly do hope that he changes for the better, and that this post is simply and overreaction to realizing that he messed up.  I hope that he comes out for the better four years from now.

Moving On…

Now that you know what I’m talking about and why cheating is on the forefront of my mind, let’s get to the meat of this article/blog piece/rant, shall we?  We already discussed all the cursory reasons you shouldn’t cheat.  You know them.  You’ve been (hopefully) taught them since you were young.  I’m an academic (theology, if you care) by trade and so is my good friend, podcast co-host (I ain’t afraid of no plugs), and fellow LegitMTG Writer Mike Keknee.  We both take very seriously the issue of cheating, plagiarism in the academic sense, and the general idea of attributing something to yourself that isn’t truly yours.  But there is more here than cheating than just in the academic sense that I am most familiar with.  The biggest reason that I disdain this type of cheating is that it reflects poorly upon our game.  Remember when the Crackgate thing happened? (Goodness, I’ve referenced that twice in my past two works now, way too much).