Keyword abilities: Trample
Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Started playing Magic: Prophecy
Magic Accomplishments: US National Team 2009, 2 Grand Prix Top Eights, TCG Invintational Winner, SCG Open Champion, 17th at Pro Tour Dark Ascension: Honolulu
The Fifth Degree
1. If you were casting a movie using people currently qualified for the Pro Tour who would you cast for the role of Hero and Villain?
Villain is Owen Turnwald, 100%. The Hero would be Brian Kibler because he is so charming. Despite all his popularity, he is just a really nice guy who is very personable. It’s not like this fake thing. He is definitely a cool guy. I didn’t know him very well until about a year ago. Now whenever we are in the same spot we go to random bars and bar hop. Roll dice for drinks and stuff. He is just a cool dude.
2. Tell us something which has occurred in your life that people might find surprising.
People might be surprised that I played sports for fifteen years. I played sports until I was a junior in high school. Full blown three sports a year: football, basketball, baseball, even track. Me and my brother were constantly competing with each other at everything. When I was sixteen I moved in with my Mom instead of my Dad and my brother wanted to stay with my Dad. I lost my competitor and motivator and then lost my drive to really play sports. Then I got into Magic and I like Magic a lot more sports. I have been going back to the gym recently. Yesterday I was shooting hoops with Gerry T and Brad Nelson. That kind of thing is still fun to me.
3. The zombie apocalypse is happening now. Which three people in the MTG fellowship do you choose as backup?
First pick, no question is my wife. She is a Zombie expert. Kali Anderson owns the zombie survival handbook. She knows pretty much everything there is to know about zombies. Second, Gerry Thompson because he really does not want to die and he would do everything in his power to stay alive. He is very smart and very good at video games which means he could probably shoot things. Glenn Jones would round out the posse. He is also very smart and I feel like he would also be good at shooting things. Nerds are smart. I feel like nerds would survive a zombie apocalypse better than most people. You know the jocks that have a millions guns or whatever? They shoot a gun and 47 zombies converge on them and they die. We know bicycles are useful because they don’t make a lot of noise. You can travel without needing gasoline. We know bows and arrows are tougher to use but are better because they don’t make noise, etc. We are smart, man.
4. What will the world look like in 50 years?
I hope we have flying cars or I will be severely disappointed. I’m already disappointed that we don’t have flying cars. I think that obesity will either be solved through medicine or it will be the only major problem we have as far as health is concerned. People just becoming more and more apathetic about their bodies and health is bad. If we don’t find a way to solve it through medicine, people are just going to get fatter and fatter because all this technology is just making us lazy. We just make things better and faster and smarter. Technology is doing all the work for us.
5. If you could author a commandment for the modern world, what would it be?
Knowledge above all else.
Question & Answer
Q: Pack 1, pick 1?
A: Iron Man/Thor/Hulk/Loki
Q: How did you pick up your first Magic: the Gathering card?
A: I moved around a lot when I was a kid. One of the times I moved back with my Mom, I was hanging out with my friend Trent. He had like four decks built. He taught me how to play and we just played with the decks he already had. It was around Urza’s block-ish.
Q: What does your Magic collection look like?
A: I probably have around 20,000 uncommons and commons in different boxes around my house. I have most of the staples in Standard and two Legacy decks. I would say that my collection is around 5,000 dollars. Not a ton. I used to trade and sell cards but I haven’t done that in a while. I would say my favorite card is an altered Progenitus that I bought from my friend Blair Simpson. It was my go-to target for Natural Order in Legacy for a while. I don’t get to see him much anymore so I kind of hold it above my other cards. He is a really good friend of mine.
Q: Give me a brief run down of your Magic Career. Do you consider yourself successful?
A: I would say that mildly successful is a better term. I play almost all the SCG Opens that I can attend. I qualified for one Pro Tour. The Pro Tour is not where I make any money, which kind of sucks because that’s where you get the most exposure. I write every week too. I haven’t broken through on the Pro Tour scene like I want. I have won the most amount of money you can win not on the the Pro Tour. I want to take that down.
Q: Your Magic career hasn’t been short on controversy. How do you think that Magic community as a whole views you? How close is that to the real you?
A: Originally, when I was writing a lot and much younger and less successful, I lost the respect of my peers because I came off as pompous and arrogant. I felt like I had a lot to say but I didn’t know how to say that to an audience. I was writing like I talk to my friends about Magic. I was kind of a shitbag to my friends too (pardon the French). I guess I expected my audience to be thick-skinned like me and my friends and they were not. I had to learn how to write in a way they could relate to.
I think there are many people who have a bad opinion of me and who I have never met before. I don’t like it because I am generally liked or loved by the people around me. When I get someone really seriously trolling me, I usually try to send them a message and just say “look man, why don’t you have a beer with me, have a conversation with me and see if you feel different at the end of it.” The ones who actually take me up on it end up actually liking me.
I see the perception people have of me and I do everything in my power to just be a good guy. I don’t know really how to fix what people think of me other than just be me and try to be a good guy.
Q: Explain what happened in Grand Prix Nashville earlier this year. How were you feeling when the backlash started to unfold?
A: Let me start by explaining how the last few rounds of Grand Prix Limited work. There are five or six pods in contention and each pod has eight players. When you get to the very last round, you see all these people in the standings. What you don’t see is that a lot of those people are playing people who are in contention for top eight. They are getting paired against people in their pod who have a worse record than them. You can’t see that from just the standings. When I saw the standings, I was under the assumption that my opponent and I would have to play out our match. At table two was the guy in third place in the standings–he was playing against someone who was in 12th place and not in contention. They were playing it out.
The table directly to our left was kind of in the same boat. They had to play it out and the winner was in top 8. Neither of them could draw. By that logic, one extra person was getting eliminated than I thought. That is what I told my opponent. I was very adamant about drawing because it was a pretty big moment for both of us and I was pretty sure we were both making it in. I explained to him my logic. I was getting excited about both us making top 8 and I forgot to account for some people who would scoop to other people. Also, some people would get paired down and be able to win anyway. He ended up getting ninth instead of eighth. At the end of the round, he explained to me that some other people were saying he would be ninth cause of x,y,z reason. Right then and there, I was feeling really bad. I was very confident that he was getting eighth place and I was getting sixth or seventh. At the end of Top 8, they were calling me over to coverage so I didn’t have a lot of time. I felt really bad so I talked to the guy before I left and we ended up doing a personal split. I got his info because I didn’t want to leave him uncompensated. I’m not the type of guy that is going to lie to your face and then laugh at you when it goes bad. I felt really terrible, so I ended up splitting.
While I was in Top 8, all the stuff on Twitter started. I didn’t read anything on my phone during the tournament because I was focused on winning. After it was over, my wife came to me and said, “so, people are really mad at you right now. They think you screwed this guy over.” Then it was just this Hell Storm. I felt bad before all the tweets started. I didn’t feel bad because all these people who weren’t at the event were yelling things on Twitter. I felt bad because some guy got screwed over and it was my fault.
Q: When you were writing Constructed Criticism: Living the Dream of Pro Magic, did you expect the extreme responses it garnered?
A: When ever I write, I just write about what’s going on in my life. I didn’t really think it would get such visceral responses. I was just really happy that I was at a place where I could attempt to prove myself at the game. Before that, I couldn’t really play as much. I couldn’t really dedicate myself to seeing if I could really do it. When we had this big blowup argument, it was very personal between us and looking back I should not have aired our dirty laundry. Generally speaking, we moved to Roanoke so she could work her dream job. The first couple months we were living here, I’m feeling very left out. She is super happy all the time with all these new friends. I was pretty depressed the first couple of months we lived here. We were gaming all the time but I still wasn’t happy.
We basically had this big blowup argument where she said, “I’m going to give you a chance to prove yourself because you have never had that chance and I feel that is what you need.” I told her that I would try my best and if I failed I would go back to what we were doing before. So I started playing Magic as a job and I have been doing pretty well ever since. We could be better off. We could spend more carefully, not going out to eat a lot and stuff like that. People perceived it strongly on both sides because it was a very divisive article. People said that I was verbally abusive and stuff like that. When I was writing the article, I think I used writer’s prerogative too much and came off too negative to her. I did a poor job of portraying the exact situation we were in and where we were both coming from.
By writing that piece, I was able to come to terms with myself. I was able to give some of the people who like reading my articles some….I want to say hope, but I’m not sure that is the right word. Anyone who reads my stuff has been reading it for a while and they are pretty invested in me and my story. I gave them this diving board where they had to choose whether they want to jump off into the water or go back down the ladder. For me, I was just like, “we are going in baby!” I think a lot of people liked that. But, then there were the people on the other side who said I was being stupid or irresponsible. You can really just see it from either side. No one ever berates Brian Kibler for playing Magic professionally. There are a lot of people that play Magic professionally and they write articles and they don’t get half the crap I do. Just saying.
Q: How did you meet Kali?
A: I met Kali at a gaming store in Birmingham, AL. She had moved up to Birmingham to go to college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. We came back from a tournment one day and she was in there playing cards with some guys. She had brought a deck or whatever. I walk in, see her and think, “Oh, there is a cute girl.” You know, there aren’t usually too many girls just hanging out in a comic shop. I don’t want to say that I am charming, but I am pretty damn charming! So, we get to talking and I am telling her how I just got back from a PTQ where I made top 8. I am throwing in all these humble brags, trying to make myself look better than I am. I invite her out to dinner with my crew and she agrees. It ended up being super awkward because she had this long distance boyfriend back home that I didn’t know about. She had just met a cool group of friends and hadn’t disclosed that yet. I asked her that night if she wanted to go out again the next day. She was under the assumption that it was going to be the whole group again, but I was thinking that this was going to be more of a date. We go out to dinner and she is feeling a little awkward. She still doesn’t want to crush my dreams or whatever, so I pay for everything and then go back to her dorm room to watch Adult Swim. I lean in for the kill and she is like, “I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend.” I’m just like, “Whelp, time to hit the ol’ dusty trail!” We didn’t talk for like a week or two but then we eventually became friends. A few months later, she ended up breaking up with her boyfriend. We were hot and cold for a while, but we started dating the next summer and we have been together ever since. Almost six years.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being a husband?
A: I don’t know if this is true for everybody but for me it’s just taking on more responsibility than you have ever had in your life. You have someone else who physically and financially counts on you to be there at all times. I know a lot of my friends who have gotten married and become this husk of their former self. They don’t ever get to go out, they can’t have fun and stuff. For me, it’s different because my wife is one of the coolest people in the world. She goes out all the time and she lets me go out all the time. I think me being a husband is easier than a lot of people–at least from what I have seen–because I have the best wife in the world.
Q: Tell me about the happiest time in your life.
A: It was definitely the day I got married. Everything was perfect, standing up there and having all our friends and family with us. Kali had written her vows the week before but I am a bit of a procrastinator. I like to write my stuff on the spot. So the night before, we are having like a little party at the hotel room. My mom is there and she is having a good time. She is like, “Todd. You need to write your vows. Why haven’t you written your vows yet?” So I am like, “Okay, mom. I will start writing my vows.” So I pick a little notepad and I write something about Count Chocula and I read it to her. She starts getting serious and was like, “Todd, that is not a vow.” So I said, “My love for you is like an Everlasting Gobstopper. It’s everlasting.” She is a little drunk so she is flipping out on me and stuff. I told her it’s going to be fine, don’t worry. There were like 10 of those notes thrown about the room and it was just hilarious. I remember that night and the next day were just so amazing. I knew that even though I was starting a new chapter in my life, it was one that was going to be way better than any of the ones I had been in before.
Q: Tell me about the lowest point in your life.
A: I got a few of those, man. I would just say that I had a lot of family problems growing up.
Q: If you could sum your childhood up in one word, what would it be?
Q: How so?
A: I had a brother and sister growing up and we would bounce from household to household. My parents were constantly fighting divorce battles and custody battles. Basically, my mom was pretty heavy on prescription medications for a long time. She was being prescribed stuff and taking too much of it. Very unstable. Every now and then, she would have an episode and we would go live with my dad. Then we would have court like a year later and move back with mom because she was doing a little bit better. Then she just ended up doing the same thing because she couldn’t handle taking care of kids. It was just always turmoil and always heartache.
Q: Do you have any regrets from your younger years?
A: Not really regrets. If I could go back and just try something different, I would not have moved back with my mother when I was 16. I would have just stayed with my dad. While he was way more strict, he was probably way better for me as far as just being a parent is concerned. When I moved back with my mom, I stopped playing sports or caring about much at all. I was just being left to my own devices. I was just raising myself. In my head, that is what I wanted. But in actuality, it is not what I needed. I ended up getting a full scholarship to Auburn University, but I was still very self destructive. I played poker all the time and never went to class. When I was in High School, I was making perfect grades. College is a little harder and I ended up losing my scholarship. I ended up moving back in with my mom which was also terrible. But then I met Kali and we moved in together. I wouldn’t have Kali without that experience. Maybe that was the Iron Price.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to your (future) son, what would it be? Would it be different for your daughter?
A: Oh yeah. Advice between men and women would be significantly different. For the most part, if we have a son I am going to let him make the majority of his decisions once I think he is at an age where he can understand specific concepts and things. I will always be there to be a guide and give advice. I think there comes a point where they are not going to understand until they learn themselves. I would just be there to give them my wisdom and help them whenever they needed.
Q: Do you have anything to add or anything to tell our readers?
A: All in all, I try my best to be a nice guy at tournaments. I am not one of those guys who is a stickler about the rules. If someone wants to play a different land or whatever, I usually let them. I mean, maybe not a Pro Tour but for the most part I try to be a good guy in and out of the game. Even though I haven’t done so in the past, I am trying to better myself and I just want people to know that.
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