One of my favorite novels of all time is Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest you pick it up here. This article will be the first of a five part series paying homage to this book as applied to the Magic player. All people are primarily works of fiction. Each week I will be writing about one of these five people and how they each are a small but critical piece to our vast community. Each week will be a different color representing a different person, this week will be blue.
Blue, The New Magic Player
We are all interconnected in some way; our actions big or small can dramatically affect other people’s lives and experiences.
January 30, 2010
Today is Jacob’s birthday; he is turning 13. Jacob is a casual Magic player who just started playing this game about a month ago. He gets $30 allowance every week for doing his chores around the house. He spends about half of that on magic, buying a few packs at the local Wal-Mart. Jacob spends most of his playing time at the school lunch table with his favorite 80 card mono-white Angels deck. His favorite deck is filled with Serra Angels, Archangels, a few spells, and all Plains. He dreams about the day he can finally open up a Baneslayer Angel to put into his deck and smash his opponents at the lunch table.
“Mom! We can’t be late! I have to be at the Worldwake prerelease by 9am!” Jacob shouts at the top of his lungs. He waits anxiously at the bottom of the stairs as his mom rushes down to drive Jacob to Mind Sculpt Games. Jacob has never been to the local LGS. He is very excited to check out this store and meet some new Magic players.
After Jacob signs up for the prerelease, a regular at the store named Wayne approaches him “Hey you got trades?” Wayne is the local trade shark that most people at the store generally dislike. He tries to rip off anybody he can for their tournament staples. Many people at the store avoid getting involved in Wayne’s trades because he tends to be extremely confrontational. He has been asked to leave the store by the owner a few times for arguing with judges and acting in an unsportsmanlike manner.
Jacob doesn’t know Wayne but is excited to show his binder of cards and to possibly make a new friend. Wayne browses through Jacob’s binder of mostly uncommons, commons, and a few bulk rares. Wayne begins to get irritated at Jacob because as a new player, Jacob reads every single card in Wayne’s trade binder. Wayne is the guy who flips through trade binders with haste and speed and instantly targets the tournament staples. Wayne is about to give up on trading with Jacob until he flips to the very last page where he sees a Misty Rainforest and a foil full art Zendikar Island.
“Are these for trade?” asks Wayne. “Sure, I don’t really use those lands, I play a mono white angels deck. I’m really hoping to get a Baneslayer Angel one day!” Wayne quickly dismisses this idea, “You know that’s a $60 card right?” Wayne proceeds to pull out 2 copies of Battlegrace Angel, Blinding Angels and a single Herald of Serra from his box and asks, “How about this? You need this for your deck right?”
“I don’t know. I do need those but I never traded before.” Jacob sits there for a minute and starts to ponder over the trade. Wayne becomes impatient and says, “Hey kid, the tournament is about to start. Let’s finish this trade and maybe later I can help you out if you open something I want”. Because Jacob didn’t know anybody at the store, he is scared to ask the people around him if the trade is a fair deal. Jacob reluctantly agrees to do the trade.
“You have 30 minutes to make your deck! You may open your packs! GOOD LUCK!” yells the store owner. Jacob rips open his first three packs of Zendikar before the owner finishes his sentence. He opens an Arid Mesa, a Mindbreak Trap, and an Armament Master. Jacob is disappointed he didn’t get an Emeria Angel or the Iona, Shield of Emeria that he really wants. While not getting Iona is disappointing, Jacob is still excited to open his 3 remaining Worldwake packs. He rips open the first pack, reads every card and gets to the first rare: a Goliath Sphinx! Jacob is excited to put this beast of a card into his prerelease deck! The next pack didn’t yield anything exciting for Jacob, the rare is an Amulet of Vigor. Down to his last pack, Jacob looks around him to see if anyone opened the coveted Jace, the Mind Sculptor. So far, nobody did and Jacob still had his hopes alive that it would be him.
He slowly opens his final Worldwake booster pack. Staring back at him was no other than a foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jacob was speechless, he wants to scream and jump out of his chair. He quickly put the card into his binder so it doesn’t get damaged. As he puts the foil Jace into his binder, many eyes around him started pinpointing the Jace. “Nice pull! That’s one sweet looking card!” says Steve, who was next to Jacob.
Information travels quickly; soon Wayne hears that a foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor has been opened and is determined to add it to his collection. He quickly goes up to Jacob, “Hey are you trading that? I can get you that Baneslayer that you always wanted.” Players around him try to passively intervene. Some asked, “Do you want it because you know it will be really good?” Wayne instantly becomes defensive and says “NO! I just want it because I like the card and Jace is my favorite Planeswalker.”
Wayne, knowing that Jacob has the foil Jace, quickly plays his match while keeping an eye on Jacob the entire time. He repeatedly asks his opponent to play faster as he doesn’t want anyone else to get to Jacob before he does. Sure enough before the day ends, Wayne talks Jacob into giving up his foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor and his Arid Mesa for a Baneslayer Angel and some casual Angels and white cards Wayne threw in. Wayne assures Jacob that Baneslayer has been going up since it was printed and will continue to rise while Jace was a hyped up Planeswalker like the ones from Zendikar. Many players in the store shake their heads in disgust while watching the trade but don’t intervene for fear of infuriating Wayne.
January 30, 2011
Today is Jacob’s birthday, he is turning 14. He quit playing Magic 3 months ago. After seeing his foil Jace hit close to $200+ in value, Jacob feels angry and cheated. After the traded away his Jace, he played a few more times at the lunch table but never went back to his LGS. He started high school in September and Magic cards were not allowed on premises. Jacob never wanted to step foot at his local LGS after what happened at the Worldwake pre-release.
We run into new players at our local LGS all the time, as regulars of the store and as veterans of the game. Our actions towards these new players will have a lasting impact, not only on them, but on the game of Magic. While tournament grinders promote the game of Magic, it is those kitchen and lunch table players that keep pushing Magic to the levels that we see today.
Next time you play against a new player at your LGS during a FNM or prerelease, let them take back a few mistakes to make the tournament more enjoyable. Show them how they can improve their deck, teach them intricacies of the game, help them obtain a few missing cards, or better yet make a trade in their favor. I’ve always enjoyed picking out a few good commons, uncommons, and even rares that I don’t need to help out the new guy, it helps expand the local community, and after all we just want to play more right? These players will come back to you for better cards later on when they get more serious about competing or just want to finish out their casual deck.
Edmund Burke once said “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” If you see a trade shark trying to get the new player’s cards, STEP IN! let them know the value of that card and why trading down most of the time is not a good idea. Many new players probably didn’t have the chance to read the new Chapin article so they might not know how good a card is at the prerelease. We all hold near and dear to us the first card we ever opened in a booster pack, but I remember that I held onto my first expensive card even more. I told myself I would not trade my revised Shivan Dragon for anything except a Black Lotus. I think I was even offered a dual land at one point, but the card is still probably somewhere in the old house that I grew up in.
If you see sharking during a match, let the new player know about DCI Judges and how they can call them to ask them about any rule they are unclear about. Intimidating does not exist only in the trading world, it goes beyond that. I have seen many tournament grinders twist rules on unsuspecting new players in order to gain an unfair advantage. Do not let them intimidate you; most store owners will not tolerate this, and if one person stands up many others will usually follow suit.
Offering a friendly community to new players is critical to keeping this game as great as it is. The last thing we want is for a new player to quit the game because the experience was ruined by someone who does not represent the generally awesome community that I know we are.
In the upcoming weeks I will talk about the remaining 4 colors and people that represent them, here’s a little preview:
Blue (The New Player): We are all interconnected in some way; our actions big or small can dramatically affect other people’s lives and experiences.
Black (The Non-Magic Player): Making Sacrifices are a part of a player’s life as well as others around them, some are big, some are day-to-day small sacrifices, but it impacts all those around us.
Red (“You” the Magic Player):
Green: (The Magic Friends):
White: (The Lifelong Friends):
Feel free to comment below! Until then thanks for reading.
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