This isn’t going to be an article featuring any strategy. There’ll be no (tiggity) tech (yo’ self). No standard. No modern. No rainbow stairwell. I imagine some of you will have clicked the back button already. I’ll just stop talking to you lot, because you’re not reading anymore, so I’ve effectively addressing myself. Everyone else, buckle up, because I’m going to do my best to make you feel like the awesome human being you no doubt are (you’ve certainly got good taste in writers).
Before I go on; a note on myself. I tend to have an extreme reaction to people. I was going to say I’m an extreme personality, but that just makes me sound like a head case. When I meet people and get to know them my opinion of them will fall into one of two categories. The first is I really, really don’t like them. I won’t say hate because as seminal band The Plain White Tees told us; Hate is Strong Word, But I Really, Really Don’t Like You.
From the Magic community these tend to be people I like to describe as “dorks who never got beat up enough in high school“. Don’t get me wrong, I was definately on the receiving end of the shipping and receiving high school beatings industry, but there are people out there who act like they’ve never had someone punch them in the face. You’ll know these guys: loud, highly opinated (often incorrect) and they spout internet prattle constantly. Unoriginal, thoughtless photocopies of human beings.
The second camp is filled with individuals that completely blow my mind. Let me give you some case studies. I’m going to assign each of my examples a crap super hero names, not to protect their identity (these people are awesome), but because they’re my secret stash of incredible. Mine. They’re like super heroes whose super-power is being generally fantastic. Screw it, I’m also going to use gender neutral pro-nouns, but that’s largely so I can give the impression that I know some girls.
Let’s start with The Regulator. The Regulator is one of those rare people who doesn’t have an angry bone in their body. The Regulator is so laid back that the aerospace industry is studying them for new ways to combat wind resistance. They talk like almost no-one else I know. A won’t ask you how you’re doing. They’ll say “What’s your chat?” When you do something they don’t approve of, Big Regs won’t get mad. You’ll just be on the end of a slight head tilt, a sigh and a disappointed “Buddy…” I often think that The Regulator would be the perfect actor to replace Matt Smith on Doctor Who.
DALEKS: WE HAVE COME TO DESTROY YOUR CIVILISATION.
The Doctor: (sighs) Buddy…
Moving swiftly on to Captain Cutglass. The Captain is one of the best people I know, straight up. I don’t mean in terms of my particular favourite or anything like that, they’re just good people. This has often caused them short term loss, but you know, if being a stand-up guy was easy it wouldn’t be a worthwhile commodity. Also, their nipples are constantly erect, which means they’re either a robot built to spy on this world receiving radio transmissions through the chest, or they’re often really cold. I think the first scenario is more likely myself. Captain Cutglass should probably just bite the bullet and invest in thicker t-shirts. Seriously. Those things could cut glass.
Let’s talk about Big Daddy Dredd. Dredd opened a card shop in Glasgow about half a decade ago in an out of the way part of town. The group of Magic players at the time didn’t think the shop would last very long. We gave it maybe six months. It’s still open. Big Daddy has kept that little shop open largely through sheer force of personality, and that’s incredible to me. They’re unfalteringly friendly and positive. They also speak the same amount of languages as C3PO, but with only ten percent of the camp persona. This is particularly impressive to me as I struggle to enunciate “coherent coversation” at times.
Ah, Superman. I had some personal problems last year that I won’t burden you with. I phoned Superman up the day it really kicked off and they were at my door the next day, making sure I was okay, getting indignant on my behalf and generally having my back. My family have been extremely supportive over the last twelve months. Superman is family to me. Their partner is family to me. Their two kids are family to me. I’m actually getting choked up typing this, so I’m going to switch to a funny story.
Superman is pretty naive. They recently asked me to explain the concept of spooning to them. This is an adult human being with, as I’ve already pointed out, two beautiful children. They’ve been on this rock for more than thirty trips around the sun and had no idea what spooning was. That’s incredible. They thought it was some kinky sexual thing. They will avert their gaze and get embarassed when confronted with pornography (which I make sure to do often because I’m cruel). I have made Superman cry by saying nice things about other people. They are a big girl’s blouse, and I love them for it. Superman’s an awful wingman by the way. Just thought I’d throw that randomly in there. They also totally screwed me out of a free trip to Hawaii by pointing out that I had mistapped my mana and couldn’t have Stifled my opponent’s fetchland. I’m not bitter at all...
The Giggler is a shy person. They cosplay, which is an activity I still don’t realy understand the point of. You know what? That doesn’t matter. This is someone who will go around dressed as characters from anime and video games with their friends in public, but has trouble holding eye contact with you if you make a big deal about it. That spins my head right round, baby, right round. I could never do what they do on an almost weekly basis. It helps that they’re really good at it. They make their costumes themselves and they’re always great. It doesn’t matter that I have often no clue who they’re supposed to be – I respect the craft. You know how you’ll look at someone’s fancy dress costume and think “Dude, at least put some effort in“. That doesn’t apply. Not once. Giggles also has a great laugh, hence the name. I find it endlessly amusing.
The problem is that they find my laughter funny as well, so we often get stuck in a loop that results in us no longer cracking up about the actual joke, but just keying off the noise we are both making. I’m concerned that one day we will get stuck in a loop and die as a result.
The Designated Driver is a someone I’ve not known for very long. Maybe a year, a year and a half tops. We’re going to road trip across the USA next year from coast to coast with two other friends of ours. How cool is that? It’s very cool is the answer, and that’s an opinion that you should hold deep in your heart with hands forged from melted down Avatars of Greatness.
Driver works out. Driver doesn’t drink. Driver doesn’t do drugs. Their body is a temple. The Designated Driver will do things on a dance floor sober that it would take me at least three hours of solid alcohol consumption to contemplate. Empty dancefloors do not daunt them. They’re just virgin territory waiting to be conquered. Driver will often wear a Thundercats belt buckle and a t-shirt that proclaims that they “Don’t Do Mingers” and be a bit incredulous that the opposite sex is not all up in their grill. Yeah, that’s right. We’re gangsta in Scotland.
I could fill up the alphabet and more with stories about all the different people who rock my world. I don’t think I would even break a sweat. I have a backlog of stories that would make War and Peace look like a novella by comparison. I’ve not even talked about the guy that I consider to be the personification of the concept of fun. I think he’s worshipped in some equatorial countries as a living god.
I would never have met any of these gems of humanity if it wasn’t for Magic: The Gathering and for that I will be eternally grateful. I may drift away from the game in the future. I may never tap a land again or attack for two after today, but the people I’ve met as a result of this game will always have a hidey-hole in my heart. It’s your friends that make those long car journeys worthwhile, that make the mana flood seem daft and the mana screw trivial. For every mulligan to four in a PTQ top 8 game three there will be a moment that makes you feel like you are lucky to be alive and in the company of gods. There will be infinitely more of the latter than the former.
Do me a favour and take five minutes to consider all the people you have met messing around with cards. I don’t even just mean those you’re close to. The random dude that scooped to you because he was out of contention is being a ridiculously compassionate and generous individual. He’s donating enjoyment directly into your life by giving you the chance to play more Magic. Think about the little tales you have accrued through playing cards with little monsters printed on them. The laughs that you’ve shared. Unless you’re dead inside there will be a good number of people who you find as incredible as I find my friends. They find you as mind-blowing as you do them. They might not have the nuts to tell you straight to your face, but they do.
It’s easy for gamers to be cynical and recent events in the wider community have been largely negative, but there is a metric ton of goodness out there. I’m not the sort to believe in fate or that we’re put on this Earth with a purpose in mind. Your life has the purpose that you give it. You answer only to yourself at the end of everything. Love is what makes this whole dog and pony show work for me. It’s what makes the days between when I first opened my eyes until the time they flutter closed for the final time mean something. It’s not the only thing. I’ve got to give pizza and steak some credit. Oh, and Community and the Simpsons.
It’s your friends and family that make everything better, and if you’re as lucky as me those two groups are largely interchangeable. Be thankful for the beautiful people in your life. ‘Tis the season, after all.