You have to understand what you want out of this game. Once you’ve figured that out you have to seek out people who want the same thing. I want different things from different formats. I associate Standard with FNM so I find myself trying to take it as casually as I can but still retaining enough competitiveness to keep it interesting.
Modern brings out the Spike in me. I think that is the case with a lot of Modern players. I feel bad for that player that comes down to FNM with his non-standard deck and ends up in the Modern 8 man. I have that ‘You came to the wrong neighbourhood’ feeling when they turn one Tome Scour me.
Drafting is a different animal. I usually pay more money for these and have a higher expectation on myself to win my games. I feel bad if I 0-3 with my pile. Feeling bad has to be the number one cause of salt.
Pre-release is a hard format for the more competitive among us. I think I read somewhere that Wizards consider this to be the number one way new players experience organised play for the first time. I attend pre-release to get my hands on new cards and beat people up (figuratively) but I have to temper myself when not playing the other regulars in my shop.
EDH or Commander, well that is another story. I have no problems not being a nuts and bolts Spike in this format. I play EDH in some sort of zen state. I have a simple philosophy
“Don’t start none, won’t be none.”
I use this format to put my favourite and most useless cards on the table. I want to see all their shiny loveliness out there on the field of play. I want to build a wall of ridiculous sea monsters and I want to be left in peace.
I have used the analogy that FNM is speed dating for geeks (my wife coined this I think) and EDH is my knitting circle of doom. I have an hour or two to indulge in a casual format and I want maximum value from my time investment. I don’t need to win I just don’t want to be dumped out of a really cool game on turn five and have to sit around for an hour and a half with nothing to do. Sure I could sit there and be part of the conversation but that’s as bad as being in the back seat on a three man car journey. You get no respect.
Within my play group there are a few who share my philosophy. I like the person whose aim is to kill everyone all in the same turn. That suits my needs for the format.
“Cool you won, let’s play another game with different decks.”
I know even in my group there are people who do not get the enjoyment of just being in a game. There is one guy, let’s call him Mike. (His name is Mike.) He gets Magic. If you watch him for long enough you can see him processing. He wants to do broken stuff. He wants millions of tiny interactions and triggers going off and then he wants to kill me and my giant fish.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘If you don’t like what he does, why don’t you just not play against him?’ Well this is the world me and my aquatic friends have to live in. If we are going to survive we need to beat people like Mike. He is going to spend a long time building up to a point when he can take care of me. This is what I want to be doing. I want to be involved in a long-winded arms race.
EDH is the combination of the two greatest parts of this hobby. Playing the game, sure that’s number one, but talking about the game is number one point five. We love that so much. We talk endlessly about new cards and whether they will be playable in Standard or Modern. Pro Tour coming up or just passed? Ban lists and the dreaded reserve lists. The meta, oh God the meta takes up a lot of our time. And then there’s…
“Whose turn was it?”
We are a bunch of old gossips. We love sitting around and nattering on about this game but because we are geeks we don’t just talk about MTG. We are a broad spectrum of geeks but there are certain things that overlap amongst nearly all groups. Comics, movies and video games are some of the things we chat about. What I want from EDH is to sit around doing nothing.