In the film ‘The Man who would be King’ there is a bit at the beginning where Michael Caine and Roger Moore realise they are both masons and they instantly become friends. They then go on to be rulers of a small part of subcontinental Asia, but that is only marginally relevant to my point.
I must say I have had similar experiences when discovering someone is a Magic player. It can be a t-shirt that gives it away, maybe some dice falling out of their bag or they might use an odd phase that basically gives the game away. I mean no-one uses the term meta in their everyday lives, right?
There is that little moment of realization where you might do a bit of polite chit chat. “So did you see those spoilers hey?” Chances are it’s spoiler season, it feels like it always is. And then it’s down to brass tacks. Discovering what sort of player they are, whether they will appreciate the janky combo you’ve been brewing for a few weeks. Maybe they play Legacy and you can tell them that you don’t like the appeal of a turn one format, then they can tell you that it’s nothing like that and sometimes games go as long as turn five. It’s an often-overlooked aspect of this game we have… finding someone who shares your particular interest in a crowd of muggles.
It’s a bit like being abroad and needing an embassy. There you are in the pouring rain in Manila, lonely and far from your loved ones, but wait it’s Friday night! A quick check on the internet and you can be drafting with seven people who you’ve never met before yet somehow have an entire set of shared experiences. I’ve sat down at tables where me and my opponent did not share a common language. Did this affect our game? I didn’t think so. We both understand the language of Magic.
Like a few people I have subsequently met in the world of Magic, I was quite apprehensive of going to my first FNM, but that is now a thing of the past. I can quite honestly say I would be happy walking into most shops anywhere in the world and asking what format they are running.
I like the idea that we have this global presence. On the forums I visit I see threads popping up now and again, people asking where they would get a game in city X or country Y. It’s one of the ways that the world shrinks and your options expand at the same time. It’s also not unusual to see someone at an airport put up a general invite to other players to come and seek them out for a game of EDH if they have a long stop over. This is in part due to the internet but it is in general terms something that happens without technology.
There is of course awkward moments when meeting fellow Magic players in the wild. There is the initial burst of excitement and smiles, metaphorical back slaps for being the sort of people who play strategy card games, but beware… those first moments of smugness can lead down a path of darkness. It is something I have written about before: we Magic players have opinions. We like to wax lyrical about the merits of styles and pet cards.
In your regular playgroup your insistence that Titan of Eternal Fire will come good might be tolerated, but to the person you met just fifteen minutes ago you might come across like a naive loon. Don’t go making it awkward for your newly-found friend by talking about how you are convinced that Wizards are seeding the multiverse so that Dwarfs can make a comeback. Keep it safe, don’t talk about anything risky. Don’t start wagging your finger at them when they tell you about how they like to play Control. Magic is a game for everyone. Try not to be that person who likes to have fun by making sure no one else is.
But this sense of community is a great thing and certainly not something that all hobbies provide. I have been up and down the UK to watch football and I have been in pubs in South London where if anyone found out I did not support the same team as them I would have been in actual physical danger. Not even when I have played Zombie Hunt in a Modern 8 man have I felt in danger of being punched.
When you travel to big tournaments you expect to see Magic players in the surrounding area. It does not seem weird or cool to spot someone with a few guild symbols around their person but if you sit next to someone on the bus and they happen to be checking out prices for that Modern staple… well, then you might just spark up a conversation.
Alas, I have never bumped into a fellow Planeswalker on a train and then gone on to become a Demi God worshipped by primitive tribesmen. In the film, the locals are astounded when Sean Connery doesn’t die from an arrow wound. He has leather armour under his shirt and the locals are not aware of such tech. I think that if I travelled to the remote parts of Karifstan and proclaimed myself a king by holding up a foil Purphoros God of the Forge, the villagers would explain to me that whilst Purphoros is good, their local meta has shifted to a lot of enchantment exile.
Use the comment section to tell us about meeting another fellow Planeswalker out in the real world.