Magic isn’t just a game, it’s also a way of life by Alex Gershaw

Magic isn’t just a game, it’s also a way of life by Alex Gershaw

Hey. It’s Alex Gershaw again; you may remember me from that one article I collaborated for Legacy. Today I’m going to talk about community.

My brother and my Dad are avid Leeds United supporters. Growing up in a household that was centred around their love of the game wasn’t difficult but often I felt like an outsider. This coupled with low self-esteem due to being an overweight adolescent made young adulthood rather troublesome.

Until I found Magic.

There was once a small shop on a street in the city centre of Leeds, I spent every Saturday there from the ages of Legions to Fifth Dawn learning to play Magic there and suddenly I belonged.

Tell a Football fanatic that it’s just a game and you’ll feel the flames as they tell you it isn’t so, I always use to wonder (and to an extent still do) why my brother keeps supporting a team that passively makes his life sad. He’s committed to them and I am with Magic. Magic isn’t just a game, it’s also a way of life.

I didn’t realise just how important it was until I started a little project.

Image credit -
Image credit –

The Legacy Project: Operation Lille started when I heard about the Legacy GP in Lille run by Bazaar of Moxen in July 2015 Legacy players (ones that play Legacy as their primary sanctioned format) tend to be competitive and casual at the same time. Competitive enough to want events, but causal enough to have never put any effort into the format and as such suck.

I want someone I know to make the top 8 of that event, I want more of us to make day 2, and for that I needed people, so my project began.

Every day I post a question onto the Northern Legacy Players Facebook group, sometimes about attitudes towards the game, sometimes about events we want running or how the Tournament Organisers in the North could do a better job (the answer to that is they actually already do a fantastic job).

I decided to see if I could recruit anyone by starting a casual “play anything night” at Patriot Games Leeds, I organised events and pushed TOs to run events by telling them I was going to bring eight to ten of Leeds’s finest Legacy players. I told people to come regardless of ownership of a deck and lend them whole 75’s.

I’m winning – I’ve had people who told me they weren’t interested in Legacy pick up a deck, play an event and walk away wanting to play the format again and again. It’s relatively easy when the product you are peddling is so good and you have a lot of enthusiasm to boot.

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So: Community. Saturdays after an event I’d go to a local curry house with a good friend of mine and I started to wonder why I wasn’t inviting my other friends along, the format compatriots who I’d play against week after week. The curry house love me now, I keep bringing seven other people with me every week. It helps that their product is so good also.

A a couple of months ago a post goes up on the forum asking if a podcast called “Legacy Breakfast” was coming back soon. Most of the group hadn’t heard of it and were asking about actually going to breakfast, so I organised. Eight players heading off to a pre-tournament all-you-can-eat breakfast was pretty special.

I realised just how important this game is to me and that it’s not just a game, but a way of life.

Recently, I decided to push this whole project towards other formats, I wanted people to play Magic, to get better. I now want the Leeds Magic community to become more competitive – I blame Andy Devine and Rob Catton, the former for Top8ing GP Madrid and the other for his unrelenting progress in taking down PTQs they reignited the spark in me that needs to see the names of my friends make progress in Grand Prix and Pro Tours and I wanted to be the guy who made that happen.

My goals are simple; I want people to play Magic, I want to see names I know make big Magic news, I want the UK to get better at Magic. We need to get better and I think building the community up is the way forward.

I’d love it to see more communities like mine pop up all over the UK, for that I have some tips.

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Advice for building a community.

1. Be the change you want to see in the world – this Gandhi quote sums up how I feel about changes in general. If you want something to happen, then you make it happen. I helped cultivate the community because I wanted to play more Legacy but it wasn’t going to happen with no one pushing. I turned Legacy monthlies at Patriot Games: Leeds from sixteen people to around thirty. I made sure the events were in the conciousness of the community by constantly posting about them. I continued the Northern Legacy spirit of freely lending cards and even whole decks. I once lent Death and Taxes to Sam Rolf who 5-0’d the Swiss of his first Legacy event only to become unstuck in the Quarter-finals – after the event he  told me how he really enjoyed it and that was a pretty big “thank you”. I’ve managed to convert many players to the Legacy community by lending alone.

2. Stand on the shoulders of giants – two people inspired me with their actions. Andy Devine (I’m giving him a lot of love in this article, apparently), for his passion of Modern, started his own project for getting the popularity of Modern up. You can ask to borrow many modern decks from him and he’ll oblige. His love for the format so great that he built up a library of decks. The other person is John Ingham, who inspired me to get back into Legacy when I came back into Magic. It’s taken four years but his project to be the guy who has the Legacy decks also paid off and that mantle I decided to pick up.

3. Focus on your strengths – I’m not a good player, I actually suck at Magic, I just jam whatever I like and I know it, but I do have this passion for the game that people find infectious. I decided that everyday I’d ask a question on the group wall, everyday people would reply. Some questions were technical, about particular decks or cards or sideboards, others were about feelings on the format, past, present and future. People started doing it on their own. There was a day when the group wall went mental, with about five posts in an hour, a friend of mine messaged me privately to tell me it was all my fault and I was so proud.

4. Use your resources – TOs who provide the events, cars to get you to those events, other players who can lend out decks. You have all these resources at your disposal to increase the size of the community. There’s far more than that too, Facebook is an fantastic tool in order to get people organised, it’s also an excellent place to give feedback. We are very lucky to have TOs who listen to the needs and wants of the community. Manaleak’s mtgUK has been a useful tool for enabling the UK Magic community, it’s another avenue for us to collect resources and share information. We are better connected now than we ever have been, which makes it easy to share resources too.

5. Be imaginative – I had an idea which I ran out to the community that someone could win a “bounty mountain” when they beat me, the idea came to me to add an additional competitive element (not that Magic players really need a reason to be competitive) and also to see where the land would end up. The community responded Craig Stevenson told me to use 5 lands and call it a Legacy Domain challenge, now those lands are out there in the community and when they make it back to me held by one person, that person will get a prize.

6. Cultivate friendly group rivalry – You can’t grow your small community without thinking about the bigger picture; these other small communities can be absorbed into yours. You can increase competitive thinking within your community while also creating additional resources. We all know that Leeds Legacy players are better than Chesterfield Legacy players.


Finally I’d like to thank some people for all the help they’ve given me, all the ideas and support. Rob Wagner, John Ingham, Alastair Kennedy and the Judge community.

That’s all I got for now, next time on give me good feedback and I’ll write more articles, how to build a community from the bottom-up and how to start a community from the humblest of beginnings.

Community Question: What do you do to help your MTG community? Would you recommend it?

What do you do to help your MTG community

Thanks for reading.

Alex Gershaw

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