Top 5 Types of Magic: The Gathering Players You’ll Find at Every FNM – Which one are you?
As often stated in this column I travel a lot for work and as such I find myself in strange towns on a Friday night. In my youth I might have been tempted to sample the nightlife of these bastions of Little Britain, but I’m older now and I have an addiction to feed.
I’m sure I’m not the only player that spends every single waking moment thinking about Magic: the Gathering. In fact when I’m back in my home town I will be brewing and refining my deck for the entire seven days after I go 2-1-1 with a deck I thought was worth 4-0. I will make all these changes in my mind. Perhaps during meeting that I really should be paying more attention in, I will be trying to solve the problem of too many four drops. More than once I have missed my stop on the train because I was dreaming of magical Christmas land. As an addict and a traveller I have to make my choice: go cold turkey or face the daunting prospect of entering an unfamiliar shop.
When I got into Magic: the Gathering and I was first away from home I was very nervous about heading into a new shop and playing a new crowd of people. Let’s be honest, FNM is as much a social thing as it is a competition thing. The fifteen minutes of registration before any FNM is like a scene from Cheers. All the regulars file in and greet each other, pleasantries are shared, the trading gets underway and players ask each other how their weeks have been. This little interaction is played out not only in stores around the UK but globally. Customs may change somewhat but in essence it’s all very similar.
I don’t say this to be disparaging. It’s a warm comfort to know that whatever town I’m in has an FNM where I can go and meet like-minded people. Once I’ve been there for ten minutes, I will see that this shop isn’t so different from my own.
Let’s have a look at the 5 types of Magic players you find at every FNM.
5. The “I’m not stopping” Guy
I’m putting this person in as a player but no-one in the shop can remember the last time they actually played against him. He was there talking to the owner before everyone started arriving for FNM. Before the Magic players turned up he was complaining about some other geek hobby. Perhaps Games Workshop was under fire for being too expensive, or the fact that the new X-Wing wave was supposed to be released and on the shelves by now but the website still says ‘on the boat’. This guy always has his coat on and is perpetually “just leaving”.
He is always up to date in the latest fan theory from the internet though. He’s absolutely sure that the next block will see the return of Dwarfs because Mark Rosewater mentioned it on his blog four months ago.
He has a trade folder but it seems more like a museum piece. He has Standard cards in there but they are normally just the clunky draft bombs and not for a constructed format. The one playable Standard card you do want he doesn’t want to trade because he tells you it’s going into a Commander deck he’s building.
He always tells you about the time he went for a pint with Alan Moore at a comic convention in the 80s.
4. The Shufflers
Draw a card, shuffle shuffle shuffle, frrrrrp frrrrrp, shuffle shuffle shuffle. Land shuffle, frrrp, pass the turn. It’s good of these Blue mages to have worked out a way of letting other players know who the control players are before the end of turn 2. You see, most players have things to do on their own turn but not the shufflers; they have things to do in your end step.
I don’t want you to think I’m being down on these types of players, my own son is a Shuffler, but as a non-shuffler I am shunned from their clique. Before each FNM they tell each other stories about how some Noob tried to get a 5 drop to resolve. Ha ha, they laugh.
“I mean I had the counter in hand but I drew two cards before I cast it anyway.”
The others will nod. Because I’m not allowed into the proper discussions these lot have, I don’t know exactly what they talk about, but I’m pretty sure they tell tales of that one time they Sphinx’s Revelationed for 9.
You can tell when there is a mirror match in your shop. It is not decided on plays but rather who has the fiercest most intimidating shuffle, and that look…
3. The Whoa! Kids
In Magic vernacular these players might be Jonnies, but I think this group is slightly different. They are mostly newer players but not always. These players have a great sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the game. Sometimes they are actually quite competitive but they still like to exclaim “Whoa. Nice!” when a bomb hits the table. Nearly always accompanied by a head-bobbing nod, which is part approval and part them thinking of ways to get rid off whatever devastating play you just made.
These players hold their wonder for all things, not just plays but spoilers and pack art. These are the first in line to play whatever cheesy thing Wizards have cooked up for the pre-release. They lead the rest of us miseries to those things and then we get to see they are actually fun.
Oh and they have the best of luck with their top decks too. You know it’s a bad sign when they look at the card they just drew and utter the word “Whoa!”
2. The Mad Professor
I was in a store recently, waiting for the games to start. I’m quietly sitting there minding my own business, listening to one of those conversations about a rules questions. I didn’t know anyone at this store but people were friendly enough. I was in the larger circle of people in the conversation but not contributing when a woman sits down next to me and asks:
“What do you reckon to this?”
She had three cards in her hand, some uncommons from the last couple of sets. I was looking at the cards trying to figure out the interaction. Helpfully she re-orders them.
“This on board and either this or this in hand…” she thinks for a moment, “or maybe the 2 drop from Khans?”
I see what she’s getting at and there’s definitely some synergy there. Has she just broken the format?
I love this sort of thing. It’s not my type of Magic, I’m more of a tinkerer than a brewer, but these local brewers are what make FNM such an awesome format. I don’t how she faired with that deck but I think it’s great that players like this add these decks to local metas.
1. The PPTQ Players
Now this list wasn’t in any particular order. It’s just five types of players, a massive generalisation about what I’ve found at FNM’s all over, but the Spikey players would get upset if they weren’t in first so I’ve stuck them there to keep them happy.
You might say that the serious players are the same as the shufflers but they are not. Shufflers are mostly Blue players, whereas this group might contain Shufflers but it’s most likely to have players on the ‘best’ deck.
The closest this lot get to brewing is a cheeky sideboard slot for some niche archetype. This is a serious bunch of guys and girls. The conversations this group have are all based on coverage of the last GP, or the new deck coming out of Japan.
Now you might be lucky enough to have players who have been to the Pro Tour at your local shop. These are not the same as PPTQ players. PPTQ players have the same outward demeanor as someone revising for their A levels. Improving your game is hard work. I like this group of players because playing against good opposition makes my own game better.
Every shop has its individuals and it is these individuals that make our hobby great. But, as with any hobby that attracts like-minded people, there will be common types of people who turn up.
Community Question: Did you see yourself in any of these players? Or do you think you are another type of player? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,