Theatre of Wargaming: Opening Night
Hello everyone, how’s it going? My name’s Liam and I’d like to welcome you to the first post of my blog Theatre of Wargaming, kindly hosted by Manaleak. Despite being located on a Magic: the Gathering website, it won’t solely be about that hobby, though I don’t doubt that I’ll write a few things about it.
Since this is my first blog post, I’m going to take the time to introduce myself. But before I do that I’m going to go through what is going to be a regular part of this blog: Hobby Progress and Commitments.
In every blog post I’m going to talk about my hobby progress. This is where I discuss what I’ve been up to with regards to my hobbies. This can involve assembling or painting miniatures, building Magic decks, or playing any kind of games. It even includes purchases towards my hobbies. It’s as much a tool to encourage me to do things as it is something for people to read.
As this is my first blog post, I’ll give a general overview of what I’ve been up to recently. I haven’t gotten myself fully back up to speed after returning to England from Japan, so a lot of my hobby things are still in storage. Recently I’ve been playing FTL: Faster Than Light, a roguelike computer game about a starship racing across the stars to deliver secret plans before an enemy fleet wipes out your fleet base. I’m also working on something I want to keep under wraps for now, let’s call it Project K, which will hopefully be finished within the next two weeks (and if I manage to get it done, I’ll certainly write about it here).
The counterpart to hobby progress is hobby commitments. It’s where I’ll declare what hobby progress I’m going to try and get done between now and my next blog post. Ideally I’ll equal or beat my commitments but real life often finds a way to mess plans up.
As mentioned above, I’m going to continue working on my Project K. I’m going to intend to be more than 60% done by the time of my next blog post (it’s currently only around 5% completed).
I also intend to start working on unpacking my Magic cards. I managed to build up quite a collection whilst in Japan, though I wasn’t able to bring it all back with me. I’m going to start unpacking my things and cataloguing them. Might not sound too fun for most people, but I’m the sort of chap who likes organising and making sure things are just right.
I’m sure I’ll play a bit more FTL, though I can’t see myself playing anything else, despite having a Steam account filled with unplayed games. Likewise, there’s nothing I need to buy right now, so I doubt I’ll make any hobby purchases outside of things for Project K.
Introductions Are In Order
With all that out of the way, let’s move onto the topic of today’s blog post: me. I’m going to use my first blog post to introduce myself to anyone and everyone who’s interested. A bit big-headed of me, I know, but I started this blog on a whim and didn’t have any material prepared for it.
My name is Liam, though online I tend to be known by the name “Masked Thespian”. I’ve been using that name online for over 15 years because I believe in accountability, even on the internet. I’ve tried to build an online presence that I can be proud of, rather than hiding behind an anonymous handle.
I’m a 33-year-old Englishman (though half-Chinese by birth) currently living in the East Midlands. When I was younger I enjoyed acting on stage (which was something of an inspiration for my internet name mentioned above) and harboured dreams of maybe pursuing it as a career but I ended up studying Mathematics at university instead.
I’m between jobs right now because I’ve recently returned from a six-year stint teaching English as a foreign language at a school in Japan. Amongst other things, my job as an English teacher required that I dress up in a costume for each Halloween I worked there, which somewhat made me realise that I enjoy making and wearing costumes.
In addition to Cosplaying, I also enjoy playing card games (collectible and otherwise), miniature wargames, board games, and pen-and-paper role-playing games. I suppose you could say that I enjoy face-to-face social gaming in general. I’m also partial to arts and crafts, which can come in handy for some of the above activities. I used to be a pretty big animé and manga fan when I was younger, though not so much these days (which is surprising, considering I’ve been living in Japan recently you’d think it might have been the other way around).
I also enjoy reading books and watching movies and TV, though living in Japan means that I’m a little out-of-date with regards to certain aspects of pop culture. I’m also prone to making terrible puns at times, something which my wife tends to PUNish me for.
Since Manaleak is a Magic: the Gathering website, I reckon I should probably talk a little more about my involvement in that particular game. I initially picked up Magic in 1995, around the time that Ice Age was released. I didn’t really play it all that much back then, just a little here and there with some of the other guys in my Dungeons and Dragons group. When I went to University in the year 2000 I joined the university’s Gaming Society and participated in my first ever draft, drafting a five-colour monstrosity of a draft deck in a pure Planeshift draft (my pack one rare was Draco and I windmill slammed it). I didn’t play a lot after that, focussing on a different CCG at the time (Decipher’s Star Trek CCG (First Edition), if you’re interested) until I found myself in Japan in 2012. One of the members of my Dungeons and Dragons group came back from a trip home to America with a box of M13, which we all drafted and all got back heavily into the hobby. I’ve been playing pretty much constantly since then.
My favourite format is Commander; I love the storytelling that you can do in that format, along with the crazy plays and high-mana-cost cards that you can’t really get away with playing in other formats. I have played a little Standard and Legacy, and am planning on dipping my toes into Modern when I finally get around to finishing my deck off. I also love Sealed, especially at pre-releases; I know a lot of people say that Sealed is all down to the luck of the draw, but I don’t really care about that. I just love crafting a deck out of what you get and figuring out how to use all of the new cards. I enjoy Drafting too, though I don’t think I’m all that great at it.
I’ve only ever attended a single Magic Grand Prix and that was GP Chiba in 2015, one of three simultaneous GPs that were held that weekend to celebrate the launch of Modern Masters 2015. In fact, whilst at GP Chiba I was interviewed on camera by Rich Hagon over a game of Pack Wars. You can see my interview below.
Shortly before I left Japan I started a Magic-related YouTube channel, Crack a Pack a Day. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “crack a pack” is when you take a pack of Magic cards, open it, and pretend that you’re in a three-pack booster draft, just about to take a card from your first pack. Usually, you discuss and evaluate the cards in the pack and make a choice as to which one you think you’d take if you were actually drafting. As the name of the channel implies, I open one pack and evaluate the contents every day. The videos are aimed at the newer player looking to start drafting or who’s already started drafting but is a little bit lost. I try to explain all of my decisions and why certain cards are better than others. The channel is currently on hiatus due to me having to return to England on short notice but as soon as I’ve settled down fully I intend to start it up again.
Right now, I’m debating entering the Judge program and becoming a Magic Judge. I have an affinity for the rules and a desire to make sure that things work correctly, which I believe to be an attitude that makes me suitable for the program. Thanks to Kerry Meyerhoff’s article on the matter, I’m certainly a lot more willing to give it a go than I was before I read it. If I do choose to go ahead then I’ll certainly write about it here.
I think that’s probably a good place to stop for now. My next blog entry will hopefully not be quite so focussed on myself and more about the things I want to write about.
If you’ve managed to read all of this then I thank you for taking the time to do so. If there’s anything you’ve read about here that you’d like to discuss then please feel free to write a comment below.
Regards, Liam, aka MT.