Sorry folks, but I didn't write anything this week. Come to think of it, I didn't write anything last week, either. Last week, I was busy with the holidays. Then this week, I was up past midnight almost every night watching college bowl games (go Penn State!) or playing the Star Wars Lego video game (insanely fun and addictive) with my wife. I actually have a bunch of things I'm working on, but they all require more playtesting before I can write about them. So instead of presenting you with some up-to-date content, I'm submitting a piece I wrote over a year ago, but never submitted, on what it means to be a casual player. Enjoy!
Losing Casual Magic...
Being a casual Magic player means a lot of things to a lot of people. For Anthony Alongi, casual Magic is equivalent to multi-player Magic. To the professionals, the casual Magic player is probably anyone who doesn't attend any tournaments. To the majority of Magic players, there's no distinction between being a Magic player and being a casual Magic player. After all, it's just a game, right?
After browsing the web, you wouldn't think so. You'd think it's a profession. Nowadays, every magic-related site panders to the tournament players. They tout a win-at-all-costs mentality apparent in their leanings towards deck tech, draft strategy, and how to become a better player overall. However, in my experience, most Magic players play for fun. They pay to play the game, not the other way around. So why is the internet flooded with tips on how to win the game instead of ways to maximize your fun potential? It's the almighty dollar, of course. With the exception of Wizards' own site, the only way to be a profitable Magic-based website is to offer information that players are willing to pay for. And the only information anyone would pay for is that which will help a player earn more money. Granted, most sites also support themselves through online stores and advertising, but information is still the cheapest thing to invest in.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with all this. I was actually starting to wonder the same thing myself. My point is that in a world based on making money, the unprofitable is often forgotten. In this case, it's the casual player.
...And Finding Casual Magic
To me, Casual Magic is sitting at the kitchen table with my friend, Dave, and playing with 16 different decks over the span of 4-6 hours. There's no metagame, no money at stake, no hurt feelings after a loss. There's rarely a four-turn kill and only a handful of counterspells. Decks feature insanely-delicate, nearly impossible to set up combos.
Casual Magic is letting my wife open up my booster packs, because she likes the art and flavor text. Then it's building two decks with the cards she opened (hers is always more powerful, of course) and playing a couple games while we watch a movie.
Casual Magic is holding a four-person draft and playing a mini-tournament or a free-for-all game. After the games, all the cards are sorted by rarity and the winner gets first pick. It's letting your buddy have that valuable rare because he's got an idea for a deck, not because he wants to sell it.
Casual Magic is putting your cards in sleeves, not to preserve their value, but because they're literally falling apart from play.
In Casual Magic, games end early if someone's not having fun. Mana screw means, "Let's shuffle up and start over... I don't want to win like that."
In Casual Magic, there are no banned cards because people understand what cards take the fun out of the game. In Casual Magic, nobody plays with Vizzerdrix or Pithing Needle, not because they're too bad or too good, but because they're not fun.
Casual Magic is bringing a new player into the game just so you have another person to play with. It's letting them draw a card before they untap or after they play a land, because you did it, too, and the rules can wait another day.
A Casual Magic player is Timmy, Johnny, and Spike all rolled into one. Everyone likes to win, but the Casual Magic player does it on his terms, with his deck, and his experience... not with the advice of some so-called expert on the internet.
A Casual Magic player cannot be defined by words, but by their actions and their attitude. You won't find a Casual Magic player at any tournament, because once they're in it, they lose the casual player's ideals and take on the professional player's ideals. Maybe when they come home and sit back at the kitchen table, they'll be a casual player again, but in that tournament, they could never be a Casual Magic player or they wouldn't have a chance at winning.
As you can probably tell, I take my casual status pretty seriously, but I'm not trying to disrespect the professional or tournament players. The fact of the matter is without casual players, there are no tournaments, because there's no money to pay the professionals. Without casual players, the game is no longer a game; it's a competition. And that's not the way I play.