Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Traumatized at the Prerelease

Perhaps the most lasting memory of my Prerelease is the man who took great delight in drinking the very thoughts from my head. Not content to win, he stared into the murky depths of my soul to try to pry the cards out of my mind before I played them.

"Well, I KNOW you have a Inspired Charge. Otherwise you wouldn't attack the way you are."

Then a quick scan through my graveyard.

"You've already got one in the graveyard. Which means the other one is…IN YOUR HAND."

My every thought is laid bare.

"Get out of my head!" I cry, rubbing my temples.

But he just smiles his crooked smile.

Of course I have an Inspired Charge. And he can't really do much about it. The thing about combat tricks is this: usually you have to act like they aren't there anyway. If you "play around" a combat trick (for instance, NOT blocking and letting the damage through) you're just accomplishing what your opponent intended, without even casting the card.

The same logic follows with counterspells. You just have to play stuff until they run out of counters, hopefully saving your best spell for when permission needs no longer to be asked for. After the Mana Leak, for instance.

He eventually beat me anyway, just about everyone had their turn wiping the table with me. I'd like to blame my sealed pool.

But winning was not enough for this man.

Here's the truth. Magic is not just one game, its actually many overlapping games. Tournament players have tried for years to distill the play element down to some simple factors, but the human mind is a complex instrument we only have the barest control over.

In this case, my card playing intersected with his mind-reading objectives. I'm pretty sure I made his day.

On the forums, in particular MTGSalvation, players deep in heated argument enjoy citing a rather infamous blarcticle written by one "Sirlin" called Introducing…The Scrub.

The  Scrub, you see, is a player who has an overly-rigid code of conduct. A person with arbitrary rules above the normal rules of competition, and who expects other players to follow them.

Sirlin is a man who likes his Street Fighter. In fact, he's designed several versions of the game. In his mind, the Scrub is someone who thinks particular moves are "cheap" or detests it when players spam quick attacks for a random victory.

At the prerelease we are all scrubs. Every. Single. One of Us.

You may not be warm to the idea, but if you deny it…you risk losing out on any fun you potentially could be having. Pick the colors you enjoy. Pick the cards you enjoy. And by all means, play mind games to your heart's content.

I was also milled that dark day. He had a Traumatize, and that's all a person really needs with a 40 card deck. The experts say its not a good idea…that you're better off running removal or more creatures or whatever. A Traumatize plus a nice thick wall of blockers gets the job done, believe me.

Lots of people seem to lose sight of the primal joy of Magic in their quest for some sort of competitive greatness. When you get to the end of the day, you are playing cards like the rest of us. See the game for the artificial layers of social abstraction that it is, and you'll find you can put up with a lot.

Except for body odor. That is not a joke, nor should it be part of any social interaction no matter how abstract. First rule of prerelease…Take A Shower Before You Go.

That is all.

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