Why I play – An article by James Davey

I’ve been playing Magic since Revised.  Despite a few lapses here and there (I largely missed Mirrodin through Lorwyn blocks, and most of the Urza’s block) I have been playing pretty consistently for the entire time.

I’m an okay player.  I win most games that I should win, all things considered.  But I’m never making the Pro Tour, and I’m never going to top 8 a Grand Prix.  I went 3-1 at FNM the other week, and thought that an excellent showing.  Usually 2-2 is the best I’ll end up at.

And that’s fine.

When I sit down to play, I’m there for the fun.  When I go to my local shop for an FNM or a pre-release, I’m going to hang out with friends who share an interest with me. With people who understand my nerdy jokes and obsession with the ridiculous.

That’s not to say I don’t want to play better.  I’d love to 4-0 an FNM, or place in the money at a large tournament.  What player of Magic has not imagined sitting under the lights at the final table at a Pro Tour, dealing with the pressure and staring at seven cards in the hands of no less than John Finkel or LSV?

Attempting to improve my game, though, is secondary to actually playing.  I can sometimes guess what is coming from your hand when you tap four lands, producing three blue mana and one black, but some people know every card in my deck after turn two.  I can’t do that.  And I doubt I ever will.  As a result, I don’t play around certain strategies, and that often costs me games.  The ‘obvious’ play escapes me, because while it is obvious to better players, it completely misses me.

I still have fun.  I still go to play.  And I will congratulate my opponent on a game well played even when I did nothing and she had me at her mercy after the second turn.  I’ll extend my hand and say ‘good game’, even when it wasn’t.  Even on those occasions where I dominated the match from start to finish, my opponent still gets that handshake and compliment.

Because it is a good game, no matter what the result of your particular match is.  That’s what brings us back, week after week and night after night.  It’s why we buy singles, and packs, and why we talk about cards and what works well with what, and what strategies are doing well in the metagame right now.

It’s fun.

My wife knew I played early on in our relationship, but it was shortly after that started that I drifted away from the game for my longest stretch.  When I got back into it, with Scars of Mirrodin (nothing to do with the set, I simply bought some packs on a whim one day), she sighed, and poked fun at me a little for being a nerd, but she accepted it.  She knew that I enjoyed it win or lose, and went along.  I have even managed to convince her to play a game or two, though that is rare.

Now, some three years on, I am as deep into the game as ever.  My play ability has improved, though more out of sheer blunt trauma than anything, and I am doing better in local tournaments.  Though even now, 2-2 is a good outing for me.

But I still play, and I still talk about decks with my co-workers, and I still get excited with a crazy play or amazing opening hand.  Because win or lose, I will be back next week to play again.

Article submitted by James Davey


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