Talking with Tengu: DM Cross

Welcome back to series 2 of Talking with Tengu, where we interview fellow content creators and other members of the Magic community to find out more about them and why they do what they do. Last week we talked to Emma Partlow, which, if you missed it, you can read here. For today’s guest, we have EDHREC and Praetor Magic content creator Seth, also known as DM Cross. So, without further ado, let’s get to the questions.

Ok Seth, what was the first deck that you ever built? Why did you build it?

It depends on the format. The first decks I brewed were mono-green and terrible. I was that kid who thought “{T}: Add {G}” meant “go find a Forest and put it into play.” I was only eight years old or so at the time, so I built it because I thought green was the best color. Little did I know, I was missing out on black! I learned to play Commander right around the release of Return to Ravnica while on deployment with the US Air Force. I only had a few standard decks with me at the time, so I turned those into Commander decks. The Commanders were Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker, and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice. By the time I returned home from that deployment, I had built another three decks! Melek, Izzet Paragon, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, and another that I can’t quite remember.

I can relate, Magic cards do seem to have an uncanny way of multiplying. Next, what is your favourite set or block? And why did you like it so much?

Definitely a combination of the three visits to Ravnica. I love the plane of Ravnica itself because it’s so organized and the sets come across so well. I love that there are cycles, a predictable number of legendary creatures, and recurring themes like Cluestones, Keyrunes, Signets, and Lockets.

Do you have a favourite format? What is it you like about it?

Commander one-hundred percent! I love playing in multiplayer games, I love the construction of the decks, the identity-based colour restrictions, and having that special card that is your Commander. It’s easily my favourite format, and at this point is the only one I really play. I do want to note that this last year or so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing 3DH on MTGO. For those that don’t know, 3DH is 3 Dollar Highlander. The decks all cost 3 Dollars or less, and thanks to the economy of MTGO, there are some high-powered cards you can get for next to nothing. My favourite example is the fact that Vampiric Tutor only costs a penny online!

Vampiric Tutor

Wish that was true in the real world. What made you want to become a content creator?

When John, my wife Dani, and I started Praetor Magic, I was already running a YouTube channel where I uploaded variety gaming. I had joked about them playing games with me and recording them for my channel, and when they finally took the bait, I wanted it to be special for all of us. We made a separate channel which is now Praetor Magic and we just kept doing it when it was fun. We added PhyrexianWalker and Valdor to the team in the past year, and the content seems to have been flowing pretty consistently, in one form or another. I’ll say that I think my EDHREC articles are my favourite form of content to make. They’re solely reliant on me and they fulfill a childhood dream of wanting to be a writer (albeit, I didn’t expect to be a writer in this capacity as a kid).

On the subject of content, what is the hardest part of being a content creator?

Phew, that’s rough… Time management? Self-imposed expectations? These are probably the two hardest things. Time management is rough because I’m still serving in the military and I have a wife and three kids. My content spans gameplay videos, streams, podcasting, and writing articles. Plus, I think there’s an expectation for a content creator to be fairly active on social media, which takes up a decent amount of time, and there are some days where I just feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. For the self-imposed expectations, I can be overly ambitious with some things, thinking they’ll blow up more than they do. This can lead to disappointment and doubt, so a big part of being a content creator, as said by a number of the bigger ones amongst us, is to do it for you. If you ever forget that, it’s really important to make sure you remember it!

What are your goals as a content creator? What would you like to achieve?

The Praetor Magic mission statement is pretty simple; we want to bring you Magic the way you want to experience it: with friends, laughter, and occasionally with bad plays! If people out there continue to find our content and enjoy it, then that’s all we need to achieve for us to be happy!

How do think Magic the Gathering has changed over the years?

Honestly, the game has always been great. I could get into the topic of the power creep that’s occurred throughout the game’s history, but I think that’s a natural evolution of the game, and Wizards has been doing a pretty great job of keeping it under control. One of the biggest changes I do think about from time to time is the kind of representation and inclusivity that we’ve seen in the past two or three years. Nonbinary characters, openly gay characters, important characters that are women or people of color… Some of these things existed in the game before, but there is just so much more diversity in the game now and it makes each world beautiful and even more relatable for everyone.

Alesha, Who Smiles at Death

Do you think Magic has had an impact on you as a person? If so, how has it?

Magic: the Gathering has truly brought me so much joy in the course of my life. If you follow me on Twitter, you may see the occasional message about my battle with depression. You may also see similar messages coming from even the biggest of our content creators, like the Professor from Tolarian Community College or Wedge from the Mana Source. It sounds sappy and cliched, but finding enjoyment and having those great gamedays with my friends does so much to raise my spirits when battling my demons, and I honestly couldn’t think of anything else that breaks through the darkness in quite the same way.

If you could be head of Wizards of the Coast for a day, what would you change about the game?

This is a tough question because the thing I am the most concerned about within the game is to ensure that it’s slowly being changed for the better. I want to say that I would push for more ways for white and red to compete with the other colors in terms of card advantage and ramp. When I said they’re improving, I am referring to cards like Smothering Tithe in white, Stolen Strategy in red, along with the other forms of “exile top card, play top card” style of “advantage” red is getting. Outside of the actual game, though, I think I would work on the way the company communicates changes with us, the players. I think the fundamental issue that many players have been having with Wizards hasn’t been the changes themselves, but moreso how these changes are portrayed and broadcast to us. For instance, the message that coverage wasn’t going seemed reasonably straightforward, but then seeing long-standing photographers were no longer working with Wizards conveyed very conflicting ideas. The biggest thing I wish I could change would be to get rid of that anxiety and nervousness players have when doing their favourite thing: Playing Magic: the Gathering!

Smothering Tithe

Ok, last question. Who do you look up to in the Magic community?

Wow, save the easy one for last, huh? I’m kidding, this question is tough. There are so many content creators, personalities, and players in the game, I don’t think I could make a big enough list without it being just PAGES long. I could name so many people in this spot, but I do want to take a moment to recognize a number of the folks I interact with in the hobby. Magic has tons of great female players, podcasters, and members of coverage, and there are so many amazing women doing so many more amazing things in our community. I don’t think we always recognize them enough for what they do. A few of the women I look up to the most in the community are the cosplayers Olivia Gobert-Hicks and Ashlen Rose for their amazing cosplays, and Michelle Rapp for her passion for diversity, Vorthos knowledge, and genuinely kind personality. Like I said, I can’t name every woman in Magic that I look up to, so I’d love to hear which women your readers look up to!

That’s a very good question, maybe they could write their answers in the comments below. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Seth. If you want to indulge in some of Seth’s content for yourself, you can find it over at the EDHREC and Praetor Magic YouTube pages, where he and the team put up regular content. If you have enjoyed this little insight into the world of Magic: the Gathering content creation, then make sure you don’t miss our next episode by subscribing to us here at Master of Magics. Until next time though, remember – when you play Magic, good luck and have fun!

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