Welcome back to series 2 of Talking with Tengu, where we interview members of the Magic community and content creators to find out more about them and why they do what they do. Last time we talked to Tim aka Dijital Llama, and if you missed it you can catch up with that interview here. Today we welcome as our very special guest Kirsty McIntyre. Kirsty is a MTG judge here in the UK and is also known for her work with the #IllGoWithYou campaign. So, without further ado, let’s get to the questions.
So Kirsty, when did you start playing Magic the Gathering?
I started playing in 2013, after finding a bunch of my friend’s cards at his house and asking him about them. He taught me to play on his living room floor while we watched the Recess Movie.
What was the latest set when you started? What was the first deck you ever built? Was it a spicy brew or did you play something more conventional?
I started going to FNM just before Born of the Gods was released, so my first deck was a mash of the red and black starter decks I got from my LGS. I ended up stuffing a load of cards I liked into it, regardless of whether I liked them or not – I took a few people by surprise when I dropped a Stormbreath Dragon a few turns after a Rakdos Cackler!
What’s your favourite block/set? Did you enjoy it for the flavour, the power level, or the limited environment?
I loved Khans of Tarkir block. I’m big on dragons, so that was obviously a bonus, plus drafting it was great, it had some quality removal (Crackling Doom, anyone?) and I had a really good time in the Theros/Khans Standard environment. I made my one and only PPTQ top eight with a Mardu deck during that Standard!
What’s your favourite format? What is it about it that you enjoy so much?
If I’ve got a deck that I love, I’ll play Standard to death. Other than that, I love Two-Headed Giant – I might be the only judge in history to say that! Usually I team up with my fiancé for 2HG event and we’ve both got different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to playing, so we complement each other quite well and usually put up some decent results.
When did you decide to become a Judge? How has it affected your love of the game?
I passed my L1 test in 2016. I’d realised a while beforehand that I didn’t enjoy playing competitive Magic the same way that my friends, who were PPTQ grinders, did, but I still wanted a way to be involved in the Scottish community.
Judging plays to my strengths. I love playing Magic, but I’ve never been a grinder or someone who likes to get into the cogs of card analysis or strategy. I’ve always been much more invested in helping other people enjoy the game and discover how great the community is. I do that by writing articles and being as vocal as I can about issues, but actually being at an event and making sure people have a good time is nice because you can see directly that you’re having a positive impact on someone’s experience.
Tell me the truth: If someone calls “Judge” do you get magically summoned?
Every single judge reflexively responds to someone calling “Judge” at an event. It ranges from a twitch in the neck and shoulder to whirling around in a full 180 before we realise we’re not actually on the floor for this one!
I did almost once answer a main event judge call by mistake at GP Liverpool 2018 when someone called as I was walking past their table. I was about halfway down to tale height before I realised that I wasn’t actually on staff…
So, what’s the Scourge Divas? What can we expect if we were to tune in?
Scourge Divas is a podcast I’ve started with my friend Cayce. We spent an entire GP weekend setting the world to rights and laughing so much we couldn’t stand up, so I said “why aren’t we doing a podcast?” And now we are!
We’re both judges, but neither of us are grinders or deck technicians or strategists. What you CAN expect is community discussions, irreverent banter on what’s going on in Magic just now, judge questions and what we’re playing. Occasionally we drink a lot of wine and answer listener questions about notorious cards like Panglacial Wurm.
I guess a lot of people might know you for your work regarding #IllGoWithYou. What made you want to prompt it?
The I’ll Go With You movement started in the US, primarily as a response to the HB-2 bill passed in North Carolina. It decreed that in government buildings (such as state-operated schools) individuals could only use bathroom and changing facilities which corresponded with the sex identified on their birth certificate.
It’s grown into a widespread ally movement. I have a lot of trans and nonbinary friends and I’m acutely aware of the issues and prejudices facing them. I wanted a badge for myself originally to show my support, but a number of my fellow judges also wanted to wear them to events.
We ended up placing a bulk order with the thought of “well, we can give what’s left out to people at the event”, and they were so well-received we kept going. They’ve been at events in Europe and the US now, and some of my American friends are starting to get involved in ordering their own batches and distributing them.
How do you feel Magic has changed over the years? What the biggest change in your opinion?
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen has to be content creation. Maybe I was just looking in the wrong places, but I don’t remember there being an abundance of content like this when I started out. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to play competitively at the highest level, you’re really into the lore or you’re a social player – there’s content somewhere tailored for you. It adds another dimension to the game, and I think it’s great.
If you could be in charge of Wizards of the Coast for a single day, what would you do and why?
Reprint Stormbreath Dragon. Partly because it’s my favourite card ever, and partly because my friends keep telling me it’ll never happen and I’d love the opportunity to be smug.
Finally, who do you look up to in the MTG community?
As a content creator, you’re opening yourself up to a lot of stick when you start putting yourself out there. I’ve learned a lot from people like Erin Campbell, Emma Handy and Meghan and Maria from Good Luck High Five on how to react and deal with the sometimes unpleasant side of having an opinion in a public sphere.
Plus a shout out to the people who produce articles about the game – I feel like there’s not enough love for writers when people talk about Magic content, and you’re all doing great work.
Cheers Kirsty for coming along and answering our questions. If you want to follow Kirsty’s content for yourself you can find her on twitter @heyworstartist. If you have enjoyed this little insight into the world of Magic 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 whenever you play Magic, Good Luck and Have Fun!