What times these are. It has been a while since I put pen to paper, but this article is about clarifying, as opposed to excusing, why. At the time of writing, my interest in Magic has not been lower since before I started playing the game. I don’t dislike the game, and I’m not ‘quitting’, but I’m living my life not thinking about or wanting to proactively do much Magic-related at the moment. What motivated me enough to write this article is seeing people share similar thoughts online. Knowing others are going through similar sentiments has helped me come to terms with the way I’m feeling.
For me there are two main factors at play, it’s a bit of a double-whammy combining the changes to Organised Play (OP) over the last couple of years and the way COVID has made us adjust our lives. I’ll discuss how both impacted me separately before bringing them together for a conclusion.
Over the last couple of years, there have been significant changes to OP. Some examples include the introduction of the Magic Pro League, the removal of Pro Points, and changes to qualification routes for players.
I assessed the sum total of these changes to be detrimental to my opportunities to succeed at the highest level of the game, especially considering how much time and effort I was willing to put into competitive Magic. However, this didn’t kill my desire to play Magic or cause me to consider ‘quitting’. I continued to have a presence at the events in which I wanted to participate, and write articles about the things that interested me in Magic. I was still confident that I could enjoy the game, it would perhaps just have to be in different ways. In accepting that I was going to chase the competitive dream less fiercely, I started to play a lot more casual Magic, and more frequently bookmark time for other things in my life. The changes to OP definitely caused a bit of a ‘step back’, but eventually ended up contributing only a little to my declining interest in the game.
This pandemic has essentially cut down on my opportunities to actually play Magic in person. I’ll now examine what this has meant for my competitive and casual endeavours respectively.
Players’ Tour 2, for which I had planned a trip to Copenhagen with friends, was cancelled and replaced by an MTGA event. As I said above, I would embrace what opportunities came by, but my mindset had difficulty embracing this online event as such.
I am personally much less interested in the digital game than playing with real cardboard. This isn’t a slight on the digital game itself, or those who do enjoy it – if you do, please continue to. Simply put, the social aspect of even competitive Magic is important to my enjoyment, and it’s just not the same for me via online apps. My main drivers for actually playing any Magic Online (MTGO) or MTGA are because they are convenient and practical. I almost exclusively used them to practice drafts or a particular constructed deck with the intention of either writing an article about my findings or preparing for a high-level competitive (live) event. A means to an end.
So you can probably see where this one is going. I played in the Players’ Tour, but I didn’t prepare or apply myself to the extent I normally would. There was a minimum prize and the whole time leading up to and during the event I felt like I was just showing up to collect it. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t do well at all in terms of results. The individual games were mostly quite fun themselves, but mistakes were made. In addition, there were a lot of areas of poor performance specific to the digital game. They could have been addressed by proper training and preparation, but I didn’t partake in either. For example, clicking through a few combat phases without attacking; letting the auto-tapper tap my lands animated by Nissa, Who Shakes the World (because mana-efficiency is more important than having blockers for your opponent’s lethal attackers); clocking out slightly quicker than my opponent in the mirror because I’m quite a deliberate player but absolutely terrible at clicking on the right things to implement game actions. In the end, I went 1-5, and the one win was a random BYE. I’d normally be disappointed about this, but I really haven’t felt that way about it at all. It had been a foregone conclusion in my mind long before the event that I would just show up and see if luck carried me further than the minimum prize.
A lot of this is centred around meeting friends to play Commander or Cube, which we can’t quite physically do to the extent we used to under the current circumstances. I realise that the equivalent ‘gaming’ experience could be facilitated online, but I’m more aware that such a ‘gaming experience’ is actually secondary to my enjoyment of spending time with my friends. The way I see it, often when we meet, we just happen to be doing a cube draft or playing games of Commander. Those activities spark up interesting things themselves because we have all played a lot of Magic, but, for me, and maybe some of my friends, the social aspect is more important than the gaming aspect. Most of our social interactions now are virtual, and come in the form of things other than Magic such as general hangouts, quizzes or even watching a film or playing other games together. Maybe the way I include casual Magic in my life has forced the hand on this one.
I have contemplated how I would feel if OP was maybe a bit more like it was before, or at least something with which I wanted to engage more. I picture a possible world where I don’t take the steps back from competitive Magic as described above, but COVID still happens. In this world, I’m occupying myself with endless MTGO/MTGA events and Magic is very much part of me still. Thisis why I think both factors are important, even though the effects of COVID are the main driver for the decline in interest. The OP changes give me less incentive to stay up-to-date and interested in Magic, COVID means I can’t see my friends – and I don’t really play Magic when I don’t see my friends.
I’m mindful that once we are out of this pandemic and we can interact socially again, I’ll probably be really keen to meet up with friends again to play Cube or Commander. I might even dust off some old cards to try and win a prize in an event because organisers will be able to run those again. However, at the moment, Magic is very much out of sight and out of mind for me. I will pretty much be on a bit of a hiatus in terms of any content as my both my drive to dial into the current world of Magic, and my games played (which fuel the content) are non-existent.
It has been difficult, yet somewhat lifting to get my thoughts out there. As, I said before, reading the words of others on this subject, and understanding I’m not alone in this made me feel a little better about things. I hope this article has been helpful.