Adam Fischer says he owes his career to Magic: the Gathering. The Northern California native discovered the game during Fallen Empires and played casually for years before the competitive bug bit him. By 2002, Fischer was at the top of his game: He was a regular at the Pro Tour and made Top 64 in Nice, and he came in second at Grand Prix New Jersey as a member of Team Cardshark. It was his teammate Paul Sottosanti who helped propel Fischer into a rewarding career in commerce.
"Paul's older brother, Mark, helped me get an interview at a company called Provide Commerce in San Diego," he says. "I talked about my experience playing Magic and demonstrated how the game helped me gain skills that I could apply to the work I'd be doing."
Provide was impressed with Fischer's credentials and offered him the job. He served the company for twelve years and eventually became its CFO. In 2014, another opportunity presented itself: The Sottosanti brothers were both working at a game company in California, and they encouraged Fischer to apply.
A job in gaming seems ideal for someone like Fischer, for whom playing games is a lifestyle. Though his Pro Tour aspirations have taken a backseat to his career and family, Fischer is committed to sharing the game he loves with his daughters. Once he felt they were old enough to understand the game mechanics, he'd sit each of his daughters down for a Magic lesson. His youngest, Dana, took to the game immediately.
"Dana is a hardcore gamer," Fischer explains. "She plays board games, video games, and mobile games. She's also starting to get into acting and soccer... I guess you could say that she has a strong competitive streak."
Dana and Adam
Dana had a natural affinity for Magic, but she faced a major challenge as she learned to play: She was only three years old and didn't know how to read yet. Ever the problem solver, Fischer quickly found a work-around.
"I would build her one deck at a time and help her memorize the text on all the cards," he says. "Almost like how adults learn foreign languages."
Soon enough, Dana's problem seemed to solve itself. Even with limited exposure to the game's immense catalogue of cards, her vocabulary was growing at an alarming rate. Fischer says that Dana had a good understanding of basic arithmetic at three, but after a year of attacking and blocking with creatures, her math skills had improved as well. "Magic has been very educational!" Fischer says.
As Dana learned to read and familiarized herself with the rules, Fischer has been able to build more and varied types of decks for her. Her favorite deck in Standard is currently G/B Elves, but she's been learning to play a U/G ramp deck featuring her favorite Planeswalker, Kiora. Dana tells her father which cards she'd like to try or what sort of strategy she'd like to employ and he helps her flesh out and tune her decks. He admits that he hasn't taught her how to sideboard yet – "I want to keep the game simplistic and easy to follow for now," he says – but he looks forward to providing Dana with new challenges.
Last year, Fischer decided that his daughter was ready to compete in her first event, so he brought her to Grand Prix San Diego in August. They played together in a 2-Headed Giant side event; Dana still wasn't able to read all the cards in her Sealed pool at that point, so Adam guided her through their matches. Fischer says he was in awe of the kindness of the community: Many players they encountered over the weekend donated their spare commons to Dana and went out of their way to make her feel welcome at the event. The Fischers play together at home almost exclusively, but the two may soon become regulars at their local game store, as Dana has expressed interest in competing in Friday Night Magic.
After two months of practice, the Fischers journeyed to Los Angeles this weekend to compete in another 2-Headed Giant side event together. Dana was much more capable of playing without her father's help, so he thought she'd be ready to play Standard on her own on Sunday. Fischer watched his daughter play from the sidelines, beaming with pride. "I've been waiting for this since before she was born," he says.