Inside the Wizards' Stronghold

Posted in Best of Mike on March 26, 2015

By Mike McArtor

Mike first played with Ice Age and became the copy editor for in December 2011. Before DailyMTG, he was an editor on D&D's Dragon magazine for four years.

We are remembering Mike McArtor by taking a look at some of the best articles he produced while working a job he clearly loved. This is only a glimpse into Mike’s world, but as we all reflect on this loss, we wanted to highlight some of the joy he brought to us through his own words.

May 28, 2012

Dear Diary,

Today is going to be a great day!

(I work at Wizards of the Coast doing my favorite job, how could it not be? In fact, make sure to check out Mark's column today for more about this!)

Ah, yes, the welcoming sign that signals the end of my commute. Hello Wizards.

(If you've been reading this website for a while, you probably recognize this tour idea from Mark Rosewater's "80,000 Words" column. We're going to present a bit of a different take and point out a few fun behind-the-scenes things from the brand team perspective. We hope you enjoy!)

Oh hmm, anything on the free table this morning? Doesn't look like it.

(The free table is a great place to score non-English Magic cards, which I always scoop up when I see them. Although I'm still hoping to find a Poupée sinistre one of these days, I think the chances of that are pretty low.)

Where was I? Oh right, on to my desk.

Heyas Jace.


(Access inside Wizards of the Coast is regulated and most of the building is locked down. You can get to the 4th floor during normal business operating hours because that's where the front desk is, but the other two floors we occupy are completely locked. It's not just R&D that gets this level of security, obviously, because conversations about future products, as well as the actual products themselves, are not uncommon throughout the building. In the brand area, for example, we're already talking about Line!)

Good morning, Mr. Bolas.

Howdy Lorwynites.


Here we go. Hmm. I guess my neighbors aren't in yet. Doesn't look like RE (brand director for Kaijudo—I have learned a lot about that brand by sitting across from his office) or Elaine (brand director for Magic) are either. Guess I'll just settle in, then.

(Told you I liked that card.)

It's awfully quiet around here. I wonder if they had an employees-only all-hands meeting?

(As a contractor I get to enjoy a lot of the awesome benefits of working here, but not quite all. I guess missing out on most meetings is a small benefit in its own way...)

Time to get some work done while I wait for everyone to show up.

Oh! Well if Trick isn't in, maybe J is. I'll head over to Trick's desk to meet her.

(Do I really need to say who Trick is? J Kovach is's graphics person. She took over from Tom Jenkot a few months ago so he could focus on some other things... from the future! The three of us meet up at Trick's cube almost every morning to discuss what's going on that day and to address any problems we might be having or anticipating.)

Doesn't look like anyone is here...

(This is the brand-team area for Magic, D&D, and Kaijudo. The organized play team is also mixed in with us. For example, in my little cube island I'm the only brand person and am surrounded on all sides by OP. The team I'm on is under Senior Brand Manager Mark Purvis, who in turn reports to Elaine. Also on his team are Trick Jarrett (er... obviously); assistant brand managers Adam Colby, Jennifer Meyen, and Brian Trunk; and event coverage manager Greg Collins. In addition to my role as copyeditor for, I also help out Greg by putting together Decks of the Week.)

Well, my department is empty. I wonder if the others are as well? I don't see Monty or Garret, either. Guess I'd better move along!

(Monty Ashley probably doesn't need an introduction to regular readers of the website. He's in charge of doing most of the daily repeatables on, like Magic Arcana and Card of the Day. Garret Bright puts everything together and is responsible for actually posting the content.)

Let's see if anyone in the other parts of marketing are in...

(This is where our friends in PR and marketing sit. If you follow Magic on Facebook or Twitter (and if you don't, why not?) then you're interacting with them. I occasionally do a bit of copyediting for them as well. Lots to do up here on the 4th floor!)

All right, this is silly. There are two more places I want to check before I go downstairs and see if the 3rd floor is just as empty...

(This is The Bridge, one of the largest and nicest conference rooms in the building. It's where Very Important People have meetings with visitors... and where the rest of us occasionally play games and are fed cake. The cake is not a lie.)

(Like The Bridge, the Curiosity Shoppe is out in the publicly accessible parts of the building, making both of them useful for meeting visitors. This is where Trick and I were interviewed. It's also where we play in an almost-weekly D&D Next playtest game run by D&D Program Manager Chris Tulach.)

Since other marketing departments aren't here either, maybe R&D is. It could just be some 4th floor thing I wasn't aware of. Let's go see!

(R&D is on the 3rd floor; this photo is taken right where the stairs open onto it. I still get lost on this floor from time to time, but the secret to getting around in this building is to find the large oval in the center of each floor and follow it around. I learned that in my first week and now you know too! All of the mural pictures are on the oval, which is why they look slightly curved in the photos.)

Hmm... nope. Looks like R&D is out as well. There's one more place to check down here, though.

(We can't take close-ups of the Pit because they're working on neat things from the future.)

Well it's a long shot, but I figure I should check in at Wayne Manor. Alas. It too is empty.

(Trick holds a monthly meeting here in Wayne Manor for the team and our internal columnists, Mark, Zac, and Gavin. It's a chance for him to provide direct guidance for the columnists and for us all to do a little brainstorming now and then. This is also one of the opportunities Mark has to pitch Trick directly on ideas for his column, some of which Trick even green-lights. I'm sure there are even cooler meeting rooms than this one on the 3rd floor, but it's the one I'm most familiar with. And it's full of games and nothing we can't show!)

Oh, wait, I know! It must be a slideshow day! I bet everyone is down in the Rainier Room checking out... let's see... it would be... hmm, no. Too early for Line. Well, doesn't hurt to look.

(As Zac mentioned before, about nine months before a set releases there's a big gathering of people who work on and with Magic. All of Magic R&D goes, of course, because it's the first chance for everyone to see the results of their hard work. The brand team is also invited, so Trick and I have had the chance to see Magic 2013 and Return to Ravnica. If you think it's cool to be able to see a set nine months early... well, it is. I won't lie.)

What is going on here? Am I the only one who showed up today? I'll just have to text my wife and let her know what's going on. Hey wait. May 28...

Isn't that Memorial Day this year?

Oh man. I was so excited to come to work I showed up on a day we have off! Haha, oh well. Guess it's time to head home, then.

...and that's how my day went, diary. I hope I remember to stay home on the 4th of July!

(If you follow the website regularly you probably know by now which holidays we get off, since we always re-run old articles on those days. And what do many of us do with those days we get off? Play Magic, of course! I hope you've enjoyed this brand-side look at what it's like inside the walls of Wizards of the Coast. Let us know if you'd like to see more of these kinds of behind-the-scenes peeks! And if you're interested in landing a dream job within the building and seeing all these places in person, Doug Beyer wrote a great article about just that! Thanks for reading.)

Latest Best of Mike Articles


March 26, 2015

Forlorn Merchant of Melancholy by, Mike McArtor

We are remembering Mike McArtor by taking a look at some of the best articles he produced while working a job he clearly loved. This is only a glimpse into Mike’s world, but as we all ref...

Learn More


March 26, 2015

Ask Wizards—What Came First? by, Mike McArtor

We are remembering Mike McArtor by taking a look at some of the best articles he produced while working a job he clearly loved. This is only a glimpse into Mike’s world, but as we all r...

Learn More



Best of Mike Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All