Magic: Audio Style

Posted in Serious Fun on November 24, 2015

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

Magic content comes in all shapes and sizes. Between articles, YouTube videos, and streaming content, you can get your Magic fix using pretty much any medium you want. In my life, articles and podcasts are how I consume Magic. I spend most of my day in front of a computer, so it is fairly easy for me to slip on a pair of headphones and listen to any one of hundreds of Magic podcasts.

I thought I would share some of the podcasts I enjoy. I initially thought about creating a Top Ten Podcasts list, but personal preference colors the list far too much. If you are only interested in Magic news, you aren't going to enjoy a podcast solely about Cube. So instead, I bring you my personal favorites. These are some of the podcasts I listen to faithfully. Yes, there are many others. Yes, I spend a LOT of time with headphones on.

9. Limited Resources and Constructed Resources

Hosted by Marshall Sutcliffe and Luis Scott-Vargas, Limited Resources is the flagship of Magic podcasting. This hugely popular show focuses on a particular topic related to Limited Magic, be it Sealed or Draft. They don't wander off-topic and they aim to teach you something about the Limited format every episode. The show has been following that formula every week for a long time and succeeding for just as long. If you want to get better at your local Prerelease or your tournament Draft, Limited Resources is practically required listening.

Constructed Resources came about as a podcast that would do for Constructed play what Limited Resources does for your Limited game. Marshall and Eric Froehlich follow the same formula and are beginning to see some of the same success. Whether Eric is explaining the most recent Pro Tour decks or the fundamentals of a mana base, Constructed Resources always teaches me something.

Rogue's Gloves | Art by Cyril Van Der Haegen

Both shows also do a sign-off, and these are gold! Do not shut off the podcast until the very end!

8. The Mana Pool

Chewie, Mike, Brian, and Dirk are quickly closing in on 400 episodes and show no signs of slowing down. The podcast covers everything casual players are interested in, from Commander decks all the way to Friday Night Magic builds. The podcast is weekly, but you'll need some stamina for this one, as the guys regularly clock in at over two hours. The pacing is like sitting in a rocking chair on the deck iced tea. You don't listen to The Mana Pool so much as you immerse yourself in it.

The shows have a variety of topics, but some of my favorite recurring themes include the group deck-building sessions and discussions of recently released cards. The podcasters each have a unique perspective on the cards and always find something interesting to say about each.

The podcasts are exactly what you want your weekly casual Magic sessions to be like: a group of fun people talking about Magic.

7. The Eh Team

The Eh Team is a weekly podcast that has been around for five years. While there have been changes in hosts during that time, Scotty Mac always made it work. Whether a guest was on or the talk was about one tournament format or another, or a Commander deck, or the latest Cube Draft, Scotty Mac had enough information to keep things rolling along every week. Each other member seemed to have a strength in one area or another, so there were always two members of the team who were knowledgeable about the topic at hand.

Recently Scotty left the podcast, and his loss was felt like a sucking chest wound. Add in other life commitments for two of the other hosts, and The Eh Team was struggling to find itself again.

In spite of this, I continued to listen, as the content continued to shine. Kar Yung Tom (known as KYT) pushed the focus to the Canadian tournament scene. Jay Boosh brings hilarity and a growing understanding of the game from a design standpoint. Jeremey shows the struggle of balancing family and Magic, along with the difficulty of becoming a better tournament player when time and geography are against you. The guys are too good to stay down and I can already see them beginning a return to form.[1]

6. Drive to Work

Of all the podcasts on the list, this is the one I most expect everyone already knows about. Mark Rosewater spends his drive to work in the mornings talking into his iPhone, then shares his thoughts with all of us. The downsides to the podcast? The sound quality isn't always great. Relying on an iPhone microphone while driving on Seattle roads doesn't always produce the best quality. When Mark has a guest (aka someone who needs a ride to work), it can be difficult to hear them. There are also times when Mark is trying to remember a particular card or event and simply can't recall. He has no way to look it up while driving, so occasionally we are left wondering.

Goblin Test Pilot | Art by Svetlin Velinov

Given the content of the podcast, though, I'm ready to forgive the limitations. Rosewater has an unparalleled body of knowledge about the history and development of the game. The stories he shares and his ideas about development are things you just can't get anywhere else. There are two 30-minute podcasts each week, and they are released on Fridays like clockwork. This is content you can't get anywhere else; you should not miss it.

5. The Command Zone

When I listen to The Command Zone, I tend to find myself disagreeing with many of the things they say. The guys tend to be a little more win-driven with Commander than I prefer. They espouse deck styles and plays that I prefer to avoid. This is the sort of thing that generally drives listeners away.

Yet, I continue to listen! Jimmy Wong and Josh Lee Kwai love the format, and that comes through in every podcast. Their Commander knowledge is expansive, and I learn something every time I listen. Their topics have inspired a handful of my articles. I continue to listen because these guys are just that good.

More than anything, these guys are professionals. They sound good. The podcast is easy to follow. They move easily from one topic to the next. The editing is excellent. Many Magic podcasts aren't particularly careful about editing, but The Command Zone compares favorably to most professional podcasts. They post new episodes weekly, and are a joy to follow.

4. The Girlfriend Bracket

When Erin Campbell decided to stop her interview podcast, The Deck Tease, and start a new one, I was committed to listening. Erin has a smooth voice and took care to ensure that the podcast quality and content was always good. She could bring the best out of her guests and seemed to know the most interesting questions to ask.

The Girlfriend Bracket started a little rough. Hallie, Kate, and Kriz were new to podcasting, and it showed. The women stumbled as they tried to find their voice and niche. The podcast itself seemed to have a small identity crisis, unsure of the content. One week they appeared to want to be the podcast that deals with the trials of women in Magic, then the next week, the discussion would be Pro Tour decklists. There was no cohesion or consistency.

Somewhere along the way, though, everything clicked. They started looking at the events in Magic each week, and the podcasters found their roles as judges, competitive players, and less competitive players. They continue to address women's issues in Magic, but the group has become talented Magic podcasters who are women. They got to know each other and the banter and laughter became easy and genuine. When I listen, I feel like the fifth person in their conversation. There are several podcasts that follow the same formula but don't do it as well. The Girlfriend Bracket is always enjoyable, and is one of my favorite weekly podcasts.

3. Snack Time with Mike and Ant

This is a Vorthos podcast with Mike Linnemann and Ant Tessitore. Mike tends to focus on the visual aspect of Vorthos, while Ant's interest lies with the written word. Both write for GatheringMagic and have serious involvement in the Magic community. Mike is known by most artists in the community and has been an art director in the past. Ant writes flavor text for Wizards. These guys know their stuff.

The podcasts tend to be about 30 minutes long. They discuss a "flavor gem" to start the podcast then spend the rest of the time on the primary topic.

Rooftop Storm | Art by John Stanko

While many podcasts seem to plod forward, finding ways to stretch into an hour or more, Mike and Ant keep it quick and to the point. Thirty minutes is a great length for a podcast, since it matches my commute and keeps me engaged throughout.

Add in the occasional amazing guest and you have a great podcast I look forward to hearing. The podcast has an irregular schedule, but if you have even a passing interest in the Vorthos aspect of Magic, you'll want to give these guys a listen.

2. Commanderin'

Commanderin' is a weekly podcast that focuses exclusively on Commander. It's a relatively new podcast for me, but Phil, Sean, and Nate have found a great balance and work well together. The podcast generally runs about an hour and a half, but the guys will run short or long, depending on the topic or guest.

Many podcasts have cohosts who don't have a distinctive voice. I have listened to podcasts for weeks before finally learning whose voice is whose. Sean's English accent sets him apart, while Nate has a professional radio voice with a cadence like none I've ever heard on a Magic podcast. Phil is smooth and appears to be trying to control a three-ring circus, but in reality is just as crazy as the other two.

For the podcast to make the list, the content must be interesting to me, and these guys definitely know their stuff when it comes to Commander. What really makes this show a can't-miss podcast for me each week is the comedy. All three are funny and don't step on the gags the others are setting up. They don't sacrifice the content either. Everything flows seamlessly.

1. MTG Potpourri

My favorite podcast features Conley Woods, Adam Styborski, and Tom Gustafson. The podcast discusses Magic news of the week, with a healthy mix of wild, off-topic content. What makes this podcast so good lies with what each person brings to the cast. Conley provides the professional Magic player/developer perspective. He is known for trying unique decklists of his own making. He also has a sense of comedic timing that lets him play back and forth with the other cohosts.

Adam Styborski, as content editor for GatheringMagic, coverage reporter at numerous Magic events, and writer of the Command Tower article series, is completely immersed in the Magic community and has knowledge about most every topic. He has been cast in the role of the straight man on this cast, constantly trying—and regularly failing—to keep the cast on topic.

Tom Gustafson plays the role of new, casual player. Adam and Conley bring Tom up to date on the week's events, while Tom feigns marginal interest, often claiming that the only reason he is on the cast is to derail it with disturbing medical stories or other tangents. Tom's sense of comedy, and how he plays off his cohosts, is a big part of why this cast is so good.

The downside of the podcast is the lack of regularity, but I'll take it whenever I can get it!

If you listen to or are part of a podcast you think I might enjoy, drop me a tweet or email. I'm always looking for something new!

Bruce Richard


[1] It should also be noted that the editing is spectacular—@kerrydan is the best in the business.

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