Let's take a trip down memory lane, a trip that brings me back to when I was a mere ten years old. I'm at a relative's house for some holiday or another, and my older cousin Daniel is fiddling with these mesmerizing cards that seem to pull you in with their art and flair. Being younger and looking up to my cousin, I naturally wanted to learn what these cards were all about and start playing with him. He introduced me to the world of Tempest block and the set that had just come out—Urza's Saga. At first I was only interested in the art, but I soon learned how to play the game. That was the start of my lifelong love for Magic.
It took me a few years of simply collecting the cards and playing casually before I finally made my first step toward any sanctioned play, but when I finally went to my first Friday Night Magic everything changed. I may have been new to the game, but that didn't stop me from loving every second of it. I got to interact with other people who were just as passionate about Magic as I was, and that quickly become the highlight of every week. It wasn't just about playing the game; it was having fun and sharing that with other people.
As the years have gone by, some of my fondest memories and best friends have been cultivated from playing Magic, something that wouldn't be possible for a game without such creativity and passion. The best part? The more you're willing to engage, the more you're going to get out of it.
Perhaps many of you know me best because I stream Magic full-time over on twitch.tv under the name NumotTheNummy, but few of you probably know why I started streaming and why I continue to do so after six years. Magic (and most other games, to be honest) was very new to the streaming business a mere five years ago. I had watched people playing other games online, but hardly anyone was streaming Magic. When I began, it was more because I thought I could do better and improve on where others had started, but after just a few streaming sessions it became more about interacting with people than anything else—the original reason I had come to love Magic. Nowadays there are thousands of unique individuals from across the world who I interact with every time I stream. Whether they come to learn about the latest set, watch a draft, or just casually hang out, the engagement with others makes streaming something unique and wonderful. And that's part of the reason why I keep doing it. My streaming is just as much about entertainment as it is gameplay, and doing silly things or drafting crazy decks is part of keeping that engagement with viewers the best it can be.
Want to know something splendid? You can start streaming Magic and interacting with others too. My friend Gaby did an excellent piece on how you can get yourself started—potentially giving you another unique way to network with other Magic players from the comfort of home. You can find that piece here.
If you're more of an in-person type of Magic player, lucky you! There are literally thousands of Magic tournaments every week. Whether you're traveling to your local game store or flying out to a Grand Prix, Magic tournaments are not only a way to test your gaming chops but also a way to go out and interact with the community. I remember the very first time I traveled to a Grand Prix—Montreal 2011. I had no idea what to expect and was a bit in the dark as far as large tournaments were concerned. Luckily my friend Kar Yung Tom, who I barely knew at the time, was willing to show me around and help me through my very first Grand Prix. That tournament stuck with me, and though I didn't do well in the event, I learned so much about Magic in a broader scope and about myself as a person. Engaging with other people who love the same game you do can be eye-opening and fully rewarding, tying you in with the community. Because engagement and community do have so much overlap with one another, I recommend checking out Corbin Hosler's article on why the community is also great.
Back to my point on tournaments, though, these are experiences you get to share. Every time you sit across from someone to play Magic, you're creating two separate memories from just a single game. While winning or losing can leave different feelings, remember that Magic is not easy—you simply are not going to win every time. If you lose, instead of blaming luck, try to share your thought processes with your opponent. Was there a pivotal turn where you had multiple options that ultimately didn't end up in your favor? More often than not, that person is going to engage with you, and you might learn something or make a new friend. Give it a shot.
You don't have to be a fan of every competitive format to have fun experiences. There are a multitude of "casual" formats that can be rewarding in their own right. For example, every Thursday evening I get together with a group of friends to play Commander. Included in that group are people I've known since kindergarten, people I taught to play Magic many years ago when I was first starting out. These are people who I don't otherwise frequently get to see on a regular basis, as our lives have progressed and we have more responsibilities on our plate, yet we make time every week to play some good ol' Magic. It's our way of keeping in touch with one another, sharing experiences via Magic. Sure, my buddy Colin might occasionally play his Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder deck and proceed to Tendrils of Agony everyone for 40 on turn three, but hey, you take the good with the bad. Magic has helped keep us in touch even after all these years.
So what do I love about Magic? The engagements it creates with others. The sharing, the interaction; you're never alone. There might be new sets with new cards and mechanics, but at the end of the day, I'm still playing the same game and getting to interact with people (though on an entirely different scale than where I started). Magic's popularity is ever-increasing, and one of the reasons is because it is such a social game. Whether you're playing Commander with a group of friends or sitting across from someone you've never played before at Friday Night Magic, that's one of the beautiful things about Magic—it's always a game where you get to interact and engage with someone else.
Thank you for reading.