Define This: Magic Players
In this final chapter of Define This, we are going into one last notion of MTG vocabulary. While some terms are easy to define and have a sturdy theoretical background, others are simply not that easy to describe. After going through CA, tempo, tiebreakers, and the metagame, let's work on the lingo that characterizes you, the player.
The Purpose of Player Categorization
Magic: The Gathering is infinitely complex. That's what makes it so attractive and addictive. No matter what you're looking for, you can find it in the game. You would be mistaken if you were taking this information for granted. Wizards of the Coast have some amazing crew in their Research and Development (R&D) department, but they also need to have something to work with to do a great job.
That's where player categorization comes in. We are all individuals, but as it turns out R&D has a system that allows them to roughly sort the kinds of player that enjoy the game at its fullest (if that's even possible). Some like playing, some like winning. Some like crushing their opponent under a huge Wurm, some like to counter everything their opponents do. So, in order to please everyone every time a set comes out, three typical player-types are analyzed and hopefully, the new set pleases all three the best that it can. I am unsure how much of this method is still in use in Wizards' current R&D, but these three archetypes have stood the test of time and have even already come into Magic players' vocabulary.
Spike was the first player type to have been noticed by the R&D team. Spike epitomizes the tournament grinder. Spike wants to win – that roughly sums it up. Spike enjoys winning more than playing and doesn't really care about the hows and whys as long as he wins as many games as possible. He will play whatever deck is the best, whichever cards are good enough to be played. To some extent, Spike is pretty easy to please from an R&D perspective: Just reprint Ancestral Recall and he'll be happy to play it!
Timmy is the child in all of us. The child that still loves dinosaurs. We're talking big stuff here, not necessarily in terms of creature size, but big in all sorts of things, such as Apex of Power. Win or lose, Timmy wants to have fun and do fun things. If he loses a game after dominating and losing to a life-changing top deck, Timmy's fine with that. Timmy is also a sociable player who enjoys the Gathering and wants to share his fun because no one plays MTG alone.
Johnny is the mad scientist in us. Johnny wants to create something new and something good. For him, playing is like painting for a painter – it's a way to express himself, to differentiate himself from the lot. But that's not to say that Johnny will be wholly dedicated to just doing nonsense. He enjoys the challenge of searching for a viable way to do his nonsense.
In the end, none of us are Spike, Johnny, or Timmy. Those are simply representations of archetypes; they are not actually human. We are the sum of all three – to some extent.
- Spike/Johnny: This guy wants to win, but only on his own terms. He will never play a Tier 1 deck and will only be satisfied with a string of wins. He might not get style points in Magic, but he sure fights for their existence!
- Spike/Timmy: This guy seems balanced between his desire to win and his willingness to enjoy the game. He will usually choose an already existing deck before playing at an event, and it will most definitely be a fun one that does big stuff.
- Timmy/Johnny: Well, here we are with the crazy guy who doesn't worry much about winning. He just keeps trying to extend the limits of glory with crazy and impressive brews. But hey, sometimes he wins a game or two! Or he comes up with a good deck idea. It's not like he's flat out of the competition.
- All Three: We're all mostly somewhere here, so don't worry, and you guys tell me: Who are you? Timmy, Spike, Johnny? In what proportions? I'm more of a Johnny I guess, though I'm probably 40% Johnny, 35% Spike, and 25% Timmy. I feel pretty balanced right now. But then again, it's hard to know for sure and these things can change with time. So please tell me what you are in the comments below. I'd love to compare our sheets!
End of the Road
Define This is now at its end. I sincerely want to thank you all for going so far with me, but I have reached a point wherein I sincerely cannot think of any other Magic lingo that I want to or can develop. This is not a bad thing; quite the opposite actually. This means something new will be coming to you next month and we all know that "new is always better"!
Some of you have already suggested a series of themes based on my previous articles, and I thank you for that. Your ideas are great and very challenging. I will probably get around to writing about life management (your HP, not your actual life) and other little in-game things that people should aspire to master to truly improve at the game. I'm still not quite sure how to go about it all, but I'm sure, thanks to you guys, it's going to be great!
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading Define This because I loved writing them and I believe that some of my best articles are in this series.
So that's that. I really hope that this article has been of some help to you and that Define This will be a useful tool for you to explain anything to your new-to-MTG friends.
As usual, I can only encourage you to let me know your lingo questions. No question is sillier than not asking, then later saying something stupid. So please ask away, comment, ask on Facebook or Twitter, and feel free to let me know where (if) I was wrong!
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