For clarity on the title, you'll have to watch the videos below. My hands are tied on this one.
Last weekend, I was supposed to go to a Modern PPTQ, and I didn't.
Broadly speaking, it is strange to feel the need to take a break from your hobby. On the other hand, any game with variance present has the potential to punish those who choose to invest emotionally in the outcome.
The previous iteration of this column, where I only played Friday Night Magic and played them every week, playing a different deck in each one, was a miserable grind. I think that was clear from the articles themselves, but it bears repeating all the same. It can be hard to pull back the lens on yourself and figure out if you're having a good time playing Magic; when you set a goal for yourself, ie., "win a PPTQ this season," you resist doing anything that runs in opposition to that goal, like skipping a PPTQ.
Trying to make life and its decisions that simple is a well-documented route to failure. It's true, you can't always do what feels good—as much as I'd love to lease a sports car or buy a jetski, those aren't very smart long-term decisions—but skipping a PPTQ because you're just not feeling it is a concession to self-care that should be an obvious enough decision to snap off.
52 FNMs was never about Friday Night Magic, or me, or anything other than the experience of Magic at a local level. I always worried LGS Magic was too subjective, but as it turns out, there are a lot of players who experience Magic almost exclusively at the LGS level and don't see their experience represented or even acknowledged in any articles anywhere. PPTQs are where the local experience and aspirations of playing on a bigger stage intersect, but traveling to them alone can get pretty lonely.
The cadre of players I came up with during the original 52 FNMs are either out of Magic, out of Syracuse, or both. Kevin, the kid I could never beat to save my life, lives in California and streams Magic fairly regularly. Adam and Zach have pretty much fully abandoned Magic in lieu of powerlifting. Bret lives in New Jersey now. Aaron lives in Pennsylvania. I also confess to playing less locally; I get my weekly Magic fix in through lunchtime Magic with work friends, so between that and a ton of my friends moving away, there's not much reason for me to go to weekly events anymore. I say all of this because traveling to an event by yourself is really lonely.
Being alone at a Grand Prix and being alone at an LGS you've never been seem the same, but they're distinctly different; every LGS has its regulars and its cliques, and when you're the only one in a ~25-person tournament who doesn't know anybody else, your status as an outsider is exacerbated. Meeting new people isn't out of the question at all, but for me, putting myself out there is scary and exhausting, and doing it week after week takes its toll.
To be clear: I'm not looking for any sympathy here. On the contrary; at the risk of pulling a muscle in my shoulder patting myself on the back, I'll posit that it's a mark of maturity that I'm both able to admit that stuff about myself and mindful enough of my own self-preservation to take a week off from it. This weekend I'll bounce back, I'm looking forward to going to Rochester and hanging out with a bunch of people I don't usually get to see, but for this week, I fell back on ol' faithful.
Hour of Devastation Limited rules. Limited formats in recent years seem to be defined by which fundamental truth about Limited the format's designers choose to falsify; Hour of Devastation Limited rejects the accepted wisdom about playing three or more colors. Basically, you get to do whatever you want and cards that cost a bajillion mana are not just playable, but far, far better than normal. I was happy with the deck and how it turned out, and I urge you to check it out.
See you next week.