On Net Decks and Feet in Mouths

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Art by Wayne Reynolds

Remember the old advice “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything?”

Every once in a while I speak without thinking. It’s been known to happen. My emotionality has been a problem many times in my past, and while I have a much better grip on things now, I still occasionally slip up and say what I’m feeling rather than thinking it through. Sometimes I think I’m being clever. Sometimes I just want to express myself. But when it happens, and I look back on what was said, I realize I was a bit of an ass.

Case in point: I uttered the following words at my friendly local gaming store during the last rotation.

“If you run a decklist from some top player on the Internet, nothing personal, but I hate you.

For a bit of background on why this is the wrong way to approach competitive gameplay in general and Magic in particular, you should be familiar with Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. Here’s an article on these guys and what they mean to the average Magic player.

When you get down to it, not everybody is going to fall entirely into a single category or type, nor is it reasonable to assume other players will play the game you play it. When it comes to Magic, I’m a bit of a Johnny/Spike. That doesn’t mean Timmy players are wrong, nor are those who go fully Spike and are just in it to win it.

Neither I nor any other person has the right to tell other people how to play their games.

Provided you’re not being a jerk, cheating, or otherwise making the game deliberately unpleasant for other people, play the game however you want to play it. Some players just want big, splashy things to happen or to pull off an impossible combo. Others are interested in building their decks in new and interesting ways just to see how they play. And still others just want the glory of victory.

All of these are fine, and none are invalid. For me or anybody else to say otherwise is just ludicrous.

It’s probably part of getting older. When I first started playing Magic almost twenty years ago, there was no Internet to speak of. Folks had to take what cards they had and build what they could. When Scrye magazine or The Duelist arrived with some decklists and advice, such articles could be cited by aspiring professionals and enthusiasts of the game. How are “net decks” any different? In hindsight and examination, I can tell you they really aren’t.

All that said, all I can do is apologize for speaking as I did and hope I didn’t outright offend anyone in doing so. The only basis by which anybody can truly come down on how you play the game is if you’re making everybody around you miserable while playing for reasons outside of normal frustrating from losing. Basically, as long as you’re obeying Wheaton’s First Law, you should be fine.

1 Comment

  1. Nice post, but thankfully the scene at Borg is pretty laid back. Saying something like this is very unlikely to offend anyone unless it was a direct attack on them.

    On the topic of the post, there’s a pretty good sampling of Timmy, Johnny and Spikes at the Borg as well. The age and experience group makes for a really wide sampling with some players building silly all-in combo decks or low price decks due to budget and/or being new to the game. Then you’ll have those guys walking in with Relentless Rats decks or nothing but homebrew weirdness that’s still pretty competitive. And you have the guys that netdeck the top deck from the last PTQ or 5K and run that.

    The whole “netdeck hate” was something I had for a long time, mostly because it’s frustrating to lose to something you feel they didn’t have an emotional or intellectual investment in. It’s not their deck! But I have actually pulled some lists from time to time lately because of a few reasons…
    1. I don’t have time to build and test my own homebrew stuff. It takes a lot of time to make a deck outside of the box that’s actually good.
    2. My deck ends up being very similar to another and they thought of an interaction I didn’t. I’m not going to run strictly worse cards on principle, I’m not that die-hard over my lists. A good example of this was when Jund was huge, I stumbled into a Jund build but wasn’t running the Leech or Broodmate Dragons (I didn’t like those cards much). Upon playing more I realized they’re just great cards and came to like them more.
    It’s easy to get mad about it, but it’s not always laziness or lack of creativity, and good for you to be a man and apologize for potentially offending someone!

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