Beyond the Norm: MTG Mailbag

Ryan Normandin
October 06, 2017


Dear  Ryan, 

I’ve recently begun playing Magic more competitively, which means passing through the TSA on my way to airports. They often stop me and search through my bag, removing my deckboxes. They’re not always gentle with the cards. Any advice?

-Soon-to-be GP Champion

Dear Soon-to-be GP Champion,

This is something that most Magic players eventually experience on their way to their first GP win. You have to understand that most TSA agents have never heard of our lovely little game, so it’s best to explain. For example, the first time I went through security and was stopped, I explained that Magic is a game where you try to kill your opponent before they kill you. When they looked alarmed, I gave them an example: I had on me my Domain deck, and talked about how explosive my deck could be. I played Engineered Explosives and Ratchet Bomb in order to clear the battlefield of anything living, backed up by Murder, and then used Explosive Borders to burn my opponent to death. I also shared that I had at least two of each color of Spellbomb in my backpack as well. This didn’t calm them down, so I pointed out that the other deckbox had a bunch of draft chaff like Throwing Knives, Prying Blade, and Bladed Pinions. To this day, I’m still on the No-Fly List, which means I never have to worry about passing through TSA. I highly recommend it!


Definitely point out that your Engineered Explosives is a masterpiece! 




Dear Ryan,

There’s an opponent at my LGS who regularly plays their lands in front of their creatures. How can I let them know that they’re a bad person?

–Good Person

Dear Good Person,

Wow, what a scumbag. People who arrange their cards on the battlefield in a different manner than you deserve nothing but the utmost contempt. First, go old-school: toilet paper their house, slash their tires, and dump pig blood on them at prom. If that doesn’t communicate to them that they’re a bad person, then modernize; I’ve heard that cyberbullying is all the rage these days! Try hopelessly to boost your own low self-esteem by anonymously trying to convince someone else that they should have low self-esteem. I’ve never quite understood this logic, but I assume it makes sense to someone who can come to hate another human being because he puts his cardboard in a different spot than you by around an inch or so.

Good Person's Final Form



Dear Ryan,

There’s a person at my LGS who regularly tells me that I’m a bad person because I play my lands in front of my creatures. How can I let them know that they’re a bad person?


Dear Good Person 2,

Hey, “Good Person;” instead of trying to tell them that they’re bad, have you looked in the mirror? What is it that drives you to usurp 25 years of tradition? What motivates you to further obscure the central pieces of a game that already becomes cluttered and complex? What kind of sadistic pleasure do you take from your opponent making bad attacks because they can hardly see your board? Have you heard of peer pressure? You know, when everyone else is doing the “cool thing” and wants you to do the “cool thing” too, even though it violates your character and central set of beliefs? Well you need to cave to it. It’s time to recognize that there is no core value that motivates your illogical board layout; you just like to watch the world burn.

Good Person 2 pictured above



Dear Ryan,

Hello there! My name is Judith Walker, and my son recently started playing the game that your advice column is about, Magic: the Gathering. I just had a couple questions as a concerned parent. First of all, what is it exactly that you’re gathering? Magic? What kind of Magic? Is this witchcraft? Also, is this game appropriate for my little Johnny? There are some scary pictures that our local pastor is worried could drive him to Satan. Any advice you can offer would be great! Sincerely, Judith Walker – JUDITH WALKER

Dear Judith Walker,

According to a modern invention called the “internet” (don’t check it out – if you can’t handle Magic, you’re definitely not ready for memes), witchcraft is defined as “the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells and the invocation of spirits.” Black is one of the central five colors in Magic, you have to practice to get good, and the entire game consists of casting spells. So yes, Magic is witchcraft. To answer some of your other questions: we gather once a week around 7pm on Fridays (after grabbing sandwiches at Panera Bread) in a dark, dank basement to practice our witchcraft. Four times a year, when new spells and spirits are released, we gather at midnight instead. Generally, we don’t sacrifice too many living things, though there are some among us who specialize in casting only spells that involve sacrifice. As for the scary pictures, if you’re concerned that your son is so fragile and unstable as to become a Satan-worshiper after seeing a goofy picture of a demon, I strongly recommend getting him professional help. Overall, of all the hobbies your son could fall into, Magic isn’t that bad. It’s more expensive and more addictive than most drugs, but it won’t generally kill you. Unless you play your lands in front of your creatures; I hear that’s just asking for a tire-slashing.

 Actual Photo from Friday Night Magic




Do you have questions for Ryan? Tweet them to him @RyanNormandin to have them included in his next advice column!

Ryan is a grinder from Boston with SCG & GP Top 8’s and a PT Day 2. His fragile self-esteem is built on approval from others, so be sure to tell him what you think of his articles on Twitter @RyanNormandin.

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