“I love my Mahamoti Djinn.”
I don’t know the kid’s name. Let’s call him Baal because references to pagan gods are fun. I had never seen him before. I’m not sure I’ve seen him since that Friday night. The only interaction I had with Baal is one round of Magic. All I remember about him is this one statement he made: “I love my Mahamoti Djinn.” But that one sentence tells me a lot about this kid. I’ll give you a list…
1. Baal is a casual player and isn’t considered a “serious player” by anyone who’s considered a “serious player.”
Anyone who’s been around the game for long knows that there’s a caste system in Magic culture reminiscent of the traditional Hindu caste system. Some players are in a very high caste; they are the Brahmin of Magic, at least locally. These guys are the “serious players” and “netdeckers.” Most players fall somewhere below. And some players are the “untouchables”: the outcastes, the scrubs whom any good player should beat. One’s social caste is based on a player’s skill (or, rather, perceived skill).
There are certain players I believe I should beat when I sit across the table from them at FNM - players who belong in the “noob” “nub” or “scrub” (pick your favorite label - I prefer “nub”) caste. This isn’t ego talking; it is simply an observation. There are certain players I know I need to bring my “A” game against if I hope to beat them. Some players are better than others. This is true in any competition.
It’s a natural tendency to judge people by their play skill. The problem is, once a person gets labeled, it’s difficult for a player to change his status in the eyes of the community. That’s when objective observation becomes an exercise in hubris. And this hubris means that the “serious player” would never say anything like, “I love my Mahamoti Djinn.” Hell, the “serious player” probably has a dozen Mahamoti Djinns in a box in his closet. He’ll never use that card. No one uses that card! That’s why it only costs a dollar on Star City Games. But even though it’s not an expensive card…
2. Baal only owns one Mahamoti Djinn.
Baal is a Timmy. He loves the game. He loves his awesome creature. This is the kind of player who gets excited when he draws that Mahamoti Djinn, and looks down at his lands in anticipation for when he can tap for six mana and summon his favorite creature. Mahamoti Djinn fills this kid with wonder and sparks his imagination. I know, because I’m the same way.
I remember when I only owned one Akroma, Angel of Wrath. I’d get all excited when I drew her, and even more excited when I could actually cast her (or cheat her into play via Buried Alive and Vigor Mortis). This was before the days of sanctioned tournaments.
That excitement still exists at FNM. I was the guy you’d see with Arcanis the Omnipotent in play alongside a 14/11 Aeon Chronicler equipped with a Loxodon Warhammer. I was the guy who ran Teneb, the Harvester in my G/W/B Doran Rock deck because Teneb freaking rules.
That Baal only owns one Mahamoti Djinn makes it even more special to him. It also indicates…
3. Baal doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on Magic.
Often, the caste system of Magic culture isn’t based solely on a player’s ability, but (like the rest of the world) it’s based on a player’s money. One player I know - let’s call him Mushroom - has told me on two separate occasions that, when a new set comes out, he spends around $300, which gets him a playset of every card in the new set. Not bad. Mushroom can build whatever deck he wants. Considering that a set comes out every three months, Mushroom spends $1,200 a year on Magic, and that’s not counting the entrance fees for FNM, or money spent on sleeves, play mats, deck boxes, special foil cards or whatever else he wants to buy.
I’m not judging the guy. I’d do the same thing if I had the disposable income. I know I’ve spent more than I care to say on these pretty pieces of cardboard. All I’m saying is not everyone has the income or desire that Mushroom has to spend that much money on a game. They still love playing the game. Do they still belong in the “nub” caste? Must the “serious players” look upon them with disdain?
I’m guessing Baal doesn’t realize that there are players out there who have a stack of Mahamoti Djinns (which, like Serra Angel, was once a tournament-worthy card), and don’t even think about the card, much less like it. Yet Mahamoti Djinn is this kid’s favorite beatstick. And this brings me to the next bit of info…
4. Baal probably beats his friends with Mahamoti Djinn, at least occasionally.
Nubs of a feather… In the wild, Magic players are always found in groups. These smaller groups interact at FNM, then go back to their inner circle when FNM is over. Before we called ourselves “Team Wingman,” we were just a small gaggle of geeks, and we had our own world inside our inner circle. In this world, Phantom Warrior weilded multiple Swords of Fire and Ice / Light and Shadow and brought me victory time and again. Will’s Wee Dragonauts inspired fear and/or loathing. Mike the White reigned as the Rat King with his Relentless Rats/Thrumming Stone deck (aided by the power of Dark Ritual). Clayton played Mindbend on Death Grip to shut down his opponent.
Yes, that really happened. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
All Magic players begin in a little world. I had one guy - let’s call him Cap’n Doom - brag to me about his Zubera deck (yes, a Zubera deck) that he said was “unstoppable.” In his little world of Magic, I’m sure it is. His deck wasn’t legal in any format. The inevitable conclusion to this story is that Cap’n Doom and I eventually played each other in a friendly game (not that I wanted to), and I beat his Zuberas with a Standard-legal deck. He caught a glimpse of the larger world. I know this guy, so I’m sure he retreated back to his little world where the Zubera are feared and revered.
I’ll never know what happened to Baal.
That’s fine. Magic is a game, and people should take from it whatever they want. Most Magic that’s played in the world is casual kitchen table stuff. It’s a game. To all you upper-caste “serious players” who think it’s a way to boost one’s self-esteem: no matter how good you are at Magic, you’re still a loser.
I like Mahamoti Djinn. I purchased a playset of Big Blue when Xth Edition was released because the art is amazing and I think it’s a cool card. Should I be ashamed because some goofy-looking ubernerd who belongs to the upper caste of Magic culture looks down on me because of what I enjoy? Mr. “Magic-the-Gathering-Defines-my-Self-Worth-Because-I-Can’t-Get-Laid” is going to judge me?
It’s a shocker, but I think I’ll be okay.