This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series For Fun's Sake

 By JT Kamp

JTProfilePic

When I first pitched my idea for an article series to the staff here at CommanderCast, I was immediately met with apprehension and worry. The main point of concern was that “fun” as a concept is too abstract, malleable and contentious. There are too many different factors that contribute to this topic of discussion, and it would be impossible to find a suitable middle ground with which to resonate with our readership.

Of course, these are the same people who dubbed me “KT Kamp” for my first published article on their Facebook cross-post.

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Pictured: CommanderCast HQ

I will admit, it’s not an easy topic to broach with anyone, especially a wide array of readers on the internet whom I have never met. People who bicker about concepts like fun are usually soap-boxing preachy Paulies who are mad due to losing too many games to infinite combos or upset that their deck is underpowered or underwhelming compared to the meta. It’s a challenge to talk about the concept without coming across as an entitled douche.

So, without further ado, allow me to come across as an entitled douche and discuss fun in comparison to other people’s fun, which we shall dub “Metafun”.

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I’m the one near the left. The bald one with the cat.

 

Metafun

A few weekends ago there was a gentleman who came to our LGS in search of a game of Commander or two. He was a relatively new arrival to the shop (or, at least, our playgroup) and acted a bit timid at first. His attitude rapidly changed when he began playing out powerful cards that nobody had answers for. At this time everyone at the table was more or less spent: few cards in hand, tapped out of resources, and not much of a board presence. The gentleman, whom we shall for the purposes of this analogy dub “Jerkface”, decided it was time to go off. However, simply announcing his intentions was not enough. He began the rigorous process of going through the motions, announcing every single action he was taking.

After about 20 seconds of this, my compatriot in arms Will took the liberty to ask Jerkface a simple question: “Are you going infinite?” Jerkface declined to comment, acting as though he didn’t hear Will and continuing on his journey of showing everyone just how awesome he was. Will repeated the question: “… Are you going infinite?” Jerkface continued to ignore Will and further plod out more cards in his grand scheme.

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Pictured: Jerkface (Artistic Rendition)

Finally, Will put his foot down and loudly said, “HEY! Are you going infinite?” Jerkface finally looked up, and with a cocked grin announced, “Yes,” to which Will responded, “Okay, then I scoop.” Everyone else at the table followed suit and they shuffled up for another game.

The point of telling this analogy is not to paint Jerkface in a negative light (even though he was kind of a jerk face) or to denounce him for going infinite. His mental state was one in which the pieces to his grand puzzle finally came together and he wanted to reveal to the whole world his scheme. The only problem is in that this scenario nobody else at the table cared (see: The Fun of the Table, my previous article; shameless self-plugging ahoy!). He was having so much fun in his own world that everyone else’s mental state took a backseat, despite the fact that he was actively being asked if they were allowed to shuffle up for a new game.

This is a perfect example of metafun. It’s a type of fun that transcends the table and transcends the others you sit down with. It’s the type of fun that is experienced by a professional football player who participates in, and wins, a pickup game with a group of eight-year-olds.

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The guy on the left is eight years old. No, really.

And, usually, it is the favored state of mind of the douchebag, also known as “That Guy”.

 

That Guy

Almost everybody who participates in this great and super cool game we know as Magic has a That Guy. That Guy can be a man or woman; while the moniker might seem to be gender specific, it transcends gender and instead encompasses general douchery. That Guy isn’t necessarily always bad, sometimes making some of the most creative and unique decks around. However, That Guy will almost always find incredibly painful ways of winning that involve zero interaction from other players aside from their accompanying chorus of groans when he inevitably, once again, “goes off”.

Full disclosure: I have a deck or two that are undeniably That Guy decks, and I understand full and well that when I play them I am taking up the mantle of That Guy. The difference here is that I know when and where to knock it off as well as how to focus on the group’s enjoyment rather than my own. I’m all for people expressing their creativity with their deckbuilding, and not all decks are created equal – but when you dominate your playgroup with overbearing squeeze tactics, you’ll likely receive as kind of a reception as Marlon Brando received on the street in The Godfather.

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These aren’t oranges, these are tangerines! NNOOOOO!

Please Don’t Hurt Me

You may be asking yourself, “How is this any different than any combo player? JT, are you telling combo players they can’t play anymore? You suck, JT, I hate your articles!” Whoah, whoah, calm down there, Brometheus. I’m not saying anything negative about combo players. What I am saying is that it is entirely possible to get so caught up in your own little world that you begin to forget that a world exists outside of your bubble. At the end of the day Magic is a social game. It is one where poor etiquette, offensive behavior and distressing bodily odors are commonly and actively frowned upon. And while you are entirely within your rights to play whatever (legal) Commander deck you wish, don’t expect to be welcomed back if you consistently irritate your playgroup.

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Seriously, I hate That Guy.

Ultimately I can sum this up with one final analogy. My local play group consists of about 16 semi-regular players. We cycle in and out from week to week, averaging around 10-12 on any given Saturday. This last Saturday one of the players finally had a bit of a meltdown. They snapped on another player (not Jerkface from earlier) for repeatedly playing infinite Time Stretch. His concerns were met with support by other players – being on the receiving end of an abrasive infinite enough times just leads to games that aren’t any fun for the others involved.

Now, there weren’t any punches thrown but it certainly caused some debate to spark up over the subject, and agreement on the subject was pretty much unanimous: if you are not enjoyed as a player, you will not be welcomed back. It has less to do with your deck and more to do with the attitude you take. Certainly, playing irritating combo decks will fast track others into becoming annoyed with you, but if you focus only on yourself and not your playgroup, prepare to form a new playgroup consisting of… only yourself.

Explore different opportunities to grow as a player. Try something against your norm and see what happens. Instead of slamming in every staple you can possibly think of, engage your mind and really focus on bringing the best out of cards that might never see play in any other format. You may ultimately find that you are happier with the end result.

Or you may just always be That Guy.

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Pictured: you (maybe)

JT Kamp is a part-time IT professional and full-time Magic doofus. He is also a writer and cohost of anime review shows Animerica and Cover by Cover at www.animericashow.com.  You can find JT (at)JTKhaos on Twitter or at khaoskontrol(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Special thanks to Judson AKA GUDoug for permission to use a panel of his webcomic “Dusters”, featured right here on CommanderCast! You can find the comic this panel came from here.

Series Navigation<< For Fun’s Sake 01 – “Fun”