This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series The Social Contractor

What does your average Magic game look like? How interested are all parties involved? Does it look something like this?


Fig. 1.1 Typical group bored by standard communication. My wife playing with puppets, my man Anthony aka The Asian Tony Stark aka Starks on two cell phones; Phil, CommanderCast’s web guy, out cold; I. aka Sinis disguised as Optimus Prime with a helmet I keep around for emergencies; and Manny holding his cards upside down.

You’d be surprised by how easy it is to convert that mass of human debris into something a little more lively, like this:

Fig. 1.2 Typical group after use of enhanced communication techniques. Be advised, this group was not screened to meet any diversity criteria; this is just what my group actually looks like. Also holy shit where did Derfington AKA The Chinaman come from?

How, you might ask? Well, it’s important to start with the building blocks of any Magic game. Good decks? A social contract? No, none of that Magic nonsense, you narrow-minded neckbeard. I’m talking about the real foundation of Magic; socialization and communication. And when years of curt, clipped communication with your draft opponents may have left you somewhat numb to the impact truly excellent communication can have on a game, it’s hard to blame you. After all, a good triumphant pelvic thrust doesn’t net Planeswalker Points. But it does earn you something more important, if less tangible; the clearly-projected communique that you’re FUCKING AWESOME, and just wrecked somebody’s shit up rightwise.

Verbal communication is one thing, but Magic players have clearly-defined sign language among themselves as well. While there’s micro-gestures we’re all familiar with (most consisting of salty faces followed by complaints of bad sealed pools and variations of annoying ways of flicking around cards in your hand, like you can’t count them once and leave it be), this article plans to focus on the oft-neglected element of macro-gestures. While some of these require a level of physical activity that may be intimidating to soem Magic players, fret not; they’re not only excellent sources of exercise, but also pretty easy once you get out of your chair. Some can even be done seated. Just take it easy at first and follow the appropriate regimen of stretching, and never EVER blame me for when you blow out your hip doing ‘The Champ’ too aggressively.

WHAT IS MACRO-COMMUNICATION?

Fig. 2.1 The most well-understood macro-communication signal as demonstrated by my man I. aka Sinis.

The “why are you attacking me” whiner vs the guy who flashes Trade Secrets at you when you declare attack phase; the thunder of turbolasers to the thrum of lightsabres; the thugs with bats vs a note left in front of your door in the night. All these are examples of macrocommunication vs microcommunication. While MtG might seem like an arena dominated my microcommunication, this only means the power of macro-communication is bolstered. When whispering sweet nothings to one another is the norm (“let me help you tap that”, etc. nuzzling optional), an explosive, full-body signal hits with the force of a Mike Tyson made of sledgehammers.

Macro-communications tell stories and express feelings in bold strokes. They augment speech and provide a sort of ‘force amplifier’. As an additional bonus, most of these gestures work across language barriers, making them doubly useful for the globetrotting MtG player. A fist bump is understood regardless of the race or creed of the bumping parties.

In this article we will be showing some of the most valuable macro-communication signals a Magic player should know. Read this, observe the diagrams, and practice them regularly. They could a life; your own, or a loved one’s.

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

Each of the following ten macro-communication signals are presented in an easy-to-digest format that should help even the slowest among you understand what they mean, how to do the gesture, and when they should be deployed.

We begin by explaining the gesture itself, along with some handy diagrams explaining how to perform the gesture. Then, we discuss the appropriate context for using them. Finally, all maneuvers are broken down using a totally awesome rating scale, because its the closest thing to a decklist I can fit into this article and a lot of Magic players seem to need a decklist-type thing to hold their attention. All scales are from one to ten since this seems pretty standard.

Physicality: How difficult is this maneuver? How ‘hard’ is it to do physically? While none of these require you to start taking steroids, it might help (just be sure to use clean needles).

Clarity: Is there much space for the gesture to be misinterpreted? A higher score means the communique is more clear.

Intensity: Lower-rated maneuvers can be used more frequently. Higher-rated ones should be savored and only deployed when it counts, both to preserve the integrity of the move and the sanity of those nearby.

THE MANEUVERS

BROFIST

The Brofist has quickly replaced the ‘slap five’, ‘high five’, or ‘subhuman animal communication slap’ as the premier way for males (mostly) to convey a general sense of camaraderie. The closed fist bump can mean dozens of things, from solidarity to condolence.

Fig. 4.1 The wide range of Brofist; on the top, we see a congratulatory bump complete with sweet action blurring (I’M THE BEST AT TAKING PHOTOS, EVER); bottom, myself and Starks execute a ‘stealth bump’ indicating a shady alliance forming under cover

Execution:

To execute a Brofist, all ones needs to do is present a closed fist to another party. If the second party presents a fist, they should both be brought forward and make central contact. Following contact, a variety of rituals exist. Be advised the ‘exploding’ Brofist is played out and if it’s still being done, stop now. If parties are familiar, a secret series fo follow-up movements are an entirely acceptable means of making sure the other party hasn’t been murdered and replaced by a shapeshifter/T-1000

Fig. 4.2 Top; OH GOD STOP YOU TURDS Bottom; Best to have a follow-up code in case OH SHIIII-

Uses:

As stated earlier, Brofists are pretty much good for anything. As a result, experts in the field agree they’ve actually become somewhat played-out, so you don’t want to be that guy who’s responsible for diluting the potency of the Brofist. But it’s also a solid tool in your macro-communication arsenal. I personally advise to sticking to celebratory Brofists for low-importance events (for example, Counterspell against Jokulhaups nobody else wanted to see).

Ratings:

Physicality: Unless you’re physically disabled or left with no hands, you can Brofist. Even those with disabilities can get a Brofist by prompt; those lacking hands can do a ‘Brofist/Bronub’. Note refusing a Brofist on either grounds makes you a fucking monster, and you deserve a 70mph Brofist in the teeth. Anyway, even really fat guys can Brofist. Extra point for needing physical contact with another person. 2/10

(Legal Note: The excuse ‘I was going for a Brofist’ after touching another person’s naughty bits rarely holds up in court)

Clarity: This is where things are muddled. It’s possible to lose the meaning of Brofists in a sea of over-use and ambiguity. For example, my man holds up his Fist for the Broing, but I was just thinking about a porno I watched last night and not really paying attention to the game. What’s he need? An alliance? Some props? Did an on-board effect I control just save his ass? Moral of the story: keep your porn and MtG separate. 3/10

Intensity: The intensity of the Brofist can be modified by various post-contact rituals, but seriously, who gives a shit? You’re tapping fists. 1/10 normally, maximum 3/10 with some elaborate-ass rituals.

BITCH PLEASE

Regardless of what they taught you in your pussy liberal arts education, not every idea is a good one, and some people should have their mouths stapled shut. While that was mostly just my own angry venting, sometimes, people say stuff you really shouldn’t risk exposing your brain to. You can cut their gibbering off at the pass with a time-tested maneuver known as the “Bitch Please.” It’s quick, efficient, and super-hurtful; the intellectual equivalent of having Jason Bourne beat you up.

Execution:

After identifying the direction the offensive WHATEVER is coming from, lean away from it, but not too heavily. you can’t give the impression you care too much. Then, with the hand and arm on the OPPOSITE side, rise it and place your hand in a ‘stop’ gesture. Accompany with a super-cynical facial gesture. Actually saying “Bitch please” can help, but sometimes, silence is golden.

Fig. 5.1 Step 1: Lean. Man my wife is annoying sometimes (I hope she doesn’t read this) / Step 2: Stop. Note the use of the opposite side’s hand. This is to keep from getting closer; extending the nearby hand CLOSER to the source of idiocy undermines the move’s clarity. Treat their notions like intellectual scabies. Don’t get too close. / Step 3: Bring it home with a facial expression. Verbal accompaniment optional.

An optional accentuation to this maneuver is to use the free hand to do something “more important” than acknowledge your target. This usually also involves refusing to make eye contact, which can underline how little you think of what you’re dismissing.

Uses:

The “Bitch Please” shows utter disdain for whatever somebody is doing. In a Magic context, it’s also an effective way of saying “Why did you even bother?”. For example, when an opponent smugly declares to be attacking for ‘for lethal’, make them add it up. Then, with a “bitch please” to their final number, flick your Fog out onto the table, then next turn kill their ass. Similarly, when somebody triumphantly counters a key spell, a “Bitch Please” to their counter on the stack nicely augments your own counterspell to protect the original card.

Ratings:

Physicality: Come on now… 1/10

Clarity: Even old people can tell what this means. Your face helps a lot. Either way, it’s incredibly dismissive and doesn’t look like many other gestures. Unless you’re playing Magic against a guy in a moving car coming towards you, you’re golden. 10/10

Intensity: There is no physically intense element to this maneuver, but it can cut deep into the fragile psyche of soft, insecure people or those who think what they’re doing is truly brilliant. This gesture is strictly for haters. 9/10

COME AT ME

The phrase “Come At Me Bro” has been catching on like wildfire recently, and for good reason; most users have been raised in a society where the notion of violent physical contact as a consequence for actions is so rare, that you can invite it and be considered legally in the right should somebody take your invitation. Is this twisted justice? Maybe, but it’s not the focus today. Besides, professors get paid to ask these questions in pretentious books, so I let the experts handle it during the four months a year they aren’t striking or on vacation. But it does say a lot in one efficient gesture.

Execution:

The simplicity of “Come At Me” belies it’s layered message. All one does is raise both hands up, above shoulder height, spread wide. A sloppy ‘v’ formation is what you’re going for. How the hands get there is kind of unimportant, but doing it slowly in somebody’s face does ratchet up the intensity a bit.

Fig. 6.1 Top: Appropriate hand placement. Note Manny is subtly getting his lean on, enhancing the move; the mark of an expert / Middle: Whack-ass placement. / Bottom: Performed by a true master

The Come At Me also combos nicely into the throwback “B-Boy Stance”. While virtually no MtG players have the physical coordination or rhythmic ability to breakdance, the gesture is timeless and can be used as the macro-communication equivalent of a flashbang on unaware targets.

Fig 6.2 Cross arms from the sloppy V and lean away to assume B-Boy Stance. Hold until target is shook off the realness.

Uses:

If an opponent has the nerve to threaten your unassailable position, you’re been ballin’ all game, or an opponent and you are neck and neck, up the ante. Throw this gesture out and shit just got certifiably real. This is a direct challenge, implying so much: “Get on my level”, “You aren’t up to this”, etc. Be warned that if you’re not ready to repel an onslaught, stay away from this gesture. However, throwing one at an opponent and getting away with it indicates either that opponent has nerves of steel, or is a straight-up pussy. You have to make a judgement call on which it is.

Ratings:

Physicality: This isn’t too difficult to do, but to maximize impact, standing up abruptly helps. If you’re old or huge, that can be complex. Just be sure you don’t whack anybody in the face or take out a chandelier and you’re good (taking out the chandelier might produce a cascade of sparks, which could actually be kind of rad). 3/10

Clarity: As far as macro-gestures go, this one is pretty ambiguous. “Where’s my wallet!?” “Oh no, I shit myself!” “Great work!” See? They all work as captions to a Come At Me. So, you need to be confrontational with it; make eye contact and so on. You might even want to yell “COME AT ME BROOOOOO” to underline the point. 4/10

Intensity: It’s a direct, confrontational maneuver. It can’t be ignored. Use it only when you’re confident you can emerge the victor. 5/10

THE CHAMP

It seems like there’s a lot of cross-over between pro wrestling fans and MtG fans, so this one is well known by people who frequent both spheres. I personally think Magic benefits from something of a pro-wrestling atmosphere anyway; lots of sweaty men in little clothing, tons of physical contact, yelling at ea-wait, sorry (note: take your own advice from the ‘Brofist: Clarity’ section). But this is a definite power gesture that speaks even to those outside wrestling fandom, and has seen so little play in MtG circles that it’s even more powerful than in other settings.


Fig 7.1 Top: Aaron Rodgers helped “The Champ” blow up outside pro wrestling; / Bottom: imported to MtG setting by Imshan

Execution:

Place your hands roughly at waist level, as though holding an oversized (championship) belt at the top and bottom. Then move your hands laterally across the imaginary belt. Repeat a few times for good measure. You can vary the level of force to make the gesture more powerful and heavy-hitting, as required.

Fig 7.2 Step 1+2, repeat as needed

Also, feel free to combine with the Crotch Thrust (detailed later) for what is arguably the nuclear option of Macro-Communication, which should only be deployed in situations where your opponent has been totally fucking ruined by your hand.

Uses:

“The Champ” implies that you need a championship belt related to whatever activity you’re currently doing awesome at. While this makes it great for application in everyday life (as a paramedic, I can frequently be seen doing it at the side of recovering patients), the MtG sphere gives you lots of opportunities for it. Blew an opponent out with a combat trick? “The Champ”. Mind-trick your opponent into something stupid? “Where’s my belt son?” Came from behind-pause-and destroyed all comers? “We have a new champion”. The Champ is for moments of triumph, especially when you’ve overcome adversity.

Ratings:

Physicality: While this requires some movement, it’s still petty easy. Scaling up the intensity can lead to rotator cuff injury, so be sure you’re stretched properly before ripping one of these FOR REALZ. 4/10

Clarity: If the audience knows what a championship belt from any sport is (wrestling, boxing, MMA, carjacking), they will know what you mean. Some people might not, and may think you’re all like “oh no I’m so hungry in my belly” or something. It’s usually clear, but yelling “I AM THE CHAMP” or “X-time [repeat X-times, where X is the number of times you’ve achieved whatever you’re doing the gesture for] Andy’s House EDH Champion!” helps get the message across. 8/10

Intensity: If this doesn’t feel intense, you’re doing it wrong. 7/10

CROTCH THRUST

I don’t know how much explanation this one can possibly merit. You’re throwing your crotch at somebody. If you can get them with their head at your crotch level, the effectiveness practically doubles. The Crotch Thrust is outrageous, over-the-top, and awesome. Unlike most of the other maneuvers, though, you need some physical space, and you HAVE to stand up to do it or you just look even MORE ridiculous than you already will.

And that’s the key with the Crotch Thrust; doing it makes you look like a moron. But doing it at the right time is also so awesome it totally outweighs the how bad it looks. Kind of like listening to whatever crappy music you listen to as a guilty pleasure and pretending you’re doing it ‘ironically’, you need to only use the crotch thrust at the right time.

Execution:

Move your pelvis back as far as your body allows. Feet are to remain stationary. Arms forward. This should sort of cavitate your body, as though you’re wrapping around an imaginary object. Then, with some degree of violence, throat the groin outward and peel your arms back–HARD. Feet shouldn’t move. At the end, your groin should be out there in the wind (maybe you have pants on?), back arched.

Fig. 8.1 Left: Pre-thrust. Note arm placement. Doing a Crotch Thrust without proper arm movement is like a sandwich without Miracle Whip; it’s bullshit. / Right: BAM. Repeat as needed.

Uses:

Reserve the Crotch Thrust for only your most celebratory moments. While Thrusts don’t necessarily have to demean anybody in particular, doing them with that intent is certainly always on the table. Your thrusts should be directed at the target of your disdain–the player you just beat in a close game, for example. Similarly, surviving an archenemy moment and imposing your will on the entire multiplayer table, fighting tooth and nail (note: using the card Tooth and Nail to win precludes you from using Crotch Thrusts because that card is BOOOOOOORING), and coming out the victor can certainly warrant some Crotch Thrusts–ideally, one at each opponent, pivoting to adjust your targeting as needed.

However, in general, any truly hype play warrants a Crotch Thrust. Winning an extended counter war with multiple-player involvement? Crotch thrust! Attacking with a giant horde of tokens and then casting Decree of Savagery? Crotch Thrust FO SHO. These don’t have to be done to put anybody down, but just to say: “Hey guys, I’m up in here. I’m rocking out. Deal with it!”

Fig 8.2 Humiliation thrust. The Crotch is clearly aiming at the victim’s head. Note the second party joining in

Ratings:

Physicality: A well done crotch thrust takes gusto. Don’t blame me if your spine folds. 10/10

Clarity: These can seem a little ambiguous, so feel free to yell while doing one. As a matter of decency (which seems contradictory), making any kind of ‘rape’ reference while doing this makes you a pile of human compost, and I hope somebody puts a steak knife in the path of your Crotch mid-Thrust. 8/10

Intensity: There’s no doubt when it goes down, a crotch thrust indicates hypeness of the highest order, and even amplifies the excitement. 9/10

CONCLUSIONS

Armed with these five macro-gestures, you are now prepared to venture back into the world of Casual Magic with an enhanced skill set. Fake degrees are in the fake mail for everyone who read down to this point. Communication is the key element to great games of Magic in casual multiplayer groups, because that’s what we’re all here for. But like our decks, sometimes our communications get stale and uninteresting. These profoundly stupid, grand gestures can mix things up a bit and inject some much-needed liveliness into games. Just remember if your games are getting sour, you can throw one of two of these out to spice things up; if you’re on the receiving end, you now have the ability to counteract with your own gesture.

Fig 9.1: The hunter becomes the hunted

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