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Things I Think I'm Thinking as I Take a Job at Wizards

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When I was thirteen, I sat at a table in the cafeteria back in a corner. It was an assigned table, so I wasn’t hiding from the denizens of my junior high, but I certainly did appreciate not being in the middle of everything. It wasn’t quiet, but it was somehow secluded—at least as secluded as a table could be in a room with three hundred kids and caffeine.

Freyalise's Winds
That semi-secluded table is where I sat with my friends Brian and Matt and learned about Magic. Matt brought some Ice Age starter decks to lunch one day and offered to sell them to us for $10. I had seen Magic before—in the back of a friend’s van on the way to a soccer tournament—but had never played or paid it much attention. But when Matt gave us a quick demonstration of how the game was played and offered to hand them over right then and there, I was hooked.

Now, eighteen years later, I’m going to work for the company that makes the game that has been part of my life ever since that back table in my junior-high cafeteria.

In mid-May, I’ll be starting at Wizards of the Coast doing pretty much the job I’ve been unknowingly preparing myself for during those eighteen years, essentially taking over as editor-in-chief of DailyMTG.com. As someone who has worked in marketing, in magazines, in newspapers, in public relations, and as an editor for a million different things all the while spending about a weekend a month flying off to wherever to do Magic coverage, there probably isn’t a more perfect job on the planet for me.

So, given that bit of awesome news, this will be my last article for Gathering Magic. Cue sad music. Or cheers. Or indifferent yawns. I don’t know how you roll.

But it’s also time to reflect. Because that’s what you do in these kinds of articles, right? Or maybe you impart some advice before leaving.

The thing is, I’ve covered much of that ground before. I’ve written about Magic writing, I’ve shared stories on my growth as a player and writer over nearly twenty years, and I’ve even told the story of how I came to find myself in Magic content production. I’ve pretty much covered my own story and the range of advice in my expertise. I even Descended into Madness that one time.

But all the while, I’ve never really talked about the why. Why have I dedicated nearly two-thirds of my life to this game, both personally and professionally? Why did I take time off my day job to work a weekend job that sometimes literally took me halfway around the world?

“Dream Jobs” Don’t Just Come Along All the Time

I’ve never been a person to have a “dream job.” Any time someone asks me that question, I mutter something about being an author or novelist, which is something of a cop-out because I’ve published something almost every week somewhere since I was eighteen.

Dismiss into Dream
But the nugget of truth was in there. I want to work with words. I don’t know how I fell into it, but writing, editing, and shaping content has become an integral part of who I am. Right now, I work for a company that makes valves and control systems and other stuff I don’t really understand for major industrial processes. It’s pretty cool stuff. But the part of my job that gets me up in the morning is the writing, editing, and general wordplay. I become far more excited about a well-constructed sentence than I do for a distributed control system.

I also love Magic, obviously, but I always considered that something separate from my “real” job, even as people started paying me to write about the game. Being a Magic writer or content producer full time was kind of my I-want-to-be-an-astronaut-cowboy dream job—sounds great, but who will actually pay me a living wage to do that?

Well, it turns out someone actually will. However, these kind of jobs are few and far between, and I feel especially lucky to have landed this one. I didn’t really think about it until I was asked to interview, but everything I’ve done professionally and even personally has led to this one job—this very specific, almost pie-in-the-sky job. Those opportunities are rare, and most people don’t have them. When you do, you drop everything and move across the country. Because who knows when the next opportunity to do what you love will come around?

Magic Is Awesome

Parallax Inhibitor
Seriously, nothing else in my life has kept my attention for twenty years outside of soccer. I didn’t even really start enjoying writing till about fourteen years ago. Video games lost their luster a few years back. I guess you could say reading has been something I’ve enjoyed longer, but that would be kind of like saying I’ve enjoyed walking or eating.

But it’s incredible how long Magic has stuck with me as something I actively want to do. As many different stages of my life as I’ve gone through since I hit puberty, Magic has survived all of them.

A quick list of things that haven’t: Pogs, journaling, volleyball, cooking, video games, that weird thing I had with Risk for a few years, a juice fast that didn’t even really last a week, SolForge, and any job that I’ve had (current record: two years).

The game is complex, dynamic, deep, fun, and yet, it's somehow familiar. I don’t have to tell you that, but it’s amazing how Magic never grows old. I hope it never does (especially now that they’re paying me to do it, like, all the time).

At Some Point, You Need to Chase What Makes You Happy

Purphoros, God of the Forge
Any adult will readily tell you that adulthood is where reality finally starts biting you in the ass. You compromise once until you compromise again, and at some point, it seems that everything becomes a compromise from where you originally set out. You want that Corvette, but you realize you can only afford a Camry. That’s not a bad thing. That’s reality.

But at some point, it helps to take a look around and see if you’ve compromised yourself into a place you don’t want to be. I’m not there yet, but I could easily have seen myself there in a few years.

That means that, at some point, you need to take a risk or figure out where you want to end up and start heading that direction. For me, that’s now. And it’s kind of great.

Seriously, People, Cruel Control Is a Good Deck

So, because of the timing of my move and Pro Tour Atlanta (where I’ll still be coveraging), I won’t be able to make Grand Prix Minneapolis for one last go-round with competitive Magic, and I’m actively sad about it. I’m convinced—and I’ve convinced many others—that Cruel Control is a real deck. I’m not going to belabor a point I’ve made a million times already, but I’m just going to leave this here and give it my full and complete recommendation for Grand Prix Minneapolis.

The Ratchet Bomb could be something else, but I wanted another out to Blood Moon that I could reliably cast. Maybe Repeal is better, as you usually only need to lift the Moon for a turn to solve your problems.

At any rate, I would play this list at Grand Prix Minneapolis without hesitation and would expect, barring being paired against just Tron and Blood Moon all day, to make Day 2 with it pretty easily.

The Best Part of Magic Is the People

Coalition Victory
It took me a long time to realize something most people catch on to right away. The best part of traveling to a million Grand Prix, playing weekly at a Friday Night Magic, doing coverage Drafts, or playing at your kitchen table is the people you are able to hang out with.

This past weekend, after my final Grand Prix on the coverage team, everyone joined in for a Draft and pizza, playing into the wee hours of the morning. And there wasn’t any hesitation. People had early flights and work to do and Zs to catch, and there wasn’t any hesitation. We had spent all weekend working, and now we wanted to spend what time we could hanging out.

Now, for every show, I look forward to seeing good friends who live in completely disparate regions of the country. It’s pretty cool that every month I am able to see people from Seattle, Indiana, England, New York, Florida, Iowa, and a million other places. I’m going to be able to do less of that now, but I’m also going to be able to spend more time with some pretty cool people in Seattle. It’s a decent tradeoff.

And Thanks for All the Hits

That’s it! Thanks to everyone at Gathering Magic for tolerating me for the last year, and to Adam Styborski, who let me write about what I wanted how I wanted—and, admittedly, when I wanted. I’m a bit of a diva that way. But, hey, it paid off because now I get to edit him every week on the Mothership.

See you all at DailyMTG.com!


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