Today, we celebrate the best community members of 2015. I wrote a nomination article about a month ago, and in came the submissions and serious pushes by a few podcasts and oodles of Tweets.
To kick off the final eight people, I think we need an introduction from the best community-minded person I know and Gathering Magic’s own Heather Lafferty, the @RevisedAngel herself:
These are your Community Top 8 of 2015:
- Matthew Beverly
- Nick Coss
- Eric Freytag
- Josh Krause
- Christian Lobenstein
- The Professor and the Tolarian Community College
- Josh Putz
- Ben Titmarch
Matty, Rich, Kevy, Image via KevyMetall
Heavy Meta, in case you’ve missed it, is more than just a Canadian podcast. It’s this gang of Magic players that enjoys cubing, eating well at tournaments, and creating moments at each Grand Prix, outside the venue, that of course you missed. Attend one of their house cubing events, and you’ll feel FOMO something fierce as you sit at home seeing events unfold.
Matt—or rather Matty, as the community calls him—really is one of the masterminds behind this hidden community of Magic players, and from his nomination process, I learned, “He didn’t even mean to.” His podcast and community-building efforts really result in brotherhood as the end result, not profits. He has literally been able to “spawn off and create side communities.” From the Heavy Meta crew, to Heavy Meta SVU, to the HMSVU hash-tagged housing efforts, to validate a Canadian community and then spread rapidly with interesting content with energetic cohosts, he is the glue holding everything together. He’s now at the point at which a community-building effort can simply begin by retweeting a good idea. While his Twitter follower count may not seem substantial for his effort, he isn’t looking for fame. That’s not the point, and that’s why he needs to be recognized.
Nick Coss saved Eternal Weekend.
No one had more nominations than Nick Coss. I was actually pretty shocked how many people took time out of their days to write very personal stories and insight into why he is, by far, someone who needs to be recognized.
Prior to 2013, the Vintage Championship tournament was sponsored by Wizards of the Coast and was, for many years and many people, the highlight of Magic at GenCon. One of the prizes for the Vintage Champs tourney is an alternate-artwork a Power 9 card, the original artwork, inside a massive card frame, that Nick felt needed to be part of the tournament when Wizards stopped hosting the tourney.
Sure, some could say it’s a profitable venture, and as a businessman, a void existed, and he just came into relevance by filling that need. The problem with that logic is that Vintage tournaments, which he hosts beyond the Vintage championship, make pennies on the dollar. He does this because the man simply likes Vintage, and by God, if he can do something that people want, he’ll do it, whatever the cost. He works with people and cares about his community so much that his broad shoulders saved a format, despite the high upfront cost.
If the Magic Hall of Fame ever inducts community members—or has a separate category—Nick will be on there as a footnote for doing the right thing for Eternal formats when no one else would step up. He wasn’t in the best place or even at the right time, but it didn’t matter. It was important, and his conviction did the rest.
For Magic players who weren’t around in the 1990s, trading was utterly awful. Price guides were slow to update, no one could ever decide on a “best” valuation system, and condition affecting pricing made utterly no sense. The Internet helped a lot, but balancing trades, making them objectively equal, did not exist until Eric showed up. From his nomination, “Eric changed the face of trading forever with PucaTrade. Having a one-sided marketplace has changed how we look at the basic method of trading MTG cards.”
I’m a Vorthos, so keeping up with constant finance shifts is an utter burden when I just drop into a shop for a quick Modern game. Via PucaTrade, I can now say, “This card is literally worth” X points, which equates to Y cards. Highly wanted cards can now go directly from my binder, in a shop, to an agreed upon trade in seconds. He has a great business idea, but that’s not why they exist. You can join for free and continue to have a free account . . . forever. That’s absurd.
They exist because trading isn’t accessible to everyone. If you live in rural Montana, your trading prospects are low. With PucaTrade, you can now be a full part of the finance community with a postage stamp. That’s empowering and revolutionary, and accessibility will always be a community-driven effort.
Christian Lobenstein — @MagicBlogsDe
If Matty is the end of the bell curve of a built goliath with Canadian Magic now fully recognized, Christian is the new German version of community-builder. Kai Budde is the top-down version of a pro pushing to build a community, using his recognition as successful Magic player. Christian is doing so from the bottom up. Christian has been hosting a German Magic blog site for several years, and he proclaims in the About Me section with simple words, “Willst du auch bloggen?”
"Do you also want to blog?"
It’s a simple how-to section, but it also means, by virtue, if you want to blog, it’s super-easy, and join me here in doing so. Anyone can make content on a weekly—or even daily—basis, but to encourage others to do so, to make it easy, and to guide you along the way . . . That’s why he’s in our Top 8.
I’ve seen people attempt to make Magic art more visible before. Hell, I’d argue I try week in and week out. I have yet to see someone’s work to organize a loosely based group of people into a supportive network of collectors looking for each other’s “holy grail” that got each of them into the game or that has significant special meaning. I didn’t nominate Josh, as I omitted myself, and I’m happy a few people nominated him for me.
Josh has, over several years, formed a community of MTG art lovers to share and celebrate their artwork at OriginalMagicArt.com. One nomination said, “He has created a platform for artists to advertise their work.”
Currently, Josh is the webmaster for a website with collector galleries along with a marketplace area where artists can post their original-art lists, encouraging sales. Josh takes a zero-percent cut on all of these sales. Normally, it’s 20%–30% for a gallery to showcase artworks. He charges zero dollars and just encourages collectors to post their art for free—and then he welcomes them into forums and a Facebook group, and there are more options soon.
He’s giving art-centric Vorthos folks a place to live through their art and find like-minded people. Also, unknowingly, he has made future curators very happy because less searching will be needed to find original artworks for exhibitions. With that fact alone, he’s a top community member.
The Professor Tolarian Community College — @TolarianCollege
What really kept me current when I came back to Magic after a break, as many of us take, was Evan Erwin’s The Magic Show. I enjoyed having video content to rapidly get back into the game. I didn’t know about the Professor, but I’ve now gone down the rabbit hole and will absolutely be linking to his videos when explaining a concept, as I know the more community connections we make, the better off we’ll be. I didn’t see many strongly produced videos on getting into the game until I saw this:
That is exactly what you need to know, and frankly, it’s not obnoxiously long like many introductory videos.
What I didn’t know is stated in one nomination: “He spends all of his own money to review products objectively so the viewer doesn't get ripped off.” Normally, samples are sent with nearly everything, and I hope that, in the future, from his making Magic accessible to new players, that manufacturers and reps will send him products to review so we can objectively know more information. I know if I make anything, I’ll be sending him a copy!
I remember seeing Josh’s work pop up on Twitter about a year ago by his “Z” icon. I was really against proxies in Magic before I understood how important proxies are to making Cubes complete. Again, he works in accessibility. As Reserved List cards become a speculation pick for finance gurus—he’s making cards to look like Reserved List cards by showing throwbacks to nod and wink at the phenomenon.
I really appreciate how Josh doesn’t just choose anime pictures, Power 9 cards, or beef-cake imagery. He really is taking this to a higher level of putting historical art imagery to coincide with the card’s mechanics.
Creating clever, nostalgic throwbacks using new cards is an amazing service to the community. With over twenty years of history, the new-made-old go viral regularly on reddit, Twitter, and elsewhere. The fact that these can’t be sold and are something he creates simply for the fun and joy they inspire is admirable. In fact, as mentioned in one nomination, “He’s also the source for keeping proxies legal, within the law, and reported on eBay when someone tries to sell one.” He’s legitimately a one-man whistleblower because selling a proxy is against the point. They’re entertaining ideas to be seen, not replacements for others’ hard work.
I’ll let the nomination say everything needed:
I salute all of you; your recognition has been earned. One thing you can’t know yet, but will, is arguably the biggest prize for these eight people. That is yet to come.
- You will celebrate your win at Grand Prix Las Vegas, if you are able to attend, with an exclusive event with Magic celebrity special guests—really. Details to be announced.