About two weeks ago, I was playing some casual games at home with a younger “family member”. These were some quick afternoon pick-up games while we were waiting for everyone to get home and then go out for dinner.
Now, our casual games at home are Vintage format by default. Sometimes we play Pauper, but very nearly all the time games are Vintage (multiplayer). And, if you know me – I am absolutely, 100% positively, with no room for doubt, playing with replica cards. Probably a lot of them.
I have foil Loti. Custom artwork cards that a dear friend of mine did the digital rendering of before he died in Vietnam. I have craptastic printed stickers on cards. And, virtually undetectable fake power, weathered to perfection. I have laser-printed-onto-cards. All iterations of proxies you have seen or heard of, I am sure I have a few of them.
So we played a few games, switching decks around a bit, I would win one, then he would win one…fairly even. But we decided to place a friendly wager. I needed to test a different competitive deck I built, and had no one to test it against. He wanted to pick where we went for diner. So, we wagered the next game that if I win, he would play five games strait against my new competitive deck. If he won, he picked the restaurant, (which would most likely be an expensive steak dinner). I saw this as a good justification for spending money on a steak dinner I secretly wanted anyway, so I agreed.
Things had been going so well. Lots of laughs, no pressure, groovy tunes playing….we both expected that this was to be a good game. So, I swapped out my deck, telling him, I wanted to play a deck more “fair” against what he had been playing, which he was very glad to hear after losing 2 strait to my Legacy-ish elves combo deck. I grabbed my 5c Old School, slow mid-range deck and started shuffling. His Vintage G/W life gain deck could literally end up costing me a lot of money on dinner as I knew I didn’t have much direct damage and very little counter magic in the deck.
Without a protracted game report about a casual, unimportant game at my dining room table, which you don’t want to read, and I don’t want to write, I will simply cut to the chase now. I win. He had slow mana draws, and I was able to Spirit Link his only real threat. Hippies ping his hand and life away…and well, he gets upset. When he realizes he is going to have to play 5 games against a new competitive deck, and not get to pick where we go for dinner it begins to “get to him”.
When people really want to “win” versus really wanting to “play to have fun”, things change. And no matter how large or small the motivator, when people become “in it to win it”, even for a single game, fairness, and rules legality becomes a bigger matter. Suddenly, forgetting to draw a card last turn is a bigger deal now, and your competitive opponent now disagrees with you going back and drawing it. And when they are playing against moxen they don’t have, and are mana screwed at the same time, the game really begins to feel not fair to them.
And to add to the fact that they know those moxen are replicas, they say “Its not fair that you are cheating using proxies!”
Because as we all know, the speculator, big online seller marketing machine has beaten it in our heads that using replica cards (proxies, counterfeits, fakes, whatever you want to call them) is somehow breaking the rules of the game…even if not used in sanctioned play.
And this casual game at home is a great illustration as to why I think the majority of players who are against proxies, are so — because they don’t like losing.
Think about it. You know plenty of “competitive” magic players. Guys (and gals) who are “in it to win it”, even when just hanging around the LGS or at home. They have a very hard time sleeving up a big green deck, or slow flying white angel deck and playing just to have a good time, and laugh and joke with some new faces they just met. The switch in their head is analogue with “fun” on one side and “win” on the other. Unknowingly, they have clamped that switch down on the “win” side, rarely ever able to pull it away.
Now I get being very competitive if the circumstances are a big regional tourney, but a FNM? A casual game? A non-sanctioned event? Do you really have to “crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women” at a Sunday afternoon modern event at your LGS with 11 players?
I call these guys “Blaine”. Because it’s a stupid, annoying name which perfectly describes his stereotypical upper-middle class, single child upbringing where he is spoiled and accustomed to getting “participation trophies” each year on his soccer team. He hates not being in control almost as much as he hates losing. too many LGSs are blanketed with Blaines…
And if Blaine happens to lose he goes on a tear to find a scapegoat. And if the deck the winner is using against Blaine has a few cards that were not printed by Hasbro, then there’s your target.
But, we all know other players too who have the wisdom to see past “in it to win it” competitiveness, and look to the big picture – enjoying the experience of playing the game as well as the suspense of winning. But those players are a minority. I suspect that their population is growing as the player base slowly ages, but for now they remain a minority.
And, I dare bet that they don’t have a problem with people playing with replica cards. They might be divided when it comes to playing with them at sanctioned events, but if the events allowed for it (you know, it didn’t break an event rule), they would probably be fine with it. Its their wisdom which allows them to see what’s important – the game. Playing the game is what matters. Learning new card interactions and deck ideas. Laughing. Teaching a newer player something about the game. I know it sounds smug, but the mature player sees the value in these things as being greater than winning.
Finally today, I pose this question to the MTG community (since most players are male): would you say no the beautiful and astounding chest of Pamela Anderson, simply because she wasn’t born with it? I mean, she bought them, they did not come from “the factory” as you see them today. They are augmented. Fakes. Aftermarket. Stand-ins for the chest Pamela wishes she was born with. She has a “proxy” chest.
You love them, whether you admit it or not.
Here’s to joining me and saying “Pamela, thank you for proxying up an amazing front upper body. You’ve shown us that we aren’t trapped in a prison of high speculator pricing and online buyouts. We can be free! You have inspired us to augment our decks. And we are forever grateful.”