The MTG Community - Top 10 Don'ts [Edward Eng - Battlemage, Level 42]

I recently read a pretty decent article by that aims to help new and returning players get into the game. It's a good piece because ultimately it's an effort to continue growing the Magic community. And without these kinds of effort, we won't have a sustainable game and it'll eventually die. Luckily, we have people like and others willing to provide insight and discussion points that should help people correctly develop as players and as human beings.

Although the article touches on some solid points, there are some areas and issues that we can focus on to further promote a healthy, growing community going forward. In an effort to be more specific about where we can improve our behavior as we play the game we love, I'll present a top 10 list of things not to do when playing Magic. And more importantly, I'll provide improvement suggestions for each point respectively.

1. Don't Call Someone a Scrub

The term 'scrub' has become pretty ubiquitous throughout the Magic community and it's disgusting. Step back and think about what you're actually doing by calling him or her a 'scrub'. You're actually degrading another human being. Stop. And this even applies to calling yourself a 'scrub'. How will you ever get better at the game like that? Respect yourself and others.

Some players have more experience than others. Some players might be better than others because they've made more mistakes and learned to improve from them. So if you play against someone that may have made some mistakes, don't refer to him or her as a 'scrub' and laugh when you're talking to your friends. Think about it. How did you become a better player? You must have made some mistakes along the way and learned from them. Would you have appreciated knowing someone called you a 'scrub' and laughed at you as he or she was talking with his or her friends?

The same goes for yourself. Don't call yourself a 'scrub' if you made mistakes. It doesn't help you improve as a player or a person.

Improvement Suggestion: If an opponent or yourself maybe made some mistakes, just say that he or she might not have played optimally. Focus on the mistake and have a discussion point about what the potentially 'better' play might have been so that you actually take away something meaningful to help yourself or even others improve.

1. Don't Be a Know-It-All

You've played hundred or even thousands of hours of Magic either in real life or online. You've played in hundreds of sanctioned tournaments. Your friends with Pro Tour players. You've even played on the Pro Tour yourself. None of these give you the right to be a know-it-all. People don't like know-it-alls. They're offensive and not fun to be around.

Just because you've played a lot of Magic and might be quite experienced also doesn't give you the right to criticize another person's deck choice, card choices, lines of play, or anything else.

Improvement Suggestion: Give other people a chance to talk and bring up ideas. But more importantly, actually listen to what other people have to say. Foster discussions that talk about different lines of play and what potential outcomes might be. And don't be condescending when you reply to another person's thoughts or questions.

1. Don't Tell People What to Do

This one is kinda funny and somewhat inceptuous. It's almost like telling people not to tell people what to do. But anyways, this one is kind of similar to 'don't be a know-it-all'. Rather than criticizing you're limiting people. Don't tell people what deck to play. Don't tell people what cards to play or not play. Don't tell people how to play a certain way. Don't tell people how to play a deck.

Improvement Suggestion: Give the other person a chance to talk first. And then make sure you listen before you talk. Ask non-condescending questions first to generate an open discussion. For example...ask the other person what deck he or she would play and why. Ask why he or she chooses to play certain cards in the deck. Ask how he or she would play against certain decks. Ask what he or she would do during certain game states or situations. Don't assume anything.

1. Don't Be a Sexist

Magic is predominately played by males, so this might be a bit lopsided. And this point was probably a more serious topic when the game was going through its first growth spurt. I remember people hated losing to a female opponent and would tilt off (more on this in the next point), calling her a 'scrub'.

Things seem to be a bit better nowadays, but I still hear people (males) say sexist things when they lose or win against a female opponent. Females are humans just like males. They can play just as well or even better than men. Just because your opponent is a female doesn't mean that she's an inferior person or doesn't know how to play the game.

Improvement Suggestion: No matter if you lose or win against a female opponent, have respect for her as a human being just as you would and should respect your mom, your dad, your siblings, your friends, and yourself. If you talk to your friends about the match, focus on the match, the plays, and the analysis just as I mentioned in the point above this.

1. Don't Be a Sore Loser

You won't win every game or match, so you're definitely going to experience losses in Magic. And just like anything else in life, it's best not to be a sore loser. Just like know-it-alls, no one likes sore losers. It's off-putting. Plus, you don't learn how to be a better person or player when all you do is complain about losing.

Improvement Suggestion:  Whenever you lose a game or match of Magic, make sure you decompress before anything. Don't tilt off. Take a breather. Then clearly think back about the steps you took. Maybe you could've picked a more suitable deck, maybe you could've constructed your deck a bit differently, maybe you could've taken different lines of play, or maybe it was a combination of factors. Take the time to objectively analyze the outcome and what happened along the way that might have contributed to the outcome. Feel free to physically write down notes so you can review them later.

1. Don't Be Arrogant

This is kind of a combination of being a know-it-all and a sore winner. You're also being quite arrogant whenever you call someone a 'scrub'. Just because you won a tournament doesn't mean you have some kind of authority over others. What you're doing is creating a reverse affect. Less people will like you and actually listen to what you have to say.

Improvement Suggestion: If you're fortunate enough to win tournaments and people start talking to you or ask you questions, be polite. Be respectful. Be humble. Again, make sure you actually listen to what the other person is saying. Be constructive, objective, and non-condescending with your responses and questions.

1. Don't Steal

This should be obvious to everyone. Unfortunately, it's not. Furthermore, if you borrow something and never return it, consider what you haven't returned stolen. Just like being arrogant, when people steal he or she creates another reverse effect. There are short-term 'gains' but huge long-term losses. The more people steal, the more people leave the community. This should be a no-brainer.

Improvement Suggestion: If you see or know someone who stole something and have concrete evidence, report him or her to authorities like the police or store owners. To prevent more stealing from happening, promote ways to help people get the cards they need to play. This could be telling people about sites like SpareDeck to rent cards, donating money or cards to a charity like Gamers Helping Gamers to help others who might be less fortunate than you, or giving extra cards away to new players or people who don't have much extra money to get what he or she needs, or encouraging others to trade for what they need.

1. Don't Be a Swindler

Speaking of trading, don't swindle people out of their cards. This is like stealing. Just like sexism issues, this was a bigger problem years ago. And just like stealing, the more people get swindled, the small our community gets. Fortunately, the problem has been alleviated quite a bit by now with wider access to the internet via smartphones and widespread info.

Improvement Suggestion: If you see something fishy, alert the store owner of him or her. If you want to trade, by all means do so since stealing is out of the question. But trade for value if you'd like. Trade for things you need. Trade for things you think will appreciate in value over time.

1. Don't Swear

There are a lot of kids that are around or play Magic. We want more players to join the community. We want players to feel comfortable and have fun playing the game. Swearing generally gives people the wrong vibe and is just not appropriate for kids.

Improvement Suggestion: If you hear someone swear, especially around kids, kindly point out that there are kids around. If you feel frustrated and catch yourself swearing a lot, maybe try some other techniques to mitigate your frustrations like carrying a stress ball with you or just taking a quick breather walk.

1. Don't Be Elitist

Some people are fortunate enough to get to a point where we become quite experienced in Magic. Sometimes these people make friends with other like players. This is one of the biggest challenges in making sure the community continues to grow. Newer players, less-experienced players, and people interested in playing Magic for the first time could be intimidated by the cliques that are formed. Think about when you first started playing. How did you learn to get better? Who befriended you? Who are or were your mentors? No matter how experienced you are, you can always learn something from others no matter who he or she is.

Improvement Suggestion: If you have a good amount of experience and people ask you for help or just want to chat, be open. Be nice. Most importantly, listen and ask questions to understand not to assume or condescend. And be constructive but not arrogant with your feedback.

Closing Notes

Yes, all the points are ranked number one. They're all equally important to fostering an environment that welcomingly invites new and returning players to Magic to ensure the proper growth of the community that we're all a part of. Do yourself a favor and advocate these don'ts.

Peace, love, and have fun…

Additional Reading

1. MTG Reporter - Pro Tour Aether Revolt PPTQ: 2nd Place [Jaime Garcia - Sorcerer, Level 40]

2. Standard Fare - Beating the Standard Metagame [Chris Stomberg - Invoker, Level 32]

3. The MTG Community - Top 10 Set Symbols [Edward Eng - Battlemage, Level 42]

A Little Bit about Eddie

He started playing Magic around December of 1994, then hit the sanctioned competitive tournament scene in 1997. He played till about 2000 and was on the cusp of making the Pro Tour but stopped to focus on school. He found his old teammate on Facebook in 2009 and got back into the game in 2010. Since then he's played in two Nationals, top 16ed an SCG Invitational, and day 2ed multiple Grand Prix.

Archive of Eddie's Articles

Edward Eng


Galactic Treasures