Two years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be the only woman playing in a 200 person PTQ, but lately this has not been the case. As the Magic community grows, more and more women are playing the game—not only a casual level, but competitive as well. Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to shed some light on how women are viewed by other players at various events. Recently, I hit the tough streets of the internet to find answers to the question—What are your first thoughts when a woman sits across from you at an event?



“It’s never mattered to me. Man, woman, child- If you’re my opponent, I will give it my all to win.” —Anonymous

“I hope I don’t offend anyone, but for the sake of honesty I absolutely might. I like to pretend it makes no difference, and I rationally think that it should make no difference to me, but I think I’d be lying if I have no different feelings than when sitting across from a man. The very first thing I notice, as with any person I look at, is what they look like. I don’t actively think “this will be an easier game” but I typically feel a bit of relief, as if I’m more likely to win this round than I would be against any given man. I’m more lenient with a woman missing a trigger or taking something back (though I wont allow it for something game-deciding). I’m also more polite when playing against a woman, and if she’s making small talk I’m more likely to actually think about my answers, whereas when I’m playing against men conversationally I’m on auto-pilot while devoting 100% of my thought process to my play. The increased politeness and leniency definitely comes up more if I think she is attractive, and if she is any sort of combination of attractive and friendly then I tend to play worse than normal as I’m far more focused on the conversation than normal. If I lose to a girl it feels a bit worse than losing to a guy, but in general I really hate losing so there’s not a big difference there, and while I’m always outwardly gracious in defeat, I am more likely to be even more so against a girl. Consciously and rationally I try to play exactly as I would against a guy, and I certainly think that a girl is just as likely to be a good player as a guy, but as much as I’d like to I don’t have much control over my subconscious and how I feel.” —Male, 21

“You’ve got two types of players; 1. Competitive and 2. Non-competitive. When I sit down to play against a female player, until proven otherwise, I assume she’s in group 2. When I sit down to play against a male player, until proven otherwise, I assume he’s in group 1.” —Anonymous

“I tend to lose when I play against women. Or men. Or children. Sometimes animals too. I don’t really have a differing win rate against genders or anything, I just lose a lot :D” —Male, 20

“Most of the time everything’s fine, people are nice, and we play Magic. I don’t like it when people say something like “I don’t usually see any women in here!” because I don’t know how to respond. A couple of players have been overly condescending (they’re trying to be nice, but it bothers me that they assume I’m not good at the game), who knows if that’s because I’m female or if they’re like that to everyone. The only thing that really annoys me is overly sexy anime girl playmats. By using a playmat like that, my opponent is forcing me to look at a picture which I don’t really want to look at.” —Female, 22

“I can honestly say I’ve lost almost every single time I’ve played a woman at FNM. That being said, there’s only one woman that goes to my LGS, and she’s Melissa DeTora.” —Anonymous



“This might be a bit cynical, but I think a lot of guys [even the ones who don’t think they treat girls differently] aren’t aware of some of the “little things” they may say or do [perhaps even subconsciously] when playing a female opponent. I’ve never had a guy come up and be like “Man, your a girl and you must suck.” but a lot of the conversations during matches seem to revolve around trying to see if I’m a real Magic player or not. The things that seem to habitually happen are:

  • Assuming that I’m not going to take a second main phase after the attack step.
  • Having to speak over my opponent because I have priority and they assume I don’t have a response [to declaring attackers, blockers, resolving a spell, ‘end of turn’, etc.]
  • Making a broad, generalized statements about the type of deck I play [the colors, the type of creatures]
  • Nitpicking over the way I organize my board [once had a guy insist that I had to keep different types of land cards separate from one another]

I have a tendency to play at larger stores that have a handful of judges on hand because 1. it makes me more anonymous and 2. I can call a judge over whenever I’m uncertain about a card interaction. I’ve had opponents that would rather win unfairly then admit they’re wrong [or worse, that I’m right] about a card ruling. I’ve been playing for about four years now, and I’ve been fortunate to always live in areas where there is enough stores that if I find one that I don’t like for whatever reason [the meta, the players, the lack of official judges, whatever] I can just go elsewhere.” —Female, 25

“Who cares? I mean literally, I don’t care who sits across from me, pedo bear sleeve guy, or pretty girl as long as they aren’t pricks.”  —Anonymous

“Honestly, i am probably nicer to her. I think that women get a bad wrap when it comes to magic, so I would probably be nicer to her to make her feel welcome.” —Male, 17

“My hydras don’t care about the gender of their meal” —Anonymous

“I try to be friendly and conversational with my opponent no matter who they are. I think MTG should be a hobby that everyone can enjoy, no matter the gender or age, and I think there are enough formats to accommodate that idea. There are as many different women MTG players as there are men, and it shouldn’t matter that they are women. There are competitive female players who always build the best decks, there are females who collect for the art, there are females who just want to play casually with their friends, etc. It shouldn’t matter the gender, and I think this community and the MTG community in general should try to accommodate women and not make them feel singled out or creeped out by us. I think this is the main reason women stay away from magic, and it shouldn’t be this way. They just want to play the game, just like the rest of us. Treat them the same way you would treat anyone else.” —Anonymous



“My girlfriend plays magic and she’s had to deal with people being assholes to her because of her gender. It’s made her not want to play in as many events, because she’s made light of or treated like she doesn’t know how to play by some of the other guys in the shop sometimes. She loves to play, but we play more casually than anything because people being dicks ruin the environment of what would be an otherwise fun event. There’s one other girl that plays at the shop we frequent, I’ve played against her in a few sealed events. I think we’re pretty even in wins/losses matchwise, but I’ve never really kept score. I’ve literally never once cared about the genitalia of the person sitting across the table from me. I’m more concerned about playing my own game.” —Male, 22

“I think, oh good, it’s not just a boyzone here today. I hope people haven’t been treating her badly just because she’s a woman. Ok, now let’s play some Magic.” —Anonymous

“I love Magic but I’ve never been to like an official event at my LGS because I’m really nervous about it. I’m relatively new to the game and really nervous to lose a bunch of games (and have it be “because I’m a girl”). I play a lot though, just casual friendly games with people I know. I win, I lose, I’m alright I guess. Still getting into it, just started playing earlier this year.” —Female, 25

“I don’t see gender, only enemies who have not yet begun to lament the day they choose to face me.” —Male, 22

“My wife plays and has played for quite some time, but due to how she tends to be treated by opponents at FNM events she pretty much refuses to play with anyone but friends these days. She tends to get either guys who completely clam up, won’t say a word, and get kinda passive aggressive and snotty with her or she gets the “magic bros” type who will make rude comments or try to assert their masculinity. Obviously it’s not always like that, but she seems to face at least one guy like that a night when she goes there, and it gets worse the better she does. I’m sure I could get more specifics from her, but generally she almost always has a bad time thanks to how she’s perceives she’s being treated.” —Anonymous

“I love the women of our college’s Magic club. They have great spirit and play as well as anyone on their skill level. Except Kirsten. She’s a crazy woman and will tear everyone to pieces. Damn Gruul aggro.” —Male, 19


“I’m a woman who plays Magic. For some reason, I tend to ask my female opponents how long they’ve been playing more often than I ask that of my male opponents. I guess I’m more curious about what brings other women into the game. I’ll also admit that I’m one of those horrible people who dresses extra slutty at tournaments in order to wreak psychological havoc on my male opponents… Sorry not sorry.” —Anonymous

“Speaking as a transgirl, I haven’t noticed any difference in how I’m treated compared to how I would expect to be treated if I were a male sitting across from my opponent. My local LGS is really awesome about being a friendly environment for people of all walks of life.” —Transgirl, 27

“This reminds of me of what happened when I gave a girl on the opposing team a concussion in a football game (don’t worry guys it was a clean hit). I got a lot of flak from some people, but my main point was that she padded up and was willingly on the field, she knew what she was getting into, and if she’s gonna play a game like football with a bunch of guys that are going full contact, she should expect to be hit just as hard. I guess you could say this kind of applies to this situation as well. If a girl is going to play a game that she knows full well is inhabited by mostly guys, she should not expect to be given special treatment just because she is of the opposite sex. If I play against a girl, I’ll give it my all just as I normally would, and may the best planeswalker win.” —Male, 15

“I will first notice if she’s attractive. That’s just a function of being an adult male living in the United States. Then I’ll treat her like I treat a male opponent. I’ll offer my usual pregame “Good luck,” and try to have a fun, friendly conversation during the game, whether MTG, pop culture, geek culture, what have you. It’s rarely about flirting since I’m in a committed (albeit polyamorous and receptive to newcomers) relationship. Unless I’m obviously receiving some kind of “I’m attracted to you” sign, she’s just another player, just another potential friend.” —Male, 28

“I’ll answer as honestly as I can, so I’m sorry if it offends anyone. My wife and I play in two shops regularly, and in both there is only one or two females playing (besides my wife), plus some random 1-time players. They’re usually there as the significant other of another player, and usually aren’t very good at the tactical game. As in – they have good cards, but they don’t play them to their maximum effect. They never try to bluff, they’re reluctant to attack, and they make every play as if I have the perfect counterspell/burn/creature kill in hand. Unless they demonstrate otherwise, I play them with this knowledge in mind. “Oh you’re attacking with a 2/2 into my 3/5? Must have the giant growth – no blocks.” So, I treat them as any other player, except having knowledge of their tendencies. Additionally, I’ll usually play “easier” if I have a dominant position, simply to avoid pissing them off – because I know if I make them too angry/upset/whatever, there’s a chance of not losing just one player, I’ll lose two (their SO) from the store.” —Male, 35


“To be honest I usually tend to think that it will be an easy round, I still treat her with the respect any opponent deserves, but most women at my LGS are only there because their significant other is there. I would love it if someone would just wreck me, because I think having more women in competitive magic would be a good thing.” —Male, 21

“I haven’t had anyone treat me differently (as a non-presenting trans woman using preferred name/pronouns), but there were a handful of other girls at the couple events I’ve visited in the past that were treated well enough. I don’t see why I should treat female opponents any differently then male opponents… although I might be a little chattier.” —Female, 20

“Well, from a girl’s perspective, I love when I see other women at events. It just makes me feel a lot more comfortable. The more women at an event, the less the men seem to notice it, and the more normal they act. I won’t go to events or FNMs or anything by myself anymore though. The few times I’ve gone, I’ve been treated a couple different ways. Most common is that I clearly don’t know what I’m doing so they “go easy” on me with their shitty deck and when I beat them it’s because I got lucky, because no woman has ever been good at Magic, ever. The other is when my opponent just ogles and hits on me the whole round, and then tries to keep going when I walk away after. It’s super obnoxious. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I don’t really have a nerdy look or something, but I get aggressively hit on a LOT if my boyfriend isn’t there. In general, I feel condescended to and I feel like men don’t treat me seriously at my LGS, even when my boyfriend is there. It’s infuriating.” —Female, 23

“Doesn’t make a difference to me.” —Male, 14

Have another one to add? Comment below!

Monique Garraud is a Brooklyn native who started playing Magic in 2011. “Grinding It Out” is her weekly take on the trials, tribulations, and joys of being a competitive tournament player.

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