Round one, game three, Theros draft. I have a silly RG deck with Polis Crusher, Stormbreath Dragon, Arbor Colossus, a pair of Voyaging Satyrs, and a bunch of solid three and four drops (RG tends to be light on good two drops, but I’ve got Firedrinker Satyr). My opponent is on UB with several Ordeal of Thassa. If memory serves (it so rarely does), the life totals are something like 18-11 in my favor.

It’s turn five. I untap with Polis Crusher, Nessian Courser, and Firedrinker Satyr. I play a forest and can cast Arbor Colossus postcombat. My opponent has a Baleful Eidolon (I don’t expect him to forget that it can’t kill Polis Crusher), some other tapped creature (can’t remember what it is), four tapped lands and an untapped island. I read him for having Triton Tactics, even though I never saw it from  him and don’t recall passing him one (I was two seats to his right during the draft). Here’s where I normally, y’know, think. Instead, this happens:

“#&%$ it.”

I attack, he uses Triton Tactics, I lose Polis Crusher and Nessian Courser, cast Arbor Colossus (which is blanked by Baleful Eidolon), and lose the game. I wish I could remember what killed the Polis Crusher (since it wasn’t the Baleful Eidolon; that was blocking the Nessian Courser and there’s not much that UB has that can kill a Polis Crusher), but I digress. Had I given the situation a mere moment, I’d have held back Polis Crusher, cast Arbor Colossus, and maintained my superior board presence regardless of a Triton Tactics. The following turn I’d be able to make my Crusher monstrous, and that would smash right through Triton Tactics. The problem isn’t that I couldn’t have found that line of play (I knew it as soon as I declared attackers), the problem is that I didn’t even try, that I didn’t even want to try.


If I don’t care about the game that I’m playing, then there’s no point in playing at all. I’ve seen plenty of folks look at a complicated board state, say “#&%$ it,” and alpha swing without considering anything. But I’m never that person. I don’t throw up my hands, give up on thinking, and just attack.

Until now.

I felt horrible. I felt like a bad player, rather than having made a poor play. I felt that I was wasting my time being in that draft. I felt that I needed to take some away from Magic. Sure, I’d been cutting waaay back on Limited (Theros has been stale for me since November), playing more Limited and Legacy, and scaling back my Magic-playing time, but perhaps they were all fatigue, boredom, and frustration of a greater illness: the big Q. Quititus. The End.


Most longtime players seem to flirt with quitting the game, quitting for some period of weeks, months, or year. With some folks, it’s even a joke, since every time they play, they threaten to quit.

I’m not ready to embrace the big Q; I still love this game, its communities, and all the activities it enables (card design, cubing, Modern, Legacy, old Limited), even though I’m exhausted with Theros and competitive Limited. So, I’ve been doing other stuff. I’m going through my backlog of Steam games (Modern Warfare 3 and Bioshock Infinite are already done—Bioshock Infinite was quite enjoyable, though both taught me that I may have become a bit too much of a pacifist to relish games featuring senseless slaughter), doing more improv, and “important real life adult stuff.”


Thus far, this temporary semi-retirement’s been pretty good. In two weeks, I can pop out my head and try out Born of the Gods. Hopefully, my skills won’t atrophy too much—I’ll still be playing Legacy/Modern and streaming ZZW/MD5/IPA as they come out on MODO, so I certainly won’t be inactive. As ever, I thank everyone for reading, and this time, I’ve got questions for you:

How do you deal with burnout?

Have you quit the game before? If so, why and for how long? What brought/brings you back?

I’ll see what this week brings (aside from the rest of Born of the Gods’ spoilers). If folks are interested in burnout discussion, I could share the story of my ten year break. If I’m suddenly burning with passion for BotG, then we can certainly talk Limited prediction. Or, I could discuss the two sets I’ve been designing. What’s your preferred flavor, friends?

—Zachary Barash — Join the livestream!

Magic Online username: Zennith

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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