For the first time in a long while, lately I’ve been dealing with burnout. It’s funny how it creeps up on you; it’s never like a dramatic falling off a cliff, where one day you’re playing a ton of Magic and at the top of your game, and the next day you’re done.

This is the soundtrack for this post, “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff. Dig it:

No, rather it’s like any change to body type or friend group or something similar: It happens gradually, almost imperceptibly, over time, and (in my experience at least) you never really care all that much while it’s happening. Then one day you wake up and discover that you never talk to X person any more, or you’ve gained 15 pounds, and how did that happen?

I’m not quite at that point with Magic, not even close. Obviously I’m still working for Hipsters and writing this column on a weekly basis, and I still consume mass quantities of Magic content, mainly (lately at least) in the form of draft videos.

I guess those are my “stories,” as my maw maw used to call them. Kim, my fiance, rolls her eyes whenever I have a draft video on, and she is greatly chagrined that I have discovered how to Chromecast them to the TV, but I do really enjoy watching them; it’s like watching “the game.”

And I’m still playing Magic at least once a week, usually twice. But it has slowed down a bit, which is strange given that today I am headed to my first big Magic event of the year, Grand Prix Montreal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really psyched to be going—but I’m not *as* psyched as I have been in the past to hit GPs. Part of that is simply that we don’t have a huge crew going, just a few folks from Brooklyn including my good friend Brendan “None Shall Pass Bombs” McNamara. But another aspect is that I just haven’t been as invested in the game as I have been in the past.

I don’t have any byes, for another reason. I’m going into it stone cold, needing to honestly 7-2 to make day two. But I have done that in the past, as recently as a PTQ this past fall (which arguably has stronger or more consistently strong competition across all rounds).

That’s not all, though. I’ve been busy at work and focused on the run-up to getting married, which my fiance and I are doing this coming May, and so that’s been eating up a lot of my mental bandwidth. And, going forward in my life, that’s probably going to be increasingly true.

So what am I doing with this game? I have a strong desire to be really, really good at Magic, but I know that that doesn’t happen without a lot of practice. And I also know, as much as I want to be on the Pro Tour, that that probably isn’t going to happen, or at least not happen consistently.

But I do love Magic. So I have to reconcile that with the fact that I’m probably never going to be as good as I want to be. And I’m not saying that at all to be defeatist or negative; I’m honestly just straight-up unwilling to devote as many hours to this game (declining to spend time doing other things I am interested in, such as work and family and friends and other hobbies) as I know it takes to be top-notch.

Here’s the next soundtrack song for this post—”Beast of Burden” by the Stones:

Last weekend I was getting receipts and stuff together in order to do my taxes, and so I was going back through my emails from the past year, looking for flight and hotel confirmations. I remembered that I went to five GPs last year: Charlotte (aka Gigantor), Pittsburgh (my first day two), Providence (team), Vegas (my second day two!), and Oklahoma City.

Last year was my best Magic year ever! So why should I think this year will be any different? I’m not sure—I just have a feeling. And it’s not a bad feeling; it’s not like I’m rending my garments, lamenting that I don’t play as much or aren’t as competitive as I used to be.

I just do somewhat different stuff now—maybe just a slight percentage change, but a change nonetheless. And that’s the same as it’s been for me with friends. It’s always sad when friends drift away, but it’s not like they go and you don’t have any more friends.

No, rather you make new friends. You find new hobbies and new ways to spend your time. Magic for me has been a strong hobby (with peaks and valleys, to be sure) over the past eight years, and for the past few years it’s been a *really* strong one, especially factoring in Hipsters.

(Oddly enough, working for Hipsters has probably impacted my Magic-playing more than a lot of life changes, as one night of the week which I might “normally” be spending playing cards, I’m instead spending *writing* about cards. Is that dumb? I’m not sure. But I really like Hipsters, so I’m going to call it cool.)

And who knows? I could go to GP Montreal this weekend, absolutely crush it, and the fire could be reignited. After all, I’ve kind of been on hiatus competitively since the end of sealed season in December. Either way, I’m really looking forward to traveling to another awesome city this weekend with some awesome dudes. And that’s something I know I will always love about the game.

Whoever’s going to GP Montreal this weekend, hit me up on @hrslaton or @hotcblog. I would love to meet some Hipsters readers, and look out for a few of us wearing Hipsters of the Coast T-shirts. If you see us, say hello! In the meantime, may you rip sick Limited bombs—unless you are across the table from me, of course.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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