Sometimes I have problems in social situations. “Good thing you’re a Magic player,” says one of my friends, but he’s not really helpful. The basic rules of social etiquette are difficult. And sometimes managing small talk, eye contact, and controlling strange facial tics can be as hard as figuring out Perplexing Chimera interactions, or remembering to play creatures post-combat.

I will never miss an opportunity to use this image.

I will never miss an opportunity to use this image.

This is especially bad because I’ll definitely be attending Grand Prix Philadelphia as a spectator, and on the off chance that Wizards doesn’t read this column and preemptively ban me, a competitor. The thought is almost enough to give me anxiety, and should definitely make more than a few people (event staff, judges, fellow Hipsters) nervous.

For your benefit (but mostly mine), I’ve compiled a list of helpful guidelines to follow at the Grand Prix. This is mostly taken from my own personal experience, combined with the input of a few others.

5. Play fast

Sometimes the clock gets the better of you. Other times, I end matches with a half-hour to spare and the devastating realization that I made a lot of silly misplays. “Time your time and think” is a good mantra for both MTG and life, and advice I should probably do a better job of following.

4. Snarky comments

Every store has one of those players. The one that slams cards on the table, sigh loudly when you Griptide his fat creature, and says “Really?” when you ask to read his copy of Plea for Guidance because who actually runs that card in Draft, I mean seriously.


The first bird is the unfortunate offspring of Perplexing Chimera and a pigeon.

Concentrating on a game of Magic is hard enough when you aren’t sitting across someone that comments on every one of your plays with what you should have done. Yes, I know I shouldn’t try to bounce hexproof creatures. And no, I don’t need you to run through every line of play I should have made but didn’t. Thanks anyway.

I try to be a nice, generally passive player, but sometimes that can backfire also.

3. Avoid eye contact, mumble, stare

Magic is a social game. And at first, as a new player, I struggled with that idea. After continuously playing other opponents through MTGO’s protective abstraction, a face-to-face paper Magic game feels strangely intimate. Just two people, 80 cards, and the quiet acknowledgement that in about 25 minutes someone’s going to be pretty disappointed and possibly emotional.

I countered this by avoiding crowds, drafting with a sullen, almost unapproachable glare, and rarely talking during games unless I was apologizing for skipping my opponent’s end step again. While I’m sure I didn’t ruin anyone’s day with my behavior, I wasn’t really having fun. As it turns out, most people respond pretty favorably to the idea that you write a column called “Scrub Report” for an MTG blog. And I’ve met more than a few Hipsters’ readers and awesome friends by just introducing myself.

2. Smell bad

Sometimes you can’t help it and that’s totally okay. Other times, sitting next to someone with a clear disregard and possible contempt for basic hygiene is unpleasant. Clean games are a lot better than smelly ones.

1. Take photos of people without their consent

Too soon.

Tony is the Hipsters’ resident scrub. When he’s not making bad plays, he enjoys writing about them. Find him @holophr.

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