D2: The Mighty Ducks is my favorite movie of all time. I know that some people cringe when I tell them this, especially after I confirm that I’m not even being ironic, and I get it. D2 is a haphazard sequel; an absurd hodgepodge of “kiddie team heroics”, cut and dried didacticism, and endless plot holes. How did Luis Mendoza make the national team if he never learned to stop? What happened to Charlie’s mom and her romance with Gordon Bombay? Do national news outlets really care about Pee Wee hockey? While D2 certainly has its shortcomings, I can’t help but love the movie. Part of it is nostalgia, but moreover I like the fact that its hokey and improbable. I like that the characters aren’t jaded like me. I like that the movie not-so-subtly critiques consumerism.

I like the knucklepuck.

Anyway, after viewing the movie for the thousandth or so time the other day, I began to think about Charlie Conway and his boyhood wisdom. Charlie is the film’s moral compass; a compassionate player who cares about his teammates and the integrity of the sport. When Bombay is nowhere to be found, he gets the team to practice. When the team is short a player, he does some scouting and finds an alternate. When everyone is caught up with the fame that sponsorship brings, Charlie isn’t phased.

I started to think about Charlie Conway and the lessons that could be extrapolated from that film and applied to competitive Magic. This is the kind of stuff I think about in my free time. I came up with three scenes from the movie that I want to look at through the lens of Magic the Gathering.

Here we go.

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After Team USA is annihilated by Iceland, Coach Bombay has the fatigued team spend the rest of their night running drills. Charlie speaks up and reminds Bombay that hockey is meant to be fun, and that this punitive training session is basically the opposite of fun.

While going through the motions of the competitive tournament grind, it’s easy for me to lose sight of why I started playing Magic. If I’m running bad at a tournament or not getting the results I want in a testing session, I start to get salty. While I always try to be gracious to my opponents, I’ve walked away from games wanting to throw the cards in my deck one by one Gambit-style into a nearby trashcan. I got into this game to spend time with my friends, not to have feel bad moments with unfriendly opponents in a VFW hall.

This past Sunday,  I remembered that Magic was supposed to be fun and spent the better part of the day at my brother’s apartment jamming EDH games with him and his roommates. I drank cheladas and played my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator deck. I did a ton of durdling, Mindslavered Nik after he played a Mirari’s Wake, and landed an Omniscience. It was awesome.



I ended up losing the game after Nik hit me with Wrexial and copied the Time Stretch in my graveyard, which in my book is a pretty triumphant way to go down.

Ok ready for lesson number two?

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When Bombay no-shows to the team’s game against Italy they are told that they will have to forfeit if they don’t have a coach. Ms. McKay, the team tutor, steps up to the job and attempts to guide the team to victory despite not being very familiar with the sport. After several minutes into the game, Ms. McKay notices that the players on the ice are getting tired. Charlie advises her to yell “change it up” and switch the line. It’s almost immediately after this that Bombay shows up, sans suit and slick hair and with duck whistle in tow, having “changed it up” himself by going back to being a good guy.

The lesson I get out of this is that change is the best way to fight fatigue. After playing a million games of current Standard and facing off against the same few decks over and over, I was feeling exhausted with the format. Even Sphinx’s Revelation was losing its allure. I couldn’t help but feel that the puzzle was solved and that I was just going through the motions. That’s when I decided to take a break from Standard and play a format I hadn’t played actively in a while: Pauper.

I spent six bucks and built this:

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UR Nivix Fiend

Land (18)
Izzet Guildgate

Creatures (10)
Delver of Secrets
Kiln Fiend
Nivix Cyclops

Spells (32)
Apostle’s Blessing
Artful Dodge
Assault Strobe
Fists of the Anvil
Gitaxian Probe
Lightning Bolt
Reckless Charge
Sideboard (15)
Coast Watcher
Fury Charm
Spell Pierce

I’ve been cruising this deck through the two-man queues on MTGO and loving every minute of it. The deck is fast, consistent, and catches opponents off guard by killing them out of nowhere. Kiln Fiend+Artful Dodge+Dodge Flashback+Assault Strobe=game over.

So yeah, it wasn’t much of a time or monetary commitment, but building this deck has me jazzed up on this commons-only format and will surely tide me over until Khans is legal in constructed.

Ok, ready for the last one?

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While this picture illustrates that Netflix doesn’t quite have subtitles down, I’ll set the scene. Adam Banks, one of the star players on the ducks, injured his wrist in the game against Iceland. Charlie decides to take initiative and find a replacement, which turns out to be the loudmouthed Russ Tyler played by a young Keenan Thompson. Fast forward a couple games, Adam Banks’ wrist miraculously gets better and Charlie opts to sit out of the final game so that Russ can continue playing. He gives up his spot as a player to assist the coach on the bench.

Since I’ve started playing, I feel like my skill level has plateaued to the point where I do consistently well on the local level but haven’t been able to clench that PTQ victory. I want to progress as a player but realize that lack of time is a major hurdle in the way of that. I dream about being on the pro tour, but I know it might never happen for me. Yet, I take comfort in the fact that I know a lot about this game and came pass off some of my skill and knowledge to newer players. This actually happened the other day.

I was drafting M15 at New England Comics this past weekend and steamrolled my first round opponent, a younger kid named Anton who had never drafted before. His deck was 60 cards and full of situational stuff like Back to Nature and Clear a Path along with underpowered junk like Ornithopter and Vineweft. After our game I sat down with him and explained that he only needed to play 40 cards and could cut some of the less powerful options. I helped him lay out his cards by mana cost to introduce the idea of a mana curve and informed him of the golden ratio of 23 spells and 17 lands. While this is something most Magic players could do, I was happy that I had the opportunity to sit down and help him. He felt better about his deck for the next round and I felt good that I could pass along some knowledge. I didn’t win the draft but felt some kind of small victory for having helped someone get into the game that has been so important to me.

In conclusion, D2 rules, Magic rules, and if you ever get yourself into a tricky situation, just remember to ask yourself WWCCD? What would Charlie Conway do?

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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