I’m from a town called Lunenburg. It’s a lot like most small New England towns; ten thousand people, 97% white, high median income, a Walmart, and some woods. It’s only an hour away from where I live now in Brighton but I don’t go back too often. It’s not that I don’t like my hometown, or my parents who still live there, because I do. My absence from Lunenburg life is a combination of busyness, convenience, and a hard to pin down feeling that it doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. Needless to say I had no upcoming visits planned.

That all changed Wednesday night.

I was at my friend Scheid’s place for his weekly board game night. I have started to become a regular at game night after reconnecting with Scheid a few months ago when I sent him the article about the first tournament I ever played at his parent’s house in Lunenburg. Anyway, we’re in the middle of an intense game of Citadels, and in between assassinating the bishop and thieving gold from the merchant, Scheid asks me what I’m doing over the weekend. The conversation goes something like this:

“I’ll probably play in a release event or two but aside from that nothing.”

“You wanna draft on Sunday? Also you can’t have two districts with the same name.”

“Sure I’ll draft. But why can’t this town have two taverns? Flavorwise it makes so much sense.”

“Awesome, I think you’ll be our eighth. It’s in Lunenburg with Ethan, Penniman, Jason and everyone.”

“Alright… but about those taverns.”

He ended up letting me keep the two taverns and I ended up agreeing to drive out with him to Lunenburg.

My apprehension about going back to Lunenburg was kind of an existential one and it relates directly to John Cougar Mellencamp. See the graduation song for my senior class was Mellencamp’s, “Small Town.” For those unfamiliar with the song it sounds a bit like a B-movie version of Bruce Springsteen twanging on about the charm of small town America. Mellencamp sings, “But I’ve seen it all in a small town/had myself a ball in a small town/married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town/now she’s small town just like me.” I know that Mellencamp didn’t mean the song to be terrifying, but the whole thing makes me feel uneasy.

Anyway, the people I was playing with kind of feel like they came out of this song. Jason married his high school girlfriend and has a kid and a house with her. Penniman is married, also to a girl he met in high school, and lives a few miles from his childhood home. Ethan just bought a house with his girlfriend in the next town over. Will and his brother Duluc don’t have their own families but still live in town. This whole Mellencamp-ian universe feels really strange to me. I’m not married, I have no kids, and I certainly don’t own property. No, I pay too much rent to live in a dilapidated apartment on the outskirts of the city. I can’t see the stars at night but I’m a mile away from Harvard Square.

The reason I bring this all up is not to disparage my old friends for staying in town. I’m not pulling the cultured city hipster card on a group of suburban dwelling yokels. I bring it up because I worry that they are doing something right that I’m not. While I may have rejected components of the Ameri-suburban dream, I can’t help but feel that there are parts of the whole get married, buy a house, have a family that sound…kind of okay. There are times that the idea of hanging out with a baby in the backyard is more palatable than trying to find room to drink at a crowded bar infested with college bros. So yeah, I’m 27 years old and I’m a little intimidated by people who seem to have their shit together.

Oh wait, you came here looking for a Magic article?

After arriving at Jay’s place and raiding his fridge for beer, we started our seven man draft. Apparently this guy named Naderman was supposed to come but then went to play kickball or something instead. So we agreed to determine the winner single elimination style with additional fun rounds for anyone who wanted to play more. I luckily avoided the bye throughout the day.



I sat in between Ethan (light blue shirt) and Duluc (“size matters” shirt) and attempted to go all in on Mardu raid after first picking Mardu Ascendancy from a heavy green pack. I felt slightly vindicated by my early commitment with a late Ponyback Brigade and a pack two Crackling Doom. I felt blessed by the Khans when I opened up an Ankle Shanker in pack three. Here is the deck:


Homelands Mardu

Creatures (15)
Jeskai Student
Horde Ambusher
Ruthless Ripper
Monastery Swiftspear
Krumar Bond-Kin
Abzan Falconer
Ponyback Brigade
Unyielding Krumar
Summit Prowler
Mardu Warshreiker
Mardu Heart-Piecer
Ankle Shanker
Shambling Attendants

Spells (8)
Ride Down
Mardu Ascendancy
Crackling Doom
Hordeling Outburst
Arrow Storm
Lands (17)
Scoured Barrens
Wind-Scarred Crag
Bloodfell Caves

ROUND ONE—Duluc with Abzan (2-0)


This was the first time I remember meeting Duluc, though I might just have a shit memory. In both of our games he got stuck on two lands, Forest and Plains, and didn’t put up too much of a fight to me curving out and sending some Arrow Storms to the dome.

It turns out that Duluc is pretty new to Magic and didn’t know the 23/17 ratio for drafting. After cutting a few spells and and adding a few lands, Duluc’s deck looked pretty insane with stuff like Wingmate Roc, High Sentinels of Arashin, and Abzan Charm.
ROUND TWO—Will with 4 Color No Green (1-2)


Will asked if he could pose with one of the leftover beers in the fridge. I obliged.

Game one, Will managed to win the race against my board with the lifelink granting Sage of the Inward Eye. Game two, I killed a morph with Mardu Heart-piercer and followed it up with a Mardu Warshreiker into Crackling Doom. Game three, I mulled to five and got stuck on two lands while Will curved out nicely and played his own copy of Mardu Ascendancy.
ROUND THREE—Jason with Esper (2-0)


This was Jason’s first time playing Khans and he just drafted it like Shards and ended up in Esper. I played Mardu Ascendancy against him in both of our games and neither felt particularly close.
ROUND FOUR—Scheid with Jeskai Draw-Go (2-1)


I guess this is technically a “fun” match as Ethan had already won the draft. Mostly I just wanted to take a picture of Scheid’s excellent wizard shirt. One game, Scheid was able to burn me out via Mindswipe but I took the other two on the back of anAnkle Shanker and Scheid taking a pretty abysmal mulligan to four.

Also, Scheid agreed to sell me all the cards he drafted for $1 before the the draft. I think he actually managed to only draft one dollar’s worth of cards.

At the end of the day, Scheid and I headed back to Boston and played trivia at this place called the Thirsty Scholar which is famous for being in “The Social Network.” Our team, “More Like Mark Fuckerberg” had a pretty strong finish and definitely the best name.

After reflecting back on the day, I feel kind of stupid for feeling apprehensive about the draft. These guys may have mortgages and wives but at the end of the day, things don’t feel all that different. Jason and Ethan still heckled each other throughout the day, Penniman still only half remembered how to play Magic, and Will was as funny I remembered. The only difference is that this time there was a little kid running around who just learned to high five and did so at every opportunity. This time we didn’t have to play in someone’s basement. This time when Missy made fun of Jason for playing Magic, she did it as his wife and not just his girlfriend.

I still think John Cougar Mellencamp sucks though. That will never change.

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.


Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.