There’s so much to be excited for! Dragons of Tarkir previews have started—[casthaven]Aerie Bowmasters[/casthaven] looks amazing, and we get to play with Rebound again (er, again)! Modern Masters 2 might start getting spoiled this week at PAX East (which I’ll be at!). Khans of Tarkir is still amazing and is already in my top 5 favorite Limited formats of all time. Hell, I’m even excited about Standard because the Constructed format looks great!

I’m not going to talk about any of that. Not this week, anyway. I want to talk about first impressions and positive communities. Here’s a short story.

Azorius First-Wing

This past Saturday, I drafted at Twenty Sided (shocker!). I was seated next to a young gentlemen, probably around the age that (no) one refers to as ‘pre-teen.’ It was his first draft and I was to his left and across from him (we were at the edge of the table). He was nervous; he couldn’t sit still and was doing Lamaze breathing. He’d technically drafted once before, but that was with friends (many of whom were present but dispersed throughout five pods, also having their first draft) and at someone’s house, “so it wasn’t a real draft,” he politely informed me.

I introduced myself and made it clear that he was always welcome to ask for help and that no question was a dumb question. I answered his questions and confirmed that he already knew everything he needed to know; he knew the basic logistics of drafting and even about prioritizing good cards over bad cards. Then, the real topic came up: planeswalkers.

Garruk Wildspeaker

This young gentleman already had a bit of a collection going, but he didn’t own any planeswalkers. He really, really wanted to own a planeswalker and to play one against his friends. I smiled and told him I hoped that he’d open one. I silently decided that if I opened a [casthaven]Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/casthaven] in pack 2, I’d pass it (remember, I was to his left, so that was the only time I’d pass to him). After all, they’re only $10, and I’m a working adult who can afford to pass or buy a Planeswalker (particularly when I have enough of both already).

The draft started, and sure enough, when he cracked his first pack… there wasn’t a planeswalker. He didn’t get one in pack three, either. But in pack two, when I peeled the foil away from sixteen cards (the ad insert had a spirit token on the back)… there… wasn’t a planeswalker, either. Sarkhan was there, but only on [casthaven]Tormenting Voice[/casthaven].

Well, dang. There goes my story.

After the draft, I saw the mildly crestfallen, exceptionally anxious expression on my fellow drafter’s face as he began deck construction, and asked, “Hey, what’s your favorite color?”

He blinked. The Lamaze breathing paused. “Red.”

I had already pulled out my binder and flipped to the middle of it. I didn’t carry a ton of stuff on me, but I had something. I reached across the table, card in hand, and said, “This is yours. You can’t put it in your deck right now, but you own it.”

Xenagos the Reveler

I received one of the most polite, gracious “thank yous” I’ve ever heard. I gave him a sleeve for his brand new Satyrwalker and some advice on deck construction (such as, “you don’t need to splash blue for [casthaven]Wetland Sambar[/casthaven]”). I don’t think he did well, but he didn’t seem to mind; he was welcome in our community and had a trophy to bring back to his friends. He’d had fun, and that’s what really matters.


I share this story not to boast (I really didn’t do much above the baseline of minimally-decent-Samaritan), but to show how a small positive action can have a more dramatic impact. I gave away a ~$5 Magic card, one that I wasn’t using and one that would probably be worthless by the time I got around to trading it) and was nice. It took very little effort for me to improve someone’s day, to welcome someone new into our hobby, and to set an example for what game communities ought to be.

I believe that game communities are precious spaces where all should be welcome, regardless of how competitive, inexperienced, or socially awkward they are. (They should not be welcoming of bullying, cheating, or any kind of cruelty—but those are actions not people). I encourage everyone to go out and try and be an exemplar for their community, or be a role model, or just be nice every now and then. Help someone rebuild their sealed pool at prerelease, donate that $2 rare that’s been rotting in your trade binder, or just talk to that person sitting alone. I believe that if we all do a little bit of work, our communities will be all the better for it, both communities that are already in good standing, like the one we’re lucky to have in Twenty Sided, and all other communities in the world.

I’d like to hear what you have to say. Did you ever do something nice for someone else, or have someone welcome you into a community?What’s your story?

As always, thanks for reading. And pass it on.

—Zachary Barash

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 improviser, creating entire musicals from scratch every week. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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