By Ashlee Rubinstein

Editor’s Note: Meet Ashlee Rubinstein, our second contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Ashlee’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, as she details the highs and lows of being new to MTG. If you’d like to write for The Scrub Report, send an email to [email protected]

Read her first article for us here, her second article here, and her third article here!

I have always been a relatively shy person. I find it hard to break into new groups. It was part of my trepidation in going to Friday Night Magic initially, and definitely the case for going back a second time. Everyone knew each other. It was obvious that they were all regulars and had been for a while. Furthermore, they have all been playing for what seems like forever. I, on the other hand, have only been playing for a little over a year. I knew they could sense the “newness” on me, that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t one of them.

I’m not saying that people weren’t friendly. Most of them were! Some were eager to help me, to answer any questions I may have, and trust me, I had a lot of questions. But they made references to cards that came out before I played, and no matter how many times I asked what they talking about, I felt like I was swimming upstream in a battle I couldn’t win. I could never catch up on all the cards that have been printed and memorize them, even though I knew that no one expected me to do this.

I didn’t have all positive experiences though. I played against some people who weren’t very friendly. One kid told me that he didn’t think girls should play Magic because they get too emotional. Another kid would play a card, and if I looked at it for too long, he would snap at me. This was at a pre-release event with brand new cards! Fortunately, these instances have been few and far between.

Regardless, I was having a hard time figuring how I was going to break into this community. A few months ago, my boyfriend (who was actually the one who got me into and taught me how to play Magic) decided that he wanted to try his hand at altering Magic cards. While he is artistic, he is not a painter. I, on the other hand, am a painter. I went to school for it and am actively pursuing a career as an artist, when I’m not working here and there to support myself and my MTG habit. As I watched him paint, I thought to myself, “Hey, I could do that!” I had watched the instructional videos on the computer with him and researched what some other people were producing. Again I thought, “I can definitely do that! “ So I tried my hand at altering, and low and behold, I could do it. I showed him my first attempt at just extending some of the art over the border, and he was instantly impressed. “You know,” he said, “you could make money doing this.” I laughed. Who was going to pay for a Magic card that I painted? Sure, the one I did was better than my boyfriend’s, but I would hope so with two degrees in studio art.

aspect of the hydra

Anyway, I kept painting them. They were fun and relaxing, and I was having a hard time with my studio practice. It became a great transition for me to get back into painting. Friends would come over to play Magic, and my boyfriend would run into the studio to grab my cards and show them off. I was embarrassed. I didn’t think any one would actually want to see them, and when they said that they liked them, I figured they were just being polite.

At the main event for the Fate Reforged Pre-Release, in his usual fashion, my boyfriend grabbed the binder he bought for me to display my alters and ran over to a table with people he knew to show them what I could do. Shockingly, they liked what they saw. One of them even wanted to commission me to alter his commander for EDH. I was excited, but again, I thought they were being nice.


A quarter of the way through the event, when I was sitting waiting for the current round to be over, I saw some people at the table next to me trading cards. I took a deep breath, grabbed my binder, and walked over to them. “Hey! Any interest in altered cards?” “Yeah!,” they said, more enthusiastic than I believed was possible. I handed one of the guys my binder, and he asked me how much I was selling them for. I didn’t have prices in mind because I didn’t think anyone would offer. But we came to an agreement and I sold my first altered card!


A few seconds later, after walking away, another guy came up to me. He heard that I had alters and wanted to see them. He loved them and immediately asked if he could buy one. Once again, I didn’t have a price. I threw out a random number. He gave me five times what I was asking for it, telling me that my work was worth a lot more than what I was initially suggested.

This gave me the courage to continue to show my work to people throughout the rest of the day. Most were excited to see what I had, though lacked the funds to purchase any of them at this time. I gave some people my information and told them to contact me if they changed their minds. I also promised that I would paint some more full-art lands for next time. Apparently lands are the way to go.

island - 1

At the end of the event, I had met twice the amount of people I normally would have. I finally felt that I had found a way that I could fit into the Magic community, and even better, it was doing what I love, painting! Altering cards gives me a new passion for the game, and makes me even more excited to play Magic and to participate in events, meet new people, and to join the Magic community.

*Feature Image by Flickr User IamNotUnique

*All Card Alters by Ashlee Rubinstein

Of former Pokemon glory, Ashlee never thought she’d succumb to the temptations of another trading card game, especially not Magic: The Gathering. Then she met the Theros block, and it was love at first Fat Pack.

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