By Tyson Leonard

Editor’s Note: Meet Tyson Leonard, our third contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Tyson’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, as he 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]

New City, New Game

I’ve always played games. All sorts of games. As a young kid, Crazy Eights and Monopoly were my favorites. A few years later I was obsessed with Diablo II and Neverwinter Nights. In college I played far more World of Warcraft than anyone should. While playing, I came to appreciate many aspects of these games, but none more so than the communities built around them. Magic the Gathering was the first game that I actively set out to play in order to be a part of a community.

I had just about graduated from a journalism program at a small college near Kingston, Ontario, and was looking for an internship to complete the course. My long-time girlfriend, Courtney, had also recently graduated, and was applying for grad school. For both of us Vancouver was the answer. I secured an internship with a small online magazine, and she was accepted into a master’s program for counseling psychology.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Canadian geography, I’ll give you a quick lesson. Kingston is a small city located almost directly between Ottawa and Toronto. The city is known to most as a place to stop and get Timmy’s (Tim Hortons) on the way to somewhere more important. In relation to Kingston, Vancouver is huge. If you can’t quite remember where it is on the map, we are about a two hour drive from Seattle. And although I haven’t been south of the border on the west coast yet, I’ve heard that Seattle is the American Vancouver, or I guess you could say Vancouver is the Canadian Seattle.


“Who knew moving across a country as large as Canada would be so difficult.”


After an exhausting move Courtney and I arrived in Vancouver. We proceeded to sleep and binge watch Doctor Who for the next week or so.  Who knew moving across a country as large as Canada would be so difficult.

Eventually we poked our heads outside and started to explore the wonderful city of Vancouver. I quickly realized there was something missing though, IRL friends. My internship was based from home with only a small amount of contact with my editor, and Courtney was busy at a new job as well as preparing for her upcoming courses. I was living a very solitary life.

This is where Magic comes in. I remember weighing the pros and cons for all the different games I could start playing. Magic won out in the end because of the in-person games, weekly tournaments, and it seemed like you could still have fun on a small budget. DnD was a close second, but ultimately Magic proved to be more inclusive.

As a new player I went through a lot of the fairly typical intro to Magic experiences. I picked up some intro decks, misunderstood most of the rules, overrated some bulk rares, and finally net-decked the cheapest competitive standard deck I could.  It was RTR/Theros standard so I sleeved up a mono-blue devotion deck without Mutavaults. It was time to go to my first FNM.

Luckily for me, I live four blocks from my local card shop and have the option to go to three others within a 30 minute transit ride. Because the goal was to make friends and play casually, I opted for the smaller local store.

I got there far too early and sat at a table waiting for something official to happen.  Hopefully, more people would show up. Eventually, a few people did, but not enough. At quarter past, the night was called. We didn’t have the minimum eight to play. Disappointed and a bit discouraged, I was ready to pack it up when two guys came over and asked to play some games. Surprised, and elated I agreed.

While getting comically beat down by an interesting Abzan brew the two were deciding whether to pack it in, or head across town for a different store. Without a car I didn’t have that option. Luckily for me they decided to go, and I was offered a ride.

Looking back, I realize I should have been at least a little nervous to get in the car with a stranger, to go somewhere in a city I didn’t know my way around. But growing up in small town Ontario, where everyone knows everyone, had made me a trusting person. I also realize now that not everyone has the privilege to say yes in a situation like that. I would definitely suggest you think twice about getting in the car.

After four exhilarating rounds I finished at 2-2. It didn’t matter though. Even If I had lost every game, I would have walked away buzzing. I was hooked on Magic and met some great people in a city where I knew no one.

Eight months later and I still play Magic with almost everyone I met that night. The local store has seen a resurgence in players and I’ve found a community of like-minded people that has really helped me make the transition from small town Ontario to big city Vancouver.

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