By Kairi Izumi

Editor’s Note: Meet Kairi Izumi, our fourth contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Kairi’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]

Having written off our horribly convenient LGS for its environment, Yuki and I started to spend more time at a store further into the city. It’s a place that illustrates the casual-competitive divide, with both casual Commander playgroups and playtesting circles. Here I learned that I didn’t fit well with the casual players, but simultaneously discovered that spikes aren’t always welcoming to newbies.

We first visited the store when a friend invited us to Planeswalkers for Diversity. There was a lot that excited me at first: everyone was kind and welcoming, a sharp change from previous experiences. Furthermore, the organisers were a lesbian couple (like us); this might’ve been the first time we felt a thread of shared experience with our fellow players. The store even had a sign facing the entrance: “Be nice or leave”. The fear of being judged dissipated in this environment.

A bold proclamation from the LGS.

A bold proclamation from the LGS.

Yet when it came to playing Magic itself, I found myself bored. People came and went too often for drafts to materialise. Their alternative was multiplayer, where everyone was running a brew, and there were no limits on the card pool. In retrospect, they were probably too far along the Timmy and Tammy end of the psychographics spectrum to be compatible with me; they were seeking a very different experience in the game. I talked to Yuki about it, and she felt the same; it was a safer space, but not an enjoyable one. A big part of what drew us together was our shared drive to be the best we can in our pursuits. As lovely and well-intentioned as this group was, it didn’t help us improve our game; so we moved on.

My frustration with the whole experience led me back to my competitive aspirations; after drafting a couple of times at the new place, I decided it was time to dive into Standard. I’d stalled over ‘netdecking’ before, which seemed to erase a whole aspect of the game; but I realised that I lacked the time, experience, and money to brew something decent by myself. Yuki wasn’t interested in Constructed at this stage, and I’d no one else to playtest with. Turning towards other formats would’ve been much less daunting if someone had reminded me that netdecking enables you to “save yourself a lot of time and energy that can now go into other aspects of your tournament preparation”.

After scouring over the results of Pro Tour M15, I ended up settling on Rabble Red. It was relatively cheap to build, had a straightforward game plan, and put up great results at the Pro Tour. My hero Melissa DeTora piloted the deck to a 17th place finish, and it’s fair to say she was the biggest influence in my deck choice.

Rabble Red by Melissa DeTora

Ash Zealot
Burning-Tree Emissary
Firedrinker Satyr
Firefist Striker
Foundry Street Denizen
Goblin Rabblemaster
Legion Loyalist
Rakdos Cackler
Rubblebelt Maaka
Lightning Strike
Stoke the Flames
18 Mountain

Eidolon of the Great Revel
Legion Loyalist
Magma Spray
Mizzium Mortars
Titan’s Strength


When it came to running the deck for the first time, I had variance in my favour. For the first round I was paired against an erratic Sliver player; not what I’d come to expect after watching all that Pro Tour coverage. 2 rounds and 2 wins later, I found myself playing against a UW control deck with Archangel of Thune and Supreme Verdict. My first time being wrathed was somewhat dispiriting, but I’ve always been good at maintaining a poker face. I hadn’t any understanding of my opponent’s strategy, so it was fortunate that he commented on my bad luck not drawing Skullcrack. Immediately I threw in my so-far neglected sideboard copies, and in the end it was the card that closed out game 3, pushing me on to the ‘finals’. This time I was facing the mirror, where I was annihilated 0-2 in front of an embarrassing number of spectators. While I might’ve been a little salty at first, it wasn’t a result to be unhappy with. Yuki, being the wonderful and encouraging girl she is, showered me with praise the whole trip home.


“it wasn’t long after this that Yuki began to focus more of her time on competitive StarCraft. Unlike Magic, it didn’t have recurring costs, and didn’t regularly require hours of travel.”

However, it wasn’t long after this that Yuki began to focus more of her time on competitive StarCraft. Unlike Magic, it didn’t have recurring costs, and didn’t regularly require hours of travel. She changed jobs soon after, making it hard for her to attend FNM. For the first time, I had to choose when to go to Magic by myself, and when to stay home with her. Each Friday I went out alone, I became more and more acutely aware of how I’d been using her as a crutch when it came to Magic. She was the one I talked to between rounds, and often the only other girl playing. I quickly found myself sitting quietly alone, texting her between rounds, since the boys already had their established cliques. It was hard to believe that they took you seriously until you won a match against them. Eventually, I didn’t even have Melissa DeTora to look up to anymore, since she took up an internship in Magic R&D in January. I attend FNM more infrequently as a result; the social factor just isn’t there for me.

In some sense, I’d worked out where I belonged in Magic; I wanted to spend my time preparing for and playing in tournaments. But in another sense, I felt more isolated within the game than ever before.

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