Magic is an extremely challenging game to both learn and play.  The ever evolving formats, mechanics and cards make the game extremely difficult to master.  One can play for years but still find themselves learning something new.  Yet so many people treat players that they perceive to know less than themselves very poorly. In general we should be treating all of our opponents with respect, it isn’t just an issue of assumed game skill. Today however I will only be addressing this issue in relation to perceived skill level since other writers have already covered the overarching problem much better than myself.

This problem has two major roots, the first of which revolves around making assumptions about someone’s knowledge level.  Personally I find that I often have opponents who assume that I don’t know much because I am a girl who is playing an eternal format and arrived to the store with her boyfriend.  What they don’t realize (until after I beat them) is that I play modern once a week and legacy twice a week.  They also don’t realize that my boyfriend didn’t introduce me to magic but that magic introduced me to my boyfriend.  Most importantly though, they don’t realize that absolutely none of that information matters.  It doesn’t matter who your opponent is, if you assume they’re not a knowledgeable player you’re doing both them and yourself a disservice.  Looks can be deceiving, something people have outlined to me several time with such choice quotes as ‘You don’t look like someone who plays magic,’ or the more direct ones who say things like ‘You’re too pretty to play magic.’  Obviously those statements are rude, inappropriate and incorrect since I do in fact play magic.  People from all walks of life play magic, making assumptions about how good they are because of their gender, attractiveness, age, etc is careless and insulting.  Just last year a 13 year old boy who was still in middle school made it into the top 8 at SCG Worcester with burn.  I wonder how many people sat down across from him and assumed they were just playing against a little kid who tagged along with dad.  Give your opponents some credit and don’t make assumptions about them based on who you think they might be.


The second part of this problem is the way people who know less or are perceived to know less are often treated.  There is nothing wrong with not knowing something, especially in a game as complex as Magic.  You might be a new player, have changed formats, or maybe you’ve just never seen a certain card or deck before;  none of those are things to be ashamed of.   We were all new once and to pretend that you know every rule, every interaction and every card in magic would be an absolute lie.  There is no reason to be condescending, get upset, or be rude to someone just for simply not knowing something.  If your opponent genuinely doesn’t know something, when the time is appropriate, teach them or ask for a judge to jump in if it seems right.  Did your matches go quickly? Review the games with them, play an extra game, and walk them through it.  By doing this you are helping create a new generation of magic players and might even learn something yourself.  We all have an incentive to help breed players who will be a positive addition to our community.

Goethe, a kick-ass German writer, once said ‘Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.”  He was right.  What’s the point of being the best if no one respects you? And you need to give respect to get it.  So let’s respect each other, don’t look down on someone because they know less and don’t assume they know less because they’re different than you.

Kate Donnelly is Legacy and Modern player who resides in Worcester, Mass. She uses Hipsters of the Coast as an excuse for playing too much Magic. In addition she is an artist who alters cards.  Check out her work out on Facebook or shoot her a message on Twitter!

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