A few weeks ago someone new started attending my LGS, something that happens pretty regularly due to our consistently large Legacy turnouts. During the first couple of weeks he was there I didn’t get to interact with him directly, though he did seem to be trying to fit in.  After a few weeks we got paired for the first time and from the minute he sat down, he was extremely rude and talked down to me the entire time. Then he tried scolding me for ‘taking too long side-boarding’ (which is apparently about two minutes) while lamenting that his deck is slow and he wanted to make sure I was playing fast. He was rude the rest of the match and when we were finally done I asked if I had done something to upset him. He said no he was just “in the zone.” I chatted with him my feelings on these issues and now I’d like to share them with you.

The first thing I want to address is playing speed. I’ve discussed before how annoying I find slow play but this is the first time I feel I need to address fast play. If you are playing a slow deck it is not your opponent’s obligation to play fast to make up for it. As long as they are playing at a reasonable pace you should not be scolding your opponent. They did not make your deck choice, you did, and you are the sole person responsible for that.  More importantly than that, just because you’re stressed about time and don’t want a draw doesn’t give you an excuse to be an asshole.

The bigger issue I’d like to address is this idea that you can be rude to your opponent because you are “in the zone.” First I’d like to shut down the nay-sayers: you don’t need to take your opponent to tea and be best friends, but you shouldn’t be a giant douchebag. I understand the desire to focus on your game; but if you are rude, curt or talk down to your opponent and continuously make excuses for it, I do not believe that Magic is the game for you. This is a card game where you often meet strangers at a store and play a game with them. You should be able to interact with them in a way that doesn’t leave them thinking you’re a giant jerk. My opponent was so bad I actually addressed this directly with him (he made some small improvements this week though wasn’t quite there) but hostility is a huge problem worth discussing.

When someone gives you a bad attitude it’s really hard to pinpoint specific issues, but I think it’s import to address problems like this. This silent hostility is one of the worst things to have to deal with and can be very overwhelming, especially for women and minorities who might already feel unwelcome.  This type of hostility has been used against me multiple times by bullies trying to make me feel unwelcome without giving me something I can specifically pinpoint them doing outside acting like a general asshole.  Its a tactic bullies like to employ because it makes it easier to lay blame on the victim.

When this happens I’d like to remind you that it’s possible to talk to your opponent about this issue without being a jerk.  At casual REL if someone is being really bad about it I’ll talk to the store owner but if it’s something I think I can handle I’ll talk directly with the person. In the example above I did both: I informed the store owner of what happen while still informing my opponent of what he was doing and why he should cut it out.  I talked about the impact it had on me directly and the attitude he was giving off.

To be honest this week he was a bit more friendly but came off very full of himself and still talked down to me excessively. (Person next to me casts a Ruric Thar after our game, “Oh I loved running him when I used to play Elves, he’s the best,” goes on to explain to me how Elves works . . .) I know I’ve written about respect so much I feel like I’m almost beating a dead horse, but this is a vital issue. And it’s one that somehow isn’t evolving in the Legacy community it seems.  It’s an older format that’s slow to change, but it’s also an expensive format often played by older people who should know better.  So next time you sit down remember being “in the zone” is not an excuse for being an asshole.

Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! She mainly plays legacy and modern though will occasionally find herself playing EDH. 

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