Magic is a powerful, beautiful game. It was a safe haven in some of the worsts times of my life. In the darkest depths of depression, or worse, I could still motivate myself to get out of my room and down to my local game store (or in front of my computer to stream some Magic Online).


We are living in interesting times. I and many people around me are morose and miserable. People are dejected about politics, terrified from hate crimes, and suffering individual problems such as depression, health problems, financial distress, and ailing family members. For many of us, sleep is become a rarity, and nightmares all too common. Stress seems to be a contagious disease, one that my communities seem to be communicating, the anxiety building as it passes from host to host.


In times like these, I wish I had the words of Jess Lina Stirba or Carrie O’Hara, two contributors whose passionate and eloquent conviction I deeply admire (not to disparage my other, wondrous fellow Hipsters). I believe in their belief in social change, in their ability to skillfully craft words to share their feelings and maybe, just maybe, generate empathy in an otherwise.


My skills aren’t theirs. I’m a game designer. I believe in the ability of games to create joy in the face of sorrow and to create communities out of strangers. I believe in the power of games to help people heal. I don’t believe that games are a replacement for working to make the world a better place, but I do believe that they make life better.


To those of you who are in pain, I implore you to find people to share it with; no burden is made heavier by sharing. To those of you who feel isolated or alone, I urge you to seek out a community; not all game communities are welcoming, but many are. And to those of you who are not feeling badly, I nevertheless recommend you form those bonds; not only is life better with friends, life is better when you have a support network you can call on in times of need. I’ve struggled to ask for help in the past, but I’ve never regretted asking for it (once I came around to it).

Much love, and much fun. Next week, we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled game design. Until then, thanks for reading, and take care of yourself.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer. He’s played Magic since 1994, he loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He quite enjoys Revolutionary Rebuff, since that card demonstrates just how insanely good Mana Leak and Miscalculate are.

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