I know it’s customary with the opening paragraphs of your introductory article to do just that—introduce yourself. I can give you credentials and history, etc., but you’re here to read about games—specifically Magic. I’ve been playing the game since 1998, and playing Limited since Betrayers, so in lieu of giving you the CV—which doesn’t tell you anything, besides the fact that I’m good at marketing and better at spin—here are the picks I’ve made. Our choices tell us more about ourselves than any number of resumés can, anyway.

Umezawa’s Jitte

My first draft was triple Betrayers. I had been playing casually for years at that time, but had never heard about Limited—you have to play with what you open!? You get to open boosters AND play games!? I skipped Brit Lit to take the bus to the games store and took my seat at the corner of the table.

By the time the store owner had collected the wrappers, I had drafted six copies of Crack the Earth. I had applied my knowledge of casual multiplayer to something a little more…ah, cutthroat, and had assumed that high-impact, cheap cards that I could chain together to deprive us both of resources would be a good strategy (this is a stratagem I still hold true, by the way—a born Stax player and a Tangle Wire aficionado). I had come up in the days of Hatred and Ponza, and thought the function of the game was to share the misery.

My opponent, keeping to a different ludophilosophy, had first-picked a Jitte.


Savra, Queen of the Golgari

Some months later, I was at the same store, studying up to scrub out, and sat down for a Ravnica-Ravnica-Guildpact draft. That night, it was like I was playing Constructed—first pick Savra, second pick Grave-Shell Scarab, third pick Scatter the Seeds—and I started celebrating by the time we got to the Guildpact picks. My luck didn’t change there; Teysa into Pillory into Blind Hunter set the scene for a route. I mentally prepared myself for an evening of gracious wins—“oh, I know—I’m such a ‘sack. Heart of the cards, man.”—and shuffled up against the Jitte player. Over the next three hours, I was fed so much crow I shat feathers until the next FNM. Mana was ugly, I drew nothing but Scatters with no creatures to convoke, a Drooling Groodion went full Pac-Man on my belated army. I had proved, as we all must at some point, that sometimes you’re the lucksack and sometimes you’re left holding it.

I still have that Savra as a Commander; my girl is the queen of the Golgari.



At my peak, I was slightly above mediocre—but one day, I fell into a kind of adroit glory. It was the week Lorwyn dropped, and I had realized the best part of Magic lies in drawing cards. (I only came to that realization twelve years after the rest of y’all.) So my first pick of Mulldrifter, followed by second pick Mulldrifter, third pick Flamekin Harbinger, and fourth pick Mulldrifter looked like I could drop, add thirty-six lands, and finish in the money. I was prepared for anything—save my own craving for value. I refused to Evoke—why would I let my creature die!?—and was buried in a wave of Faeries and tempo Merfolk.

In the coming eighteen months, that would become a familiar feeling.


Ulamog’s Crusher

There’s little better-feeling in the game than forcing an archetype; you feel both lucky and skilled, like a chef who plates at peak. I had read up on Rise x3 before I showed up for my first draft, and I liked my chances. In the interest of cutting off everyone with extreme prejudice, I had told myself that I’d first pick any Crushers or Hands of Emrakul I saw, passing anything in favor of the big, strong sons. My resolve was tested by the Emrakul in the first pack, but fifteen is fifteen, even when fifteen bucks is fifteen bucks. Crusher proceeded to do just that, and Momentous Falling it in response to an Act of Treason effect is still one of my favorite Magic moments, years later.


Jace, the Mind Sculptor

P1P1 Jace, P2P1 Mana Crypt.


There have been innumerable picks over the last twelve years—as of this month, it’s been that long since I first cracked a Betrayers pack and Cracked the Earth—from the Stronghold Overseer I passed pack three because I was monoblue, to the first pick Cursed Scroll I rode to victory in a Tempest Remastered draft, but these are the picks that array themselves around my play style, spotlighting the luck and obsessive ranking that make up the mindset of the Limited player. I am a permanent resident of Valuetown, a hidebound thinker who can’t shift horses midstream, a passer of Planeswalkers in favor of instants. B.R.E.A.D. rules everything around me.

Next Article: Now that you know what I’ve picked, I’ll tell you who I am—and tell you who you are.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked up a Darkling Stalker off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

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