In life, sometimes you need to look backward. You can only know how far you’ve come by glancing back to where you’ve been. Without this introspection, it’s easy to lose sight of your accomplishments, your successes, your missteps, and everything that makes you, you. We often do this with Magic—heck, last month did this when considering Magic’s enormous turnaround in just the past year. But today, I’d like to do something a little different. Yes, I’ll talk about Magic and game design, as I always do, but through a more personal lens than usual. Today on Drawing Live, I’m going to talk about myself, and how sometimes a silly little thing can mean all the world.

Six years ago today, Hipsters of the Coast published my first article. Since then, it’s published Drawing Live every Tuesday from then until today.*

Hipsters was very different back in March of 2013, and so was I. Only half a year prior the site had been Zac Clark’s personal blog. By the time I started writing, Hipsters featured fantastic writers like Matt Jones, Jess, Hunter, Rich, and Li, all talking about playing at our local game store, Twenty Sided Store. I knew every single person who read my articles, and in a really good week, I’d get twelve, maybe even twenty views. I had no goals in writing for Hipsters—at the time, I was unemployed, directionless, lonely, and bored. Having a column gave me something to do, a platform to express myself to a small audience of friends, and a means by which to improve at writing and playing Magic. There was no money in writing for my friend’s blog, no glory, just the joy of having something to do. And I really needed something to do.

*Okay, almost every Tuesday. But I’ve written enough bonus articles to counterbalance the few weeks I skipped.

I can remember what it was like being Zach in 2013, but he’s a very different person than I. He was unhappy. Magic was a refuge for him, a safe haven from improv burnout and being between unsatisfying jobs. It’s so easy now to say, “Little did he know that in a year’s time, he’d resolve to become a game designer. That a mere three months after that, he’d have a job in the field, his first tournament success, and a flourishing social and romantic life. Little did he know that he’d leave improv behind altogether, keeping the skills and friends and memories, but no longer needing it to express or enjoy himself. Little did he know just how big that tiny little website would become.”

Of course, everything is easier to see in hindsight. Hipsters exploding into what it is today was a combination of luck, the extremely hard work and growing talent of its growing staff, and to a far lesser extent, the perseverance of authors like yours truly. Sometimes, you happen to hitch your horse to a cart that turns out to have invented the steam engine.* Sometimes, it’s just good to say yes and try something new. Usually, there’s no immediate or obvious dramatic impact, but the experience of doing something tends to supersede the experience of doing nothing. And sometimes, it pays off big time.

*But, like, a special steam engine. One that doesn’t obviate the need for your horse.

In the past six years, I’ve accomplished much, and much of it I have to thank Hipsters for.

Because of Hipsters, I fell in love with Standard Pauper and ran a 152 person tournament spanning 15 countries. A tournament won by my Magic endboss, rival, and friend, Hugh.

Because of Hipsters, I became a better, more self-aware, and articulate Magic player. I was able to share my lessons with my friends and learn even more from them in return.

Because of Hipsters, I was able to get into the Magic party at Game Developers Conference 2016 based purely on the site’s name recognition.

Because of Hipsters, I livestreamed the very first deckbuild of Iconic Masters and penned the first guides to drafting IMA, Masters 25, and Rise from the Tides.

Because of Hipsters, I’ve been featured over twenty times on Daily MTG. At Game Developers Conference 2017, I was recognized by a trio of Wizards senior game designers simply by an article on Tar Snare, of all cards.

Because of Hipsters, I had the platform to create Great Developer Training, a series that reached thousands of GDS3 aspirants and students of game design.

Because of Hipsters, I’ve had the privilege to preview five Magic cards, including my favorite dragon duo.

Because of Hipsters, I’ll be interviewing some of Magic’s big movers and shakers this weekend at PAX East.

Along the way, I also built a career as a game designer, lecturer, and educator. I received a Masters of Fire Arts in Game Design. I became a senior game designer, project manager, and panelist. I revived Team Draft League and became commissioner to bring a source of joyful competition back to my community. I’ve moved four times, gotten humblingly kind feedback from a French reader, brought game design into the classroom at my favorite museum, built new close friendships, and taught myself to snap with my left hand. So, an eventful half decade plus.

Before parting, I’d like to encourage everyone reading this to try their own hand at introspection. Where have you come in the past year, or five years? What were your triumphs, small and large? It’s good to pat yourself on the back—after all, as the color black knows, no one’s a better advocate for your success than you are. I also encourage you all to think of opportunities that have cropped up. What’s something interesting that you might say yes to, instead of no? What’s an idea you’ve got nagging at you or a dream some part of you wants to pursue? It’s worth saying yes, or giving your idea a try. It could turn out to be nothing, or an invisible step forward, or a massive surge ahead. I didn’t know which was which back in 2013, but you could be looking back on your choice a month or six years in the future and also saying, “Little did I know…”

And, as ever, thank you so much reading.

Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer and the commissioner of Team Draft League. He designs for Kingdom Death: Monster, has a Game Design MFA from the NYU Game Center, and does freelance game design. When the stars align, he streams Magic.

His favorite card of the month is Prophetic Prism, which is also his favorite design of all time. It’s a simple but powerful effect in Limited, allowing ambitious manabases while having nice synergies with mechanics like Improvise and sacrifice effects. Also, it always has absolutely gorgeous art.

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