Today, Thomas Bermudez invites us to join him as he sits down with Vincent Chandler, better known as PleasantKenobi. 

You might know him from his videos playing ‘top tier’ decks in Modern like Mono Red Tron, or from his work with Channel Fireball. Perhaps you know him for his casting work, his participation on Commander Clash (real, or otherwise), or because of his successful work to get Stoneforge Mystic unbanned in Modern. That’s right—today’s subject is PleasantKenobi.

Magic in the UK

Have you always played Magic in the UK?

Yeah. My first event was in a book store in Southampton—Eventide Draft. I learnt to play magic with my next-door neighbor on the concrete outside our houses in a small town. Up until I started playing Magic, I never really left the country because my family couldn’t afford it. 

Magic was like an English thing for me, I played with kids locally. England doesn’t really have game stores, right? Game stores are kind of a new thing, the US has the ‘Local Game Store’ but until recently, the concept of the LGS in the UK was relatively uncommon. My first “LGS” was a chain bookstore that I don’t think exists anymore. I guess I didn’t really get ‘into it’ until I started traveling for GPs. 

I’m also a big proponent of Magic: Online. I love Arena (bot drafts excluded) and Wizards are very keen to push Arena at every opportunity—they love that program!—but I believe that despite its problems, MODO is a good program for a fantastic game like Magic. You get to play Modern, and Legacy, and Cube, and even Commander to an extent despite the clunkiness. 

You can play all of these formats at any time of day, and formats like Legacy are way cheaper on MODO. If you are really invested in Magic and play it daily you can just get a rental account and play whatever you want whenever you want, instead of having to grind all the wildcards on Arena to play one or two formats.

Magic Milestones

Darksteel Colossus by Carl Critchlow

Darksteel Colossus by Carl Critchlow

What were the most important moments for you in your Magic career? 

The first time I saw the cards on a shelf at a friend’s house, he excitedly told me about Denizen of the Deep. I had only just seen the cards and he told me about this 11/11 creature and I thought “Wow! How can it be so big?! How can you beat that?” It blew my brain. 

The next key moment I think was when me and my mates started playing together in college [Editor: UK schooling from 16-18 years old]. We were playing kitchen table Magic and I had an Umezawa’s Jitte and I didn’t know you could use it instant speed, but it was still too good even without that. I was killing creatures left and right but only on my turn. During that time there was an arms race in our group to get better cards so a friend of mine went on Ebay and bought an Akroma, Angel of Fury and a Darksteel Colossus, and just shoved them in his deck. His deck wasn’t built to ramp like that, let me tell you! 

Gradually I started finding some other people playing in Southampton, and then one day someone asked if we wanted to go draft some Eventide and I was like, “What is Eveningtide? What is Drafting? Sure!” I went and it was great. I saw a trade binder for the first time! I made more and more friends. 

From then on, I got more involved in Standard and I built a competitive deck and got super into competitive Magic with Innistrad Standard—I had the Unburial Rites deck. I loved that deck. Then the real turning point was when I got into content creation.

How did you end up doing what you do in the MTG community? 

So, I’ve always wanted to be a creative person. I’ve always wanted to write—at first, I wanted to be a novelist. So, I went through my degree and then moved on to be a teacher thinking I could write alongside teaching at a Secondary school. Turns out, I hated teaching; it was just not for me. So, I dropped out of that. 

Around that time, I started writing about videogames for a website, and eventually I started making videos about videogames too. I got a bit of traction talking about topics like GamerGate and stuff like that at the time, then I started making Magic videos and they got a lot more steam a lot more quickly. 

My first Mono Red Tron video was the first one to become a “hit”. That’s kind of how I got into it. Because I was so popular, I stuck to it. Magic content can be very dry, and it’s just people talking over gameplay with long silences. I pulled inspiration and styles from non-Magic ‘Let’s Plays’ that I enjoyed and applied them to my videos, and it’s been good so far. It also helped me get over the disenfranchisement from my unsuccessful grinding endeavors, to be honest. 

Eventually, someone reached out to me saying that they wanted me to keep making Legacy Death and Taxes videos. I did not own Rishadan Ports at the time because of the price tag on the playset, so this amazingly kind person asked if they could just give them to me because he liked my content and wanted me to keep making it. This then queued me into making a Patreon and it was far more successful than I could have ever hoped for.

I am living the dream and I feel like the luckiest man in the world doing what I love, with a loving marriage.


What has the MTG community meant to you?

What got me so deeply into Magic was watching coverage, which then got me to start playing at my local University and bookstore and such a lot more than before. The ‘gathering’ is so important, and I think Arena kind of pulls away from it. Even on MODO if my opponent has a weird card choice, we can talk about it through the chat. There’s potential for a conversation—Arena removes even that. Magic has introduced me to some of my best friends and the community as a whole has allowed me to make content for a living! 

The MTG community as a whole is good, it gets a bad reputation because of bad incidents but I think that is a fraction of a very kind and diverse community which offers opportunities to so many different people. As a whole, we are far more inclusive than most other games. I’ve seen people in my community, in my discord for example who have left or been kicked out for their unprogressive, meanspirited views, and who have then, because of me and other players and content creators, re-examined these views and have come back. 

I feel like somehow Magic, in a way, helps educate people. It has a positive impact on people. That is not me excusing the bad actions at all, but it is important to highlight these other points. An example of this was the live chat during GP Los Angeles this past year. Normally for an event like this there would be a sub-only Twitch chat to avoid toxicity. But people at ChannelFireball insisted on keeping it open, trusting the community, and on the whole the chat was great with a team of moderators getting rid of the few bad apples.

Vince with some of his Patrons & fans at GP Birmingham

Vince with some of his Patrons & fans at GP Birmingham

What do you feel is your role in the community? 

I think I am currently the biggest old-school Magic content creator in the UK right now. Merchant is far bigger than I am but he focuses on Arena, mostly. My content got popular off of the back of me being silly, really. It’s definitely more geared towards entertainment than teaching. I think I do have insight and I’m not a terrible player, contrary to the comments on some of my videos. 

I think my role, then, is that of a joker? I think my role has shifted recently because I have always been very clear about my personal politics. I am a very liberal person and I have been told many times that I should leave these remarks out of my content. At the end of the day I feel like Magic is a wonderful creative outlet and a way to have fun. Winning is not the important bit.

It seem like from the outside people can see your content and define it in one way but perhaps your intention with the content was something else or you are wanting to shift?

Yeah, I think you’re right there. What people expect from my content is a little bit unclear, but I feel like I am an ‘old school’ style Youtuber; I’m just making what I enjoy making, and what I think is fun. Some people keep commenting on my weekly ChannelFireball videos thinking they are coming to see the next Reid Duke or LSV and I keep having to warn them that that’s not me. I’m just messing around with Pir and Toothy in Legacy! 

I am consistent in that I have a voice, style, and politics, but I am just doing what feels right. Saffron Olive is probably one of my biggest influences from Magic content I think, so when I got to make videos with him and chat to him, I felt like “Oh my gosh, Senpai has noticed me!”

Looking Ahead

What would you like to get from the Magic community this coming year? 

The biggest thing is to tune into my Charity Stream this December! Last year we streamed for McMillan and we raised nearly five thousand pounds for Cancer Research and I want to double down this year and put more into it. I want to try and get other content creators involved because anything we can do to help people that are less fortunate than us or for a good cause is important. So that is my one wish, tune into my charity stream in December! 

What would you like to give the community this year? 

I think that Magic’s history and its older formats are very important. What I would like to give is to try encourage people to play these older formats whether that is at home with your friends, at your local store or even big events. I am planning to start a series on budget versions of Legacy decks that are still playable. I think Legacy, and Modern, when it’s in a good place, are some of the best places to play Magic. Especially Legacy, there are so many decisions to be made and skills to practice. 

So, as a content creator I want to get people involved in those formats and help them out. I want to encourage the UK community to also adopt 1v1 Highlander. Whether we adopt Australian Highlander which I have a few videos about on my channel, or Canadian Highlander which has been popularized by the Loading Ready Run people doesn’t matter. I just think those formats are so much fun! They are a lot cheaper than Legacy and you can just proxy cards. The issue is trying to get people to commit to yet another format is rough. You have to keep track of all the cards and maintain decks and it’s a mess.

In Closing

To wrap things up why don’t we talk about some fun game-related questions? If you could design a card, any card, what would it be?

I’ve always loved top down design like in Theros and Innistrad. Flavorful ideas you know? I would make something like a fighter monk that when it enters the battlefield it unequips all equipments, and says that equipments cannot be used while this creature is in play. It would be a weird hatebear.

And finally, what Magic-related content do you consume?

I normally like video essay stuff like Spice8Rack, and Magic Man Sam (Rhystic Studies). I also love Saffron Olive. Outside of Magic, I watch a lot of “left tube” like Contrapoints, Philosophy Tube, and the like.

Thanks to Vince for joining me today to talk Magic. You can find him on YouTube and Twitter.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.