I started writing for Hipsters of the Coast in July of 2013. I was 25 years old at the time and started writing articles about Magic to help me feel better about the huge amount of time I was spending on the game. I felt that if I was writing articles it legitimized my hobby, and by proxy all the hours reading articles, grinding tournaments, and traveling to events. It did, to some extent.

I’m just as proud of some of these articles as I am with my single top 16 GP finish (the zenith of my competitive Magic career). I certainly feel better about “Modern Institute of Technology,” “Modern Hero,” and “Ensnaring Cambridge” than I did about phantom registering for a GP to squeak across the play point threshold for a second bye in the upcoming season.

I stopped writing in 2018. I’m not sure I meant to; the final sentence of my last article is “I’ll be back next week talking about some dope decks that popped up at GP Phoenix.” I did not come back the following week and will never know about the dope decks to come out of GP Phoenix unless I want to navigate the labyrinthian hell that is the Wizards coverage website. My best guess is that I stopped writing because my life had changed a lot in the previous few months: I started a new band, I had a new role at my job, and I was in a new relationship.

For the 10-year anniversary of Hipsters of the Coast, I started combing through five years of my articles in hopes that I could highlight a few that might contain some enduring content among the dead standard formats and invalidated modern archetypes. I came up with a list of 10 articles that feel important to me. That importance is subjective. Some of these articles I like for the writing, some I like for the ideas, and most of them I like because they remind me of a specific period of time or memory that I want to hold on to.

So let’s hop in the memory machine and explore 10 magic articles I wrote. Be careful to step over the broken Casthaven links.

1. Red Deck Wins, Week Two (September, 2013)

I would argue that in both Magic and wrestling, the process of the match is more important than the result. For most Magic players, the people who play casually at the kitchen table or at mostly smaller level tournaments, winning is certainly preferable but not why we play the game.

When I first started writing for HotC I wrote exceptionally long articles that provided in-depth coverage of low-stakes FNM games. It was arduous to write and equally arduous to read. This is the earliest article I could find where I broke away from the tournament report structure to introduce a larger framework. The framework here was a comparative analysis of pro-wrestling and Magic: The Gathering with the takeaway being that the process—the depth of gameplay and the story told in a wrestling ring—is more important than individual wins and losses. Wins feel good but the richness of the game is what keeps us coming back, especially after a run of demoralizing losses.

2. MTG Finance/Speculation Review (March, 2014)

You should invest in EDH playables. Since the Standard market crashes every couple of years, with the exception of a handful of eternal playables, and the Legacy/Vintage environment is hostile to 95% of the cards that Wizards prints, Commander seems to be the safest market for speculating.

I don’t consider myself a very financially savvy person, but this particular pearl of wisdom continues to be relevant today. Having said that, I definitely did not consider the sheer number of reprints that would occur over the next decade, so my Mimic Vat spec didn’t end up working out (unless you sold them in May of 2014 at their $3.50 high).

3. Sell My Old Cards, I’m Off to Heaven (June, 2014)

What I’m getting at is that it’s important to consider the long-term financial value of your cards, but, this shouldn’t prevent you from making decisions for the now.

I stand by the sentiment of this article. Even if it’s financially correct to hold on to a Magic card, it’s fine to sell it if it means that you can experience something you wouldn’t otherwise. Having cards is cool but having a life-affirming experiences is cooler. However, I would caution readers against selling their Magic cards to go to pro-wrestling school, especially if they have a low pain tolerance and poor cardio.

4. It All Started With Phantom Nomad (May, 2014)

I’ve made some of my best friends playing Magic, have traveled across the country to attend tournaments, and have been more committed to writing a weekly article than I ever was with homework. All of this started with a couple of +1/+1 counters and a stupid interaction. I owe part of where I am today to Phantom Nomad. Thanks buddy.

A single basement tournament at a friend’s house hooked me on Magic: The Gathering for the next two decades. I played a bad blue-white deck that looked more like a limited pile than a constructed viable list. I loved that Phantom Nomad couldn’t die in combat when wearing a Ghostly Wings and somehow rode that “combo” to victory. I still have the same love for a glorified Grizzly Bears from Judgment all these years later.

5. Magic and the Mighty Ducks (September, 2014)

In conclusion, D2 rules, Magic rules, and if you ever get yourself into a tricky situation, just remember to ask yourself WWCCD? What would Charlie Conway do?

I have nothing to say about this one except that I’m glad Hunter enjoyed it and that Jason Alt is aware of its existence.

6. Quietly Contemplating GP Baltimore, Part One (December, 2014)

7’ed for 2’ed an opponent with End Hostilities. After I used Quiet Contemplation and a Force Away to narrowly stay alive, he just emptied out his hand on the table. When I played End Hostilities he just said, “oh.”

GP Baltimore represents my first GP day two and the place where I met one of my best friends after being paired against him toward the end of day one. If we hadn’t met at the GP, I’m not sure we would have connected when he moved to Boston a year later. A random pairing set up an enduring friendship that has lasted the better part of a decade. Good luck in Atlanta, Tim!

7. 10 Magic Cheaters Who Look Like Cats (November, 2014)

So it turns out cats are a lot like Magic cheaters: they are opportunistic, don’t care about the community, and both most likely have toxic feces.

Once upon a time on the HotC Sling, I pitched an idea for an absurd clickbait article to poke fun at Buzzfeed-ification of internet-based writing. It ended up being the top viewed article on the website for an embarrassingly long time. I was happy to have the top article on the website, I just wish it wasn’t this one. I can look back now and appreciate a few of the cat puns I littered in there but feel weird that my most viewed articles were about cats and body odor.

8. Wolfpack Invitational Report **1st**, Part One (March, 2015)

This is the story of eight friends cubing in a living room, breaking for pizza for a gratuitously long time, and singing along in falsettos to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” It wasn’t the pro tour, but it was important to us.

The Wolfpack Invitational is my brother Eric’s passion project: a multi-format invitational featuring cube draft and whatever novel constructed format he comes up with (White Bordered Legacy being my favorite). He’s been running this tournament for years, each time in a different iteration; a new format, new competitors, and a unique prize for each one. In my possession, I have a wolf trophy and a commissioned sand-warrior token with my likeness. Thanks for always putting in the work to bring people together Eric.

9. The Myth of Balance (January, 2015)

The reason I bring this up is that sometimes I feel like I live my life like a Battle of Wits deck, a heaving 250 card tower. I just keep adding things to my schedule without making cuts and hope to get there on my wits alone. This has diminishing returns of course, I spread myself too thin and lower the probability of me drawing my win conditions. To top it off, the task of shuffling that many cards is arduous. If I’m living my life at competitive REL, the chances I can sufficiently randomize a 250 deck within the given timeframe is dubious at best. I just can’t do it.

It’s okay to get lost in things. It’s okay to be a little obsessive, to stay up all night jamming games, and to spend a little too much money on foiling out your Commander deck. Balance is something to strive for but not a hard-and-fast rule. It’s a life of possibility, do what you want to do.

10. The Imaginary Magic Hygiene Problem (April, 2015)

You are not a mandated reporter of body odors and shouldn’t act like it’s your responsibility. If you suspect someone of cheating, call a judge. If you suspect someone of not using deodorant, keep it to yourself.

I was on vacation in Tokyo when this story was published and remember waking up to my phone buzzing with notifications. I’m pretty sure this was the article I wrote with the most views and points of discussion, which is kind of a weird legacy for me. On the one hand, I stand by most of my points here. Magic events should probably have better ventilation, body odor is not synonymous with bad hygiene, and posting passive aggressive signs doesn’t really help the problem. On the other hand, a little deodorant isn’t a big ask and it was kind of weird to me to disagree with Gabby Spartz when she was writing about her personal experience. You live and you learn.

Looking back, I’m proud of everything I was able to accomplish writing for Hipsters of the Coast and am thankful to have been part of such an excellent community. It means a lot to me that Rich, Hunter, Dave and everyone else took a chance on a me and let me write articles about my local magic community and the game I love complete with potato quality pictures on a now ancient iPhone. I’m equally excited that the site has continued to grow and thrive over the years. I won’t be back next week but if I was, I would probably write about Voyager, a nostalgia influenced custom format created by my brother Eric featuring vintage legal cards from 2003-2009.

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