Sometimes, it can be difficult to support Wizards of the Coast. Whether you love or hate the recent Universes Beyond product lines, Secret Lairs and the ever-present FOMO, ancillary products to drive purchases, Set-themed Commander decks every couple months, set boosters, draft boosters, collector boosters, Double-Features, Remasters: it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and burnt out on Magic.

I started playing Magic more than a decade ago during New Phyrexia, and the burnout isn’t exclusive to this era. While this won’t help you level up your game, this might just help you stay sane in this wild era of Magic. Fun fact: I got a Phyrexian Obliterator in the first pack I ever opened.

The latest Magic kerfuffle, at the time of writing this at least, is the 30th Anniversary Edition product line coinciding with a now-deleted tweet from Hasbro that reads like the manifesto of a mustache-twirling villain. The product itself is four randomized boosters of “official” Beta reprints that feature a gold-bordered card back, which means you could potentially open cards like Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, or Volcanic Island. The only catch is that they aren’t tournament legal, or Commander legal.

I feel like I’m forgetting something—oh yeah, it costs $1,000. That’s right folks, for $1,000 dollars, you too can celebrate thirty years of Magic history by opening randomized booster packs of cards you can’t even play. I’m a very big fan of Limited, but I think I’ll be taking a pass on a draft format that has a minimum $1,000 buy in.

To cap off this announcement, Hasbro released (and eventually deleted) this tweet the very same day.

Tweet from Hasbro reading: Today we announced our plan to grow profit 50% over the next three years.

“Today we announced our plan to grow profit by 50% over the next three years.” —Hasbro, presumably with evil laughter.

One bad product is just the start. Magic has had many, and I do mean many, issues over the last several years. At popular events alone there have been issues with scammers getting booths, confusing rules for entry and procedure, and more. Products are having increasingly frequent quality issues, if they’re arriving in a timely manner whatsoever. Prices are going up despite Hasbro and Wizards declaring unprecedented profits and success from Magic. Bigotry within the community, while on the relative downswing, is still pervasive. If you’ve been involved in Magic for a long time, you’ve no doubt heard about some of these issues before. However, I’m not here solely to preach doom and gloom, I actually intend to do the opposite. To do that, I’ll tell a bit of my story.

Late in the summer of last year a lot of the problems I personally have with Magic, and some of my own issues, came to a head. I was no longer enjoying time at my local game store, and the experience felt like a net-negative. What was once a hobby for me became nothing more than a money-sink, especially since I was invested heavily in Commander, and money was tight.

First, I went to my local store. I gave away some cards and apologized for rudeness and salt I had brought to the tables. Then, I didn’t play Magic for about eight months. I took a break. I looked at the occasional spoiler, but that was about it. I needed time to both get my life in order and think about what I wanted from Magic. I learned a lot about who I am and what I want from that break, and these are the things I think you can do to avoid getting burnt out the same way I did. Not all of them will work for you, but I hope some of them do.

Think about what you want from this game.

Right before I took my break, I wasn’t playing the game for fun. I was playing the game purely to win, to exert dominance and control over a situation because I was having a rough time outside of the game. This is absolutely the wrong approach. If you want to have fun, test yourself, build relationships with other players, and have fun, this game is great for you. If you want to crush other players and get bitter about losses, you won’t enjoy your time at all.

Find your focus.

Do you smile wide when five spells from four players hit the stack on someone’s end step? How about when you get a sweet two-for-one with your common removal spell? Find that thing you like in Magic and try to replicate it across your gameplay. This sounds simple, but it can be easy to get stuck in your habits. Show other people that joy.

Try something new.

I’ve played many formats over the years, starting with Modern-legal kitchen table decks during New Phyrexia, moving to Standard through Theros block, then to Commander and Limited further on. If I get bored with a Limited format, I just stop drafting it. I don’t force myself to draft if I don’t want to, even though I have an entire channel dedicated to it. Sometimes I’ll play Brawl, or even hop onto Magic Online to see if there’s a flashback set or cube available.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you’re worried about the money, lots of players have more than one deck and would likely let you borrow one to try out the format they enjoy!

Understand that (no, seriously) not every product is for you.

We’ve heard from the brass at WotC before, and it always feels like a punch to the gut, but please hear me out. There was a time when you could purchase every product and get some of everything. That time has long since passed. Pick your battles. Lots of things look cool to me, and I’m in a financial position where I could buy most things that are released, but I don’t want to. Post Malone secret lair? Not for me. Innistrad: Double Feature? Not for me either.

Sometimes it’s not as easy as just passing up on a product, especially if that’s the only printing of a given card, but for the most part you can just say no. Not every product is for you, and you shouldn’t buy every product, even if it was.

Buy singles. Please, buy singles.

It is hard for me to overstate this one. If you burn out spending $200 on boxes and packs every set instead of spending $100 on the singles you want, just buy singles. If you can draft with some friends and you all split the box, or you want those sweet lands and love commons, cool, but product overload stops and starts with what you’re willing to buy. “Keeping up” is not only impossible, but also probably unhealthy. Instead, pick your battles and buy singles whenever you can.

Make victory your secondary goal.

Losing is not very fun most of the time. Playing usually is. If you’re focusing on the destination instead of the journey, you’re missing out on most of Magic. The end of the game is only one moment, so don’t sleep through everything else! One person winning means someone else is losing, but that doesn’t mean all players can’t have fun.

Maybe even take a break.

When all else fails, it is okay to take a step back to reevaluate how you feel and what that means in the context of Magic. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from a situation. I’ve been playing Magic for more than ten years, and I’ve taken multiple breaks, but I kept coming back because I love this game.

Maybe I was frustrated or disappointed, but when I came back, I loved it just as much as I did before. I can’t promise that you’ll ever feel good about what convinced you to leave, but when you come back, you might feel different about how you engage with the game, for the better.

Putting it all together.

There is some overlap in the points above, but you should strive to think about the merits of each one. Figure out why you play this game, and if it is for a good reason, share that with other people. Branch out, experiment, make friends, and share with people who buy the things you don’t. Recognize that when a player looks at a card like Negan, the Cold-Blooded, they might be getting something out of it that you don’t, and that’s okay. Do your best to win, and try to learn from the times that you lose.

While Wizards is a company, Magic is more than its parent corporation, and you should always try to emphasize the Gathering, because this community is filled with amazing people. We all want you here, enjoying the game we all love.

Luka Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a mind for calculating odds, and a calm demeanor. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011! Most days, you’ll find them in the gym or creating content for their YouTube channel: Robot Rallis.

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