Hello Gentle Entities and Appetizing Enemies! It is my understanding that this week on the plane which houses Hipsters of the Coast, we celebrate cards and hearts. My writerly compatriots are looking forward to attending MagicCon Philly for the 30th anniversary of Magic the Gathering by converging in large groups, playing games and looking at art. I am sure we will be enjoying their reports of this event over the next several days!

As this is our seventh column, we at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Lifeforms would like to remind you we answer between 1-3 letters from our interrogative entities across the multiverse each week. If you missed our initial column, you may peruse it at your leisure at this location.

Content Warnings

Mizz Mizzet’s Guide to Magical Manners is pleased to provide Content Warnings, given that solving bad behavior often means describing bad behavior.

Dear Mizz Mizzet,

My significant other and I just broke up. We play games in the same circles and are both part of a couple of long term gaming groups. I don’t want to quit just because we aren’t a couple. Do I have to? I don’t think the break up was “bad” but I notice most other couples one has dropped and one has stayed. Can I ask for “custody” of a group if it’s like that?” 

Consciously Uncoupled  

Dear Consciously, 

One of the odd things I have noticed as a medium-sized dragon in a large and diverse country is that American Culture ™  puts social pressure on adult beings, forcing them to sort their fellows into categories of “contagion” or  “constraint”. And most of the categories are meant to enforce staying away from each other rather than collaborate with each other. 

There’s an concept which puzzles me adult USians. Some argue against socializing with folk who do not meet a tiny, limited, list of approvable criteria. But what’s more alarming is that Americans force ALL their less-than-elder humans into age-segregated learning nests. They force them to socialize with a limited peer group of about 100-1000 or so fellow whelps, supervised by highly-outnumbered adults to shepherd them through their human training and interpersonal relationships. Then these entities are either funneled into another training center,  OR simply dumped out into the greater world. They are told to forget all the “childish things” they were encouraged to develop in order to succeed emotionally and socially in the training centers.

It is odd, and I would like to gently suggest you would do well to politely ignore such instruction.

Might I suggest if you are not currently whelp-aged,  you remember how you navigated the ebb and flow of social relationship changes when you were in your aged-based nests? Friendships, collaborations, deep relationships would start and end, and redefine, and you would still have to be in the same classes and clubs and geolocations interacting with each other. You would not be able to opt out, so other means of navigating these milestones were in practice. These are the same skills you might use to navigate social niceties in your gaming community. 

Perhaps you had an extremely stable maturity cycle, so you are navigating this breakup with only the previous behavior you have observed in your group to guide you? Let me reassure you there is no social or etiquette reason you HAVE to give up a gaming group simply because a pairing didn’t work out as planned! Nonetheless, there are social and etiquette rules for STAYING in a social scenario with a former beloved, now fondly tolerated, individual. 

The first rule is “do not stay if your former beloved is not fondly tolerated”. 

Whatever else, when you are part of a group, if you are the one holding on to anger, resentment or sadness because of one person in the group, your feelings are all, always, real and valid. (Even if they are not rational! You can just hurt because loss hurts!) However it is rude to force other people to feel those feelings  too.

If you know your negative feelings will impact the group, you have two options – equally authentic:

  1. Decide to treat it as a “you problem” and keep all aspects of it away from your gaming friends. Work it out and seek support from other friends until your feelings are neutral. Stay with the groups.
  2. Decide it isn’t a “you problem” and talk directly to your formerly significant other to see if you can resolve the disruptive emotions, or determine which one of you will stay with the group. 

Do note: These options presuppose that the breakup did not involve any egregious boundary crossing or abuse. This is advice for handling much milder splits. 

Unless someone is asking you to leave, there is never a reason to assume former couples can’t be socially civil participants together. If that hasn’t been the experience of your groups before, you and your fondly-tolerated-ex can model healthy post-relationship behavior for the community. 

When humans are gathered in their four-year-age-centers/extremely tiny towns/forced military conscription and/or sudden shifts to planes where human populations are limited, they cannot avoid interacting regularly with each other. Many of these situations require interdependence, teaching us the benefits of  remaining cordial and collaborative with myriad people even if you will choose to avoid them as soon as you are able. It’s useful! Apply those skills. 

This brings us to the point where we must entertain an implied question – what if your former emotionally bonded partner does not feel comfortable sharing social space with you? Contrary to the general practice of USians, I recommend you do not immediately cut ties. Gaming groups are like community theaters, religious organizations or competitive teams – hard to put together and difficult to maintain. They need their whole community in order to thrive. If you would like to preserve the communal circle I would like to recommend this system:

  • When you and said person are decoupling (or uncoupled) and you have been to an event where discomfort happened – reach out proactively and discuss it with each other (not the group). 
  • See if you can agree on how best to respect each other’s space in shared social settings. 
  • You are not wrong to compare shared spaces of joy to “custody” concerns. When making custody arrangements everyone should be thinking of the best, happiest concerns of the spawn. In sharing gaming groups you should center the best, happiest concerns of the full group and your future selves. 
  • If the discussion indicates you cannot currently coexist in a space without disruptive feelings, try to reach an agreement about how much time you each think you would need to spend apart. Gain some distance to be neutrally comfortable around each other again. 
  • THIS is when you discuss which spaces/groups/events are most important to each of you individually and “split them up” for an agreed upon period of time for space and the comfort of others. DO NOT preemptively agree to permanent withdrawal from any public gaming space. Even if it feels supportive, it’s a terrible precedent and makes you both too involved in each other’s future actions and lives.

An excellent rule of talon is “don’t let processing the breakup last longer than the relationship did”  (Once again – this is advice for non-abusive situations).

You should not worry about the behavior of former couples who could not coexist together. You are not them, you do not know what their circumstances were, and you have no need to emulate them. 

Normalize staying friends with people whom you chose to be more-than-friends!

Keep ALL the childish things!

If you are well mannered and at ease, your group will quickly adapt to the changes and be unbothered. They shall follow your lead and you may roll dice, play cards, meet in highly regulated combat and/or storm the gates of punitive afterlives together exactly the way you did before. 

May your friend groups stay fun filled and your game days stay scheduled.


Dear Mizz Mizzet, 

Can you determine the point at which a Magic the Gathering group chat officially transitions into a babies and dogs (and sports) group chat? 

Sakura Tribe Elder

Dear Elder, 

What a wonderful thing it is when a group of people who play together care enough about each other’s lives to share the reasons they have to keep rescheduling gatherings!

The point at which a chat officially transitions from a game-based chat to a friendship-based gaming group chat usually happens with the first pet pictures. Posting Etiquette demands that shared pet pictures should be responded to with positive praise for the pet, and then as a formal “thank you” for sharing the first pet pictures. The chat members are expected to respond with one’s own pet pictures, or other adored animals in the thread. This is a bonding ritual and also the beginning of sharing positive personal tokens of trust. 

There is also the practice of Communal Support Pet Sharing. An example: the request “I am having a terrible time sorting my cards from the last 3 months of MtG drafts– please send me pics of pets to keep me sane.”  Etiquette then requires the chat members add to the existing supply of pet pics and simultaneously engage in discussion of card sorting techniques, or encouragement while confessing to one’s own unsorted cards. 

Sporting events are closely tied to magic events. Mizz Mizzet’s Sporting Sociology class frequently tracks overlaps in wrestling, football and baseball fandom and Magic participants.  Therefore the presence of sporting conversations in a group chat for an existing competitive or geographic location seems value neutral in terms of characterizing the chat. 

Spawn celebrations and shared communal parenting advice DOES mark a milestone change in one’s chat group. They indicate you have all been bonded through your chat long enough for full gestation of brand new beings AND you have a depth of community strongly bonded enough to turn to each other for help, advice, support, commiseration, and celebration. 

I am therefore pleased to inform you, regardless of whether or not the game is still a majority topic of the group’s conversation – your chat group still is, and always will be, Magic. 


Thank you to Adrienne Reynolds, for her interplanar transcription services.

Mizz Mizzet Portrait by Andres Garcia

Delightful Readers, Please Submit Your Questions to Mizz Mizzet.

You may submit your questions to Mizz Mizzet using this form.

New Mizz Mizzet columns are posted every Wednesday right here as well as in Hipsters of the Coast‘s weekly email newsletter. You are also encouraged to follow her at @MizzMizzet on Twitter.

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Born a perfect dragon in an imperfect multiverse, Mizz Mizzet (she/her) is the pioneer broodmother of today’s multiplanar civility movement.  She is now working to persuade Planeswalkers to participate in it.

Her tireless efforts to expand the understanding and exercise of etiquette beyond the stereotypical terror of too many pieces of silverware, and whether to use poisons or explosives at celebratory conquest dinners, have not escaped official notice.

She specializes as a consultant in seating arrangements for inter and intra planar political events as long as contracts include the option to eat the rude.

Out of respect for her relative’s delicate sensibilities regarding draconic rank, she does not reside on the plane of Ravnica.

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