Hello Gentle Entities and Tender Enemies! Today on the plane that houses Hipstersof the Coast  many planar denizens are engaging in  the celebration of Baba Marta! A lone female sibling from a brood of twelve, constantly irritated by her brothers when she is simply trying to live her best life. I do LOVE this holiday. So relevant! So very Boros. Red and White bracelets or dolls are gifted between humans to protect them from the vagaries of weather and changeable fortune while waiting for spring.

Chestita Baba Marta!

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1813590

In a charming coincidence today’s etiquette questions echo similar themes of Grandmother March and family relations. We will be looking at two queries concerning navigating household peace and expectations involving gaming.

As this is our ninth column, we at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Lifeforms would like to remind you that 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;

I am a postdoc living with family while doing early career work. I play role-playing and collectible card games and occasionally act as host for my group – who are also younger professionals. My secondary school age cousins live in the same multigenerational home as I do and my aunts are insisting that I let those cousins play with my playgroup “because they are all the same games” and “it’s safer for them to play with family.”

It’s not a skill issue – my 14 year old cousin will utterly destroy my Magic playgroup, and honestly I’ll laugh while she did it, but there’s a 10 year age difference between the oldest of the cousins and the youngest of us and well… no thank you.  But I DO live here. Is there etiquette for this? Can you even have etiquette with aunties? 

Filial Fantasy Gamer

Dear Filial,

Let me answer your last query first. There is ALWAYS etiquette to be had, for etiquette is the rules system to fall back on when one needs to depersonalize interpersonal interactions between Complicated Life Forms.  In this case we will make several assumptions based on your letter.

  1. You love your family and are not in conflict with the idea of spending time with your cohabitating cousins. You respect their skill sets and are not dismissing them as participants for these games in general
  2. Your multigenerational household respects you as an individual enough so that they (and you) are hosting your friends independently and your extended family respects your own social boundaries enough that they are not already interrupting – so therefore the aunties are respecting the etiquette of when you are recognized as the host by asking you to include the younger spawn rather than providing you with any kind of ultimatums such as “you can’t host your group unless the hatchlings play too”
  3. You do use the word “insisting” which indicates that while they might be respecting the etiquette and hierarchy of you as a host – they are ALSO incorporating familial relationships and hierarchies to put pressure on you to say yes. This is not outside of etiquette, is not rude (family relationships have different rules than with strangers) but CAN be unmannerly.

One must of course advise you to converse with your Aunties directly to make sure they understand the discomfort you feel

“Aunties, I know you mean well and I love my lairmates BUT it’s very uncomfortable for a group of scholars letting their brains roam free to socialize with fledglings who usually teach entities the roughly same age as my cousins.”

This is a nice polite way of stating the discomfort without unpacking the MANY reasons your friend group’s regular meetings won’t be ideal for younger participants.

But families are interdependent! And your elders have voiced concern about your consanguineous younger kin participating in wider public spaces playing the game. There are many cultures (not that yours is one) where those concerns may keep your cousins from being able to participate in playing the games they would like to play, even with their peers because of the protective concerns of Nest Elders.

May I suggest also that your young cousins will not be quite so young forever – and that competitive versions of card games are frequently intergenerational and you can keep them from hanging out with your older friend group while still providing your younger cousins opportunities to play? At family events in 10 years when you and they are both fully adults you might find family gathering much more enjoyable sharing hobbies together at large family events and the age difference will matter less. There is some wisdom in developing those ties now rather than avoid them entirely and regret the loss of bonding time later.

I also suggest that before even thinking of your Aunties, you might want to check and see if your cousins ACTUALLY want to play with you. Your Aunties might simply be making assumptions because they are constantly tripping over piles of cards and dice. Perhaps they are simply hoping if you play together the respective hoards will be more manageable around the house (you may refer them to “Mizz Mizzet’s Manual for Modifying False Hopes to Meet Material Reality” if you discover this is the case). If you discover that the cousins were indeed hoping for fellow players since you are in close proximity and your elders are limiting play opportunities then you may consider how to proceed.

In familial relationships it is often advisable when turning down a request and keeping a clear boundary to offer a different option that meets the nature of the request WITHIN your own boundary.

I would suggest several options for you:

1. Offer to go with your cousins to play in the same public spaces your aunts are finding concerning. All of you can go to a Friday Night Magic or Magic Con together. This lets your cousins socialize or compete with their peer group but provides a level of “family nearby” so their progenitors can feel they are being looked after.

2. Ask the regular members of your gaming group if they would be interested in coming over every now and then for an “all ages” gaming day – they could bring their own younger known associates and everyone could pool resources say … once a month. (It is difficult to believe that any large intergenerational group could schedule any kind of gaming group more often than that) you would also be able to let your cousins do the work of hosting so that it doesn’t impact your personal workload and they learn how to host such events when they are the elders.

3. Suggest that your Aunties also learn to play and then they can play with their spawn in family game nights – offer to teach the aunties and promise you’ll participate in the game night as well. If they protest, you might be able to point out that all their concerns or preferences about playing games with their spawn are similar to the concerns you have with your friends. Then find an inter-generational activity you all agree to do together.

If your younger set DOES NOT want to play with you and it was all your Auntie’s idea – present a unified front and thank them for suggesting shared play but explain that although the games might be the same “gaming styles” may differ A LOT between the two groups of players and it won’t be any fun to mix the groups. It would be mannerly since you are the adult, to be the one to present this to your Nest Leadership letting the fledglings avoid the appearance of undermining their progenitors.

I wish you the best and the opportunity to find a way to play with your clan spawn that everyone can enjoy comfortably and with ferocious joy. Do NOT offend the Aunties if you can help it. Most especially if they have any sort of fate shifting powers, or share an eye between them while collecting information from the Blind Eternities


Dear Mizz Mizzet,

My partner plays Magic the Gathering and a few other games we both like. The problem is that she just likes the game way more than I do. She likes playing with me to test new decks because I don’t have any ego involved but it’s really just not my game. How do I support her without having to play anymore Magic?

How About a Nice Game of Chess?

Dear Nice Game of Chess;

What a supportive partner you are! If you are playing just to support your beloved but getting no joy from it, as a dragon of some experience I can tell you that hidden apathy eventually will be read as either enthusiasm or resentment by a partner if you continue to be silent. It might be polite, but it is not advisable.

I know of several spouses who have solved the issue you describe by hosting while their spouse has friends over the same way some humans have poker night. You might suggest she have her friends over to playtest and you’ll be happy to do cleaning, food prep or takeout runs, but you would like to stop playtesting because you simply don’t enjoy the game the same way she does.

The upside of this is that she won’t have to worry about “being the host” while she’s playing with her friends if you fill that role, AND you’ll be considered the cool partner by gamers everywhere.

You might also consider negotiating play with boundaries “I will play magic with you for x amount of time – but it’s because I love you not Magic. I’d be willing to trade for an equal amount of time playing Ticket To Ride next week though”

No matter which course you take, I strongly suggest that you have an honest discussion because while one should always be polite to one’s loved ones, being polite does not exempt an entity from communicating and shared problem solving.

Might I also suggest after you have cooperatively resolved things so you are no longer playing a game you don’t enjoy, that small gifts of booster packs, the way other humans give each other flowers? This will reinforce through actions that you still support her enjoyment of the game even though you do not care to play. Plus she will have booster packs. Magic Players LOVE booster packs.

You might even open your discussion of the topic with a gift of booster packs. One cannot go wrong when adding to a loved one’s hoard.


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.

Any questions answered publicly will be made anonymous, and noms de plume will be created to represent any parties mentioned.

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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