Living How You’re Not – In Defence Of…


So we all know, that just like hardcore, there is a social structure to gaming. Luckily, wargamers are the second to top of that structure. Functional wargamers – that is to say, gentlemen like you and I, who wash on a daily basis, put a lil’ deodorant on in the morning, who have jobs and the likes – they’re the top. Furries are the bottom. But, not far from the Furries, so I am now beginning to learn, are players of Magic: The Gathering.

Now don’t misunderstand me here. I get it. I’ve seen your average M:TG player, and I understand where this conception of them comes from. They are repulsive. So fair enough. But let’s clear some things up here. The game, and the gamers are two separate entities. And if you have the ability to separate the two (which you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be playing Warhammer would you?), then you’ll realise that Magic… It’s alright y’know.

Let’s start with the reasons I began this journey. I started playing Warhammer Fantasy a little while ago, but at the same time, I’d been playing a few board games along with my mates. I, like a few of the lads I played with, really liked the idea of a self contained game with everything you need in one box. It allows the, hobby-rich, time-short gamer a lot of convenience. You unpack your game, smash it out for a few hours, pack up and fuck off. The thought of that resonated with me. Especially since I don’t have a lot of evenings free to game as much as I’d like, nor do I have the inclination to spend any time whatsoever with my friends most of the time. So I needed something to find something that I could knock out in half an hour, that didn’t require a huge financial investment, and was simple enough to not get bogged down with rule type stuff.

Obviously I decided I knew everything about Magic The Gathering before I ever started playing it. I thought that it required a heavy investment in cards to be able to play properly, and that it was an ongoing financial commitment to make the game playable. While that is true on a competitive level, if you’re just looking for something to kill an hour or so with your mate while you wait for the rest of your painting grip to show up, or you want something to do with your bird for half an hour before you have your tea then you could do a lot worse. To play the game to this standard requires nothing more than 15 minutes of rule reading, and an £11.00 starter deck. I’ve played my starter deck at least 20 times now and there is still plenty of variation and what-not to keep the game interesting. This is why I play it.

I guess it’s one of those games that is easy to learn, but tough to master. There are a lot of things that I still don’t understand about it, but I have a laugh getting beat to shit by my bird over an evening playing it. You can get up to a lot worse with your night than a few games of Magic with the boys. For starters, you could leave the house. Swerve that. If you’re going to be one type of degenerate gaming moron, you might as well make it worthwhile and be all of them. That’s why I’ll have a LARP if the opportunity ever arises.

The cards are cool too. In the same way that those scratchy drawings in your Fighting Fantasy early editions are unbelievable, the artwork in some of these is so moody and gnarly. If you’re a collector, then there is so much to get your teeth in to here, it is unbelievable, and I can see where the game’s reputation comes from. But don’t worry man, for the functional gamer, there is a stripped back core of a game that is as fun as it is accessible.

So if you’re going to start – and let’s face it, you probably will have a go at some point – then I would advise picking up an intro deck. You can get ones for any of the five colours, and you can also get the core ones I think. Go for the core ones. You can get them from any local hobby dungeon place, and won’t cost you more than £11.00. In them, you get a fully playable 60 card deck, a couple of booster packs, and a sheet showing you how to play. The sheets aren’t the best though. There is this series of YouTube videos by these two kids who’s faces you will want to smash in that is a much better way to learn, I’d have a go of those first. This is literally all you will ever need. If you feel inclined though, then once you’ve nailed the basics, you can get yourself a Deck Builder’s Toolkit, this is usually between £15 and £18, and comes with about 250 cards, giving you enough options to be able to build your own deck from scratch. Cheap as chips mate, and a really fun way to kill some time between proper hobbying.

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About Kev Walsh

Kev Walsh lives in Liverpool England. He has played in numerous hardcore and punk bands over the last 10 years including Seconds Out, The Last Chance and Down And Outs. Kev focusses most of his efforts on painting rather than playing, and is currently trying to push himself to learn some new tricks.

3 thoughts on “Living How You’re Not – In Defence Of…

  1. Hardcore artist Mike Sutfin (Charles Bronson, The Killers, Alpha Males, etc) has illustrated a number of Magic cards in addition to a few RPG book covers. You can check out his art at

  2. Yer man from Ebullition was a competitive Magic player back in the day I think….

  3. I always saw the MTG lot as having a few more social skills than the 40k players and RPG lot! you need to be better at guile certainly..

    I’ve been sucked in again 2 years ago, especially in the last year, and it’s not as costly as you’d think, a good bet is to get 2 starter sets of the same kind so you get multiple copies of the same cards. That or buying singles as it can be cheap to assemble a deck that route.

    I’m enjoying the fact that the game is as complex as you want it to be. It’s a blast playing casually with a few friends, but you can scale it up as much as you want. I’m building two reasonably competitive decks at around £20 each at the moment, that’d get me what, just about a stegadon? no contest!

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