Peek #6: Derek Boyko

Image (1)Peek is a series of brief interviews of Magic personalities who support Planeswalkers for Diversity. Derek Boyko is one of the Featured Drafters of DraftMagic.com and is an avid and very active streamer. Derek led our first episode of “Judge of Currents” giving live commentary on a draft by stream team member Trevor Murdock, who is just an average player willing to have his drafting and playing critiqued by Derek’s vast experience for your benefit, and entertainment.

p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?
DB: My brother was really into it from Beta to about Mirrodin (‘93 to ‘03). He had an old computer game from Microprose known lovingly to many as Shandalar that got me hooked. He bought me a starter set in 2000 as a birthday gift and I’ve been playing ever since.

Scglive-SCGSEAStdRd3bDerekBoykoVsRobertDavid712-590p4d: How did you get involved with DraftMagic.com ?
DB: I had been watching their drafts for about a month for my own entertainment when I said to myself “You know what? I can do that too.” So in 2011, I submitted some draft videos for consideration that were rejected. I had noticed that there were others wanting to get in on the site as well, but had nowhere to post their videos. So, I requested that a community content section be added to the Draft Magic forums for people to post their videos and content and I quickly took it over posting a new video set every week for 5-6 months straight while improving my commentary and they asked me to join the site proper in January of 2012.

p4d: What do you like the most about streaming Magic?
DB: The community is by far the best thing about it. We have some really great people in the twitch.tv Magic community and it’s always a blast hanging out with them.

p4d: You often tell people about p4d while you are streaming. First of all, thanks! Why do you think that the message we are trying to bring to the Magic community is important right now?
DB: I’d like to think that the Magic community is accepting of each other, but the fact is that there are quite a few who still aren’t. There was the incident when Feline Longmore, the High Tide player, won the SCG Open in Seattle last November. She got a ton of flak for no other apparent reason than her gender. And I still constantly hear the suggestion that Melissa DeTora got into the Community Cup only because she’s a woman as another example. A lot us of are great at treating each other with respect as similar and yet different people who just love the same game, but there’s still a lot of prejudice and hate going around in the community which I would love to see an end to.

p4d: What can players do to make the Magic community better?
DB: If I can quote Bill and Ted for a minute, “Be excellent to each other.” It’s as simple as that.

p4d: Where can people find you online?
DB: I do drafts on a (mostly) weekly basis at http://www.DraftMagic.com three nights a week at http://www.twitch.tv/theboyks and also on Twitter @HunkyFlunkie

Peek #5: Brian Braun Duin

Image (1)Peek is a series of brief interviews of Magic personalities who support Planeswalkers for Diversity. Brian Braun Duin is a prolific writer and video content creator on Starcity Games and an expert in Junk Reanimator. He joined us to battle some standard at http://www.twitch.tv/mtgdiversity/c/2750783

p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?
BBD: When I was a Freshman in College, a group of hallmates and friends would frequently gather to play Halo and various card games, like Poker and Spades on a near daily basis. One day, a guy pulled out some Magic cards and taught a few of us how to play. We ended up getting hooked on the game. By the next year, we were doing weekly drafts at the local card shop, and the more we played, the more we wanted to play. We got into Standard as well as drafting and it all started to spiral out of control from there.

p4d: Junk Reanimator is a deck you have been able to keep piloting to success despite rumours of its demise, but you don’t face the same meta-game as your typical Friday Night Magic venue. What is the main thing people should keep in mind when running, or tweaking, your latest reanimator lists?
BBD:  Well, one of the awesome things about Reanimator is that it’s very tweakable. There are a lot of powerful creatures and effects in the GWB colors right now and thanks to cards like Grisly Salvage that power you through your library, it’s easy to find the right cards and effects when you need them. The main thing to consider when running or tweaking the deck is to focus on the kinds of cards or strategies that you’re struggling with and finding the right creatures (and sometimes spells) that can really improve your percentage against those decks. For example, if it’s UWR you’re losing to, then you can start to put in those Sin Collectors and Obzedats to really punish them. If it’s Mono Red, then you can move to more early interaction, like Doom Blades and Abrupt Decays and complement it with creatures they struggle to beat, like Trostani and Tree of Redemption. In fact, I’ve found the key to success with Reanimator to be entirely on how well you build your list for that event to combat the metagame you expect to face.

p4d: You recently lost a 100 pound monkey off your back? What’s your secret?
BBD: It’s honestly not much of a secret, because the key to my weight-loss success was simply hard work and perseverance. I stuck with a low-carb diet, cutting out as much carbs and sugar as I could, and I augmented that with exercise 3-4 times a week and drinking a lot of water. It’s definitely not possible to get great results without also making some sacrifices.

I will say that it’s very worth it. There’s a misconception about losing weight that you’ll be happy with the end result but the process itself sucks. That’s actually not entirely true. I’ve felt a lot better and healthier while I’ve been doing this and it actually makes my days a lot better as a result. I’ve found it important to stick with doing things you don’t mind doing and to focus more on the positive of finding healthy food that you love eating rather than think about the unhealthy food you can’t eat.

p4d: What can Magic players do to improve at the game?
BBD: There are a lot of things. Every Magic player struggles at some aspect of the game and it differs from player to player. It’s not possible to say “Sideboard better and you’ll make it to the pro tour” or anything like that. Perhaps the player in question is very skilled at sideboarding but lacks in other areas.

There is one universal thing that any player can do to improve at the game, however. That is to remain open-minded and actually want to or try to improve. The only surefire way to ensure you don’t improve at the game is to reject ideas that are counter to your own and ignore or avoid your own mistakes. A lot of players don’t want to hear what they did wrong or where they could have done something different. They want to do things their way and their way is right. Those players will never improve at the game because they’ve already rejected the idea that they need to improve.

p4d: How can players can make the Magic community better?
BBD: I hate to beat a dead horse, but much like the above question, the best way to make the Magic community better is to simply be open-minded. I find a lot of Magic players are very opinionated and strong-willed individuals. That’s honestly an awesome trait, but at the same time it can lead to people being unwilling to consider viewpoints that differ strongly from their own. Being willing to listen to others and consider things from their perspective is paramount to creating an open and friendly community for everyone. I personally know that I’ve learned a lot about a wide variety of issues that I previously knew absolutely nothing about just by watching and listening to people discuss them.

p4d: Where can folks find you online?
BBD: You can find me on Facebook as Brian Braun-Duin, twitter as @BraunDuinIt, Magic Online as BBD, and you can also read my articles and watch my videos weekly at StarCityGames.com.

Peek #4: Inkwell Looter

Peek is a series of brief interviews of Magic personalities who support Planeswalkers for Diversity. Inkwell Looter is creator of our wonderful logo and tells us about making Magic illustrationslogo.

p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?
IL: Ah, the origin story. I started college in 1993 which gave me access to the pre-World Wide Web internet. I was absorbing as much random culture as I could, including online message boards about games. Everyone was talking about something called MTG. After finally finding out what the initials stood for I took a bus to Dr. Comics & Mr. Games in Oakland to purchase their last 3 Beta starter decks (rares: Bad Moon, Elvish Archers, Force of Nature, Mind Twist, Mox Emerald, Winter Orb). Those cards ended up being the entire card pool for my friends and I for months, as we waited for more to be printed.

p4d:  How did you get into writing and illustrating comics?
IL: I’ve had a hopeless attraction to the medium ever since my initial exposure. I’ve drawn comics since grade school. Being able to bring a subject to life with some words and pictures on paper still feels like magic to me. Beyond a love of comics all you need is hard work, poor judgment, and BOOM you wake up a cartoonist.

p4d: How did your professional work come to overlap with your involvement in the Magic community?
IL: One of my other projects is a popular NBA art blog I started at a time when sports blogging was still the Wild West. I took the time I expended on basketball and converted it into something productive and unique. Fast-forward a few years to when I started paying more attention to the MTG online community and I figured I could do the same thing. I combine my interests to contribute to my communities in ways I enjoy.

p4d:  You designed the Planeswalkers for Diversity logo. Thanks! Will the logo be available on any cool items that players can obtain?
IL:  Yes! I mean, that’s a big part of the idea of giving the group an identifying mark. It would be good to get it on to items that people can display to show their support. [Editor’s note: we don’t have any merchandise yet but we are working on it!]

p4d:  By creating the logo you have contributed an important piece to Planeswalkers for Diversity. Thanks again! The organization can now start building a brand and some momentum behind the idea of Magic being welcoming to everyone. Why do you think p4d is important enough that you made this contribution?
IL: The group formed soon after a few particularly nasty Magic community incidence of intolerance. I remember being infuriated and looking for a way to help out. There’s a lot to love about the MTG community but there’s also lots of juvenile, hateful behavior. I want my community to be one of mutual respect, support, and empathy and p4d is a step in that direction.

p4d:  What would you like to see Planeswalkers for Diversity accomplish?
IL: I know that the group has many goals and actions but the main thing I want out of it is increased visibility for the issues and straightforward education for people whose behavior needs adjustment. Just being out there, available as a resource, and speaking up is huge.

p4d:  How can those of us who love your work follow it?
IL: I recently hitched my wagon to GatheringMagic.com, where I’m producing comics on a semi-regular basis. You can find updates about that and anything else I post at http://inkwell-looter.tumblr.com and you can follow me at http://twitter.com/inkwell_looter

 

Peek #3: Hallie Santo

Peek is a series of brief interviews of Magic personalities who support Planeswalkers for Diversity. Hallie Santo is editor of the Lady Planeswalkers Society website. She will be joining Nelson Salahub on stream at www.twitch.tv/mtgdiversity this coming Tuesday July 23 at 7 pm Pacific time.

p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?
HS: I started playing Magic about a year ago, while M13 was in stores. I had just moved to Seattle, and the only person I knew in town was a Magic player who used to play competitively. I picked up the basics quickly and was eager to learn more. When I went to Card Kingdom in search of more Magic products, an employee told me about the Lady Planeswalkers Society (LPS). From there, I started attending Friday Night Magic and local store events; and six months after playing in my first LPS tournament, I attended my first Pro Tour Qualifier.

p4d: What is your favourite thing about your local Lady Planeswalker events?539638_336872913064206_1733622574_n
HS: I love how welcoming LPS is toward new players. When I started playing Standard outside of LPS, I ran into some competitive players who wanted to help me get better, but the advice and criticism they offered me wasn’t always constructive. For example, an opponent once asked me between games if he could see my sideboard and tell me what to bring in against him, when I would have preferred to figure it out for myself. At LPS, the more experienced players are used to interacting with newer ones on a regular basis, so we go about teaching and dispensing advice differently than most other Magic players would. Whenever I meet a newer female player at FNM, I make sure to tell her about LPS and encourage her to come by.

p4d: What do you like the most about blogging about Magic?
HS: Before I started LadyPlaneswalkers.com, I had never blogged about Magic before, but I had several years of music blogging experience. I love writing about music, but there are so many competing music blogs offering similar content that it’s hard to find your niche in the industry and establish an audience. When I’m pitching a music article, I have to constantly ask myself, “Has this been done before?” or “How can I do this differently?” When I’m writing about Magic, that’s rarely an issue. The industry itself is much newer, so the blogs, forums, and podcasts are much more specialized. At LadyPlaneswalkers.com, we create content aimed at female Magic players; not many Magic blogs can say that.

p4d: How do you view the overlap and collaboration between LPS and p4d?
HS: Our goals are essentially the same in that both groups are here to remind the community about the importance of a welcoming atmosphere for playing Magic. LPS tends to focus on gender while p4d also highlights gender identity and sexual orientation. However, both groups support the overall concept that Magic players are simply Magic players and these factors, and others such as age and (dis)ability, are irrelevant.

p4d: What can players do to make the Magic community better?
HS: I’d like to see more Magic players be more accepting of others who play the game for different reasons than they do. For example, I know some PTQ grinders who don’t take EDH players seriously, and some casual brewers who think net-decking is wrong. I’m not saying that all these people need to get together for a group hug, but they could acknowledge that their way of playing the game is just their preference and not the “best” or “right” way.

943631_2642038855003_709956545_np4d: Where can people find you online?
HS: You can find me on Twitter at @halcansan. I’ve been known to live-tweet from GPs, PTQs, and prereleases (I usually attend four prereleases for Core Sets and six for expansions). LPS also has its own Twitter account (@MTGLadySociety) and Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/103040043116452/).

Peek #2: Erin Campbell

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Peek is a series of brief interviews of Magic personalities who support Planeswalkers for Diversity. Erin Campbell is the host of the Deck Tease podcast.

p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?
Erin: I was introduced to the game in junior high – seventh grade, to be exact.  I’ll never forget the day that my friend Sam pulled out a binder in Miss Hilmer’s class and showed me her Jester’s Cap, Shivan Dragon, and such.  I had never seen anything like it.  From there, her uncle owned a card store down the street from my house, and I would save up my babysitting money and buy packs.  It only went downhill from there!

p4d: How did you get into podcasting?
Erin:  I had been a World of Warcraft blogger for quite some time and had made a very good friend through the community who also blogged.  We kicked around the idea of doing something different, like a podcast and eventually launched The Double O Podcast, which stood for the fact that my WoW handle at the time was “Oestrus” and she was “Ophelie.”  People heard me on our show and liked that I was fun and opinionated, so that led to me being a guest on a half dozen other shows.

p4d: What is your favourite part about podcasting in the Magic community?
Erin:  The fact that through the podcast I’ve been able to not only document my experiences in the community, but that I’ve been able to learn so much about it from the people that I have on, too.  I learned about things like Cube, and drafting, and competitive play by having people who specialize in those things on.  I’m not just having a few laughs with some really fabulous people, but I’m using that as a way to get my questions answered and hopefully other people’s questions, too.

p4d: How badly do you wish that a Splinterfright deck could be Tier 1 in Standard?
Erin:  Ha!  I would truly love that.  It’s funny, because when I was really trying to make it work, I couldn’t see why it wasn’t happening and as I’ve spent more time playing a top tier deck (Jund) and spent more time frequenting more competitive events, I get it now.  I get that it’s too dependent on the graveyard and that there are better options to choose from (like Angel of Serenity) if you do want to make a graveyard intensive plan work.  It breaks my heart to say it, but it would be too much work and not enough reward to make it work.

p4d: You’ve agreed to join the Planeswalkers for Diversity stream team launch of the regular monthly stream event this coming Tuesday (July 9th) at 7 pm Pacific. Why do you think p4d is important enough for you to dedicate precious spare time to this?
Erin:  Well, I wouldn’t describe my spare time as being “precious,” but I have been really fortunate to have a number of game stores in my area be welcoming to women and minorities and people of different sexualities and I realize that a lot of folks aren’t so lucky.  There’s still a lot of work to be done, in the grand scheme of things, and I think p4d may have the means to help change things.  The fact that I’m trans and that I’m very fortunate to have a successful podcast gives me the opportunity to use that visibility for something positive.

p4d: What would you like to see Planeswalkers for Diversity accomplish?
Erin:  To be quite honest, I would like to see more action taking place in the group.  I know I’m guilty of this, as well, to some extent.  But I feel like we have a lot of people with very loud voices and some great opinions, but they’re not really offering themselves up to do anything with that.  It’s one thing to sit at a computer chair and want to make a difference, but it’s quite another to physically implement change.  I hope the group gets large enough where we can meet up at events and represent and tie it all together like that.

p4d: How can readers find you and your show?
Erin:  You can find the show every Monday on LegitMTG.  iTunes and Stitcher Radio usually pick up the show on Tuesday, where you can download, subscribe, and leave reviews for free.  I’m always able to be reached on Twitter, @originaloestrus  My e-mail is oestrus@elitistjerks.com, if you have something a bit more personal to say or would like to have more of a conversation with me.

@originaloestrus

Peek #1: Tifa Meyen

Image (1)Welcome to the first in a series of interviews of Magic personalities about topics of interest to Planeswalkers for Diversity. To kick us off, we talk to Tifa Meyen, the founder of our sister organization, the Lady Planeswalkers Society (LPS). Tifa gives us her thoughts on making Magic more welcoming to new players. You can also learn more from her perspective as an employee of Wizards of the Coast by reading her article on the “mothership” about LPS and creating playgroups and you can find her on twitter @TifaMeyen and Lady Planeswalkers Society at @MTGLadySociety207835_10150215810709276_241685_n

p4d: How did you get into playing Magic?
Tifa: I was first introduced to Magic while working at a local game store. Working the entire M11 Prerelease weekend, I found myself fitting in with the community and falling in love with the fun atmosphere. My boss at the time, seeing a spark already ignited by the community, knew I’d enjoy the game just as much because of my passion for strategy games. With six M11 booster packs, my manager sat me down and taught me the basics. I bought a Red-Green M11 Intro Pack and never put the cards down. Having many friends who were already experienced Magic players, it quickly became my most loved hobby. Within three weeks, I was drafting at FNMs, and merely a few months later, I’d played at a GP and a few PTQs.

p4d: When/how did the Lady Planeswalkers Society come into being?
Tifa: Back in April 2011, a few of my female friends asked me to teach them how to play Magic. They had watched how this game impacted my life, as well as many people in our friend group, and wanted to see what the fuss was about. There were a couple of women who didn’t want to learn from their boyfriends, as well as women who knew how to play but hadn’t had many opportunities to play with other women. It started with four ladies hanging out in my living room, but it wasn’t long before the idea of making this group official was mentioned. Loving the idea of growing this group and creating a welcoming, friendly environment for players of all skill levels, especially women, really inspired me. I approached a local game store that I thought would be a good fit, and they were excited for the opportunity. Before I knew it, we had our first event! Eight players showed up; a mix of men, women, beginners, and experienced players! Looking back, I can’t believe how small it started. Now, we average twenty-five players per event and get up to forty-five on Draft nights, which is far better than I ever imagined possible. 539638_336872913064206_1733622574_n

p4d: How important is it that a playgroup such as a local chapter of Lady Planeswalker’s Society and/or Planeswalkers for Diversity have similar interests in terms of competitive level play?
Tifa: When it comes to starting a play group, the level of competition depends on a number of factors. The main factor is the goal of the group. For Lady Planeswalkers Society (LPS), the goal is a welcoming space for all levels. This aims at drawing in both competitive players, as well as beginners. If experienced, competitive players are willing to occasionally help beginners and maintain a friendly attitude to everyone, I encourage them to play in my group. Also, if you have the ability to pair people up with others of a similar skill level, everyone can be happy whether they’ve played 20 minutes or 20 years. This is going to vary from group to group – groups aimed solely for teaching are going to be less appealing and enjoyable for extremely experienced players, and groups exclusively testing decks to get on the Pro Tour aren’t going to be beneficial or enjoyable for brand new players. Honestly, the question of competition has been one of the biggest challenges for LPS because I hold teaching sessions and invite groups of people who have never played right alongside draft tournaments. Over time, there is a greater understanding of the group and we see regulars from both ends of the spectrum. The important interest to share is a shared goal more than a shared competition level.

p4d: What can more experienced players do to help those who are still learning the game?
Tifa: Be patient and understanding. Experienced players who step into the teaching role can do wonders for new players! Teaching Magic is a skill that takes practice as well and in order to teach someone and keep them engaged with the game, you need to commit time and ask questions. If you are not in the teaching role, but are paired against a new player, I recommend being nice, playing slow, explaining every play, and allowing them to ask any questions throughout the games. You don’t have to throw the match, just remember how it feels to be new and try to make this early experience a good one for them. I also like to take time between rounds to help hone beginners’ skills by playing with our hands face up and walking through every turn.

p4d: What do new players need to know to ensure that their experiences playing Magic are as rewarding as possible?
Tifa: Be patient and don’t give up easily! Know that all experienced players suffered plenty of losses before getting to where they are. If you do find yourself discouraged, take a quick walk and a few minute break from the game before trying again. Just like in life, when you make mistakes, learn from them. When you feel like you get crushed in a match, try to replay what your opponent did for two reasons – 1) so that you can replicate those strategies later, 2) so that you can think up ways to evade those plays. Look at losing as a learning opportunity, and keep your eyes on the bright horizon of knowing that someday you’ll be on the other side of the table as long as you stick with it. Plus, you can always teach a friend and enjoy the ups and downs together.

p4d: What do you recommend for new players who are interested in learning to play?
Tifa: Duels of the Planeswalkers is a great tool for learning the basics. After that, I recommend starting with Sample Decks or Intro Packs (especially from a Core Set). Game stores can seem intimidating, but most of them have employees willing to help beginners and even regulars who would be willing to show you the basics or play some games if you’re ready for that. My piece of advice – dive in!

p4d: Thanks, Tifa!