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!