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.