The Flip Side- Getting Lost in the Shuffle

by Tim “Flip” Sussino

Perhaps you’re new to the game and you’ve only been playing for the better part of a year. Maybe you’ve been playing for many moons now. From casual to competitive, we’ve all experienced a point in our lives where when push came to shove, Magic was an integral part of our lives.  For better or worse, this game has changed  us (some becoming more degenerate than others). Fortunately (or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it), it is an easy  crutch to lean on in the best of times or even in the worst of times.

What sparked me down this elongated path of non-informative articulated mental blather, you might ask? It’s actually always been an interesting thought in the back of my mind. For the highly competitive among us or even those that just enjoy a good bromance session on the road, the question has always come up: “why did you start playing this game?”. “Play the game, see the World” is a nice cop out answer, courtesy of the mothership, but, really? Why do we play this game? Why do we continue to invest hours upon hours of our lives to pieces of cardboard (even very shiny pieces of cardboard… *raises guilty hand*)? The answer is truly simple when you think about it. Once you get past the “war stories” of event X and event Y, the real answer is “To get lost.”


I’ve been playing this game for the better part of two thirds of my life. That’s a very long time during my short 27 years on this planet. While I can list off things like how this game has changed me for the better and how I’ve met some of the best friends of my life; you  know what it’s also done? It gave me an outlet to escape the harsh realities of this world (a.k.a., a hobby). I don’t think we’re too far off when, as gamers, we jokingly refer to this game as “cardboard crack”. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m no trying to say we all belong in Narcotics Anonymous or anything, but I know that at some point, we’ve all used Magic as an escape. Let’s face the truth, most Magic players are inherently lazy, degenerate gamers, and/or procrastinators. So, naturally, when given a choice between decision X or playing Magic, which variable do you think is going to get the nod?


The simple fact that you are reading this article on this website leads to the notion that Magic is such an important aspect of your life that you are even taking time out of your daily life to delve into MY mental fatigue (as I write this, I have just finished working a ten hour day of a forty-five hour work week, with work only a few hours away). After all of these years, however, I’ve learned a few things about “getting lost in the shuffle” (*insert arbitrarily witty and obvious remark about ‘everyday i’m shufflin’ and Brian Kibler’s motor skills*) and those things are as follows:



I don’t care what anybody says, we don’t play this game to lose. Perhaps your fun is unlocking an achievment by playing a bunch of wolves and winning a small portion of the time, maybe even taking the new deck you just read about or seen play; either which way you shake it, you have a goal and you want to succeed at that goal. I’d call that winning, which in turn means your goal is to not lose. Get the picture? I, personally enjoy a mixture of the two by winning with some of my own brews (which, unsurprisingly, coincides with u/r lately it seems). It’s no wonder that even when we aren’t playing the game, there is another aspect of Magic that has integrated itself into our lives and, ironically enough, shows The Flip Side of our “inherently lazy” tendencies…see what I did there…? *Bad jokes FTL*



As the preceding statement foreshadows, it is interesting to note that overcoming the “inherently lazy” trait many Magic player share proves that if something really interests you, that you will devote a large amounts of energy to it. Perhaps, an airy way of explaining what a “hobby” is; but to some, it seems like the possibility of a “career” or an “internship” (hereafter known as “The Gavin Plan”).  Some may even refer to this line of thought as a “pipe dream” (unless you’re on The Gavin Plan).


“What’s with the exorbitant use of quotes?”, you may ask. For those that know me, I maintain a rather sarcastic

sense of humor, and have felt an extreme lack thereof in my previous articles. The beautiful thing about writing

is that it comes in many forms of coherent thought and mediums.

ie. article = information/entertainment = if you’re still reading = i’m doing my job.




Only a small percentage of Magic players will move on to the higher echalons of “fame and fortune”, so don’t get too caught up in the glossy cover. Take the game at face value and realize that if you play, it’s because you enjoy it for one reason or another. Whether it’s because it allows you to accumulate great memories with friends, because you get to travel (if that’s your “thang” as McKinney would say) OR because you’re just a competitive person and enjoy mixing strategic intelligence with a lottery ticket, you have to be realistic.  It is, afterall, just a game. It may take up a large portion of your life, but unless you’re one of the chosen few that make the extraneous effort to be the best at their craft (aka the hard workers), you won’t be taking home a nice salary just playing the game (especially now, thanks to the new 2012 system. 16 person Worlds anybody?) NICE. GAME. “GOOD. GOOD. GOOD.”



I know that the previous points were chock full of negative connotations in regards to our beloved game, but it helps drive the point home on the most important aspect of “getting lost in the shuffle.” It’s about playing to win, having fun with your friends, seeing new places, experiencing life, being good at something you enjoy, testing yourself…the list goes on and on. If you had asked me seventeen years ago, do you think Magic will have such a drastic impact on your life; I’d have thought you a crazy person. I haven’t achieved much, in terms of this game (I’m definitely no Jon Finkel or Kai Buddhe), but it still has greatly affected my life. Magic (even before the changes) was never going to be a realistic source of steady income for me. It’s not like being a professional sports player. The game we all love is plagued with variance. Even the most skilled strategists can’t support themselves solely with Magic.  They have other forms of income, such as writing, game developing, aka real-ish jobs (hmm…perhaps I wasn’t done with the negative remarks).



What I’m saying is that even though I’m gaming the new system to its fullest, I’m looking outside the box in terms of the standard definition of a “professional magic player” or “grinder”.  It seems that there’s this misconceived notion of looking at how we define these types of players. Who is to say that somebody that games their local events or plays within several “circuits” (ie. Jupiter Games Northeast Legacy Qualifiers, StarCityGames Open’s, etc.) aren’t any more of a “pro magic player” than those that strictly game the Grand Prix or Pro Tour circuit? Perhaps the Grand Prix and Pro Tour are the “big leagues” (aka “The Big Show”), and then the rest is a mixture between the “Minor League” or “Triple A Ball”. Not so far fetched an idea so long, as you are fetching positive equivical value. I’d go so far as to say the “John Medinas” of the world are pro magic players, except they have more of an eye in the direction of, say, a stock trader. The game we all know and love is, after all, a collectible card game. Pay close attention to those three words. It’s not the end of the world. The sky is not falling. It’s not being reduced to a “children’s card game” and did you ever truly care what people thought of you playing the game anyway? You played it because you enjoyed it for all the previously mentioned reasons and maybe other reasons.  Change happens.


Perhaps, by now, you’ve figured out what truly has sparked me into this. Wizard’s announcement of the loss of the Pro Players Club does suck in a way, but it’s really not the end of the line. I realize that comparing your proverbial penis size to other magic players was a nice way for SOME to make a somewhat of a living, but as I’ve mentioned, it’s hardly ever their primary source of income anyway. I’m in no way saying that I haven’t been motivated (in some form or another) by the possibility of the “pipe dream” that is making a living off the game, but who’s to say that all of that has to end instead of us approaching everything with a refined outlook?  I believe Adam Barnello, somebody I have somewhat recently befriended because of Magic, said it best when he said that ‘we play Magic to have fun and go out with our friends and have mini vacations’. It’s not quite verbatim, but you can get the gist. The game has always been about the experience rather than the just the reward.


That said, who knows what change could be made since they admittedly made a huge PR mistake of taking something away without disclosing what they’re replacing it with?  The unknown can be a very scary thing for many, and Wizards definitely should’ve thought things through before making this announcement. However, this could have just been a desperate move to give a little something, given the amount of questions the community was already having in regards to the unmentioned details of the Pro Players Club to begin with (albeit they still screwed up). I shared many similiar views on Wizard’s announcement expressed by the vast majority of players, but felt the need to play devil’s advocate on the issue. Perhaps a bit of my comments were brash or too blunt…get over it. That’s the beauty of writing as a medium in that these are just thoughts being parlayed onto you with the goal being to invoke thought. If you want to make a living off of Magic, a new approach to the game will need to be taken and let’s not draw conclusions before we get all the information:


Life’s tough, get a helmet = Everyday I’m shufflin’, get sleeves.


Don’t worry, Wizards will break out a new measuring stick to let you know how big your lower appendage is in comparison to your peers sooner or later…till then, here’s to still getting lost in the shuffle…


Bring on the trolls…




Tim “Flip” Sussino

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