by Bryant Cook
As many of you know from past articles or from Facebook, I’m pretty into Zombies. Recently, I received a very generous Christmas gift from a couple of my friends – Trevor Brown and Zach Tartell. The two of them worked together to form a plan to purchase me the first ten trade paperback issues of “The Walking Dead”. A fantastic gift, they knew how much I loved the show and thought I would enjoy the comics even more. I read all ten of them within the week I received them. I can’t begin to thank Trevor and Zach for what a great gift that these comics were. Honestly, they were a better gift for Christmas than I would have ever of expected. Since finishing the first ten I’ve gone out and bought and read the remaining five that are released.
Spoiler Alert: If you would not like to know anything about the series please stop reading after this point.
The main aspect of the The Walking Dead isn’t “Zombies are awesome!” (even though they are) or “What it would be like if Zombies were real?” (I’m not convinced that it’s completely unlikely) but “How would people change under dire circumstances?”. While “The Walking Dead” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where there are “Walkers” or “Roamers”, the story isn’t really about these creatures. Instead “The Walking Dead” is the story of Rick Grimes, a small town Sheriff, who just wants to find and protect his family from the horrible creatures out there – other people and sometimes zombies. The finding part happened pretty quickly. By the middle of the first trade paperback he accomplished that task, it’s the protecting part that kept me reading. Rick has a son named Carl and a wife named Lori, these two people are the only thing Rick cares and thinks about. There’s a group of survivors that decide to follow Rick, however most of the decisions Rick makes are for the good of his family and not the group.
In the beginning of the series Rick is very naïve and still believing in the rules of the previous world, not the rules of the world he awoke to from his coma. As the series progresses the things that happen to Rick’s group of survivors (I won’t completely spoil everything about the series) from both Zombies and other groups of survivors change Rick’s perspective on life. While Rick still has the fundamental game plan of keeping his family alive, the way he goes about things has changed. He has no remorse and doesn’t think twice, what I’m describing is only the beginning of the evolution of Rick Grimes. Where I currently am waiting for the next trade paperback six months from now, Rick is a completely different person. A twisted individual whose thought process has changed from, “I need to protect my family.” to “What is in the way of survival?”
The reason I’m talking about this is I’ve been looking at character development not only in fictional characters, but also real everyday people including myself. I’ve been looking at people and thinking if they have what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse, and what I’d do if one were to happen. Where would I go? What would I do based on where I was? Ridiculous? Absolutely, but it keeps my creative mind in motion. I’ve been doing something that Rick Grimes does throughout the comic and that is measuring people for what they truly worth. “What do they have to offer you?” Now I don’t do this on a realistic level, I’m not a crazy person. I’ve been doing this in a magical sense. The question here relates back to an article I wrote on teams. I’m going to take a snippet from the Teams article right now.
• Testing partners.
• Card availability.
• Traveling expenses.
• Growing as a player.
These are the reasons to be on a Magic team or befriend someone Magically. When someone doesn’t offer much on this list, they’re slowing you down. Slowing you down makes a person undead in Rick Grimes’s world. People who don’t offer anything for you might as well be Zombies. Magically, it’s a little different. While you may not lose anything playing against someone who doesn’t offer much, you’re certainly not gaining anything by beating a zombie.
The qualities of Rick Grimes can easily be translated into Magic:
• “Protect your own.”
• “What does it take to survive?”
Magically, these translate into watch your back and do what it takes to win. People that play Magic aren’t all good people, much like some of the groups of people in “The Walking Dead”. Some people cheat and steal, so pay attention and watch your belongings. It’s not quite that simple, but it’s a great start. “What does it take to survive?” I am not advocating cheating in any way, shape, or form. I’m talking about playing to the best of your abilities and seeing outs that others may not see. Here’s an example of a situation I had at an event.
I had two Lion’s Eye Diamond, Pyroblast, Burning Wish, Rite of Flame, and a Lotus Petal in hand with a Gemstone Mine in play. I played out the mana in my hand, it all resolved, and then I cast Burning Wish. I was in the middle of contemplating what to do with my two Lion’s Eye Diamond, clearly, I needed to crack them in order to play anything that wasn’t Past in Flames in my sideboard. My opponent then revealed a Spell Snare, my response was, “Yeah? I don’t care.” I then thought for a second, I looked for my out. My only out that game was passing priority and hoping he would Spell Snare. Sure enough, my opponent played Spell Snare, using the mana from the Lotus Petal, I cast Pyroblast. In response, I cracked the two Lion’s Eye Diamonds and won the game.
After the match my opponent wasn’t happy. He thought I had done him wrong somehow. Everything I did was completely legal by the rules of the game. What he shouldn’t have done was give me an out. All I did was what I needed to in order to survive that round. While my opponent saw it a little differently, he saw me taking advantage of him trying not to slow-roll me. My opponent believes he saw me showing my true colors, maybe I was.
Part of the problem was that I very much like to socialize when I’m playing Magic, but when things begin to go downhill for me I can flip a switch and go into my “serious” mode. I know what I’m capable of and know that I can find my way out, kind of like Rick Grimes. My opponent saw that switch flip, he saw me go from the Father and Husband in the beginning of “The Walking Dead” to the man at the end who does what it takes. If these are my true colors, am I wrong for showing them? I don’t believe so. Was I supposed to just concede because my opponent had a Spell Snare? That doesn’t make any sense. Although, it may been the noble thing to do, he had me dead to rights if he had played properly. Magic tournaments and certainly zombie apocalypses don’t reward people for doing “the noble thing”. That player doesn’t gain anything by me conceding the round, all it does is teach that person if they complain enough their opponents will scoop to them for their respect. By showing that player what he did wrong, it hopefully won’t ever happen again. Showing him why he shouldn’t give information is much more valuable prize than 20$ store credit at our local shop.
Magic: The Gathering is very much like the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s often every man for himself and sometimes it can be cruel, but you can’t dwell on past mistakes. Anyone who has or hasn’t read Walking Dead knows what I’m talking about here. Rick dwells on a large mistake he made and it almost gets him killed, in Magic, that’s losing the next round because a mistake you made the prior one. Dwelling on past mistakes doesn’t have any real benefits, analyzing past mistakes and learning from them does, though.
This is all just a different perspective I’ve gained recently from reading “The Walking Dead”, whether it’s ridiculous or brilliant, I don’t know. More than likely it’s a bit ridiculous, but I’m going to keep at it for a while for entertainment’s sake. It’s interesting to compare two things you’re passionate about. While in general “The Walking Dead” and Magic may be very different there’s certainly things that transcend that boundary and have cross over into both universes.
Protect your own.
What does it take to survive?
Keep these in mind, just think WWRGD? If winning is surviving, Rick Grimes would probably be X-1. Think about it.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource