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It’s Your First Article, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

First off, I would like to welcome everyone to the latest and greatest destination for amazing Magic the Gathering content, the Goblin Traders official website.

Secondly, introductions are in order. My name is James Meadows and I’m a long time Magic player, originally starting in 8th/9th edition and later returning to the game during the original Zendikar block. I tend to play the “best” deck in a given format making me a “Spike", or competitive Magic player. I am also one half of the Destroy Target Permanent Podcast, a weekly podcast where we discuss all things Magic the Gathering and Friday Night Magic (FNM); found on all major platforms where podcasts are available.

Well…Here goes nothing…

Let’s jump in with both feet as they say. Around a year ago I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety (SA), both are something I have battled with most of my life. Through therapy and other techniques, I have learned to manage it and live with it.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD is characterized by uncontrollable, persistent and excessive worry about several different things.

Social Anxiety Disorder, also called Social Phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.

I’m sure anyone who has dealt with this understands that sometimes I am anxious, and I have absolutely no idea why. It’s extremely frustrating, but it’s part of it sometimes.

How does this relate to Magic and why am I starting off with such a heavy topic?

Throughout my journey I have discovered just how much GAD and SA have affected how I perceive, interpreted, and responded to people’s actions and interaction with myself during and following a game of Magic. It has and has had a tremendous impact on these interactions. I pride myself on tight technical play and finding the correct line of play in each game. When this doesn’t occur, or I make mistakes I begin to worry about what my opponent is thinking about me and my abilities within the game of Magic. This has, from time to time, resulted in me being on “Tilt”. I assure you that it’s self-directed tilt. So, if you’re sitting across from me, or someone else, that is quiet after a loss try not to take it personally. It may have nothing to do with you.

“He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother”

Magic the Gathering is so many things to so many people. We are a diverse, and generally excepting community. So why is it a problem with someone for GAD or SA? Those who experience anxiety can unwillingly carry that anxiety from subject to subject and place to place, even if there is no association to what originally caused said anxiety to rear its ugly head. This relates to something I try to hold true in my day-to-day life; “You don’t know what someone has going on in their lives.”

This game is just any other hobby in many ways. It satisfies a need for those whom involve themselves in it. Whether it’s just to scratch that competitive itch or just somewhere to take a break from while the outside world ticks on, we’ve all found something in Magic.

To quote Joe Rogan, “If you ever start taking things too seriously, just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.” All of us have the same problems, and we’re allowed to disagree with each other and still be friends and get along. It feels like we’ve forgotten that.

What Deck Do I Play? That Is the Question

One aspect of Magic that I have identified that can cause me anxiety is deck selection. This may seem somewhat of a strange place for this to come up, because you play a deck because you believe it is good. As of writing this we are still in the beginning of the Throne of Eldraine standard format. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead are running rampant with Fires of Invention and Oko, Thief of Crowns close behind.

The regulars at The Goblin Traders are currently off all flavors of Golos. What can I say, the mirror leaves a bad taste in your mouth; a bad, zombie and sand flavored taste in your mouth. This leads me to my deck choices for this coming week at FNM, Temur Midrange and Simic Midrange. While the decks are similar in composition, they have very different game plans.

Temur Midrange wants to get out a Gilded Goose and drop a three-mana planewalker on turn 2, ideally Oko, and follow up with a hay-maker like Questing Beast or Sarkhan, the Masterless. While Simic wants to do something similar, it has more ramp in the form of mana creatures and bigger top end in Hydroid Krasis and Agent of Treachery.

Again, I ask, with two decks that have such a similar game plan and some many cards in common, what the anxiety over choosing between them? The answer is that I am attempting to control the outcome of my tournament. This is not something that has very attainable expectations, you can’t control how a tournament is going to go. Sure, Temur can experience mana screw being a three-color deck, but I can get just as screwed on color in a two-color deck like Simic though less likely. I'll generally have the thought during a bad night of games that I would have had a better night with a deck I choose not to play. This just may not be the case regardless of the chosen deck.

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.

The day is Monday, January 18, 2016. The format in question, Modern.

Splinter Twin was my signature modern deck from the inception of the format.

Well this is awkward... I spent a lot of time from this ban not really knowing where to go in Modern and a lot of that was because of my Anxiety. There was a deck that felt like it was fun or good once my favorite toy was taken away. Enter Arclight Phoenix. I loved playing Izzet Phoenix; it was my new Modern deck. we go again... Now where do I go?

Enter Urza, Lord High Artificer. This card is good. Possibly too good. No one would be surprised if Urza or Mox Opel get banned in the very near future.

I've been taught that I should worry about the B&R announcements. I have anxiety about them, and I worry, but there's nothing I can do about it. I know that. Each time my Modern deck has been hit with a ban it has moved me off modern for a while. This is something that I've learned to do in order to limit my exposure to something I know gives me Anxiety.

This is one of the tools that I have learned to use when it comes to Anxiety and Magic the Gathering; distance. I don't want to take a break from the game that I love, just aspects of it.

We’re All in This Together

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million people 18 and older are affected every year, which is roughly 18.1% of the population, but only around 37% of people who suffer from anxiety seek treatment.

If I leave you with anything from this article, I want to make it very clear that when it comes to Anxiety or any Mental Illness, do not ignore it and talk about. If you, or someone know, is dealing with something of that nature check in on them. Most importantly, you are not alone.

To Boldly Go

This article has been stressful and an anxiety-ridden process. An article about anxiety the causes anxiety, who knew. I enjoy it, which is surprising.

I look forward to producing more articles giving more insight into the mind of a competitive player at the FNM level and beyond.

You can find me on Twitter @jaymzsaint.

Make sure to check out the Destroy Target Permanent Podcast and follow us on Twitter @DTPCast.

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