So awkwardly enough, I got into a conversation about someone finding inspiration from Brian Kibler’s article about losing weight and benefits to gaming. Hate to be the cynic in the bunch, but I don’t really need a gamer/game designer to inform me something that’s basically told to me by my physician. Not to mention studies and various medical journals over the past century.
Sorry if I sound a tad jaded here, but that’s not what bothered me. It was the inspiration part.
They’re Not a Muse
Generally, inspiration can only carry you so far when you’re not applying it properly. Inspiring an idea to set a new type of goal or lifestyle, sure, but being able to carry out said goal purely on inspiration isn’t enough. That’s generally setting yourself up for failure.
For five years, I must have been on 3 different types of diets. I couldn’t stick to a single one past the third week. Was I inspired to lose the weight? Sure, but was I motivated? Hardly. I could go through magazines, blogs and look at actors/actresses and imagine how I would look. Just wanting to be like them or at least close to them. What would my life be like if I had their looks? What if I wasn’t the “fat” one in my group of friends. That is until I realize a few weeks in, nothing’s changing. Three weeks and I’ve barely lost 3 lbs?
I just ended up going back to my old routine again. Eating things I probably shouldn’t eat and skipping leg day because I didn’t feel like it. Then I ended up gaining more weight a few weeks later than I started my diet. What originally inspired me lose weight just wasn’t enough to carry me through. Then the worst thing that could happen when anyone fails.
I made excuses.
The worst pitfall for me after failing each diet was making a new excuse each time. Either I couldn’t find time to work out or the proportions weren’t enough for me. Then of course, there’s the old saying on the internet, “just be happy with your body." There’s some truths to that, but in my situation specifically, I was using it to mask the failure. It was too convenient not use that excuse when my friends would ask me for diet updates. I felt too humiliated to admit how energetic I was a few weeks ago. Going out buying brand new running shoes or trying a zero carb diet.
With each excuse came stress and depression. I just kept failing and I kept continuing to spiral out of control. Doubling up on extra large fries or stock piling more deep fried wontons and shrimp at a buffet line. The more I ate, the more I felt depressed. The more I felt depressed, the more I ate. So the cycle just got worst each time I failed at dieting.
Once in a while, that inspirational spark to go on a diet pops up. Either watching a new super hero movie where everyone looks like they can literally tear off a hood of a car or even an inspirational Facebook photo. I would hunch over with my stomach pressed against the table and there I went again, only to disappoint myself by the month’s end. I wanted it, but I couldn’t get it.
This cycle lasted for five years.
Breaking the Link
Between the depression and feeling like I wanted another slice of Costco pizza, I didn’t feel healthy. While my blood-work only showed above average levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, it didn’t show how I feel. It didn’t show what it’s like to be categorized as an overweight Magic the Gathering player that still dresses like a thirteen year old. I was wearing t-shirts and shorts for the longest time because they were so convenient to wear. A quick fluff and tug and I could hide that extra curl on my stomach whenever I sat down.
That all changed for me, but without it’s own lessons.
Earlier last year I met someone through tumblr and I eventually grew close to them. The thought of having someone I might have to share my life with one day snapped me back to reality. I couldn’t live my whole life like the way I did. Not forever. So I started to quit my vices and other recreational habits. I started to apply an actual diet, a personal trainer and a work out routine tailored around my injured knee at the time. Three months in, I lost over twenty pounds all because I needed to be the best person I could for someone I loved.
Sadly, it was never the case on their end.
While the hopeless romantic side of me wanted to say love was the motivation for my weight loss, it wasn’t. The person I fell in love with only inspired me to do so. The need to change my life and become a better person was my motivation.
I’ve lost over 80 lbs since then. I wasn’t driven by inspiration, I was driven by motivation. Not wanting to change, but needing to change .
Finding my motivation was the key all along.
Not in the Cushions
Finding your inspiration to lose weight will vary person to person. For some, it might be watching Chris Evans jogging in the intro of Captain America or Jennifer Lawrence drawing out her bow. While others maybe in the span of a five minute read. Ultimately, finding your motivation should be your priority. That motivation will carry you through almost any goal in life.
I’m not here to inspire you to quit drugs, stop internet gaming or lose almost half your body weight in a span of a year. I’m here to ask you an honest question.
Do you want to change your life or need to change your life?
I was updated through a FB conversation that the next wave of Chinese bootleg cards are coming. What else is new, right? What was so surprising this time?
They’re creating foil copies now.
Now this is a slight concern since a lot of newer players won’t be able to spot the various types of foil processes over the years, so let me just review a few.
Older Borders (Pre-8th Edition)
Urza’s Legacy was the first set that started to use the foiling process. So keep that in mind if you do run across something like a foil Sliver Queen.
One of the biggest flags spotting a counterfeit are the lack of the “shooting star” at the bottom left corner. The same type used in the Wizards of the Coast logo. So when you do see something incredible such as a “foil” Brainstorm, verify the shooting star.
Newer Border (Post-8th Edition)
There’s different foiling techniques used in special products, such as From the Vault Series and Commander’s Arsenal. They definitely have their own texture and feel. Also keep in mind these are more prone to curling under warmer temperatures.
Wizards of the Coast may have denied it, but it was very noticeable when they tried out a new foiling technique in Avacyn Restored. Cards appeared slightly darker than they should otherwise and just don’t really have a high degree of color spectrum when you’re reflecting them.
Spotting Fake MTG Cards
The ones from China (almost exclusively) are easy to spot, but require physical examination. The counterfeiters in China are typically using the same printing presses as the ones used for poker playing cards. Which means that the cards will “look” great, but they don’t “feel” great.
Here’s some easy tips before someone offers something too good to be true. Keep in mind, these are more practical ways of spotting them, rather than looking like a weirdo selecting the perfect egg in the dairy aisle:
You may encounter people at your local game shop trying to pass off the counterfeits as the actual high money cards. Before you do, make sure all the sleeves are taken off. This includes the “perfect fit” sleeves from Japan. Without trying to actually damage the card, gently rub your thumb on it. If it feels like a playing card (poker card) and not what you’re used to, it’s probably your first flag. If that passes, see how flimsy the the cardboard is.
Often times, a lot of counterfeiters may “know” how to use photoshop, but finding one that’s actually a graphic designer with kerning knowledge is a different story. What you’re looking for is the space used in-between each letter. If it looks oddly spaced out, that’s a flag.
Typically when someone releases a font, the creator goes out of their way to properly kern each letter with one another. Sometimes good, sometimes bad (look at comic sans). Same thing with the fonts used on MTG cards. Some cards have tons of text and requires special kerning, while others like Doom Blade may not. So when the text on the card looks “off”, don’t hesitate to pull up the actual copy of the card on the internet.
This next one is something I use to just verify if a card is Mint-Near Mint or Lightly Played, but actually does work really well spotting off cut Magic cards. You know those sealed Fat-Pack Land stacks? Sans the original Alpha cards, slip perpetrator in the middle of the land stack and look at the stack from the side. If the corners seem off and you can easily spot the card from the stack, that’s probably a counterfeit.
Finally, probably the most practical (for now). Use your cellphone’s flashlight and screen it through the card. If the light goes through, it’s a real Magic card. If it doesn’t, probably a counterfeit. After all, Chinese counterfeiters don’t actually use the same card stock as MTG cards. They’re still nickel and diming using cardboard from their other printed materials, such as playing cards. Just make sure you test your own Magic cards first to see your bulbs’ strength.
I’ll get you next time Gadget!
There’s a few other ways to spot a counterfeit, but hopefully these tips will be enough for an average FNM’er. Just keep in mind that the counterfeiters will adapt and create better counterfeits over time. That means that these tips may help you today, but in a month or year? Maybe not so much.
It’s important to keep our community updated in a healthy network of communication. Look out for your local players. Not just counterfeiters mind you, but also the ones that are ripping off the children at the trade tables.
You won’t be rewarded for your good deeds, but that’s never the point.
You’re doing the right thing.
Feel free to like/reblog for your friends to this article. You can follow me here on polishtamales or on twitter @polishtamales for the latest updates!
Quick Test List
2 Aven Mindcensor
3 Blade Splicer
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Gaddock Teeg
4 Leonin Arbiter
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Loxodon Smiter
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Qasali Pridemage
3 Restoration Angel
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 AEther Vial
4 Path to Exile
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Eiganjo Castle
2 Gavony Township
4 Ghost Quarter
2 Horizon Canopy
4 Razorverge Thicket
1 Stirring Wildwood
4 Temple Garden
2 Creeping Corrosion
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Harmonic Sliver
2 Mark of Asylum
1 Patrician’s Scorn
1 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Rest in Peace
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
Note: This guide is strictly made for people that are thinking about getting into the game.
For most people, you’re probably exposed to the game by your friends, family or in many cases for women, your boy friend at the time. While the sudden leap might be a handful of free cards, a demonstration deck given out at your local game store or PAX, there’s a lot of things to consider before fully understanding what Magic actually is. For some, it may be a gradual transition from a casual player to planning your Friday nights playing FNM with your friends. For others, it could be a much more frustrating experience, especially when you’re more casual or enjoy other aspects of the game.
There’s a few things you do need to ask yourself before buying your first starter deck and a few boosters:
It’s good to establish knowing what your limits are first before you start putting quarters into the arcade machine, so to speak. A lot of new players make the mistake of buying things that aren’t necessarily designed/marketed towards them. This guide is designed to help you streamline your experience in the game and it’s community.
So, let’s figure out your limits now.
One of the biggest misconceptions of the game is that it’s expensive and is a pay to win privilege. That’s not really the case at all, especially when you’re planning ahead, instead of learning from a frustrating cycle of trial and error.
If you’re like many college students in America, tuition is pretty insane and it keeps gradually going up. So in order for you to enjoy Magic, you need to balance out your finances first. Take time to look at your budget realistically and figure out what your monthly entertainment budget is. While it’s not surprising some of you may not have even thought about this, it’s a good time to start. After all, you’re not going to be in college forever and responsibly sort of does come at a certain age.
If you’re a console gamer or an avid movie goer (like myself), plan your entertainment budget ahead of time. The reason we’re doing all this planning is so Magic doesn’t affect your actual life style. Many players that have quit the game often cite the financial upkeep associated with the game. That’s why it’s important for you to realistically set up your budget so your hobbies do not interfere with your everyday quality of life.
Not everyone will have the same budget, especially if you’re a single parent or if you have other financial responsibilities taking care of your family. Owning a car in California for example, an average stop at a gas station might be over $80.00. Some people may have scholarships and are squeezing by taking their laundry to their parents home each week. Then there’s some that have full time jobs without any other financial responsibilities outside of tuition. Whatever your budget is, there are a lot of options for you to enjoy Magic. Even if you do have a closet full of instant ramen.
Mark Rosewater, one of the senior & head developers for Magic the Gathering, has often said that he’s chef cooking for over two dozen people. He has to find the right balance so everyone can enjoy the game and he’s quite good at it. For close to twenty years now. There’s a lot of options for everyone’s monthly budget, so let’s go over a few types of formats that might be perfect for you.
Some monthly entertainment budget options are:
I’ll briefly go over these so that it’s not too overwhelming.
Commander is probably one of the most widely accepted formats in the MTG community. The format allows you to play the game at a much more social and friendly atmosphere, rather than the tense and sometimes intimidating one-on-one match ups.
Since the format restricts players to use one copy of any single card, there isn’t a need to fully commit to additional copies for your deck to operate. Other constructed formats, such as Standard, will require you to have multiple copies of a single card to be competitive. Because of that, having one Jace Planeswalker now means you need four. You can see why understanding your budget is important.
Commander is also a non-rotating format. This means that you don’t ever have to worry about your favorite cards being retired. You could take a few years off from the game and come back with the same deck. Sans the possible bannings of the card of course.
You can also have an instant Commander collection by purchasing Commander products designed for entry level play. These can be purchased at full retail price of $29.99 USD or if you’re lucky, marked even less. A little research is required, but all decks and it’s contents are available online, so you don’t have to go in purchasing blindly.
One of the biggest missed opportunities in MTG is immediately opening a booster pack and sorting out the cards for your collection. Not many players realize this at first, but the booster packs are actually designed for draft play. Depending on what type of draft you play, the format rewards players with prior knowledge of the cards, rather than players relying on deeper pockets and net decking in constructed formats.
As long as you study a set’s contents and can quickly evaluate a card’s potential in a limited environment, you’ll do well and be rewarded. Depending on your FNM, you can gradually win booster packs and just save them up for a rainy day with a friend. Rather than just ripping them open and crossing your fingers, you can enjoy a random late night game of Magic.
You’ll also soon understand that a rare card doesn’t always mean it’s the best card in your booster pack. Also, it’s nice to add some gradual upgrades from your spoils into your Commander deck as well.
Constructed formats are difficult to explain since everyone has different goals in mind. Some players enjoy the idea of creating a custom deck or even a tribal deck full of goblins or elves. Some are casual about it, then there’s people who aren’t. Some value winning more than actually socially interacting with their opponents. To them, you could be just another name on a match slip. Competitive constructed formats can be fun and rewarding, but extremely unforgiving if you can’t deal with the various types of players.
It’s important to realize that a competitive constructive format may not be for everyone. Even if your budget does allow you to play, you’ll encounter another side of it’s community that you may not enjoy. You’ll be meeting some really nice people along the way, but you might run across some awkwardly developed man-children. If you’ve seen the Hangover, you’re going to eventually meet someone like “Alan" (Zach Galifianakis). So you have understand your own tolerance for people like that. Especially when there’s money and prizes on the line.
Furthermore, if you’re a woman, you may encounter sexism by extremely stupid males or “Alan” at certain gaming stores for FNM. Being taunted, flirted, harassed, stared at or even in some extreme cases of being touched, should never be tolerated and should be reported immediately. If any case the store owner doesn’t make changes, feel free to report all parties to Wizards of the Coast and the police. Never hesitate to contact law enforcement when you feel threatened.
You should feel safe at any MTG event.
Same Bat time, same Bat channel
This is just a quick beginner’s guide to Magic. Literally. If you know someone that’s thinking about it or if you’ve been thinking about it yourself, feel free to like and share it. Expect the chapters to be split up in weekly chunks since there’s a lot of nuances to the game outside of paying $3.99 for a booster pack.
Tune in next time for a brief overview on what type of gamer you could be and a better understanding which color might be best for you starting the game. If you have questions or comments, feel free to visit my tumblr at polishtamales or my Twitter @polishtamales.
Thanks for reading and have a Magical day!