Tag Archives: FridayNightMagic

Being a Noob and Having Boobs: Its Tough out There for New Folks in Magic

30 Apr

My boyfriend and I started playing MTG last October, just around 6 months ago, not too long after the Theros block started.  For the first few months we just played at the kitchen table and bought booster packs and drank beer and had fun.  It turned out that a few of our friends also dabbled in Magic and they started coming over to play as well.  We developed a little play group and usually sit around and drink and eat and listen to some tunes and bullshit and play Commander all day or run multiplayer games and just have fun.   Then we decided to start playing more competitively and up our game so we started going to Friday Night Magic.

The first shop we played at was not at all a fun experience.   Having boobs and being a noob made for a bad time.

Being a girl there was a problem.  The first time I walked into the shop with my BF there was a collective silence that was so thick I could have cut it with my stiletto heel.  (That’s a joke; I didn’t really wear stilettos to the hobby shop!).  No one ever outright said “Get out of here, your vagina is harshing our sausage fest buzz”, but that’s probably because no one would really even speak to me.  There were kids like Dirt Lip (no idea of the kid’s name at all), who had a baby mustache because he couldn’t have been older than 16.  He couldn’t even speak enough to me to say his name, much less announce his phases.  I constantly had to ask him “what?” and “excuse me” and “I didn’t hear you speak up” and if his eyes were lasers my tits would have been burned straight through to the other side.  I get it that there’s a large age range in this game, and that teenage boys are full of hormones and to top it all off there’s a drastic level of awkward-antisocial-nerdom happening as well.  But really.  It was a bit much.  And he wasn’t the only one to do this.  He was just the only one who gets a pass for being young, as all the rest who had this problem were over the legal drinking age.  There were also the eye rolls and hanging of heads and snickering glances to their friends when my name would appear next to theirs on the pairing list.  And if the opponent was comfortable enough to actually talk to me it was patronizing and weird and overly polite to the point of condescension.  All of these things made for an uncomfortable situation on their part, which in turn made me uncomfortable, and from there the comfortableness would just bounce back and forth between us until it plus-one’d itself into 10/10 flying deathtouch Rakdos Minotaur Overlord of Awkward.  Really, it wasn’t fun.  It was off putting.  And it was mildly offensive.

More so than the girl thing, there was the noob thing.  As previously mentioned I just started playing in late October.  And given the fact that I have no prior experience with any sort of gaming outside of being crazy good at Battleship and Monopoly, one could say I am a SUPER NOOB.  And being a Super Noob was not what one would call Kosher at this shop.

Now, being someone who has other talents and hobbies (cooking, card making, and scrap booking) who has led (a few) workshops on those things, I recognize that being someone with more knowledge it is my responsibility to help other people grow in their area of interest and I should never, not even once, make someone feel smaller or less than or bad about themselves for being new, or less talented, or making cards or scrapbook pages with ugly paper.  Our previous shop was full of really good players. People with extremely expensive top 8 decks and net-decks and who clearly possessed a wealth of money and knowledge about the game and how to play it.  They were all very serious about playing and the atmosphere was tense and serious all the time.  And they had absolutely zero time for noobs.   It was pretty much “Oh I’m playing a noob?  Let’s see how fast I can get this over with and go back to talking about building my new modern deck.”  The last round I played there I got paired with this guy with an amazing deck and who played competitively.  When the round started he was in the middle of making trades (with the guy who always showed up at FNM halfway through the night with trade binders but never actually played.  He was rather like a drug dealer hitting up his customers halfway through a bender hoping to score some late night cash and unload some product one more time before everyone OD’s.  “Come on, you know you want just one more copy of Xenagos…look…I even have a foil…you know you want it…”).  Nearly 20 minutes later I was still sitting at the table watching the pair next to me enter into their second hand when the guy finally found it within himself to come over and start the game (only after the judge’s insistence).  Granted, I didn’t mind so much as the deck I had brought was pretty terrible and I was having a bad night as far as cards and I was super over the entire thing, but it was annoying and rude none the less.  Needless to say I was more interested in bailing in favor of tacos and beer than I was playing at that point, so I didn’t put forth much effort and he took 7 minutes to beat my ass into the ground over two hands.  He promptly, and without ceremony, went back to trading.

There were a few nice people…like the guy who smelled like cheese and would talk to anyone about how to improve upon their deck with mechanics that were always way over my head and “here look in my awesome trade binder for examples of what I possess and what you need”.

It was after the night I nearly got a win for no other reason that some jack-wagon couldn’t be bothered to play, that we decided to try to find another shop.  Luckily enough a week later we were in Target buying booster packs and ran in to a fellow who told us about a shop near our house.  We decided to check it out, and it’s a little hole in the wall, redneck card shop next to a dive bar/pool-hall.  And it has been so much fun so far.  The people are all super nice and most are pretty chatty.  I have never, not even once, gotten the feeling that my being a girl is a thing.  The one young kid I have played made a valiant effort to stay cool and look me in the eye.  I kind of wanted to chuck him on the shoulder and tell him he did a great job being cool in front of a girl.  But I didn’t, because it would be patronizing and weird and I don’t roll like that.  More than anything, the people at this shop really want to help other people learn the game and become better players.  They have offered to help us build decks with the cards we currently have, several people give suggestions after the rounds are over for plays that could have gone better or cards that would improve the deck.  And it’s never with any dickish tone; it’s always just “hey, so this might help you out next time…”  And even though in the few weeks I’ve played there I haven’t come higher than 2nd to last while playing they still say “just keep playing and working on it and have fun and you will get better!”

It might seem a small and silly thing, but for a new player who is still a little nervous and afraid of making a total fool of herself outside of the kitchen table, it means a lot to be surrounded with that sort of attitude and atmosphere.  The difference really is amazing.  Good on ya little redneck card shop, good on ya!