In only two years of playing Magic: The Gathering I have already lost count of how many friends that put down the cards and walked away from the community. Many that come to mind are people I look up to and it frequently sparks the question, “Was there anything I could have done to keep them in the game?” Now I know factors outside the game hold a decent percentage of exiting player but other factors like…
– Not feeling included
– Misunderstanding of rules and interactions
– Not having enough money
… can have a similar permanent effect. Also, take into consideration the players that are “taking a break.” Sometimes MTG is like a relationship and after a long time being involved, getting to see what the world is like again could be the gasp of oxygen needed before submerging back into the cardboard depths within the not-so-distant future. More players come back for the community and not the competition anyway.
So, what I would like to bring to the table and ask the community is… How can we keep players to keep playing the game?
Here, I’ll give a few of my thoughts to start us off.
Include new players (In Shop)
I know it seems simple but just asking a new player what they are playing and sharing something that you have learned in your MTG career. Many new players can be shy and/or intimidated by more experiences players. You need to make the first step toward giving off a positive first impression of your local community. Start off with something like, “Hey, whatcha brewing up there? Mind if I take a look? I’m (Your Name), what’s yours? How long have you been playing?” Something as simple as a greeting combined with a few questions showing interest will make a positive lasting impression. Even if you can tell by their Standard “draft deck” they clearly haven’t played for long, giving them a chance to talk about it may lead to suggesting a few cards for them to pick up to improve the idea they have already started. If you tell them right off the bat they have to spend $500 dollars to have a chance to win, they will only feel discouraged. Lessons about card evaluation (why Remand is better than Cancel), breaking down board states (How swinging with the team forces them to block and nullifying your chances of losing on the crack back) , and basic deck building (why 24 lands is better than 12 and even dual lands with drawbacks are better than all basics in a multicolor build).
Include New Players (Outside Shop)
Going to grab a bite with some friends after FNM? Having some cardboard slingers over for a play test session, Cube Draft, or Free-For-All EDH games? Invite the new guy/gal! Ad least give them a chance to interact with your play group. If they eat their boogers or forget to shower more than once a week you don’t have to invite them again but at least give it all a chance. Sometimes players are somehow a lot cooler inside your local MTG shop and that’s alright. Meet on common ground and indulge in a game you both enjoy.
Give them cards!
Commons, Uncommons, $1 Rares. Give them some sweet stuff to brew with. The more cards they see the more they are likely to create an attachment to a card or a play style. We all know how hard it was to build a collection. Giving them more cards to look at is step one to starting card evaluation skills. Giving them a Brimstone Volley to compare to their Lave Axe with is a productive nudge in the right direction. Now they know HOW to make their deck better and can explore better options. Exploring these better options exposes them to more cards which triggers more deck ideas and more creative decks to build, combos to achieve, and ideas to bounce off local players and friends. Do you see what I am getting at? A few cards rotting in your trade binder can go a long way in the hands of a new player.
Encourage Questions and Give Constructive Advice
Simply telling a new player they did something wrong and correcting it for them will achieve nothing in regards to remembering what you did for them next time the situation arises. Explain WHY the card sitting in their hand is better than the one they played. Explain WHY leaving double blue open even when you don’t have a counter matters. Explain HOW they lost a game they should of won without exclaiming “That was a dumb play!” or “You really do suck don’t you!”. As prickish that is, I have heard those phrases from experienced players “teaching” new players how to improve their skills.
If I need to explain this one may God have mercy on your soul.
Do I have more ideas or tactics about keeping people playing? I sure do, but I want to hear from you. This is your chance to come together and make one voice, the Fan’s Voice.
Leave a comment below on how we can keep people playing Magic.
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