Hero: A person admired for their achievements and noble qualities
In the Magic the Gathering community it’s all too common to hear about a player’s bad experiences or actions. Everyone loves to tell “scum bag” stories. What we often don’t hear about are the people across the world doing good things. I’m not talking about some Magic professional who scoops a little kid into the top 8 of a tournament. I’m referring to the people who make Magic happen every day. A person who does the right thing when nobody is looking, expecting nothing in return but a smile. These are the people who form the foundation of what the Magic the Gathering community is built on, and yet they rarely get noticed.
Are you an individual doing good things in the gaming community? Are you using Magic the Gathering in a creative and positive way? Perhaps you’re a local game store that wants to share a story of success or triumph? Is there a story that you think deserves to be told? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be in a future article of Hero’s Resolve.
Maxime Boucher is a real-life Magic the Gathering Hero.
A 29 year old teacher from Québec City Canada, Maxime uses Magic the Gathering in his classroom to connect with his students.
Two years ago he noticed two of his ESL (English as a second language) students hiding in a corner, trading Magic cards. Most teachers would have ignored them. Some teachers would have stopped them. Maxime didn’t do either of those things. Instead, he joined them.
Maxime has a history with Magic the Gathering, so he was able to sit down and discuss the game with them. He started playing when he was around 10 years old, during Revised and 4th Edition. He stopped playing after Homelands when the local game store near his house closed down, and he was left with nobody to play with. After seeing his students interested in the game Maxime saw an opportunity, and took it.
Like a lot of schools, the one Maxime was teaching at was all about sports. If they weren’t into sports, the school had nothing much to offer students in terms of extracurricular activities. Maxime wanted to change that. He went down to his local game store, Le Donjon, and picked up a few packs of Innistrad to see about learning the game mechanics implemented since he had last played. Karma was on his side that day as he opened up a foil Lilliana. Trading that in for enough cards to make a decent standard deck, he played Magic with his students in his classroom during lunch. After a couple of weeks of playing, he would usually find 10-14 students waiting by his classroom door at lunch time. Just before Dark Ascension released, Maxime set about holding his first tournament. He dropped by Le Donjon to see if they could spare anything for prizes, and left with a bunch of promotional posters and a Sorin standee. These were items the store was rotating out, but to the kids they were awesome prizes. That was when he got a call from the Principal.
It seems even teachers don’t like getting called into the Principal’s office. Maxime was worried that he was about to be shut down. Thankfully it was the opposite. Magic had become so popular that they were getting requests from students in other schools to participate. The Principal was impressed, and wanted to make Magic an official activity. This meant that once a week, Maxime would be getting paid to play Magic! A big part of what makes Maxime the coolest teacher ever is what he did next. He used the extra money to purchase cards for kids who wanted to play, but couldn’t afford cards of their own. Using the funds wisely, he bought pre-con decks. He gave the decks to the kids who needed them, and use the booster packs that came with them as prizes. Even his local game store kicked in some extra packs.
At the end of the school year he held a big finale tournament. The Principal purchased a box of Avacyn Restored and Maxime matched it. They held a sealed event using 4 packs per player, with everyone getting a prize. What a way to finish off a school year! Sadly, Maxime had to move on to a different school this year, but he’s still playing Magic with the kids at lunch.
For all his ongoing efforts in building the Magic community, and introducing Magic to kids, I’d say that Maxime is definitely a Magic the Gathering Hero.
I received word recently that an out of town player had a problem with his local game store. This player travels to a lot of our tournaments and we’d known for some time that he was working towards the goal of winning Game Day. Claiming for himself one of the coveted “Champio” mats was a really big deal for him. He would always get close, but couldn’t quite get that top spot.
Game Day Gatecrash was his best day, and his worst. After battling all day and taking down the finals, he eagerly awaited prize presentations. Can you see where this is going? There was no mat. The store owner claimed that he never received it. This kind of thing happens though. Perhaps Wizards didn’t send it. It might have gotten lost in shipping. The truth was much worse. This player, who won the mat after working so hard, happened to have been in the store when the owner received it.
He remembered it arriving, gushing over the art. He also couldn’t believe the store owner would do something like this. Frankly, neither could I when I heard the story. As you can appreciate, the story spread like wild fire. Stories about shady game stores always do, although that’s not what we’re really here to read about. The best part of this story is what happens next.
When I heard the story I was blown away. I felt really bad for this guy. I went home from our game store frustrated that I couldn’t do something for him. That night I contacted him on Facebook, and he confirmed the story. By the next morning it bothered me enough that I started looking for solutions. I considered buying him one off of eBay, but it occurred to me that was probably where his mat ended up. I didn’t want to support dishonest game stores. I thought about putting the word out in the forums and on Twitter, but I didn’t want to be the source of yet another bad story in our gaming community. That’s when it occurred to me I should turn to Wizards. I contacted Hélène Bergeot, Director of Organized Play and Trade Marketing for Wizards of the Coast. She has a reputation for being very engaged with the Magic community, and I hoped she might direct me to someone who could help.
The next day she responded:
“I really hope that the player will report to the support team as it really doesn’t seem right. With that said, players should never be penalized in this type of situation and I really appreciate you reaching out to me. I actually have a spare play mat and would be happy to ship it to
I was blown away. Hélène was prepared to mail a mat to this player immediately in order to rectify the situation. For a busy woman in such a high position to take the time to fix a problem, for a single player, shows a lot about who she is. She could have just told me to contact customer service, but instead she dealt with it personally.
Hélène followed through and mailed me the mat. I saved it until this player showed up at one of our events, and we presented it to him after telling the story to the crowd. The players loved it! I was on vacation with my family at the time, but I saw him shortly afterwards. When you see a grown man running at you to give you a big hug, you know he appreciates what you did.
To Hélène Bergeot I can’t say “thank you” enough. She turned a negative experience into a positive. For this, and her ability to truly engage with the community, I consider her a Magic the Gathering Hero.