Welcome to the MTG Underground


Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless {Magic Article} is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend {This Moment}?” —Chuck Palinchron

Welcome to the MTG Underground.

You are wasting your time here, but wasting time is perhaps the most common activity of our species, and it is without question that you could pick worse places to waste it. You could be paying some Corporate Face of your favorite game a subscription fee to peruse the same regurgitated words by the same manufactured voices week in and week out. Clicking refresh over and over, waiting for the next article, which is only a slight variation of the last one, to go live so you can snicker at its witty heading before skipping most of the content to find last weekend’s best deck list. You could be clicking the convenient links and buying the pandered cards and hoping they come in time for you to play it a week behind at this week’s Friday Night Magic. Or you could be feeling clever, reading this and thinking smugly about how you do not pay for premium content. Instead you could be salivating over the expired premium, bathing in the squalor you were denied from last month, taking only a momentary break from the inferior and incoherent “FREE” content, hoping to swallow the neatly packaged garbage and somehow digest it and excrete some new brilliant technology. Perhaps would just wallow in the comments, hoping to catch some insight of what the articles you did not pay for are about, like some juvenile delinquent trying to catch a glimpse of some breasts through a blurry peephole, longing for the imagined high quality mental pornography that you foolishly imagine the wealthy and entitled are able to enjoy with their subscription.

But instead you are here.

Probably because you have already done the rest of this embarrassing behavior and you have run out of places to go. You swam through a sea of social media and found the Doctor, and you thought that perhaps his brand of madness might be a prescription for whatever Corporate STD you caught in your safe and drab world of structured magic. Well, you have found the Medicine Show, and if you are willing to buy the tonic, if you are willing to swallow the elixir and snort the Serum Powder, there might be a cure for you yet. I am not optimistic. I still believe you are wasting your time. You do not belong here. This is not for you.

There are very few rules in the MTG Underground. And the ones that exist are not to keep you from doing anything you should not be doing, but instead they are here to set you free from the mirage of fulfillment you have built around your hobby.

The First Rule is simple.

You are not your DCI number.

You are not your DCI number. You are not your highest Grand Prix finish. You are not your standard deck. You are not the contents of your trade binder. You are not your fucking Planeswalker Points. You are NOT the all-shuffling, all-sleeved, Japanese Foil Crap of the game.” — Ali from Cairo

What does this even mean?

Some Magic Players love Friday Night Magic. They love Standard. They love logging into their PWP account, typing their favorite card inspired password into the little box and seeing a mocked up achievement board. They aspire to be a level 50 Spellshitter or whatever. Some players love the system, admire the pros, and buy whatever they are sold by the powers that be. They are happy. Magic is their game and they will always get more from it than you.

You attend FNM with a taste of chagrin on your breath. You need to play some games and pick up some cards for the preliminary pro tour qualifier this weekend. You do not like the format or your deck but it is well positioned against the field and you are hoping it will be the last one you have to play. You try to block out the fact that you are trying to qualify for another tournament you will not enjoy on your road to glory. The last thing you want to think about is how far you will have to travel and how much it will cost you, especially since you just spent your last $20 dollars on a mythic that will be a $3 forgotten relic six months from now.

You secretly (or not so secretly) hate MAGIC THE GATHERING.

Why? Because when you started it was something different. It used to be good. You used to look forward to it. The cards used to be better. Things were not so safe. Things were not always figured out. Everything was not programmed. Now it might be a sterile escalator ride in the mall of mediocrity, but once it was an Ivory Tower on the Tundra. You miss the good old days, and you hope that if you skulk around long enough some taste of the past will return. You cannot fathom the idea of walking away, of abandoning your dream of making it big, of becoming a known face, of playing on the pro tour, mostly because you have never stopped to look at what is going on around you.

Your DCI number is important. It sets you apart from the casual scene.

Guess what?

It also keeps you from playing in high stakes Vintage and Oldschool house games with larger buy ins, better pay outs, illicit and allegedly illegal substances, better music, better company and above all better MAGIC. While you were playing FNM last week somewhere in Detroit six men of ill repute were sitting in a basement drinking Scotch passing a pipe and laughing maniacally as they battled out a sealed Ice Age tournament with a $500 prize to first place. While you were cursing under your breath at last Sunday’s Premiere IQ about how awful and lucky your opponent was and about how stale the format was there were sixteen guys in Archbold, Ohio (I had never heard of it either, do not feel bad) playing Oldschool MTG with the Swedish 93/94 Ban/Restricted list in a tournament for a Chaos Orb and a Mirror Universe (the latter of which I won for placing 2nd) and enjoying themselves so much that the guy who finished last is currently reading strategy articles from Scrye #3 and scouring eBay for a good deal on uncommons from The Dark. You were earning PWP and dying inside, and they were reliving the past while laying the foundation of a brave new world.

You are not your DCI number. Rule number One.

The rest of the rules will be covered later. There is much that is written and waiting to be posted, and much more yet to be written.

These are the first of many Notes from the MTG Underground.


6 thoughts on “Welcome to the MTG Underground

  1. Great post, but Sealed Ice Age for $500 sounds miserable, I won a ptq that was Ice Age sealed – hated the format but really wanted to qualify. The PT was not fun either.


    1. It was $100 in, sealed deck and boosters provided, winner got $500 everyone else endured 4 hours of heavy drinking and ice age. Was far less exciting game play than anticipated. Congrats on your historic ptq win!


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