Another Magic the Gathering themed post. It’s been that kind of week.
What a day. I’ve basically become a caricature of myself. I’ve spent my entire workday watching replays of old Luis Scott-Vargas Magic the Gathering drafts. For years I pooh poohed the idea of watching others play Magic in the same way that I shat on sports viewing. Why watch something if you could play it instead? Discovering what everyone else has seemed to know for years, here’s why:
It’s not something I can just play. I don’t have the experience, the time or funds to play like LSV does. He’s a professional and as such gets paid to stream this kind of thing. I haven’t bought into MTGO and frankly, couldn’t afford to. I’ve spent long enough building up the collection that I do have to suddenly buy into digital. So to watch someone else put in the efforts and be led by his superior knowledge of the formats is a blast.
It hits on multiple fronts. Firstly, LSV really knows his shit. My mind Boggles at how quickly he’s able to assess and analyse a pack, formulating a draft path with solid potential outcomes. It means he can react appropriately when an otherwise shitty pack would pop up, creating contingencies. While I tend to find a strategy and stick it out, even if it’s drying up, LSV doesn’t. He knows when to pivot and signal. Better yet, his knowledge of the format and strong cards allows him to gauge when something could wheel the table and come back to him. It’s like watching magic (pun actually wasn’t intended) happen in front of your eyes.
Secondly there’s a nostalgic element to it as well. I’ve watched him draft a bunch of formats today. There was triple Ravnica, triple Mirrodin, triple Time Spiral, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse and a few Holiday Cubes. I remember these formats, but at the time where my limited skill level was pretty… well, limited. I didn’t understand the wider archetypes nearly as well as LSV does, so I wasn’t able to as adroitly piece together a playable pile. Plus I tend to have a predilection for forcing green. Sue me. Getting to relive those old formats helps me recall where I was in my relation to the game during that time. I don’t know if I ever tried an IPA draft, for instance. I think I just went to pre-releases. Hell, the Invasion pre-release was my first taste of limited and sparked a lifetime love of sealed.
Mostly it’s a vicarious thing. I can’t afford to play these throwback sets, so the next best thing is to watch a master do it for me. I can cheer for his plans coming together and root for him as he’s playing the subsequent games. It’s interesting, but having seen the formation of the deck, it engenders this strange attachment to the pile. You want to see LSV win a) because you feel oddly involved in the process, b) because he’s a good player and c) because he makes a fuckton of puns. I don’t remotely begrudge him for getting to have this experience. He’s worked for it and creates a shitload of compelling, informative and funny content. As a humble viewer, I get to profit from it.
In any case, it’s about time I get going. I wanna see how he drafts Return to Ravnica next.