Tuesday, July 21, 2015

[JT] MTG Adversity


So, after a whole FREAKING YEAR (O_o)  I'm back.  No seriously, today marks exactly 1 year since the last post was put up on here, and it wasn't even mine.  How lame is that? Did you miss me?  You missed me, didn't you?  No?  Oh... well... ok then...  *shuffles off*

:P  Seriously though, a lot has been going on these past two years, and you can expect an update on ALL that later, but today I'm here to talk about something that has caught my interest lately: Diversity and adversity in the realm of Magic: the Gathering.  

Since this topic might bring in more than just M:tG players (Welcome, by the way!), I feel I should explain a few things.  If you do not know, Magic is a strategy card game where you build a deck of cards, shuffle them together and draw cards from the now-randomized deck to play against an opponent.  You have to manage your resources that you draw from the deck to best your opponent, who is trying to do the same against you.

Now, this post might seem cliched at this point with all the "recent" (meaning "since the last time I posted") discussion on the topics, and while I have my own opinions on those debates, they are rather large subjects.  Today, I want to focus on something a little smaller and more easily managed.  What I want to know is when you are playing against someone with something that impedes their ability to play in the way we perceive as normal, how do you handle the situation?  
"Ghostly Prison" art by Wayne England
Let me give you two examples.  The first extends back to June, at GP Charlotte (yes, I did go again! :3).  I finished up my match rather early and started wandering tables to see some other neat decks and catch up with my buddies from The Mana Pool.  While on this adventure, I came across something I had never seen before.  At one of the table ends was a match that included a player with some physical handicap.  I will not try to guess at what it was because I honestly have no idea, but he was confined to a wheelchair and could not even hold his cards.  He had to have an aide hold and play the cards for him after he pointed out what to do (Side note: cheers to her, as well!  She not only has to aid this person, but she has gone above and beyond and learned at least the basics of the game to know when he might want to play a card or do something in response).  

"Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts" art by Karla Ortiz
I found myself mesmerized for a few seconds when I saw this, wondering what would I do if I was this person's opponent.  Would I handicap myself to make it easier for him?  Would I pay more attention to the aide to make sure she was only doing what he indicated and not trying to influence his plays? Would I start talking more to the aide than to the player?  I'd like to think that the answer to the first and third questions is "no".  In the first case, I might slow my pace a bit to make sure both of them understood everything I was doing, but I do not think I would change how I played.  The third question though, I am not as sure of.  If I was, in a sense, interacting more with the aide, I may focus my dialogue to her instead.  I like to think that with my experience of speaking to groups of people, I would speak to both of them, but I can't tell for sure.  As for the second question, I probably would, just to make sure there was no cheating.

The other example happened this past week at FNM.  In the draft pod next to me, a player opened his pack and laid all his cards face up on his play mat in front of him (Note: for those of you who may not play Magic, drafting allows you to build a deck from random packs of cards instead of cards you already own.  You are usually not supposed to show anyone what you are drafting).  Someone in his pod probably assumed that he was new and pointed out that he did not have to do that (and yes, I am aware that I am making an assumption here myself).  That is when he revealed that he actually has a condition known as hyperhidrosis and so his hands get extremely sweaty.

Now, this scenario is extremely interesting to me!  Here was a player that is perfectly capable of playing, and a very good drafter (I've played against him in the past), but he has adjusted how he plays and gives himself a huge disadvantage by allowing everyone in his pod to see what he was drafting.  There is an argument that he is also sending the ultimate signals to the rest of the players to not pick cards in his colors, but they still have perfect knowledge of his deck.  What I find to be the extremely interesting part is when I tried to step back and think about what I would do if I was in his pod?  I've had players play with their hands tipped a little too low so that I can see what was in there hands, and I avert my eyes.  I like to believe that in this case, I would do the same.  Is that just me though?

"Call to Mind" art by Terese Nielson
What makes this topic so interesting to me is that, being a teacher, I have dealt with students with different mental capabilities; from honors to low achievement to IEP students.  However, I have never had to teach a student with any kind of physical impediment beyond casts or crutches.

These are my reactions based on what makes sense to me.  What I want to know from you all is how you would react in the above scenarios?  What kind of similar scenarios have you come across in your travels across the multiverse?  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, I'll be here mentally testing not only new decks, but now new types of opponents!

- JT

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