Things I Learned from Magic: The Gathering that Applies in Real Life

the gathering by harrybuddhapalm

the gathering by harrybuddhapalm

So I went to my first game store gathering last night — and, it went okay

At first, not gonna lie, it was a bit intimidating entering a poorly-lit, suspicious smelling basement full of men hunched over video games, only to occasionally glance around to spectate. You can pretty much be assured that for every game you play, somebody somewhere is closely watching and measuring your skills. Not to mention that being a girl, I knew everyone was on the mindset that I would suck terribly at every game I attempt at.

Which is to say, not far from the truth, but hey, I’m here to learn.

I did manage to win a few single-player MTG rounds (all casual play) and I won once on a multi-player round, but that was because I managed to build up my battlefield with 3x Balustrade Spy, 2x Duskhunter Bat, Void Maw, Gristle Grinner and for the triumphant cast: Army of the Damned (at this point I was all tapped out), and wiped out 3 opponents in 1 turn, so suffice to say, I got damn lucky.

But amidst that victory, I was also beaten relentlessly. While geting bashed by a–amongst all decks–freakin’ Tibalt deck, my opponent (also my friend of 10 years and counting) kept telling me what moves I was doing wrong. He kept doling out useful advice, which made sense as soon as he said it, but things like, me being trigger-happy and overly eager with attacking, left me defenceless and vulnerable.

Which got me thinking on my commute to work today: there are things I learned playing Magic The Gathering in four months, that I failed to realize on my 24 years of traversing this world.

The first of which is:

3. Don’t get too greedy.

The first hand I drew was so good that despite not having enough islands, I decided to stick with it. My opening hand consisted of Simic Manipulator, Cryptoplasm and Consuming Aberration. I had 3 swamps in my opening hand, but no islands, and still I decided to stick with the hand in the hopes that I’d pull an Island during my turn.

Painful mistake.

I ended up not pulling any more mana and fighting with a mono-red aggro, the round ended fairly quickly. When I conceded, my friend told me, “Never play with a hand where you can’t cast anything by the second turn. It’s not worth the risk.”

Life lesson:

Don’t be greedy. Learn to delay your gratification in hopes that your sacrifice today, will pay off tomorrow. It’s the same mindset when you go out and have a drink: should I spend $X amount of dollars and have a blearily remembered, black-out drunk fun tonight or save what I would be spending now and spend it on a home, a companion pet or dream vacation?

2. Always keep track of the things you’ve lost, and be prepared to unearth them at an optimal time.

With my friend playing a Tibalt deck, he constantly surprised me with the “unearth” ability. For example, that damn Hellspark Elemental, that has both haste, and 2 drop unearth, kept rising from the graveyard and kicking my ass. Though I knew that Hellspark Elemental was in his graveyard, just waiting to be unearthed, after a few turns, I’d forget — attack with all the creatures I have, leaving me vulnerable — only to have him unearth this monster on my ass.

He always casted him with a profoundly disappointed expression too:

old meme, I know

old meme, I know

Life lesson:

Never forget what you’ve lost, because you learn from all of them.

This is so true on so many levels. People spend most of their time trying to forget about their mistakes, or running away from them, that they miss its real value: to gain experience.

And the beautiful thing about mistakes, is that you’re the one who made them! Once you admit that to yourself, you can go about fixing it and making it better. And once you have fully accepted them, nobody can  use them against you.

1. You become the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. If you want to get better, seek better opponents.

And lastly, what I love the most about Magic, is that you are only as good as the people you play with. It doesn’t matter if you think you have the best aggro deck around, and if you beat everyone in your local game store — someone is always going to be better than you. And if you want to be better than that person, you will be forced to step outside of your comfortable circle and seek different players to beat so you can upgrade your skill.

Life lesson:

Don’t limit yourself to the people you associate with now. Expand your social circle and see what you can learn from others. You will be surprised at how many different types of people are out there.

I believe that we’re all planeswalkers, travelling from one world to the other (high school life to college life to adulthood). We start our lives with our own traits and personalities (mana) that we depend on to  build relationships (creatures), abilities (instants and sorceries) and lessons/encouragements we gather from our circle (enchantments/artifacts). But in order to become a better planeswalker, we need to keep customizing our deck, keep balancing out our advantages with our disadvantages, and keep seeking better opponents in order to gain experience.

Ah, wouldn’t life be so much easier if everything was measured by xp points?


This is 40 Movie Review: 40 Thumbs Down

Image from wikipedia

Rating: 2/10
Featured image from www.thecoast.ca

This is what I expected going into This is 40with an essential side note that states I’ve never seen the trailers nor reviews, only the poster, and armed with the knowledge that it’s a Judd Apatow film, therefore it must be good (backed by the fact that I loved Knocked-Up when it came out):

A moving film that uses the suburban, middle-life crisis as a backdrop, and utilizes carefully developed characters that are relatable and capable of delivering punchlines that only subtly hints at the empty, hopelessness of a typical modern family. Think Revolutionary Road except funny.

So, suffice to say, I had high expectations, which is probably why I was completely blindsided by the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement these characters went through. This is 40 is basically a movie about spoiled, 40 year olds, whose lives have become living advertisements for Apple products. While I understand  I can’t expect a movie trying to make a social commentary about  modern life without the appearance of an Ipad, or an Iphone, one of the lines that pushed me over the edge was when Pete, played by Paul Rudd, tells the mother of his daughter’s friend, that he will shove her Ipad, Iphone and whatnot into her “Icunt”.

That’s so funny, isn’t it. Ugh.

Everything these characters go through is a joke. It’s hard to take their main conflict of bankruptcy seriously when they go on vacation to a five-star resort, throw a catered party in their massive house and leave scenes by driving away on  two, separate cars. Here’s a hint, Pete: why not sell one of your cars? Why was it such a struggle to sell your mansion to move into a slightly smaller, yet still probably huge by middle-class standards home?

One of my main complaint about this movie is its insistence on blowing trivial problems out of proportion. Debbie, Pete’s wife, played by the gorgeous Leslie Mann, keeps complaining about Pete eating cupcakes and unhealthy food — and yet they decided to go with the handsome and fit Paul Rudd to emanate this character.

Furthermore, Debbie’s solution to everything is to hop on the “fit and healthy” trend, by eliminating all sources of gluten and sugar in her home, and confiscating her children’s gadgets — all honourable actions but that’s superseded when she decides to yell at a 13-year-old kid and threatens to “fuck him up” because he wrote bad things on her daughter’s facebook page. I stopped watching after Pete goes on to yell at the 13-year-old’s mother, calls her an Icunt (you can tell I love that joke), and then proceeds to act innocently in front of the principal, while the mother accuses  Debbie and Pete of being a “fake, bank commercial couple”, effectively reducing the couple down to essentials — artificial, unbelievable and self-entitled characters.

Which leads me to the total atrociousness of how female characters are portrayed in this film. We get Debbie: an insecure, neurotic 40-year-old woman who lies about her age, despite being played by Leslie Mann, who looks like she’s in her late 20’s anyway. Debbie also works out constantly because apparently, Pete doesn’t find her attractive anymore.

Let’s look at Leslie Mann in this movie and consider for a moment why it’s believable that her character is that insecure:

Photo by Suzanne Hanover from Gazette.net

Couldn’t come up with a reason? Yeah, me neither.

Next on our list of butchered women characters — Debbie’s boutique employees: Desi (played by Megan Fox) and Jodi (played by Charlyne Yi). While Debbie is on the hunt to find out where $10,000 of her boutique’s money went, Debbie finds out that Desi is a high-class escort and Jodi is addicted to oxycontin.

So we’ve got: neurotic suburban wife (Debbie), escort (Desi), junkie (Jodi) and over-the-top angry white lady (the icunt character I keep referencing). Put in a dash of women only listen to Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj and know nothing about The Pixies or Graham Parker jokes, Middle-Eastern doctors are witch-doctors (Pete does a horrible imitation of the doctor’s accent which, quite frankly, falls flat and uninspired) and a monologue 15 minutes into the movie about a woman who gave birth and can now fit various things into her cookah and you’ve got an overdone rom-com whose jokes leave you flaccid and cringing.

It was so bad I didn’t even finish it — so I never did find out if they got out of bankruptcy or if Debbie ever got her shit together and realize that she doesn’t have it that bad.

Although that scene with Debbie and Pete eating that weed cookie was quite funny — I could have watched 40 more minutes of that.