First, a little about Abbie, scraped from the About page :P
“In Phyrexia we trust” A self-confessed green mage (and secret agent of Phyrexia) Abbie is the creator/founder of MoM. Abbie truly lives and breathes magic (as well as ruling over us with an iron fist).
One aspect of the site that I really like is the community news. After all, what would Magic the Gathering be without its community? She’s assembled quite a crew all with different ways of approaching Magic. I also greatly appreciate how Masters of Magic helps shoutout other Magic content creators, especially those in the UK. I'm quite impressed with what Abbie has built here. The personality and creativity are obvious throughout the site and are really what sets this site apart.
So, Abbie, thanks for having us!
Abbie: Thank you so much, it is really great to hear feedback like this. :) I have always been in it for the community. Sounds cheesy but it’s how it all started which you’ll see. You may have seen, currently, we don’t have sponsorship or adverts, I would kind of like to keep away from Adverts but at the same time it’s currently a slightly thankless job.
So, down to business:
Q1: How did you come to be a Phyrexian secret agent... is there an application process or special rites you have to partake in? In other words, how did Masters of Magic begin?
Abbie: When I became aware of the Machine Orthodoxy It was then that I became aware of my purpose. All not-whole must come forth to become one as we prepare for the return of Karn...
*Ahem* An “about us” section has been on the list of things to do so I am glad you ask. It actually may be a long answer. For context, I used to work in a wargaming store about three years ago. I had previously played a little bit of magic, but that’s a whole other story, at this time though I was working and playing only with Wargames, no TCGs.
I secretly made a Twitter account that was used to quote stupid things people had said in the store, as a local community joke account. Once the account was discovered to be me I started posting wider community stuff and less inside jokes.
Summer 2015 I casually mentioned to a customer that I really wanted to give Magic a second go and they just so happened to have a few old decks themselves. One day they bought them in and we played a few games. Several people showed an interest and it was brought to the store owner that we should stock some boosters. After a little research Origins was just around the corner so we set ourselves up, preordered some boxes and I googled “How to run Magic events.”
Trying to keep this short: It was a super success, our store went from no WPN to Advanced in under 3 months. In our store I was the one responsible for everything Magic, we had Masters of each system we had regular events for and I had a folder with “Book of Magics” written on it for my paperwork. I made a personal Facebook blog page, as well as using Twitter, to keep everyone up to date and showcase everything Magic happening in the store. With my folder and my title, despite knowing very little about magic at all, I became Master of Magics.
One evening I shared a post about a GP in Manchester and a freelancer for Mindsports Academy saw and contacted me asking if myself and my team would write for them... I didn’t have a team... But yeah sure! I spent hours and hours writing a single article to submit to them for review then I sheepishly went around asking people who may have some interest if they would help me and somewhere along the lines I found my Crew, though more have joined in the past year. We wrote for MSA for a while but they didn’t seem too interested in the content or paying us, they then lost their GP allocations and vanished.
That was that then? Nope, James Wise and Chris Warrington then insisted we should just do it ourselves! Start a website? I got them all into this and we had started meeting up for regular gaming as a team, it seemed a shame to just stop. So January 2017 we launch our page, we upload previous content we had originally submitted to MSA and stuff we had in reserve. And almost a year later, here we are...
ElspethFTW: Starting your own site is always a good thing! Obviously, it met with plenty of success.
Q2: Are there any challenges that the UK MTG community currently faces, ones which your site may be able to help solve?
“We kind of feel like the UK community is underrated, we get very little event coverage and content creators tend to not get as much spotlight as the American creators. We are here and we mean business!” - “Body odour” Chris Warrington, resident satirist.
Abbie: A topic I’ve always been asked about is equality, a tricky one to cover. It’s a global issue more than a MTG issue in my mind.
As you have mentioned we have a variety of things going on, the Crew are a good mix of Casual and Competitive, Vets and Newbies and we each have different perspectives. Even if I do rule with an iron fist and control the hive mind.
ElspethFTW: It does seem to me that the UK community doesn’t quite get the love that the US community does. Coincidentally, I’ve been interviewing a lot of UK MTG content creators lately, so I hope that maybe the extra exposure will help.
Equality is definitely a global issue. I also feel that the community in general is fine, but there are bad apples that ruin things for everyone.
It’s really good that you have such a diverse Crew, too. Just don’t be too rough on them :P
Q3: Wizards is definitely trying a lot of new things. Do you like the current direction of Magic the Gathering? What are you most excited about?
Abbie: Since I have been playing seriously, Origins, they have been changing a lot! Now I no longer run events I actually feel like I can’t keep up with the changes. Standard has burnt me out, I kept spending money to build decks I’d play at one event and by the time I tried to play again my cards would be useless and/or worthless. However, my modern deck is doing well and is always good, I hope no bans effect that or it’s Legacy for me! (I want to get back into playing Standard)
I do enjoy drafting and £10 a week in comparison to say, going out at the weekend, isn’t hugely expensive. I am very lucky that my local community is large, FNM’s always have Modern, Standard, Casual Standard and Draft pods. Really we are spoilt for choice.
I am most excited for Arena to be honest! And GP’s, I love going to GP’s! Oh! Also excited of 25th anniversary, I am almost Birthday Buddies with Magic, it’s two days older than me so I am told!
ElspethFTW: Arena could be a game-changer. I’m curious to see what it can do. It’s great that you have a plethora of ways to enjoy Magic, which unfortunately isn’t available to everyone. But the benefit of that is you get to share these experiences with others!
Standard rotations are the reason I don’t play the format. Unfortunately, it’s just the nature of the beast and a big reason Wizards can sell sets. Like you, I prefer drafting and the non-rotating formats.
Q4: Masters of Magic already covers so many aspects of MTG. Are there one or more areas you'd like to expand MoM into?
Abbie: We have a huge list of things we want to do.
We want the Youtube channel to be active, we can’t wait until Arena is out! There is a possibility one of us is Beta testing as we speak. I am even getting a new computer set up specifically so I can stream as well as video edit. I have a list of videos I would like to do as well as scripts and storyboards ready. We have decided we would like to do paper Magic videos also.
I would like to add D&D to the site, I’m a Wizards suck up and I know it... I love D&D, I love all their board games! I played Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate all weekend and I love it! (I was the Traitor first game, so happy!) As a group we weren’t sure how interesting us playing a Magic setting campaign in D&D would be; if it would be watchable or readable, currently, it is low on the list. As is any board game playthroughs.
I think we are at a good place with our content, currently, we have two articles a week, the new Sunday news article and a local FNM meta report. I’d like more event coverage and hopefully, we can get videos added to that schedule. A slot specifically for Guest Articles would be great too, but we only occasionally get any submitted.
I personally REALLY want to cosplay. Aiming to Cosplay for GP Birmingham, though I keep saying this and not doing it...
ElspethFTW: Sounds like you guys have plenty to keep you busy!
Q5: And the question I ask all of my MTG interviewees: if there was one thing you could improve or change in Magic the Gathering, what would it be?
Abbie: More Phyrexians or Eldrazi please. A New format? Stop changing everything constantly? Wizards can’t please everyone and they’ll just have to live with it? I am sure there is some sense to it all... Right? Probably doing something about the Judge program? I recently saw a very large store cancel its PPTQ as it was unable to get a judge. I’ve also seen a lot of negativity and judge burn out.
ElspethFTW: Judges definitely deserve better compensation.
Chris Warrington: Free online drafts. On a ******* Mac…
ElspethFTW: I think these might be a good idea. And Mac compatibility would be a plus.
Chris Vincent: Probably the Reserve list. I’d Issue a 5 year warning and then print “From the vaults reserved” in 6 years with a year slow-rolling.
ElspethFTW: I’ve always thought of removing cards on the Reserved List that don’t really belong on it first. Then, over time, release promo versions of certain popular Reserved List cards, but on a wide enough scale that players can actually get them. Also, if they are in foil, this makes them different than the originals, so it doesn’t actually hurt the original printing in the same way.
Abbie: Please don’t reprint Black Lotus.
ElspethFTW: I doubt that would ever happen unless it was a one-of at some crazy big tournament.
James Wise: Bring back Player Rewards and Invitationals. It gives a more intimate relationship between Wizards and the Community, something that makes us feel appreciated by Wizards.
Abbie: And Wizards, we appreciate you. [Is Wizards Fan Girl]
ElspethFTW: I was just thinking about Player Rewards today. That is a great way to release some Reserved List cards and other obscure cards that could use a foil reprint.
James Hunt: I can’t really think what I would change – Foil tokens are better than bad promos, but that’s down to Wizards not being able to determine power levels, which coincidentally they’ve never been able to do. Ban list is good. Reserve list is too far gone to take away in my opinion. So yeah, good game.
ElspethFTW: Foil tokens are fine, but they aren’t enough to get me in the door at FNM.
Samuel Peters: The thing that grabbed me into magic initially was the sense of the scale of the world and the mystery around the lore. Maybe its because I play the game more competitively now but recent sets haven't grabbed me like Magic used to when I first started, I'd love new sets to get me really into the lore and flavour like they used to rather than me only judging them based on their playability.
ElspethFTW: A lot of people would blame that on the Gatewatch taking over the story, but I do feel they aren’t producing the same quality of lore that they once did.
Crew: We all agree The lack of novels means the stories are way shorter, making it harder to get invested in the characters and locations. Though we know from being writers that people are less into reading than 20 years ago.
ElspethFTW: I don’t think the novels sold well and going purely digital with the story has its pros and cons. But this is a debate for a whole article, or series of articles :-P
Abbie: Thank you so much for interviewing me and some of the Crew at the end there, I hope we can continue to both do great work in the community,
You guys are doing great! Keep it up!
** Disclaimer: I was compensated in absolutely no form for this interview. It was done purely for the good of the Magic the Gathering community and the goodness of my own heart ;)