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The Longest Cycle

Happy Tuesday MTG peeps,

Funny / witty / waggish Magic: the Gathering previews continue today for Unstable, but we want to catch our breath and talk about a very long cycle -

No - not that kind of cycle.

A cycle in Magic: the Gathering is a collection of cards that have one or more relationships with one another, or share a common theme.  There are a number of types of cycles - vertical, horizontal, tight, loose, and more.  Often the cycles are within the same set or block, but sometimes may stetch over and not necessarily through some blocks.  A three-card cycle first started in 1998, leaping to 2004, and finally completing this year may be the longest stretch of time for Wizards of the Coast to complete a card cycle.

Click on over to Gathering Magic for today's Unstable preview of the third and final Magic: the Gathering player psychograph.


In an article by Mark Rosewater in 2013, he had indicated that there are three basic types of Magic players. The fancy term for these categories is "psychographic profiles." A psychographic profile separates players into categories based on their psychological make-up.  The player types of Timmy, Johnny, and Spike.

Timmy, Power Gamer (Unglued), illustrated by Edward Beard, Jr., August, 1998

Johnny, Combo Player (Unhinged), illustrated by Kensuke Okabayashi, November, 2004.

Spike, Tournament Grinder (Unstable), illustrated by Zoltan Boros, December, 2017

Here is what Mark Rosewater had provided in a brief summary of what characteristics of a player suggests inclusion into the three taxon -

Timmy wants to experience something. Timmy plays Magic because he enjoys the feeling he gets when he plays. What that feeling is will vary from Timmy to Timmy, but what all Timmies have in common is that they enjoy the visceral experience of playing.

Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression. Johnny likes to win, but he wants to win with style. It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it's important to Johnny that he's using his own deck. Playing Magic is an opportunity for Johnny to show off his creativity.

Spike is the competitive player. Spike plays to win. Spike enjoys winning. To accomplish this, Spike will play whatever the best deck is. Spike will copy decks off the Internet. Spike will borrow other players' decks. To Spike, the thrill of Magic is the adrenaline rush of competition. Spike enjoys the stimulation of outplaying the opponent and the glory of victory.

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