Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Know Yourself. This week I will be addressing a problem we all face as players and as human beings, and will attempt to see what I can do to remedy that situation of dire straits we often find ourselves in: Burnout.
For those of you who are unaware, burnout is the simple idea of a player or players becoming “burnt out” of an experience. Think of your experience of playing magic through the years as a car. Sometimes, in the game, in real life, and in this weird car metaphor, you run out of gas. You lose that spark, that fire that drives you to play magic for whatever reason. And this is completely normal, human beings are fundamentally driven to live their lives striving for differences in kind in experiences, especially when it comes to pleasures they actively spend money on. Sometimes this burnout is temporary; maybe you’re just really sick of playing against storm for the past couple leagues on MTGO, maybe standard at Friday night magic just isn’t your jam as a player and that makes it harder for you to try to get into it, but for whatever reason, you just start to lose that luster when it comes to playing the game at your level. The dangerous part is when you feel like you want to quit forever, sell off all of your singles and bulk, and just move on to something else. I’m not saying you shouldn’t if you really want to (again, we are all human here), but losing the drive to play magic to me is frightening. The kneejerk reaction of selling out of magic happens more often than we would like it to as players, and that makes it difficult to want to pick up and play again after a long hiatus. So, I look to attempt to give you ideas on how to deal with burnout, be it yourself or someone else.
One crucial piece of information to digest before attempting to rectify burnout, either by simply continuing on until it goes away or by taking a break from the game for a bit is that burnout is different for every person. No two people experience burnout the same way, it is fundamentally different for every player who plays this game. Anyway, as I was saying…
First off, the first thing you want to do IS actually to take a small break. I know that sounds a little counterintuitive, but honestly. I am not talking too long though, maybe a day or two for you to clear your head on the subject and really think about something else. Then, the best way to approach it is to singlehandedly or with friends, attempt to discern within a reasonable doubt what the actual problem is. Therefore you are giving yourself the best chance of finding a way to address it and get back to enjoying this game we love so much.
But, I will offer about two general tips. First of, If you feel the game is getting to serious or competitive, there are a couple solutions I like to use. The first solution being going to spend time with friends to play EDH. I know there are a LOT of EDH competitive decks running around, but spending time with people you generally enjoy and playing magic is a good way to get the fun back in your gameplay. Playing competitive magic for long stretches of time is great way to get sick of the game. It’s like eating ice cream everyday or having candy for breakfast. After a while, a change of pace really cannot come soon enough, even if it is something as simple as toast or eggs.
Speaking of simple, my next tip would quite literally be to dumb it down a bit. No, I am not kidding. Yes, I am being very serious indeed. Bringing it back to the basics with just a fat pack or two and a loved one who perhaps isn’t familiar with the game is a great way of refreshing your prospective. Not only do you get to share an experience, and teach a loved one about one of the greatest card games ever, you also get to have some new perspectives when it comes to playing magic. You get to fall in love again with all the tiny details and funny flavor texts. You get to enjoy magic for magic again. In the same vein of thinking, playing a format you haven’t tried or played in a while is another great way to get into the game in a new way, especially with someone at your side to play it with.
In conclusion, while burnout is inevitable in this great game of ours, I would encourage you, dear reader, not to take to despair. Because burnout is okay, and there is plenty we can do with magic to stave off burnout and boredom, even if getting grapeshotted for 20 on turn three makes modern seem a little hostile towards elves and other, countermagic-free archetypes, and perhaps EDH and standard just aren’t quite for you.
See you next week!