Inside an Old Wizard’s Peaceful Mind

About that

“Work, Life, Magic” – Balance

Author: Nico Bohny

When I got married, somewhat over ten years ago, I was very invested in Magic, travelling to lots of tournaments and spending most of my time, energy and heart blood for the game.

Magic played an important role in my life, and at the same time, it was always on the brink of being an obsession with very consuming and unhealthy factors.

I regularly produced content back then, mostly in the form of articles, and in my last one which was released right after my marriage, I pondered whether marriage could finally be my ticket out of Magic. A wise reader replied, while this might be true, maybe in reverse, one day, Magic will be my ticket out of my everyday life. Truth has been spoken there.

And here we are, more than ten years later, I just turned forty years old, my everyday life involves two kids, lots of work, a house and guinea pigs. Pretty standard, pretty boring, but hey!

Midlife Crisis can wait – we still got some cards up our sleeves!

But what does Magic mean to a 40 years old adult? What changed? And what stays?

Let’s put that question on the stack and search for responses:

Teacher, husband, father, mage

Asceticism LTC

Juggling around your roles and resources has become more challenging with more juggling balls entering the battlefield.

Back in the days, the trifecta of time, money and health looked quite a bit different. While I can’t complain about my health in general, I feel like my energy level dropped quite a bit. Hard to tell if age or the kids are to blame. While playing a midnight preview tournament sounds more like a torture to me nowadays, I remember the joyful anticipation it triggered back then.

Money isn’t much of a restricting factor anymore, as long as I stay away from restricted Vintage cards. When I started playing in Constructed tournaments, I tinkered around my Dawnstrider control deck in Mercadian Masques block Constructed, trading for cards I still needed and wanted to add, nowadays I would probably just buy a Rebel deck if I wanted to play in a competitive event.

But the biggest change is time. Chaining drafts on Magic Online and taking weekends off to travel? No problem back then.

Now everything needs to be structured.

While work and kids get the lions share of my time, there’s also big competition for the remaining slots: my wife, my friends, other hobbies. And well, getting sleepy around 9 PM doesn’t help stuffing in all the extras as well.

In the end, it’s all about priorities. Back then, Magic not only united hobby, half-time job, friends, and me-time as the perfect package, it was also easier to combine roles. I had a girlfriend which played Magic, I taught my students to play Magic, many of my friends were within the Magic bubble. The perfect Nerd life. Fair to say, I’m still quite nerdy now, but Magic has become one of many bubbles now instead of the main one.

Back to the Roots

When I started getting into Magic 25 years ago, playing Magic felt different. Damage still used the stack, and Mulligan rules were different, but that’s not the point. I still vividly remember some of the first cards I pulled out of Christmas gift boosters, wide eyes glancing at 6/6 trampling worms which felt like mythic rares back then.

Trading away Rishadan Ports for random dragons felt like a bargain, and playing unsleeved decks in the middle of a blooming meadow was an act of innocence I would somehow love to revisit.

Has Magic lost its magic over the years? Definitely! But, fortunately, not all of it.

What remains is good memories, friendships and stories to tell.

How can I revisit that excitement Magic used to spark? I don’t think trading away money rares for bulk does. Well, cracking boosters somewhat still is.

My 7 years old son surprised me with a booster pack for my birthday. It was a somewhat holy moment to open this pack with him, and I got an old bordered Wurmcoil Engine out of it. Apart from that, I think returning to kitchen table Magic is one of the keys for me:

I’m not much into playing Commander, but I really understand the catch – tinkering around a deck and every single one of its components, meeting friends and having a good time playing Magic – the perfect Three-For-One (Editor’s Note: We see what you did there)!

And besides, who needs Commanders when you can just draft, right? And who knows, maybe my kids will escort me back to the innocent Neverland of Magic one day…

Play the game, see the world

This was the slogan for competitive Magic back in the days.

Local game stores held Grand Prix Qualifiers, where you fought for a chance of three byes (with which you would start the tournament with three free wins) in a Grand Prix. Doing well in a GP directly qualified you for the Pro Tour.

Local games store also organized National Qualifiers, which granted you access to the yearly National Championship. The Top 3 of Nationals would be travelling to the World Championship together, enjoying a high stakes team event.

Needless to say, living in a small country like Switzerland was quite an advantage back then.

Human Token TWOC

Those tournaments were a blast and a real reason to play Magic competitively. And while I enjoyed the Return of the Pro Tour, it still doesn’t feel the same as it used to. Switzerland had a very active competitive scene, and you would regularly meet the core at your Nationals, PTQs or GPs. Getting rid of those tournaments and replacing them with the Magic Pro League and not much else probably just destroyed more than just competitive play in Switzerland.

And yes, Covid didn’t help much either.

I still love travelling, and combining it with a juicy tournament to play with your friends?! Count me in! I really hope the competitive scene warps around into more interesting tournaments with a lower threshold to enter.

Besides, when can we finally play another high stakes Team Sealed tournament?!

The Grind

MTG Arena and Magic Online are huge time sinks.

If you want to play competitively, you can easily sink a full-time job worth of time into various tournaments and their preparation. And you probably have to do so in order to get a realistic chance to convert your efforts into a qualification for a high-end event, which can be very demoralizing if you cannot achieve your goals.

Even qualifying for an RCQ can be a big grind. Last year, I chained together multiple Pro Tours and was nearly invited to Worlds. Now I try to spike RCQs. Without much success. And I’m not the only one – our current World Champion Nathan Steuer also just fell off the PT circuit – back to RCQs for him as well.

Tragic Fall MH2

On one hand side, I still enjoy some events here and there. You can often find me in Arena Opens and the Limited Qualifier Weekends on MTG Arena as well as in Vintage Challenges on Magic Online.

I still really like the competition, but my goal is not to get back to professional Magic anytime soon.

I still love drafting, for me, it probably takes a similar spot as watching series takes for others – shake off my everyday life, get some entertainment and relax.

Indomitable Creativity

I have a cyclical creativity. Every spring I get kissed by my muse and feel the urge to create something. During the last years my main projects were designing several card games for my kids as well as a Magic Poker crossover. This year’s muse is a magical one again.

Seedborn Muse LGN

Some weeks ago, I got accepted for the MTGO creators program, for which they picked some creators they wanted to support with some goodies to regularly produce content.

So I tried to figure out what type of content I’m enjoying at the moment. I always loved writing, even though I’m not nearly as invested in the game as I used to be and therefore don’t have enough to write about. But my number one is still drafting, so I decided to record and stream drafts with the goal to go infinite (to make money) on Magic Online, which is quite hard these days.

You can find me and my stuff on YouTube, Twitter and Twitch, be sure to catch up and say hi:

Thank you so much for reading. In my next article, I will write about Vintage, which is still my favorite format besides Limited.

Also, if you have some feedback, topics you would like to read about and other suggestions, feel free to reach out and get in touch.

About the Author

Nico Bohny is a retired Pro Player from Switzerland. His impressive resume contains of two PT top 8’s, 2 Grand Prix Top 8’s and a win with the Swiss national team at Worlds 2007, where they beat Austria in the finals. He’s a Vintage aficionado and skilled Limited player.

All Articles by Nico Bohny

Inside an Old Wizards Peaceful Mind

May 24th, 2024|Highlights|

Pro player Nico Bohny writes about how his relation to MTG changed over different periods of his life. From world traveling MTG champion to family all-star! Here you can read all about his very personal "work, life and Magic" balance.