You, Me and Identity

Last week, I confessed an inability to identify my favourite “things” in Magic: favourite cards, favourite characters, favourite guilds. As someone who pens a weekly webcomic about Magic (a pursuit rather #Vorthosian in nature), this was a little concerning.

So, I really want to delve into the flavour aspect of Magic – something I’ve never really tried to do before. To get a better feel for things, I asked you to post about your favourite cards and why they resonate with you.

And, wow. I didn’t expect such a response! Perhaps the bribe of Durdling Around stickers helped grease your little (or large, how would I know) typing fingers. I will announce the “winners” at the end of this week’s post. But first! To talk about a few of the comments you shared, and the theme that ties them all together.

On Twitter, #Vorthos Champion Mike Linnemann pointed out that the questions I asked in last week’s post were perhaps more relevant to what drives me to play the game, instead of why I enjoy it:

This distinction is a pretty important one to make. I dug up Mark Rosewater’s 2007 article about Vorthos and found a snippet that further elaborated on the topic:

Because at his heart, Vorthos isn’t about motivation. He’s about appreciation. Vorthos’ profile doesn’t focus on what psychologically drives him to play; it focuses on what he likes about the game.

MaRo goes on to write that Vorthos (and Melvin) can be seen as a “layer” to be further applied to our Magic psychographic profiles. Though there is room for intersection between why you like the game, and how you play the game, I think I was primarily aiming for game world resonance – aspects beyond gameplay that appeal to a player. Understanding the distinction between these criteria – gameplay experience vs. game world experience – helped me understand my own questions a little better. Thanks, Mike!

Moving onto game world experience, Richard Byrd posted this cool anecdote about Amrou Kithkin:

When I first started playing it was in large groups and I would cast the card and never attack with it. I just wanted the Kithkin to exist on my plane. Of course if someone did kill it directly or with a board wipe it meant instantly being a target for the rest of the game even if I over extended to avenge it.

amrouI can appreciate one’s emotional attachment with a particular card, as it brings a player into the shoes/boots/wizard slippers of an actual planeswalker – a rather #Vorthosian act, no? Some planeswalkers summon creatures to use as mere tools in a greater plan, while others feel a greater amount of empathy for the beings they conjure into battle. There’s even a little White in Richard’s response – justice through retribution.

Twitter’s @browndr shares a similar experience:

My favorite card is Balance. There was just something about being able to break a card like that when it should be the ultimate in fairness that make my inner Evil Overlord cackle with glee when it resolves.

Here is an example of how #Vorthosian feedback is layered upon a Spike-ish profile. There is the Spike’s pushing of boundaries to create the most efficient, powerful way to win – but it’s supplemented by a game world identity to match. Is @browndr a tyrannical White mage enforcing his ideology of fairness, or a Black mage enjoying the delicious irony of using a powerful White spell to disrupt “balance”?

balanceAnd here we arrive at the crux of this week’s article: Identity. You likely know what kind of player you are in real life, but what kind of planeswalker are you? If you could wield the colours of Magic, would you harness them for the good of others, or would you use them to bend others to your will? Are the creatures you summon your allies and compatriots, or your servants and playthings?

We are drawn to things through which we can express ourselves. Favourite colours and favourite guilds – these are determined by who you see yourself as within the context of the game world. There is a part of you in that projection of self, viewed through the lens of the Magic multiverse.

But as the myriad responses to my last post indicate, there are a wide range of other #Vorthos-related reasons for enjoying the game, such as artwork and nostalgia. But I now believe that identity – and what you identify with – is a big part of nurturing your inner #Vorthos.

I hope you enjoyed this exploratory piece. Join me next week, when I’ll talk about…something else #Vorthos related??


As a thank you for helping me craft this week’s article, I’d like to send Durdling Around stickers to:

I’ll be in touch!


For a chance to win Durdling Around stickers this week, leave a comment answering this:

“What kind of planeswalker would you be? What colours do you wield? What would you do with your powers?”

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ethan ozanich says:

    If I were a planeswalker my color would be red and I would be like chandra only a guy version. I would start campfires and I would melt the snow in my driveway during the winter. If someone was cold all they would have to do is stand near me to get warm. I could make a fireball instead of using a flashlight in the dark. Who doesn’t like fire?

  2. Kevin N says:

    I find myself identifying with each color at different times. Maybe I’m feeling more selfish than usual (black) or maybe I finally let myself enjoy the weather for a bit (green).

    Overall though, I think I’m closest to white-red-blue as a planeswalker. White because of my moral values, red because of my nonconformist views in other regards, and then blue because of my enjoyment in manipulating the flow of things. I’m not a very strong or selfish person, so I have to make up for that with other strengths, mostly that which is emotionally or mentally based.

    With my powers, I would like to travel and help others. Also, WRU has some really nice flyers. Who wouldn’t like to summon angels, dragons, and sphinxes to travel with and assist with the helping?

  3. Beto says:

    If I were a Planeswalker I would probably wield the Esper colors of W/U/B. I would want to protect my friends and fight alongside them (the white), however, I wouldn’t be afraid to use manipulation (blue) or outright destruction of my enemies to keep them safe (black). I would mainly summon creatures like tokens that are normally weak, but when combined in numbers and powers they form an unstoppable army that can either defend or outright destroy opposing forces.

  4. If I were a Planeswalker my color would be Black. I would save worlds from the claws of Phyrexia invading another ones with their oil. I would make a pact with the Praetors to conquer worlds without much population and they would ignore the ones I want. An Antihero Phyrexian Black Planeswalker.
    All will be one.

  5. Carl says:

    If I was a planeswalker, I’d be a Bant one. Content to spend time in libraries but unafraid to wander the multiverse or offer a hand to a stranger in need.

  6. Bradley Nicholas says:

    If I were a planeswalker i’d be red/black. I as a person thrive on the chaos that is society, and Ethan is right, who doesn’t like fire? but honestly, I like to have fun, cut loose, and could care less what people think. sounds R/B to me1.

  7. As a planeswalker, I would be costed at WUBB. I would sacrifice everything to achieve my goals, then I would make everyone else share/mirror my sacrifice and hoard all of the knowledge gained to myself.

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