This will be the umpteenth article written about the types and variations on the personalities of Magic players available for consumption on the internet.
Let's begin with broad generalities, shall we?
Mark Rosewater wrote an article in 2013 that attempted to help you with your identity issues. In so far as it was a gracious attempt to help classify players, the article really addresses a wider more pragmatic approach to the player base. These labels will go unchallenged, but I feel it worthwhile to add a couple to the mix; labels that are little more in line with contemporary gaming across the board. It's not just Spike, Johnny, and Timmy at the table anymore.
Magic is beginning to take a hybridized digital approach. In order for a gaming company to survive, one would think it necessary to fall in line the Amazon/Twitch juggernaut or miss the chance at enhanced visibility and profits. Recently, many of the popular MTG pros have been lamenting the lack visibility that WotC affords their craft. The recent Gerry Thompson debacle comes to mind.
As a passive observer of the professional card-players craft of Magic: The Gathering, I can certainly tell you that this lament does not go unwarranted. It would seem to me that Wizards would do nicely from enhancing the spectacle. Given the universal absolute that "winning" is the goal of any game of Magic (unless you are Derek and then irreversibly stalling the board resulting in a draw counts) we should consider that enhanced visibility is the only way to ensure that people are playing the game, and invested in chasing the ultimate prize.
Most Magic players are not invested in this sense...
Which brings me to my first of 4 archetypes: The Wannabe - Biff.
The Wannabe is generally never wrong. He knows how to lawyer the table, and never hesitates to call a judge, even when totally unnecessary. Biff has seen your deck, even if it is totally your fresh brew from the night before. Biff knows exactly what you top-decked this turn, and never believes you when you tell him that you were holding a card for optimal placement during game play. Biff was just at this weekend's RPTQ, played his deck perfectly, but lost because his deck delivered too many lands. Biff has real aspirations of becoming a professional, and one day he might get there - but first, he probably needs to go 5-0 regularly at his local game store.
Our second archetype is another that you all know - especially if you've been playing in a semi-competitive local game shop scene for awhile: The Quiet Assassin - Shirley.
The Quiet Assassin does not engage in conjecture with you during game play. Shirley will rarely smile, does not seem to get your jokes, or maybe she does not care, and methodically plots her next move - she's taking pleasure in trying your patience. Shirley is not an inexperienced Magic player - just the opposite - she dabbles in a variety of formats, never misses a Pre-Release Event, and always seems to be one card up on you in hand size. She is an incredibly reactive player, sometimes knowingly losing game one to get to her sideboard options. It's a serious affair with the Quiet Assassin - even when you say "Shirley, you can't be serious."
Our third profile is brought to you by the letter W: The Wombo-Comboer - Wanda.
Wanda spends most her time online researching the intricacies of Magic formats. When she finds the combo, she tries to make it wombo. You won't find Wanda at a Grand Prix, she doesn't have the time for an RPTQ. She would much rather play formats that afford her the opportunity to make her friends groan over the combos she is wombo-ing. Wanda very rarely purchases sealed product, rather the research leads to acquisition of resources in a slow and methodical pace - there is too much at stake to play a draft. Sacrificing the fun of the grind to combo execution is something Wanda will never do, and the Magic community needs Wanda. Wanda built the outlier formats. Wanda is arguably the best kitchen table player you will ever meet - she will offer you her Wombo Combos for free: Armistice, Bloom Tender, Freed from the Real, Tainted Remedy.
The fourth, and most common label for the Magic playing community represents a vast majority of the players you meet and compete against at your local game shop: The Clueless Casual - Jim.
Jim, Jim, Zalabim! Where would the world of Magic be without the Jim? The answer - not where it is today. The Jimmy is not unlike Rosewater's Timmy, the desire to win is there, but they play the game turn by turn. There is an empirical beauty to the way they go about playing the game; it is a kind of wide-eyed wonder about the mana curve they play being able to compete against the mathematical precision of Biff's Grand Prix championship deck. Or, the hard-to-watch stumbling Jim makes into open blue mana as he drops his favorite cards into Shirley's counterspells. Or, the way he is enraptured by Wanda's 4 card combos, but fails to answer them in game two. I want to a take moment here and encourage all of you to find and mentor a Jim in your life - he needs your plus one plus one counters of Magic knowledge. The more inclusive we can make the Magic experience for Jim, the healthier the game will be from a social perspective.
Whether you are a Biff, Shirley, Wanda, or Jim - a Johnny, Spike, or Timmy - there is one unifying theme to our psyches: a love of the game and a desire to play it. Support your local game store - get out, play a land, and say GO.