Playing cards that make Magic: The Gathering Arena players flip the table is my happy place.

I've become the reason people ragequit, and I love it

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Let me make it clear up front: I’m not saying you should deliberately play games in ways so enraging that other players cannot sanction your buffoonery and ragequit in despair. In Magic: The Gathering Arena and other digital card games I too have been annoyed by the people who wait out the timer until the last second every turn, or spam emotes constantly when you’re trying to think. A player who hit the “Your Go” emote over and over while clicking on the board’s animated shiba to make it bark constantly is the reason I finally turned off Arena’s emotes and dropped the audio to nothing. Those people are jerks and bad sports, and not to be encouraged.

My own descent into becoming what I am happened entirely by accident, and is therefore fine and totally OK. I was playing a black/red/blue midrange deck, heavy on the vampires and other spookiness. That meant I had The Meathook Massacre (opens in new tab), a great board-clearer that did a point of damage to everything on the battlefield for each mana spent casting it. It hurt my creatures as well, though that wasn’t really enough to balance how useful it was—given that it also did a point of damage to the opponent for every creature of theirs that died while also giving me a point of life, and it kept doing that for the rest of the match unless my opponent had a way of dispelling enchantments.

I've become the reason people ragequit, and I love it

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The Meathook Massacre was eventually banned for being too good. Which honestly was fair. It was the first card I played on the regular that would make a significant percentage of players concede the second they saw it. In Arena’s standard mode there are always some people who are there to rush through their daily quests as fast as possible and will quit the instant it looks like they’re losing, but The Meathook Massacre made people smash the Concede button more often than any other play.

By the time Meathook was banned, I’d already added Sheoldred, the Apocalypse (opens in new tab) to my deck—one of the new cards in Dominaria United that helped mono-black decks ascend to the top of the meta for a while. I was still running a fair amount of red and blue in my own deck, and hadn’t gone in too hard on overtuned stuff like Invoke Despair (opens in new tab), which forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature, an enchantment, and a planeswalker, and lose 2 life for each of those they don’t have. Which is just, like, ouch.

Still, about half the time I’d drop Sheoldred and watch my opponent’s face shatter in the satisfying way they do in Arena whether you lose or quit. While Sheoldred’s in play you get 2 life whenever you draw a card, and your opponent loses 2 life when they draw a card. It’s a slow death, a death by rather a lot of cuts, but if you don’t have a hard counter she’s a frustrating shenanigan to face.

Usually in Magic the best matches are ones where you play long enough to get a decent number of cards on the board, their interactions gel, and you get your little engine up to speed. The other player does the same, you bloody each other’s noses for a few turns, then they finally take a big swing with everything they’ve got. You block as much you can, pulling out instants and activating abilities, frantically doing the math to ensure you survive. With a handful of life points left, you swing back and absolutely demolish them. That feels great.

Seeing someone nope out of existence because I played a single card they didn’t like on turn three gives me a different kind of joy. It makes me want to cackle.

I've become the reason people ragequit, and I love it

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

When the Brothers’ War expansion came out, I built a new deck. My attempt at a red/white combo turned out woeful, so I doubled down on mono-white. Back when I first got into Magic thanks to Shandalar my deck of choice was “white weenies”, which is what we called it when you stacked the low-cost creatures that are the color’s trademark, like Savannah Lions (opens in new tab), and overwhelmed the table with stuff that was individually rubbish. (Exactly the kind of antic Meathook Massacre countered, now I think about it.) I built a new white weenie deck because the white cards in my red/white deck had some obvious synergies, and because it’s an easy theme to build around.

What I didn’t realize was that I was accidentally concocting another deck with the kind of bullshit in it that makes people ragequit.

I started with Recruitment Officer (opens in new tab) and Gavony Dawnguard (opens in new tab), both of which help you get a creature card with a mana cost of 3 or less in your hand. Then I filled most of the deck with cheap creatures that fit the bill, giving priority to ones with the soldier tag that could buff each other. Valiant Veteran (opens in new tab) gives all soldiers +1/1, Siege Veteran (opens in new tab) gives one soldier a +1/+1 each turn, that kind of thing. To stymie whatever caper other players might pull while I put together my weenie army, I added Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (opens in new tab), who increases the mana cost of all noncreature cards (no skin off my nose since I only have a couple of those), and Myrel, Shield of Argive (opens in new tab), the only 4-mana card in the deck, who prevents opponents from casting spells or activating abilities on my turn.

I've become the reason people ragequit, and I love it

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

The finishing touch was Brutal Cathar (opens in new tab), a werewolf soldier who lets me exile an enemy creature, which stays exiled as long as he’s in play. Basically, he sits on someone I can’t be bothered killing in the regular way. The same effect is triggered every time he transforms from a werewolf back into a person. Which he does a lot. Every couple of turns, Brutal Cathar steals someone’s best creature and adds them to the pile he’s balanced on top of. It’s some real rascality, or to put it another way, total bullshit.

Some people concede when I play Thalia, others after I flood the board with more weenies than they can be bothered dealing with. The other night, two people in a row ragequit the second I played Brutal Cathar. A third endured his horseplay briefly, until I played a second Brutal Cathar and then they too embraced the void. 

I’m surprised how often it happens. When someone’s taking too long on their turns or running the kind of slow control deck that draws out the conclusion, I’ll open YouTube in another window and keep playing. If someone gives me a spare four minutes to watch Nat’s What I Reckon (opens in new tab) cook a cheesy potato bake (opens in new tab) then that’s a gift I appreciate. Ragequitting feels like being a bad sport. If you like running a deck that blocks everything I do while chipping away at my health like you’re murdering me with a cheese grater, who am I to deny you your jollies?

This is probably why the ragequitters make me happy. I don’t understand them, so I’m free to imagine them howling in anger. In reality they’re probably maintaining the same dead-eyed stare as they click Play and Concede until they find enough quick and easy matches to rack up their 15 daily wins, harvesting gold and XP with joyless efficiency. That’s a depressing way to think of people engaging with a silly card game where lions fight werewolves, though. I choose to keep believing every ragequitter smashes their fists into their keyboard, curses my name, and shrivels into a corncob.

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Jody Macgregor

Weekend/AU Editor

Jody’s first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia’s first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He’s written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody’s first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he’s written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.

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