256: The Magic of Spike and Timmy

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The Magic of Spike and Timmy

Magic: The Gathering has been around for a long time, and that's because it appeals to a broad spectrum of players. Patrick Jarrett explains who Spike, Timmy and Johnny are to the Magic design team.

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I dabbled with MTG for a while and while I enjoyed some drafting and working with new cards, the format I enjoyed most was the EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) format which involves a deck of 100 cards, where the only card you can have more than one of is basic land and a 'general' which is a legendary creature which can be summoned at any time from out of play (costs more each time) this allowed me to see and experience a huge range of card combinations.

The best part however was being able to play 3,4 and 5 player games which were fun and socaible with plenty of card banter, working together and against each other in matches that could last an entire evening.

I lost touch quickly after moving cities and doubt I will get back to it (time, money etc) but it was a great experience while it lasted

I have friends that have played this game for years. They compare the strategy and subtlety to chess.

I have just never really enjoyed it. Though, sending huge fireballs always seemed fun.

I'm a Timmy. But not with big creatures...with Cancel and it's ilk.

As long as I piss you off with my blue decks, I'm happy. As long as I cancel one thing...I'm happy.

Onyx Oblivion:
I'm a Timmy. But not with big creatures...with Cancel and it's ilk.

As long as I piss you off with my blue decks, I'm happy. As long as I cancel one thing...I'm happy.

I had the best of both worlds. My Blue-based Broodstar-Affinity from way back when combined the Timmy-ness of a turn-3 8/8 Flyer with the control options for the more drawn-out matches (rarely happened, though. My matches back then only lasted 5-7 turns on average. A bit longer if I get a bad hand).

I've only played a few games with my friend but I quite enjoyed it. I might be getting more into it in the future. I've only really played Black and red decks so far, and my friend uses blue primarily. What usually happens is he'll kick my ass for 90% of the game and then the stars align and I find a way to trounce him quickly in 3 moves by the end. It feels damn good!

i'm a combination of spike and johnny

as a magic player for well over 7 years, its been fun to make a deck and see what all of the combination of cards do.
I'm probably a bit spike only because in my circle of friends, I'm expected to win? and i usually do

I think most games have these three player types in one way or another.

Take MvC2, for example, a game I'm very familiar with.

There are the Timmies who choose a cool character and smile ear-to-ear when they manage to land a big combo or spectacular super move. These players are very common in the 'lower levels', but that doesn't mean they all suck - they're often very good at doing exactly what they like, even though they won't win any tournaments doing it.
There are the Johnnies who choose an odd or interesting character and try to be creative and explore the less-popular options. I recall one player who played King almost exclusively, even though she is widely considered the worst character in the game (she's fun to play though), but he still won matches because people never expect King and he was simply very good at using a sub-par character.
Finally, there are the Spikes who use a team like Sagat/Sakura/Blanka or any of the other 'top-tier' combinations and focus on 'mastering' the game.

Most RTS games also have examples like this.
Timmies like to turtle so they can build up a huge army and upgrade it, then try to steamroll the enemy in a glorious charge.
Johnnies like to use synergistic units and units with cool 'special abilities'.
Spikes use whatever they need to win.

Timmy, mostly, with some spike. My first deck was devoted to getting (what I thought at the time were) the best creatures available out onto the field. It's the only original deck of mine which I still have now, albeit with substantial improvements. I dabble in all sorts of stuff at the moment, and have a group of friends who all play during lunch at school. It's a really nice way to see my friends outside of school. I really like that the escapist is recognizing the uniqueness of the profiles; it seems to me that few games strive to recognize the subtleties in their audiences and to appeal to different types. Maybe that's just me.

I always wondered where the unglued and unhinged cards Timmy, Power Gamer and Johnny, Combo Player got their names (and abilities) from. Seems they stem from the approach to making the cards in the first place, that also means we have yet to get a Spike, though I suspect the only way that could fit was if it had 'Win the game' somewhere on it, and in keeping with the theme of the previous two, would be far too cheap in cost to be balanced. Not that the Un- sets pride themselves on balance all that much, they focus on being funny or purely bizarre.

I'm a casual player, though I haven't bought a set since Time Spiral, as I found it a bit too expensive to continue buying them, and that was only set that I had any amount of cards from after the Tempest cycle (as most of my cards come from my dad's old collection). I'm probably a Timmy and Johnny mix, due to the fact I've built many a deck that does some crazy things, including one deck that's almost guaranteed to lose (though it does pull a victory on rare occasions). I've had fun with Aluren, (which became named the 'Loop Deck' as it could pull off insane numbers of infinite combos, infinite mana in particular), Fool's Demise,(with some damageless killing methods for good measure), Mishra, (which was the only coloured card in the deck), and even Kher Keep, the aforementioned deck that's built to lose. I've had fun building these oddball decks and even more fun playing them, particularity when they manage to win, particularity with some of them which are very unlikely to work. I've even a built a deck for multiplayer (where most of my decks are designed for) whose sole purpose is mess around with everyone's decks and cause as much general havoc as possible.

That's not to say I don't build 'regular' decks, I have quite a few not built around certain cards, but everything almost always has a theme, like a white deck stuffed with flanking knights, or a blue/white deck full of costly flying powerhouses.

It's intriguing to know that they have picked up on these ideas and continue to make cards to appeal to the different approaches to the game, there are some cards that I've seen that I've thought it would be fun to build a deck around, either for the sheer narrowness of its use or just for being insanely difficulty to cast.

I may grumble about how about the new cards vastly overpower old ones, (I remember the time when you were lucky to get a 2/2 for two mana, I loved the Black and White Knights because of this), but I still love those new cards that are really quirky and are just begging to have a deck built around them.
That's if I'm not already thinking of another way to use my old card collection to outwit the more-powerful newer decks in some creative fashion.

Hmm different games call for different strategies for myself I suppose. In my favorite genre (RTS) I'd say I am a Johnnie, I love to find a special combination of pure awesome that may or may not win, but sure as hell makes my opponent go something along the lines of "Wait, What?"

Onyx Oblivion:
I'm a Timmy. ... As long as I piss you off with my blue decks, I'm happy.

Wouldn't that make you a Tim?
image

I'm a johnny with a dollop of spike.

Years ago the I'd spend a lot of my afternoons after school building decks in front of the tv. I'd spend 10 hours or so week on my own, just looking at cards, researching possible strategies and most importantly working out what cards were in my budget. I'd make an undulating mess that would expand to fill the entire room as cards were filed according to necessity, utility, proximity to cards that worked well together, and all kinds of other reasons (until my parents came home).

I may also (smugly) add that by the time I hit university I consistently made decks that surprised, infuriated and impressed the people I played with. And always on a tight budget - dual lands and bomb rares were a pipe dream for me (as well as being unecessary :P).

Anyway, that's my trip down memory lane, haven't played much since roughly Time Spiral.

Ah, I used to devour Rosewater's articles about game design, even though I had never been an active Magic player. Good times.

Definitely a Johnny (with a little Timmy too). The decks that I used to play would always have some sort of engine that I would power the victory. Once I started rolling, all the opponent can do is sit there and wait for defeat either by getting drawn out with one spell, getting their entire deck eviscerated so that all they can draw is land (I <3 Haunting Echoes), or just waiting while I draw as many cards as I want and play as many creatures as I want (Expo-HoG FTW).

Oh Magic. Whenever I think I'm done with you, you always draw me back in.

I'm mostly a Timmy, with a little bit of Johnny, though I have no issues with pre-made decks. I currently have a slightly modified pre-made zombie deck that is oh so much fun to play.

By the way, was that the BFM behind the Timmy player's card? If so, then that's horrifying.

100% pure Johnny here.

I'm a mix of Timmy and Johnny I don't win often enough to be a Spike, but my deck is a weird one, being light and all. Most of my damage comes from my creatures, but it can be almost as insidious as a blue deck with some of the instants I pack.

im definetly not a spike hybrid of timmy and johnny sometimes ill have a game in my hand and continue to build up cretures and the other player will get the card he needs and screw me over when i could've won ten turns ago, why does he do this to himself you may ask? well i have no fucking clue.

A bit of a redundant read, but only because I read MaRo's articles every week, so I know the psychographics as well as I do that he used to write for Roseanne and that restrictions breed creativity.

Also, definitely Johnny/Timmy. I love infinite combos, weird wrinkles, and, in any game, discovering bizarre little twists and extras.

If I were to classify myself, I would say I'm predominately a Timmy with a touch of Johnny. With the newest set in particular, my inner Timmy has a chance to run rampant. 15/15s? *drool*

Also, aren't standard decks 60 cards, not 40? Isn't 40 only for drafts?

Yu-Gi-Oh requires a 40 card minimum for a deck - Magic the Gathering requires a 60 card minimum.

I'm a Johnny/Spike. I enjoy quirky combos, but I only persue building a deck if it is going to be competitive in tournaments.

Yeah, 40 hasn't been the minimum for a constructed deck for a long time, but it was originally the requirement. So if you haven't played in a while, you might not know.

Spike/Johnny here. In the sense of "What can I do to beat the decks I'm seeing people play? You're all playing black and red? Great, I'll main-deck these Kor Firewalkers, Celestial Purges, and White Knights."

Just yesterday I built a deck around Intruder Alarm, Imperious Perfect, and Llanowar Elf. Hi, I'm Johnny, and I'll be 2/2 Elf token-ing you to death today.

I've played this game for years and years.
There is no doubt in my or anyone I know's mind of what profile I am.
I win, it's what I do, I. am. spike.

If I don't walk away from day 1 with more wins then losses, it was a wasted day.

I'm 100% spike, with a love for control decks, especially mono-black control.

- Founder of the Escapist Magic Fan Club

no ones done it yet guess i will

liblah liblah libalah timmY!!!!!!

I've been playing MtG for almost a year now, I think.
I started playing in tournaments that played the "Standard"-format (only cards from the two latest blocks are allowed). However, lately I have switched to playing EDH with my friends.
I would say that EDH as a casual-format is the best way to play. I've heard that tournaments with EDH are no fun since, though, the players make decks with crazy infinity-loops.
I don't play as much anymore because I, sadly, live way from my friends right now.

As for what sort of player I am, I'm probably a Timmy. I play Red-White-Green (Naya) Beatdown EDH with "Rith, the Awakener" as General. I love playing my big creatures and smack them down.

Back in the day, I was definitely a Spike, by way of Johnny. I studied charts of mana curves, and really tried to figure out what made a good deck tick. I designed a ludicrous number of decks, mainly just to explore new strategies, and had just as much fun designing decks as playing the game. My only real Timmy smattering came from my tendency to play green stompy decks.

These days, when I don't have the time to donate towards pouring over deck lists, much less the money to keep up to date in Type 2 (Or whatever its called these days), I'm mainly a casual Johnny, mostly playing Multiplayer with friends, and just messing around with interesting ideas from a pool of old cards. My Timmy streak has actually amplified greatly, because of the way my friends play. We tend to do multiplayer, with a few people who are successful because they don't act rationally, and no one wants to mess with them because of it. In addition, the dynamic turns into one giant cold war, where no one wants to mess with anyone, because once one person becomes aggressive, or too powerful, everyone gangs up to take them down. Because of this, it favors slow decks with some defense, that eventually reach a tipping point where they can overcome any obstacle, but not in an obvious way (Sliver decks universally are attacked and eliminated from turn 1). I still have a bit of a pragmatic Spike in me though, and include cards for there pragmatic value less then hilarious situations. Multiplayer is still a wild crapshoot, but then again, when we do play single player, I spend the least on cards, and likely have the best win/lose ratio.

Timmy most definitely. I can lose over and over again, but as long as I get that Progenitus into play I'm all good. And yeah, Eldrazi....*drools*

I had to quit. Im always up against people who have 17 years worth of cards who could kick my ass a 100 different ways, while I always stay stagnant with the cards ive owned for years and never buy new cards.

Echo136:
I had to quit. Im always up against people who have 17 years worth of cards who could kick my ass a 100 different ways, while I always stay stagnant with the cards ive owned for years and never buy new cards.

Well, if you've got any brothers or sisters or other family, you could always teach them to play? Then have many fun times beating them into the dust till they eventually surpass you.

Like another user said, these same "psychographs" can be applied to various fighting games as well, although the definitions aren't quite as clear-cut.

"Spikes" in the fighting game community would be what are best known as "tier-whores", the people who do research and use no other characters but the best ones. They study, apply, then study again, then reapply what makes these characters the best in the game so the wins can pour in and increase their standing on the leaderboards. :P

"Johnnys" are most akin to the antithesis of the "tier-whore" mentioned previously (who currently doesn't have a handle, at least not to my knowledge) who'll only play the worst characters in a fighting game. This usually happens for one of two reasons: 1.) the player wants to prove that the character actually isn't as bad as everyone says he/she is (often with nil results), or 2.) the player wants to show that with proper practice and analysis of the combat engine, the so-called "worst character" can actually give the "best character" a good challenge. They'll have a much harder time winning the match, and the player knows this, if they can win or at least get kinda close, all the better.

"Timmys" are a bit of the happy medium of the fighting game community; they like to pick characters that appeal to them, either through gameplay (i.e. how the character "feels" when played) or something as minute as simple aesthetics. if he/she happens to be one of if not the best character in the game, great. If they aren't, that just means extra research. The key fact is that the player enjoys playing the character he/she wants to play, how he/she want to play the character.

By the way, mostly Timmy myself. I may not be the greatest, and I may not win, but if I can use that Blue spell to blow your strategy straight to hell, or at least make you struggle for a turn or 2, I'm happy.

In my local community, my friends say i define what it is to be johnny. They're right. Why win by attacking with creatures turn after turn when you can get every card in your deck in play and win outright? It's all in the combo, baby!

I think they missed a rather important profile. "The collector". He buys cards but possibly never plays with them, as he simply enjoys their possession because he appreciates the art or the rarity. I'm definitively of the type. I tried collecting all black rares for two years or so, even though I barely played the game. And I still own my collection of about 100 of them.

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