Wizards of the Coast's popular trading card game "Magic: The Gathering" has a vast history of storylines spanning twenty years. Its plethora of unique characters with stylish attire also make it a ripe target for cosplay. We caught up with Robert Mentzer to talk about his recent Jace vs. Chandra cosplay with Rachel Nadine, photographed by Elle (www.facebook.com/elleontheradio).
"Tell us the story behind your "Magic: The Gathering" cosplay. What made you choose this particular Planeswalker and how long did it take you to create the costume?"
"Planeswalkers have always been my favorite aspect of "Magic: The Gathering." I always felt like the story was driven by their actions (much akin to role of the wizards in "Lord of the Rings") I'm a scientist and have spent a lot of time pursuing knowledge, so I have an affiliation to blue mana. I had to build Jace and Rachel chose Chandra because she is such a firecracker!"
"When did you start playing "Magic?" How did you get introduced to the game?"
"I started playing "Magic" during the "Mirage" in October 1996 during junior high, and was introduced to the game by several of my friends during lunch."
"How often do you play?"
"Once or twice a week at the local comic shop (Twilight Comics). It's wonderful to have such an enthusiastic community of players in our area. They were the first business to sponsor us as cosplayers."
"What's your favorite "Magic" card?"
"That is a very difficult question. The game has so many different facets and flavors. As a game you have to consider playability, power, versatility. As a collectable you have to consider artwork, and storyline, and politics.
My favorite card for playing the game is Brainstorm. It draws cards, it hides stuff from your hand, its sets up miracles, it triggers miracles, its instant, its cheap, its blue (and some of the more recent art work is sweet). It reminds me of a quote from one of my professors, "you don't have to know anything if you know how to learn everything."
My favorite card as a collector is definitely the Guru Island. Yes is just a basic land. But in order to receive a Guru land from WotC, you had to teach others how to play the game.
As a cosplayer, it's my foil Omniscience. Play everything for free?.....Okay! Jace is in the artwork, Jace is in the flavor text, it's powerful, it's shiny, and people are always left jaw-dropped when it actually happens. While in cosplay, I don't necessarily want to win I just want to entertain."
"If you had to pick a favorite set, which would it be?"
""Urza's saga," hands down. The story was compelling, the cards were powerful the art was beautiful (almost all art was hand drawn/painted, photoshop was still a baby). Urza was my first planeswalker, and that's what got me hooked. Ever since day one, i have loved magic for the story behind the game. Playing the game allows you to live the adventure or even to play out your own little fan fiction."
"Do you identify with a particular "Magic" player profile?"
I'm definitely a Vorthos player. Don't get me wrong, I love ripping out a wicked combo. or ramping a beast-nasty critter into play. But I'm the kind of person who will build an entire deck dedicated to a single artist. I think we may invented the format, but we call it "Spellweaver." You pick an artist and build decks with only a single illustrator.
We had the pleasure of meeting Steve Argyle at a convention and having several lengthy conversations with him. I'm sure it made him feel great to know that Rachel can beat face using only his artwork. Personally, I champion the artwork of Pete Venters, and occasionally Kev Walker.
"Have you aligned yourself with one of the ten guilds?"
Nope! The guild all seem too pure in their ideals. I know, that's the whole point of the guild system. But I'd like to believe that in the "Magic Multiverse" every living organism draws its life from the spectrum of mana. The guild system changed a biological process into a set of political partitions. So, as a long time story nut, no guild for me.
"Do you prefer playing in limited or constructed?"
I love sealed events with my friends, and especially drafting. The excitement around a drafting table is pretty addicting.
The one aspect of constructed play that I disdain is net-decking (playing a decklist that won a recent event). I get truly depressed by the lack of creativity in some players. There is no greater feeling than showing up with some off-the-wall shenanigans that no one expects and beating a few net-decks. No, its not nearly as competitive. No, it usually doesn't put me in a winners circle. But I'm smiling through every game I play.
"What is your constructed format of choice?"
"Modern is the place to be. There is so much variety! You can pick a few of your favorite cards and just go nuts. And the available card pool is so large. What I love most about modern is that nearly any deck can win a match.
For multiplayer Commander has great variety, teamwork, alliances, traitors, all so much fun and wonderfully unpredictable. But for four player games, it's "Archenemy" time! Put on my Jace hoodie, and throw me three opponents! Nothing strokes a planeswalker's ego like milling 104 cards in one turn, so tasty :)
"When it comes to building your "Magic" decks, what matters the most to you? A theme or being competitive? What are you brewing right now?"
I used to play purely to win tournaments. In fact, sometimes I played magic to pay my rent in college. But eventually that becomes work, and work isn't fun. That led to two years without "Magic" because I wasn't having fun. Now, I play thematically and for fun. I love sharing my wild and "gag-deck" tactics with new and veteran players. If the game is fun, the player base grows. More players equals more people to enjoy the game with. It's a self fulfilling prophecy.
My most recent antics surround a Shared Fate deck with no win condition. In a nutshell, Shared Fate forces the opponent to trade decks with me then watch while i use their own "good deck" against them. Meanwhile, MY deck has absolutely no way win.....and
they are stuck with it!"
"Tell me something about yourself related to "Magic: The Gathering" that nobody else knows."
"When I'm alone, I've practiced the voices for some of my favorite "Magic" characters. Also, a little piece of me hopes "Magic: The Gathering" will become a television series or an anime someday so I can see if my voices were close >.<"
"Do you have any current or upcoming projects you'd like to share with readers?"
"I'm graduating this semester with a MS in physics, which has been consuming a lot of my time. My next major projects are cosplays for Venser, Karn, and Urza."
"Are there any websites or social media networks that fans can follow your work on?"
"We'll be present at several conventions in 2013, including: Comic-con StL, Gencon, Anime StL, and more. I don't have an art blog, or dedicated webpage...yet!"
Stay up to date on the latest "Magic: The Gathering" info:
Subscribe for email alerts of new articles, follow me on Twitter @David_Leavitt, like my page on Facebook, and add me to your circle on Google+.
For more information about "Magic: The Gathering" visit www.MagicTheGathering.com.