Casual: What Does it Actually Mean?
Posted on Dec. 10, 2019, 2:34 p.m. by StardustDragon11
What does casual MTG actually mean?
How does one define it?
What does it mean to be a casual player?
What are the benefits and detriments to being a casual player?
Let us begin a grand discussion about Casual MTG and what it means to us and to the MTG community at large.
Casual MTG to me means/implies: Infrequent/inconsistent time for playing (somone who come in and out of the game for various lengths of time for different reasons) and or when playing they just want to play there deck that they wanna play win lose or draw.
I think I would define "Casual MTG" as: To play/build MTG decks not intended for sanctioned tournement/FNM events.... power levels and prices tags are irrelevant to a casual player IMO; most often a casual player doesnt have the money for Snapcaster Mage and Scalding Tarn but that doesnt exactly mean that they cant still be included in somones "pet deck" (whether its strong or weak).
I think being a casual player basically means a combination of the above points i said... Enjoys playing but doesnt exactly play all the time or keep up with the latest new mettas/deck techs but can still decide to buy a deck builders took kit and whip up something to play just for fun or dust off their favorite deck from years ago that they may or may not have added/taken from over the years.
Benifits of being a casual player: freedom to build as you please
detriments of being a casual: finding/maintaining a pool of people to play with... not everyone is gonna wanna play the same decks over and over and its innevitble that without a designated/sanctioned format one players deck with outshine the other to a point where it isnt fun for anyone anymore.
December 10, 2019 3:09 p.m.
To me (self-identified casual player), casual is less about the decks and the cards, and more about the attitude in the game. My friends and I play some reasonably cutthroat decks at times, but it is all about being sociable and cracking jokes while the game is going on. When we play it is more akin to a group of buddies getting together to play poker. We play well and can be absolutely ruthless, but the atmosphere is very relaxed.
December 10, 2019 4:23 p.m.
Having to actually classify it, not just point to examples of what is and isn't casual, my description would be something along the lines of:
"Building a deck without the intention of optimisation, given the available resources, and to pilot that deck in a way where optimum plays come in second to arbitrary decisions."
In some ways it's almost easier to define the competitive mindset and then say that casual isn't that :P
I think it's important not to atribute things like budget (since budget competitive is a thing) or directly tie casual to "fun levels". Fun is such a subjective thing - I can be enjoying myself even in a competitive game that I may be losing, even if my focus is the game. And how relaxed you are is also subjective and down to individual personalities.
December 10, 2019 6:50 p.m.
Casual is the opposite of professional.
A professional player competes for prizes, be it packs or store credit or actual money.
So if professional is competitive, and casual is the opposite, it means you play without stakes.
December 10, 2019 9:44 p.m.
So as someone whose last prerelease was OG Theros, I feel like I can call myself casual.
I mostly play/ed with friends and sometimes did matches on my LGS. From those whom I played with "back then", not even one is still active, but I found another good friend over another hobby of mine who still plays, and actually more active than me. We try to meet every few months, which usually means we get together once or twice a year. I do consume lots of content, and especially in the last months, I got pretty deeply into EDH as I found out how fun the games there tend to be.
For many years, I still headed for optimization of my decks and am still going for it by thinking (way too much) about it and tweaking both my 60- and 100-card decks. For the 60s, I somewht stumbled into playing nearly only tribal, the weirder the better. Besides the tribals I uploaded here, I also own decks for gargoyles, cats, dinosaurs, druids (as a joint tribal with squirrels) and some more I feel like I'm forgetting right now. So currently, I own nine EDH- and like 20 60-card casual decks, even though I bearly ever get to play them against anyone. Why? Well, for one, deckbuilding is a great way to get my head away from my job which can be mentally draining. Also, it's that one part of my nerdy teenage ego I just don't want to get rid of.
I actually could write more about how I recently got some of my clients into playing MtG casually to help them with their socially isolated situation, but realized this would go too far for my psycho-hygiene. So you'll have to take this teaser as enough information in this regard.
Where am I trying to get with this? You could identify "casual" as "it's a (more or less) important part of ones life that gives them a good feeling, lots of fun and balances their thoughts away from all of life's seriousness.
December 11, 2019 5:08 a.m.
I would like to add, you can play with optimized Tier 1 decks and still be "casual" if all you do is play with your friends and that's just the meta you all are comfortable with.
For example, if someone's group of friends are wealthy enough to buy $800 - $1,200 decks but none go to local tournments; They only use them at home and at their LGS for fun, then it's casual.
It's like buying a sports car without entering races.
You're not a professional racer; You're a casual driver with expensive taste.
December 11, 2019 7:15 a.m.
Should note there is a difference from a casual player, and a deck that is built with a casual mindset.
December 11, 2019 3:21 p.m.
For me, it is kinda like LordBlackblade says, it is the atmosphere. We meet once a week at a bar, play a few hours with some drinks and just have fun. Some just have decks that are build of stuff they have around or got from people and some have really expensive stuff with a playset Bayou or whatever that costs hundrets and we KNOW if he plays those decks that we will probably lose but we take it with a smile and have fun.
December 12, 2019 7:50 a.m.
For me, playing casually means that winning is not the primary objective, having a good time is.
I think a corollary to determining what casual means is determining how your decks/playstyle will be different in a casual setting versus in a competitive setting.
In a tournament, winning is virtually everyone's top priority, so they build the best decks possible and play optimally. A tournament player takes any advantage they can get, and there is no such thing as an egregious playstyle so long as the cards are legal.
When I play casually with friends, I make an effort to avoid competitive behavior. I make decisions more quickly, even if they're sub-optimal, so the other players aren't waiting too long. I don't play stax, recurring boardwipes/counterspells, or MLD because these styles inhibit people from playing their decks.
Most importantly, in a casual setting I aim to win 1/X games (X is the number of players) rather than trying to win every game. To accomplish this I bring decks of widely varying strength. If I already got a W for the night, I play my janky/experimental (weakest) decks from then on. If I'm on a losing streak, I break out the strongest deck.
This sort of self-limitation might sound like a drag, but loosening my grip on trying to win has been a really freeing experience. I play a much greater variety of cards because I don't have to optimize every deck, or have the strongest strategies.