Playing MTG With Disabilities, Disorders, and/or Neurodivergence

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Posted on Sept. 2, 2021, 2:20 p.m. by Peoyogon

The other day, I was watching a 'Cards We Like to Play Against' podcast for EDH. I was very surprised to see that one of the mechanics they mentioned was when opponents played effects that stole/borrowed/or used their own cards. While they admitted that Mind Control-type effects were not always feel-good, they loved Rise of the Dark Realms because they took pride in seeing their cards wreck the table.

While I only play casually, I've been playing Magic for a decade now. Since the beginning, hands-down the most tilting effect for me is when my opponent's use my cards. Needless to say, this podcast made no sense to me. MLD, stax, 100 Counterspells - annoying but it holds nothing to the frustration I feel towards someone stealing my creature with Simic Manipulator. As I was processing this, I thought about how I have similar reactions to cards like Oblivion Ring or even Molten Primordial. Logically, it doesn't make sense: MLD should be way more frustrating than having a single random permanent briefly moved across the table.

After awhile, I realized it's because I have OCD. I have a very hard time with people touching certain (seemingly random) objects in my house. For many things, I have to do very certain procedures before I can touch them (like wash my hands a certain number of times, etc). It seems so obvious now but my cards were just another addition to this list.

My small playgroup is awesome and, when I told them about this, they offered to modify the way these effects work. Their cards all work as intended but instead of my friends grabbing/touching/and bringing my card over to their side, my physical cards still stays on my mat. And it worked! Suddenly, I no longer cared that a card got stolen because I could still control the actual piece of cardboard in real life. It's such a simple change and one that has brought me a lot of relief!

I still have pretty significant limitations; I cannot realistically play at my LGS, though I've tried and really want to! Despite that, this still feels like a big victory for me :)

How about you? Have your disabilities, disorders, and/or neurodivergence impacted your ability to play MTG? Have you found a way to integrate your specific needs into the game in an awesome way?

Congrats on working things out, your playgroup sounds like a jolly crew ;)

September 2, 2021 2:40 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #3

I used to have a similar issue, not with tilting, but with just disliking people touching my stuff. I now prefer to try and work through my issues rather than around them, and just dedicating time to logically thinking through what makes me bothered about something and how little it actually matters helped me overcome the annoyance. Now, I think I'd be more bothered by someone who had the opposite problem. Oh how the turntables...

September 2, 2021 3:08 p.m.

1empyrean says... #4

I'm hard of hearing, but its pretty straightforward for me to let people know, and to asked them to repeat stuff if I don't hear.

September 2, 2021 3:25 p.m.

Peoyogon says... #5

Grubbernaut I suppose 'tilting' isn't necessarily the right word for me either. It's not even really annoyance. I don't get angry but instead just shut down. Some of my group didn't even know it was something bugging me. It's more of an internal turmoil with a lot of anxiety, cascading thoughts, and frustration (much of it from knowing, logically, it doesn't make sense to feel like that or have that response). It sounds like you processed some of the issues you were facing though! I'm really glad it worked out for you :)

September 2, 2021 5:25 p.m.

Profet93 says... #6


Idk if I'm neurodivergent, I just have a lot of difficulties doing basic things. Remembering, thinking, breathing, basic math, etc....

Although I dont like storm, my 2 most favorite decks play that way, by tapping and untapping cradle and coffers multiple times to generate value and win from there. It becomes difficult to do basic math so I use a calculator to help me. I always clear label many I'm making and what I'm putting into an X value for a spell.

One time I cast torment for x=30 when I had 34 mana available. Blue player casts Counterspell to which I respond with Imp's Mischief to change the target to imps, thus making the spell "fizzle." The person was annoyed (but did a good job of holding it in, which I appreciated) and said they didn't know I had 2 mana open (after all, who doesn't put X as their entire mana pool) even though I announced what I had put into X. Their argument was waiting for 2 minutes just for me to do math and win.

Just wish people were nicer playing MTG. It doesn't take much to be polite

September 2, 2021 5:40 p.m.

Peoyogon says... #7

Profet93 I wish folks were more polite too. Though I haven't played Magic with people outside my little sphere in quite a while, I definitely know what you are talking about.

I love your idea of brining a little calculator! That's an awesome idea!

September 2, 2021 5:56 p.m.

Thank you so much for sharing this! I wish more people were considerate enough to consider how diverse the fandom of this game can be. I’m glad your play group is so understanding!

September 2, 2021 8:16 p.m.

Daveslab2022 says... #9

What is MLD?

September 3, 2021 8:38 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #10

Daveslab2022 mass land destruction. It's a generally annoying effect because far too many commander players are casual and instead of trying to win, they just play it without a plan for afterwards, so then Armageddon basically reads "restart the game" and that's not really fun. Optimally, it should be played as "lol, none of you can do anything and I still have a chonky dude that can run away with the game" and then Armageddon reads "I win, probably" instead, which is much less annoying although still a bit high power for your average table.

September 3, 2021 9:52 a.m.

1empyrean says... #11

TriusMalarky - MLD can be even more one-sided than that. Like Epicenter in a Korvold, Fae-Cursed King deck. The fact that so few seem to run it (20 on EDHREC) speaks volumes about how MLD is viewed by the typical player. All this, however, is off topic.

September 3, 2021 10:17 a.m.

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