Published on July 6th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich


Play Your Way: Women and Magic the Gathering part 1

Back in April there was some internet hubbub over recent articles written by male Magic the Gathering players and their advice on how to get more women into the hobby. I have no qualms with men looking to help diversify the MTG fan base and to make official events and tournaments more welcoming. I do feel that what these articles lacked is input and experiences from women gamers.

I wanted to learn more about how other women enjoy MTG- to understand, through reading their experiences, preferences, and suggestions how we as a community could help make women feel more welcome and how to bring more women into the MTG game and community.

So I created a survey for women participants who used to or currently play Magic the Gathering. I asked women to answer questions about their history with MtG, the hows and whys. The survey was shared via social media and within 2 weeks, I collected 97 responses – many were Seattle residents like myself but I did see that this survey went national and even reached a player in South America! It took a lot to make this article so I’m very excited to present the responses and findings.

magic nicole

I really like Angels in MTG. Let me introduce you to my Red/White Angel heavy deck sometime. I call it ‘Lawful Impatience”.

First Experience

This survey, I admit, had some poorly written questions. I wanted to give an opportunity for very specific answers because I wanted to feature every person’s response in an article. I realize that this was an unrealistic goal after I received the 40th survey response on the first day – so I won’t be including all the questions or all the responses.

Most of the answers were also ‘write-in’ meaning I couldn’t really collect comparable answers between the different participants, so I’m doing my best to show what information I could collect from the women who answered similarly and include responses that also show the variety in the answers of the participants.

Question 1: When did you first play MTG?

Many stated they learned MTG in grade school, high school and college. 17 women stated that they learned to play MTG within the last 5 years and 14 mentioned their first experience was in the 90’s – the time of Magic the Gathering’s infancy. Other responses include:

“About 8 months ago. My husband taught me (he’s been playing since 1994).”

“We bought two starter decks at Gen Con 1993 and took them home. We puzzled out how to play from that Alpha rulebook.”

“Around March of 2014. I had very little idea what I was doing, and was playing with one of my friends’ elves deck. It was confusing, but interesting.”

“It was back during the summer of 1999 or 2000. I was ten or eleven… I couldn’t play or collect Pokemon cards any more. My dad was super involved with Boy Scouts, so at one of the camping trips that I was at, there were several of the boys playing Magic. It looked a lot like Pokemon to me, so I wanted to give it a try … I was hooked, and continued to play with those boys whenever I’d see them…and then with some other nerdy kids from my town…and eventually I got my own decks and began to occasionally travel the 45 minutes to the nearest LGS to play in their weekly FNM.”

“At PAX Prime 2012 we were given Starter Packs in the promo swag bags and my hubby had played as a child so we went home that night and he taught me some of the basics. It evolved from there.”

“It was in 1998 and my boyfriend at the time taught me. My love of magic lasted but my love of him not so much.”

“I went in to a local store and asked if they had any trading card games I could start playing. The clerk recommended MTG and I was given a demo deck and started playing at the store on gateways.”

“Freshman year of high school; new school, new friends, new game (:”

“My first time I played was at industry prerelease. My brother had me drive him to it and I had nothing to do for a few hours so played as well. I was hooked.”

“At first, I liked MTG as a fantasy-based story and for its artwork. I didn’t play it as a CCG. But internet people encouraged me to play MTG, so I bought MBS event deck and joined MBS gameday…”

I love reading the responses to this question. I feel really connected as my first experience with MTG shared similarities: My boyfriend taught me to play MTG after I found the Planeswalker’s Guide to Alara book and expressed interest in the different planes. At first I hated it and I had a difficult time preparing an efficient, ass-kicking deck…until we started playing the Elder Dragon Highlander format aka Commander.


There is No Female Hivemind

People enjoy playing different games for different reasons – just because people are similar in gender doesn’t mean they all enjoy the same thing. I found through this survey that there are a lot of women out there who play MTG but enjoy different formats and favored different parts of the game over the other.

Question 2: What is your favorite format or way to play MTG?

It seems I’m not alone with my preference for EDH/Commander. 38 women chose this format as their favorite way to play. The follow up favorites were Draft, Standard, Modern and Legacy formats. Other responses included:

“Yes. I get out my cards. I play a person. That’s it.”

“I’ve really enjoyed this set of standard, as it’s the first I’ve really played. But I think pre releases are still my favorite. It’s funny playing a new set and finding fantastic combos and play styles. I also generally like the more laid back atmosphere.”

“Does on camera, at professional REL count? The higher the stakes, the better, the more people watching, the better. And against stronger opponents, too. I’d much rather be playing against the best players in the world than against people who you beat every week. And preferably Legacy as the format. It’s not really magic unless you get to play with 4x Brainstorm in your list.”

“EDH! I also love to draft and play sealed, as well as the occasional modern or standard deck if something strikes my fancy.”

“I love modern and legacy. I only play standard because nobody wants to buy modern and legacy cards in my town.”

“I just like MTG but I have fallen in love with my Angel EDH deck, and most of my opponents do not like it.”

“I love sealed the most(it lets me build a deck, which is what i love to do!)”

There are a TON of ways to play MTG and I didn’t even know a few of them. Thanks to this survey, I learned a new format from you ladies that I would like to try:

“I also really love Tiny Leaders, as it is like Commander, but doesn’t take as long.”

And I may have introduced a few of you to one of my favorite party MTG activities known as Booze Cube (players draft from a pre-constructed set of MTG cards called a cube. This format uses player-made cards that usually have drinking as part of the resource cost to play the spell. )

“WHAT IS BOOZE CUBE? We drunk draft, but… but BOOZE CUBE sounds awesome.”

I hope you have enjoyed what I’ve shared with you so far. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.

Please come back next week as I will have part 2 of this article which will go into more of the community building.

A Big Thank You To These Ladies

Tifa Skipper Natahlia Maggibot Laura Karolin Danicia Christina Amanda

And here are the lady participants in no particular order. (Links included are used with permission)

DaniciaSiryuki, @maggibot, Anne Bean, Hallie Santo, Meghan Baum L2, Dalke, Mary Nease, Kristen Knorr, Michie, Natalie Weizenbaum, Lindsay Burley, Katie Walters, Sam, GolgariGirl, Ashley, Adranth, Megan, Morgan, Meg, Amanda Sharpe, Sara Anderson, Brighid, Jessica Buchanan, Jess Riley, Skipper, Moxgemmarald, Raven Oak, Fef, Jo FuEmma Ward, Natahlia Lysse ZaringMuggus 3.0, Christie Schauer, Renae, Alex Rose, Karolin Andersson, Sarah Scoggins, Carrie, Emma, Kat, Goblingal, Rada, ElspethSC


Kay, Azralorne, “Firia”, inksy, Renee, The Shrinking Geek, Mimmi Kingdon, Ida, Yoise, Crowsfox, Laura B., Nox, Braids, Lissie, Christina Eddleman, Sonja, Katria, SheepJesus, Ashtreefae, Silver, bird, Hannah, Sweet Dreams, Alison Lang, Jackie, Momo, Laura Dawes, firefaire365, Oura, Tallulahteal, 425suzanne, Sín Wellroth Lång, Kelsey Keenan, Linda Thompson, Rachel Jaffe, Heather M., Tina Mckoy, Silvia, Vicki H, Ness, Tifa Robles, Bikil, and the nine participants that wished to remain anonymous.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to fill out my survey and sharing your experiences playing Magic the Gathering. I hope we can all play MTG together someday and work together to build the welcoming and positive gaming community we want to see.

Part 2 of the Play Your Way: Women and Magic the Gathering


Tags: , ,

About the Author

Nicole Jekich

came from humble beginnings as a Boise suburbanite with a love of Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. She attended an open board game day three years ago and is now an avid gamer and fantasy artist. Her interests are primarily in Dungeons & Dragons, dice placement and Roman-themed tabletop games. Nicole is also a fan of playing games that let her release her inner barbarian. Her favorite game currently is Far Space Foundry.

5 Responses to Play Your Way: Women and Magic the Gathering part 1

  1. This is fantastic–thank you for putting this together. It’s really helpful for publishers like me to see how different types of people play games in different ways.

    Also, the Booze Cube sounds awesome.

  2. Pingback: Across the Board Games | Reviews, Kickstarter Updates, Community Discussion

  3. Pingback: Things We Saw Today: The X-Men: Apocalypse Cast Singing the X-Men: Animated Series Theme – Boo do loo loo doo doo doooooo | 6News

  4. Pingback: things We noticed lately: The X-men: Apocalypse cast Singing the X-males: Animated sequence Theme - Boo do bathroom toilet bathroom toilet doo doo doooooo - Breaking news around the worldBreaking news around the world

  5. Pingback: 50 simple ways to spam the links (13 August 2015) | Geek Feminism Blog

Share your thoughts!

Back to Top ↑