Stop Quitting Magic: Arena Games Before I Can Beat You Properly

Image: Kieran Yanner, Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering is a game about slowly (or quickly) squeezing the life out of your opponent until they’re demoralized, defeated, and feeling the weight of their many, many mistakes. That’s why I am unhappy with the lot of you serial conceders depriving me of that.

I’m not a great player of Magic Arena, the latest digital adaptation of the 26-year-old card game. I’ve been known to forget that a creature has vigilance or keep a game-changing Instant spell in my hand until the match is well over and the lights have been turned off. But like everybody who plays something a lot, sometimes I win at Magic Arena. And a good number of those times, I get the satisfaction of watching my opponents’ health deplete to zero. Other times, they concede.

The “Concede” button is buried in a little menu on the top right of Magic Arena’s play screen. Despite this, it plays an outsize role in my daily games. Opponents will concede when I play a second Planeswalker. They’ll concede when I have too many flying creatures they can’t yet block. They’ll concede when I tap eight mana for a big, chonky worm creature or when I rapidly gain health. It happens a lot.

I accept some of these concessions—if the opponent hasn’t drawn mana since turn one or if my goblin army is staring down their three remaining hit points, for example. Personally, I’d rather lose than concede unless it looks like the game will go on for all eternity. Opponents who concede early obviously don’t feel this way.

I want to give these Magic Arena players a pep talk. I want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and say, “Listen, man. Don’t be insecure. I’m not that good at this game. I promise you can kill the second Planeswalker.” I want to chide them for being wimps. “Come on. Really? I have 17 health. You have 15. We have literally the same creatures out.”

There have been games when my opponent, hovering at two health, musters all of their optimism and courage to stick it out. And sometimes, those opponents pull through and beat me. Kudos—that was hype. Other times, they don’t, and I experience the sweet feeling of a victory seen through. My master plan comes together (or luck blows a kiss my way), and I reap the rewards fair and square. Bliss!

I’m well aware that I won’t convince serial conceders to mend their ways by appealing to empathy. That’s not how the internet works. Think of it this way, though: A concession is not a natural conclusion; it’s a calculation meant to optimise time spent playing and winning. If things are looking grim, the serial conceder may intuit, conceding and moving onto the next game will offer more opportunities to win and more favourable conditions for doing so.

Some possibilities: These serial conceders are gifted with psychic powers (or hacking skills), which grant them complete knowledge of every card or play possibility. Or maybe they’re just great number-crunchers and ought to play poker instead.

I have it on good authority that losing is fine—even educational. Losing is part of the game, even, and not something to overlook as useless. I also have it on good authority—not mine, but others’—that what differentiates Magic champions from chumps is the ability to turn a game around at the eleventh hour. My challenge to serial conceders: Stick it out. See what happens. Let me beat you.


Comments

    He/she who fights and runs away, lives to fight again much sooner.

      Yep. Churn and burn. Faster games = More games = More experience.

        I maxed out on XP and am now playing ranked. I think fewer people concede in ranked because, as Celia says, sometimes you can turn around a situation that looks hopeless.

      makes sense to me, i never concede because my favorite victory is when the opponent shits the bed and i completely turn it on them and win.

      because i'm a sadist i guess... or maybe not because more often than not i just end up losing.

      conclusion: i'm an onion and i have layers.

        Your name always make me chuckle when I see it.

        I'm the same, try for a turn around or go down in a ball of flames.
        Back when I played RTS games seriously some of my most memorable victories were snatched from the jaws of defeat.

          i love RTS games but i have never won a single match accept when i played total annihilation so now i just play against bots.

    Meh, cry me a river. The purpose of games is to have fun, not to fuel your ego. If the person conceeds, take your win and move on. They've got better things to do with their lives.

    Bleeting about how they "owe you the win" is narcisitic garbage. People don't "owe you the win". You won. Get over yourself.

    So by your reasoning you should only play games until such point where YOU are still having fun? That sounds a little narcissistic. Just because you only play games for fun, you cant really chastise others for wanting to play for different, and equally valid reasons, and at least waiting to play a game to its end, is more respecting to an opponent, as only playing for as long as you are having fun.

    People who cant stand losing have so much to learn about life. We see this in gaming all the time these days, the first hint of failure, all respect and sportsmanship leave and they run away.

    PS I think you miss took the authors clear fact narcissistic humour and took it for real, missing the point of the post.

      What is the end point of a game? When the win condition of the game is met.
      If it becomes clear the opponent has won the game, then what's the point of continuing?

      If I've lost all interest in playing the game, because it's clear I've lost, then why should I continue? I thought the point of a game was recreation?

      Conversely, what if I have the option to artificially extend the game to waste the winners time? Should I do that? Stretch the game out well past when it's clear the other player has won just to annoy the fuck out of them? How is that displaying sportsmanship?

      If conceding wasn't within the "rules" of the game, why does the concede option exist?
      Seems to me the designers must have intended a "conceding" to be a valid end game condition?

      I find the whole "People who can't stand losing" comment laughable. It's a *GAME*.

      I play for keeps in life, because it's LIFE. I play games to get away from WIN AT ALL COSTS stakes. You know, for "fun".

      Conceding a win doesn't have anything to do with respect. Conceding is acknowledging the other person has one.

      Whining that your opponent won't hang around and let you kick them about a bit more is the disrespectful bit.

      As for if the writer was "joking" or not, well that's subjective I guess.

      Last edited 23/05/19 3:57 pm

    Hah. With DCG's a Win is a Win is a Win. Take them how ever you can get them I say...

    For my money, there is no win quite as satisfying as one resulting from a rage quit.

      It's funny though how MTG Arena only lets you use inoffensive set phrases.

    Yeah nah. Even in the physical game I'd rather concede an obvious lose and move onto game two.

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