Generational Magic Player Spotlight: Johnny Lin

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I Play a Game Called Magic: The Gathering... No, It's a Card Game

Sharing our Magic: the Gathering journey with each other is what makes this game more than just a game; it becomes a community. We create enjoyable moments with people who become friends and friends who become family. Here's a glimpse into someone's Magical life and how the game has influenced it.

Today we're meeting Johnny, a friend of mine and my youngest. He's a huge Modern aficionado from Illuminaudi. Join me as Johnny shares his Magic journey!

Help Me Welcome Our Next Contestant...

What's your name and how long have you played Magic: the Gathering?
My name is Johnny Lin and the beginning of my Magic journey is in two parts. I initially learned how to play in 2010, while in high school. I slapped together the Zendikar and Worldwake Vampire intro decks and began occasionally gaming with my close friends. It wasn't until college with Journey into Nyx where a buddy of mine wanted to play and convinced me to split a box with him. I've been playing ever since and I really started to get into Magic.


Who initially shared Magic with you?
My friend Jake during orchestra in high school. There were a few others that joined in, but mostly him and I.

Can you recall one of your first experiences playing the game?
One of my favorite early memories is when I was playing the above Vampire deck and Jake had pulled an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn sometime before that. He built a deck specifically made for it. During one of our games, he was able to cast Emrakul, attack, and annihilate my entire board. I survived with a few lands still in play. On my turn, I was able to play a kicked Gatekeeper of Malakir to make him sacrifice the big guy. The game continued on and I ended up winning. I'll never forget that one.

What format and types of deck do you enjoy?
I enjoy Modern. I honestly cycle through decks quite a bit. I played Grixis Death's Shadow when Lurrus of the Dream-Den wasn't banned.

Since its banning, I've been having fun switching between UR Murktide and Burn. The decks I play usually have blue and red in them.

So, Modern is your favorite format, eh?
Yea my first Modern deck was back around Khans of Tarkir was Ninja Bear Delver. From that, I eventually worked my way into Splinter Twin. I actually have more fun playing at the local level. I've been to a few big tournaments, but I find that I get too nervous and hyper-focused. I put way too much pressure on myself in the larger events. In a smaller setting, I'm more relaxed, enjoy the experience, and in turn, perform better.

Let me guess, you were disappointed when Splinter Twin was banned?
Absolutely! I first heard about it an LGS and was really bummed.

Any cards that were better or worse than you expected?
Nothing in particular. I watch a lot of streaming, especially Aspiring Spike. I really enjoy how he approaches the format. So with this and my normal testing, I keep on top of what's being played, and cards that may have some potential.

How did you adjust through the pandemic?
I took a long break during this time. I didn't attend until recently when the restrictions were lifted and even then I was pretty careful attending. To keep up with the game, I played MTG: Arena all the time, watched more streamers, and learned way more about Standard than I expected to. It was very enjoyable, but I'm happy to be able to get out and play face-to-face again.

What's one of your favorite Magic cards?
Definitely Snapcaster Mage. I enjoy it for its versatility. I remember throwing down the human wizard on turn two against Tron, and attacking for 20 with it over ten turns. I like Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror as well, but of course it hasn't had as much impact in the format.

Who do you normally play with?
Generally my local scene. Most of the time I'm with my friends at Illuminaudi, but I visit Mavericks from time to time.

Is there anyone else in your family that plays?
No one in particular. I've tried to share it with a few of them on occasion, but it never really took. We each have our own hobbies and Magic is mine.

Is there anyone else you try to mentor or assist with the game?
I haven't had a lot of opportunity to focus in this area, but I do try to help other players after our games when they have a play mistake or an odd interaction that they weren't aware of.

One example that comes to mind is around this little blighter...

I had a game where my opponent attacked me with two creatures; one a 2/2 and the other a 5/5. I let the 2/2 through and blocked the other with my 5/5 Death's Shadow. Since all damage is dealt at the same time, and my life total was lower due to that damage, the Death's Shadow became a 7/7 and wasn't destroyed. My opponent was somewhat confused about it, and with the help of a judge, we were able to nicely educate him.

Is there anything you'd like to share with people who might like to get into Modern?
The land base can be expensive. It's helpful and important to have access to them. Shocklands, fetchlands, Triomes, Pathways, fastlands, and various others. The appropriate land base can open up your ability to play a variety of decks.

I highly recommend new players pick a deck, proxy it out, and run some playtest games with your friends or online. If you like it, then invest it in. I've heard many stories of people plunking down a lot of money on a deck, playing it a few times, and not enjoying the play pattern.

I knew one guy who put a Jund deck together a couple years ago. He bought Tarmogoyfs, Liliana of the Veils, the whole thing. He played 3 games, didn't like it, and sold it a week later for a different deck.

The Wrap-Up

I want to thank Johnny for sharing his story and how Magic has been a part of it. I hope you enjoyed our discussion and look forward to the next installment.

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