Everyone plays games for different reasons. These varied motivations help explain why people like different games and play them in different ways.

Mountains of research have been done regarding the different types of gamers. In fact, (friend of the site) Dr. Regina McMenomy has done some of that research. Wizards of the Coast, however, has gone so far as to take these so-called psycho-graphic profiles, given them names, and taken the time to explain them within the context of Magic: The Gathering.

We thought that we would take the time to highlight and explain those different profiles, because knowing why you and your children play the game is helpful for figuring out what cards to buy, what decks to build, and what kinds of formats you’ll want to play in.

Take a look at the list below ands then leave a comment telling us what kind of Magic: The Gathering Player you are!


Timmy/Tammy is the name of the gamer profile that is characterized by their love of big splashy effects and giant creatures. They are motivated by the thrill of playing these massive spells and seeing how they impact the board.

Timmy/Tammy can be competitive (who doesn’t like to win?), but the real fun comes from playing these really big spells.

Timmy wants to experience something. Timmy plays Magic because he enjoys the feeling he gets when he plays. What that feeling is will vary from Timmy to Timmy, but what all Timmies have in common is that they enjoy the visceral experience of playing.

Mark Rosewater

There is some variance within this profile, too! Everyone isn’t a carbon copy of one another. Below are some sub groups:

Power Gamers – They focus on big spells and big critters. Power = fun.

Social Gamers – They just want to play with others. They also know that sometimes playing decks around big effects will win just often enough for everyone to have a turn.

Adrenaline Junkies – They thrive on playing spells with unpredictable effects. Some cards in Magic use coin flips and adrenaline junkies love them!


Johnny/Jenny is the name of the gamer profile that is all about discovery! They love to find interesting interactions between cards and executing those combos within Magic. They love the thrill of “breaking cards” and making cool decks that do super interesting things (even if they lose more often than not).

Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression. Johnny likes to win, but he wants to win with style. It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it’s important to Johnny that he’s using his own deck. Playing Magic is an opportunity for Johnny to show off his creativity.

Mark Rosewater

Johnny’s and Jenny’s aren’t all the same either. Below are some sub groups:

Combo Players – They pore over spoiler lists looking for unique interactions and cool combos. It’s all about the thrill of the hunt.

Designers – Some people just want to build decks that work. They are driven by ideas and challenges

Artists – Deck building, for some people, is all about expressing themselves. Creating interesting themes in decks is an art form for them!

Challenge Seekers – Some people go out of their way to make bad cards into good ones. They accept challenges that are present in the design of a given set and push those limits!


Simply put: Spike wants to win. They aren’t concerned with making their own decks. Instead, they may comb the internet looking for decks that are successful in recent tournaments.

Spike is the competitive player. Spike plays to win. Spike enjoys winning. To accomplish this, Spike will play whatever the best deck is. Spike will copy decks off the Internet. Spike will borrow other players’ decks. To Spike, the thrill of Magic is the adrenaline rush of competition. Spike enjoys the stimulation of outplaying the opponent and the glory of victory.

Mark Rosewater

Innovators – Some players take pride in their ability to look at new cards (or cards they have discovered from the history of Magic) and evaluate them. Are they good? Can they be played in successful decks? These are the questions a Spike will ask themselves the first time they see any Magic card that they discover.

Analysts – Tournaments can have hundreds (if not thousands) of players. They all bring different decks and play styles. Some players love to find decks that will give them the best chance to compete in that environment.

Deck Tuners – Not everyone likes to build their decks from scratch. Tuners love to find popular decks made by other players and tweek them to be better.

Mental Athletes – Some players are less concerned with the deck they are playing and the cards they are using. They spend their efforts being the best player they can. It’s all about being able to do the math, and play each individual situation as best they can.


Mel is an interesting psychographic profile. These are players who are focused on appreciating the design of Magic. They examine cards as they are released and focus on the “why” in every part of the card. They may focus on why a card was in a given color, or why it has a certain creature type.


Vorthos is the name used for the psychographic profile of a player who is all about the story and “flavor” of the game. They appreciate cards that are designed with consistency from their name and color. This profile was coined by Matt Cavotta in his article “Snacktime with Vorthos.” It was further expanded on by Ant Tessitore when he divided Vorthos into five different categories based on how the game makes them feel

The Gamer appreciates top down resonance and in-game flavor.
The Artist appreciates all visual aspects of Magic.
The Writer appreciates all written copy for Magic.
The Oracle appreciates real world to fantasy world blending via things like cosplay.
The Dreamer appreciates anything contributing to the lore of Magic

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know what kind of Magic player you are?

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By Stephen Duetzmann

Editor in Chief Founder/EiC EngagedFamilyGaming.com Blogger, Podcaster, Video Host RE: games that families can play together. Editor@engagedfamilygaming.com

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