I have been fairly open to this lately, but a few years ago, there was a time when I felt very lonely. Most of my working days are spent alone in the dark projection booth above the company auditorium. To spice up my night and force myself to engage in some interpersonal interactions, I started playing Magic: The Gathering at a local game store. I spend a few days there every week, learning how to draft, build decks, and master the jargon and language of the game. Slowly, I blended myself into this group of regular customers, day by day, I didn’t feel so lonely anymore.
While shuffling cards and casting spells on these new acquaintances, I noticed that people share common habits and social archetypes in small corners of my Magic community. Let me tell you how amazing I found the similar characteristics ingrained in the four Scrybe pantheons of Inscryption. Daniel Mullins, the developer of Inscryption, clearly understands card games and their culture. This kind of knowledge is reflected in all aspects of his game, and my favorite is the care and attention to details. Before I go into details, Please note that I will reveal some Inscryption story spoilers from now onIf you don’t mind knowing, I encourage you to come back or stay after finishing the game.
In the first few weeks of honing the game in the sealed and draft tournaments, I was always happy to meet players like Scrybe Leshy, the original Inscryption. He is a formidable veteran who is very enthusiastic about showing skills to new players, but will not prevent you from using his advanced knowledge of the game against you. He was quiet and patient while waiting for the game to start, sometimes tapping his fingers on the table, just like many real-world players would pass the time. If the room is well-lit, I can imagine seeing him flick and shuffle the cards in his hand. As an experienced game veteran, Leshy quickly caught the golden tooth overflowing with damage rewards, and had calculated the required number before hitting the fatal blow. No matter how bad players like Leshy might beat a newcomer, there is always knowledge or nuanced strategies to share after the game.
On the other hand, P03 is a player at the draft table, and he will let anyone who can hear him know what he thinks is a problem with the game. Sitting next to P03 may result in comments on your game, although feedback is not required or necessary. We see this feature in the card form of the robot demon, which was introduced early and trapped in the inferior ferret card. P03 will make sure to let you know if his use is correct in any given round, and will often chip in to verbally criticize your decision. It doesn’t matter whether he is right or wrong, but he does make you re-guess good moves from time to time.
When P03 gains control of Inscryption and inserts you into his dark soul-like online adventure, he keeps pushing and insisting that this version of the game is more impressive than what you have experienced before. However, this omniscient attitude is more common online than in card shops. Although he is annoying and a bit aggressive when showing you the idyllic version of Inscryption, P03 does have good and effective ideas on how the game can be mechanically improved. Like many players, including me, he just needs to find a better way to convey these thoughts and ideas so that others are more likely to listen to and interact with them in a meaningful way.
After the climax event of Inscryption is triggered, you will see the last moments of the three Scrybes. They sit opposite you and enjoy the last round of the game they like to play. Leshy, Grimora, and Magnificus continued to play when parts of the game disappeared, and continued to play even when the proportional score disappeared. Winning is not important at this point. On the contrary, playing any game-like behavior is sufficient. Finally, each Scrybe reached out his hand to show respect and sportsmanship.
Like them, almost every card game player I have seen shows similar respect, not only for the game, but also for those who are willing to join them to play with. This is one of the reasons why I still like to go to my favorite stores and play games myself. Compared with the fun and mutual happiness I share with the people sitting in front of me, the online duel experience with some digital avatars pales in comparison. In the past 18 months, I have sincerely missed these opportunities. I was fortunate enough to play Card Magic several times in the summer, but once again these opportunities became rare. Hopefully, one day soon, we can safely meet regularly and once again enjoy each other’s company and the games we cherish together.