MTGStocks Interviews: Rachel Agnes

19 May
by Jeremy Lichtenberger

Listen to the full interview below. Visit Rachel: On Twitch Baetog_, on Twitter Baetog_, and on Facebook I'm Rachel Agnes.

Jeremy: Hi, I'm Jeremy with MTGStocks and I'm here with Rachel Agnes: VSL superstar, streamer, Magic enthusiast and basically celebrity. How are you doing?

Rachel: Thank you, I'm doing great! Thank you for having me. I'm such a huge fan of MTGStocks, and actually visit your website every day to see the biggest market movers.

Jeremy: Can you give us a brief introduction? How long have you been into Magic and how did you start?

Rachel: I started playing competitively, and I use the term pretty loosely, around original Innistrad. You know, the best set ever! I had learned to play before that, but it was just with friends. A bunch of my friends were sitting down playing and they got me to sit down and play with them. They were actually playing Stoneforge Mystic, Batterskull, that's actually the first Magic I ever played. That's why I have those kinds of tastes and I just fell in love with the game.

Jeremy: I guess that could explain how you got into Vintage. If you start with those cards, everything else seems mediocre.

Rachel: Yeah, and one of my favorite things to do is Cube, so you get this taste for games that are absolutely insane.

Jeremy:: What do you do for a day job?

Rachel: I'm currently a full-time grad student, I'm getting my Masters (MBA), so I'm doing that full-time. I also have a very boring job in a bank, plus I write some articles on the side.

Jeremy: The thing I'm most curious about is, you're very active on all forms of social media, so how do you balance all of that with school and a job?

Rachel: I guess I'm the type of person that's always on the go, so I always have to be doing something. To be 100% honest with you, every waking moment that isn't at school or work, I spend interacting with Magic. Playing games, watching matches, talking to people about Magic, posting about Magic...basically all my free time is dedicated to Magic.

Jeremy: I guess to be the best, you have to be consumed by it. I've always had this thing in my brain where I always want to build decks. I think about it all the time.

Rachel: That's the one area of Magic I'm not good at. I can tweak decks and make small decisions with other people's decks, and I can make my own Commander decks, but they are so bad. They end up being good stuff decks with no synergy.

Jeremy: That's kind of the trap people fall into. When you put the best cards in your deck, they all become the same. Like Solemn Simulacrum. I've never, ever cast one.

Rachel: Gasp Oh my gosh. I have to show you the way!

Jeremy: What are your future plans as far as blending Magic, school and your career?

Rachel: In a perfect world, I'd love to do Magic in some capacity as my job. I would love to work at Wizards of the Coast, that would be my ultimate future goal. Magic will be a part of my life in some type of capacity no matter what though.

Jeremy: How did you get involved with the Vintage Super League?

Rachel: I like playing Vintage, I post a lot about Vintage, and have always wanted to be on VSL. I love the people involved in it and the whole feel of it. I started a Vintage article series where I would talk about my thoughts and favorite things in Vintage. I titled it "The Road to VSL" because I wanted to get better at Vintage, and even get to the point where I could compete with these players. They saw the article and liked the content, so I earned a spot in the play in. I played my trusty Mentor deck and I was able to sneak in.

Jeremy: You had an AMAZING play to secure your spot! (Link to play here.)

Rachel: I was so nervous when I made that play.

Jeremy: Like in paper, first strike damage doesn't come into play that often, so it's an insane line.

Jeremy: How does Gush and Gitaxian Probe being restricted affect you?

Rachel: I actually wrote an article before the list came out saying that I thought Probe and Gush should be restricted. I think they are good choices. We had to know Gush was coming. Some think Monastery Mentor is the real problem, but I have been arguing that Gush was the real problem. Mentor is still very, very good, and we will see it a lot, but I don't think it will be as dominating. The free draw spell is kind of what sent it over the edge. We will have to wait until we see a large event to see what the meta will look like.

Jeremy: As far as Vintage goes, from what I've seen, it feels like Vintage is separated from the rest of Magic. Do you get that same feeling?

Rachel: I think Vintage is small, compared to the other communities of Magic. It's tight knit and I've met some of the nicest players in the world through Vintage. Super nice, just want to play Magic. It has a small town feel verses something like Standard that would be a large city. Sometimes there can be an insider/outside dynamic with people that play/don't play Vintage.

Jeremy: I've often compared it to a small town verses a city. Where a small town wants to grow, but not grow super-fast.

Rachel: There are amazing and awesome people like Randy Buehler that want to spread and grow the game. At the same time, the bigger a community gets, you're scared of it becoming so large that it stops looking like what it originally looked like.

Jeremy: I guess that sort of leads to the elephant in the room. The reserved list. It's kind of the barrier between most people and Vintage.

Rachel: I think what is very nice about Vintage, and I promise I will talk about the reserved list, is it is played a lot online. It's very affordable compared to paper and you can play so many more games because in paper you're limited to who plays around you. Where I live, there are very few Vintage players, so I play mainly online. Some events allow a certain number of proxies, and the majority of Vintage players don't care about proxies. I don't want to speak for everyone, but what I've seen is that people just want to play, as long as your proxies are readable. Sometimes Vintage can feel unobtainable, but it's really not and totally worth the effort.

Jeremy: I feel like people should go through a trial of fire of the sorts before they are allowed to play Vintage.

Rachel: You probably don't want Vintage being the first format someone plays.

Jeremy: At a minimum they should play Legacy first.

Rachel: Back to the reserved list, but I wanted to go on that side note because I wish more people could feel that Vintage is obtainable. The reserved list is such a hotly debated topic. People like to talk about if it was or was not a good idea, but I don't really like to talk about what could have happened, because this is what we have. The reserved list here and it's been here for 20+ years, so that's the knowledge that we are operating under. The important thing to remember is that Magic's success can be attributed to its very strong secondary market. In many ways, the secondary market has been propped up and promised to us via the reserved list. What's important to realize is that this is a promise that they renew each year they don't reprint the reserved list. To break that type of consumer would destroy the secondary market. It's more important to talk about what we know to be true than 'what ifs.'

Jeremy: From my perspective, as I don't have large quantities of reserved list cards, like with Eternal Masters, it seemed to me that interest was high, but fell off quickly. I think that if for some reason they ever reprinted the reserved list, the consumption of reserved list cards wouldn't meet the same level of outcry for the reserved list to be abolished.

Rachel: From a business perspective, it's a good investment. While it is a more expensive upfront cost, your cards will always retain their value. There's basically a room for everyone. If you want to invest in a new Standard deck every rotation, that's fine. That's what unique about Magic.

Jeremy: You would consider yourself a primary Vintage player?

Rachel: It's hard for me to consider myself a primary anything. I play a lot of Vintage, I play a good amount of Legacy. I also like Modern, but my absolute favorite thing in the world is cube. Oh, and I play Commander a lot too!

Jeremy: So how much attention do you pay during spoiler season?

Rachel: I pay a lot of attention to spoiler season, it's like Christmas for me. It's not often that something will come and be insane in Vintage, but mainly I look for new cube cards. There are so many cards that fit in my cubes, and I try to maintain several cubes, plus a battle box as well.

Jeremy: It's kind of hard for Wizards to sneak cards into Legacy or Vintage.

Rachel: Vintage is so insane, that usually new cards don't affect it that much. Obviously that's not always the case, but it's a pretty resilient format.

Jeremy: Fatal Push is the perfect example of a card that 'bypassed' Standard and just gets better the deeper in the format you go.

Rachel: That card is an awesome card! It's rare to find things like Fatal Push in Standard that you know will have a huge impact in other formats. It's very exciting, because we don't get cards like that very often.

Jeremy: Another thing I had a question about was the types of barriers you had or have as a woman in the Magic community? I mean, it's primarily a male community, so I was curious about barriers you've experienced.

Rachel: I have to say that I've been very lucky. The people that taught me Magic were amazing and the majority of people I've encountered have been amazing. The community has a ton of great members, and in a lot of ways it's better than a lot of other communities I've been in. However, there definitely are barriers for women in Magic. I feel that I can say that with certainty. My entire life revolves around Magic, but the number one thing that I deal with because I'm a woman is people assume I don't know what I'm talking about. Not just in basic conversations, but when people ask my opinions about a card, or prices...they second guess me in a way I think they wouldn't second guess other people. In a lot of cases, people don't even realize they are doing it.

Jeremy:: It seems like, from what I've seen, that women kind of have to do double just to prove they are equal. That's just something I've seen in my own experiences. I can see from your perspective where you might feel that you have to go above and beyond just to prove you know what you're talking about.

Rachel: Exactly. You really have to prove yourself. I would vend at GP's and people would be surprised that I knew the prices of cards and things like that. Sometimes even after I prove myself it still doesn't matter. I try as hard as I can to be humble. I feel like I become a representation of girls. Like, if I do well, girls do well, and if I do poorly, I make a bad name for girls in Magic. It's really hard for me to carry because I don't want to feel like I let anyone down. On VSL someone said that their daughter was waving to me and saying good night and happy to see me. That meant so much to me because I feel that it's important for Magic to have women in places where young girls and boys can see them and see that they are a part of the community. What I'm saying is that when I do poorly, I don't want to feel like I'm hurting that path for them to get to where I am.

Jeremy: Well honestly, you can turn that into a positive. People will look to you at how you react to failure and that's a good opportunity to be humble.

Jeremy: 1v1 Commander has finally come to MTGO. It feels like Vintage/Legacy to me. Do you have any plans on playing it?

Rachel: Yes! I am so excited for it! I think it was so cool and unique that they did it. It feels much more like Legacy/Vintage than casual Commander. This is the first time on MTGO that you can play on demand Commander games for prizes. People are not playing around with their decks. Even if you go to the tournament practice rooms, you will get destroyed.

Jeremy: I've played in four leagues so far, and it's very hard to resist the salt playing some of the decks.

Rachel: I don't know what it is about Commander. I'm not really salty in any other format, but Commander makes me so salty.

Jeremy: It's actually quite ironic, as you just wrote an article about Magic art, but do you have a favorite Magic art or artist?

Rachel: I actually own original Magic art, and I'm up to seven pieces now, so I don't want to pick the ones I own. Other than that, I love Larry MacDougall, Rebecca Guay and Terese Nielsen. Some of my favorite arts are: Surgical Extraction and Tundra. Oh, and Gilder Bairn. So cute! In general, I favor Lorwyn and Kamigawa art. I also love flavor text!

Jeremy: This is so unplanned, but do you have a favorite flavor text?

Rachel: Ishi-Ishi, Akki Crackshot. "Here fell Ishi-Ishi, King of the Flaming Pebbles, Scourge of the Mountain Kami, Lover of Goats. May his shell never burn." It is the cutest flavor text in the world.

Jeremy: My favorite is from 10th edition Manabarbs. "I don't know why people say a double-edged sword is bad. It's a sword. With two edges."

Jeremy: For this next question, I have some speculation, so we'll see how correct I am. What is your favorite legendary creature?

Rachel: This is a hard one for me, but I had to go with the number one. The queen. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Atraxa was a close one. All hail Phyrexia! What's your favorite Commander?

Jeremy: I guess the more I've thought about it, the more it's always been, well since he was printed, Surrak Dragonclaw. I love beating face with creatures, it's what I do.

Rachel: Narset, Enlightened Master is probably mine.

Jeremy: I'm learning so much about you just based off of your card selections! So if people want to get ahold of you or support you, how can they reach you?

Rachel: On Twitch Baetog_, on Twitter I'm also Baetog_, and on Facebook I'm Rachel Agnes. I also write for Kurwans game and MTGprice.

Jeremy: Thank you for your time Rachel!

Rachel: Thank you for having me!

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