‘Spellslingers’ is Good, But Not Magical
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At a particularly dark point in human history, we all collectively bought in on the idea that watching pasty dudes playing Texas Hold’em was the coolest. Before you or I could say “double down on that deuce” or whatever, The World Series of Poker was invading our TV screens in all of its chip-stacking, mouth-breathing glory.
Yet as bad as that sounds, watching professional poker was oddly compelling. Poker promised us a better life, a place where you or I could make a living from gambling. Sure, it put most of us in a debt-filled hell, but dammit if the ride there wasn’t a blast.
Nationally televised poker opened the door for the equally boring-sounding, yet strangely entertaining, table sports. Before we knew it, pool and table tennis were hotter than some kind of really lame inferno (maybe a library on fire?). Which brings us to the present: Table sports are slightly less popular, most of them suck, but some are pretty okay.
Enter “Spellslingers,” the latest web series from web bon vivant Felicia Day’s YouTube network Geek & Sundry. The show’s premise is simple: Sean Plott of Day9TV fame plays “Magic: The Gathering” with his friends who dominate their own corner of popular geek culture. Plott has competed against pro e-sports players and JPL engineers in the brutal arena that is “MTG.”
I know what you’re thinking: “Christ, that sounds boring.” But here’s the thing, “Spellslingers,” much like its precursor — professional poker — is actually really entertaining. Plott is charming and his guests, although maybe not as camera-comfortable, are generally interesting. In your day-to-day life how often do you get to see NASA engineers talk about merfolk? Not often, I’m guessing.
The series does a really terrific job of laying out how “MTG” is played for those of us unfamiliar with dreadknights, dreadnoughts, dragons, and dwarves. The beauty of “Spellslingers”resides in its simplicity. The show does not break from Plott and his guest, but instead films their game like any other pro-sports match.
“Spellslingers” won’t excite anyone disinterested in geek culture as a whole. But if that’s the case, what the hell are you doing at a channel called Geek &Sundry? At the end of the day, “Spellslingers” is built for exactly the audience you would expect it to be, and there’s nothing wrong with that.