Player type

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A "player type" refers to the player profiles that Wizards of the Coast has detected. There are two classifications:

  • The "aesthetic profile" is an "appreciating profile" (of a Magic: The Gathering player) that explores what players enjoy of the game (why players find it beautiful).

Psychographic profile[edit | edit source]

Invention[edit | edit source] columnist and Head Designer Mark Rosewater originally wrote of psychographic profiles:

After numerous years, we've come to the conclusion that there are three basic types of Magic players. The fancy term for these categories is "psychographic profiles." A psychographic profile separates players into categories based on their psychological make-up. What motivates that player to play? What kind of cards do they like? What kind of things encourages that player to keep on playing?[1]

Later in August 2015 he wrote:

The point of a psychographic is to try to understand the psychological motivation behind why a person enjoys what they enjoy. It's not about the "what", but the "why". Now, this can get confusing, because when I talk about design, I focus on the "what".[2]

Expansions are designed with cards that appeal to players of all profiles, and Wizards of the Coast categorizes its Magic consumers into three psychographic profiles: Johnny, Timmy, and Spike. Mark Rosewater gave an incomplete list of subgroups of these three profiles.[3]

In March 2015, Rosewater decided to create female versions to list along with the male versions to convey that these psychographic profiles apply to everyone.[4] Thus, Jenny and Tammy came into use. Rosewater considered Spike (being a nickname).

Types[edit | edit source]

(for the rest of this page just add “or she” whenever you see “he”, and "or her" whenever you see "his")

Timmy/Tammy[edit | edit source]

A Timmy is characterized by his tendency to use big creatures and cast big spells. Large, exciting plays motivate Timmy. Timmy is most associated with playing for fun, and all kinds of huge creatures, fantastic spells, and mythical enchantments. He is the most social archetype, enjoying the interaction that Magic provides. A stereotypical Timmy is usually a younger player with a simple (yet fun for him) deck. Timmy does not care whether he wins or loses, he simply wants to have fun playing really big effects. [5] [6] [7]

Mark Rosewater wrote of Timmy:

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.

The 'Timmy/Tammy' profile was represented in the Unglued card Timmy, Power Gamer.

Some subgroups of Timmies are:[3]

  • Power Gamer loves playing big creatures and big spells as he smashes his way to victory. He equates power with fun.
  • Social Gamer thrives on the social aspect of the game. His only interest is interacting with his friends. Thus, he tends towards multiplayer variants.
  • Diversity Gamer experiences all the different deck types and formats. He always tries something different because is in constant exploration.
  • Adrenalin Gamer joys the variance in the game, playing cards and decks that don't have a predictable outcome. He loves cards that work differently each time you play them like coin flip cards.

Timmies see Johnnies as too focused on certain combos and Spikes too bent on winning.

Johnny/Jenny[edit | edit source]

A Johnny is characterized by his tendency to build complex and creative decks. Johnny is most commonly known as a 'combo player', and he sometimes choose for elaborate but ineffective win conditions. He likes to find interesting combinations of cards that can win the game or give him an advantage. Johnny may be a player who seeks niche cards, or cards widely reputed as bad, and tries to "break" them, exploiting them in ways to give abnormal power and win the game. Johnny is happiest when his decks work and he wins his way; for him, one in many leaves him happy, if that win is on his own terms. [8] [9]

Mark Rosewater wrote of Johnny:

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.

The 'Johnny/Jenny' profile was represented in the Unhinged card Johnny, Combo Player.

Some subgroups of Johnnies are:[3]

  • Combo Player is fascinated by the interaction of the cards. He finds combinations that no one else has. He wants to build a deck that will impress all who see it.
  • Offbeat Designer is driven by ideas. He is proving his ability to find answers for any challenge. What if the deck only had lands? What if the deck never played permanents?
  • Deck Artist tries to use deck building as a form of self-expressive art. He build decks that do things like embody the elf culture, for example.
  • Uber Johnny thrives on doing the undoable. He proves that what conventional wisdom says can't be done, can be done. To him, no card is too bad to find a use for like One with Nothing.

Johnnies see Timmies as simplistic and Spikes as uptight and unoriginal.

Spike[edit | edit source]

For the Spike creature type, see Spikes.

A Spike is characterized by his competitive nature and he plays primarily to prove how good he is. He will find the best deck in the format, even if it requires copying another innovator's work (see netdecking). Spike's cards are effective, designed to secure a fast and effective victory over opponents. If Spike plays several games and loses only one, but feels he should have won it, he may be malcontent.[10] [11]

Mark Rosewater wrote of Spike:

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.

Some subgroups of Spikes are:[3]

  • Innovator prides himself on his ability to judge new cards. His goal is to find the next broken thing. His dream is to spawn the next dominant deck.
  • Tuner tries to dominate by fine-tuning the known decks. Known as min/maxers in the role-playing side of gaming.
  • Analyst plans on winning not by having the best deck in a vacuum, but by having the deck best suited for any particular environment. He is very focused on the sideboard.
  • Nuts & Bolts focuses his energies in perfecting his own gameplay. He tries to understand his own internal flaws and works to improve them. He tends to spend more of his time on Limited formats.

Spikes see Timmies as rookies and Johnnies as eccentric and annoying.

Aesthetic profile[edit | edit source]

Invention[edit | edit source] columnist and Head Designer Mark Rosewater wrote of aesthetic profiles:

The aesthetic profiles represent is how players can find beauty in the game. The label of "Vorthos" or "Mel" simply means you are high enough on the scale that you use the term to self-identify where you find beauty. It is possible to be both a Vorthos and a Mel, or to be neither. Also, being a Vorthos and/or a Mel doesn't necessarily impact your psychographic, because each one can be applied alongside the aesthetic scale.[2]

Expansions are designed with cards that appeal to players of all profiles, and Wizards of the Coast categorizes its Magic consumers into two aesthetic profiles: Melvin and Vorthos.[12]

In March 2015, Rosewater decided to create female versions to list along with the male versions to convey that these aesthetic profiles apply to everyone.[4] Rosewater considered Vorthos (as it's made up) to be unisex. In August 2015, Rosewater decided that Mel would be the nickname for both Melvin and Melanie, and he just proposed to only use Mel from that moment.[2]

Types[edit | edit source]

Mel (Melvin/Melanie)[edit | edit source]

Mel is the "mechanic player", someone focused on the craft of Design & Development. A Mel is characterized for appreciating cards with delicate and interesting interactions, as well as strong mechanics. A Mel appreciates that there are many different elements that have to come together to make a Magic card function structurally, from the color pie to the mana system to the rules to the templating to the mechanical needs of the set. [13] [2]

Examples of cards that a Mel might like include Firemaw Kavu and Stuffy Doll from the Time Spiral expansion and Hangarback Walker from Magic Origins.

Vorthos[edit | edit source]

Vorthos is the "flavor player", someone focused on the craft of Creative. A Vorthos is characterized for appreciation cards with flavor and creative consistency. The name, the illustration, the card concept, the subtype (if the card has one), the flavor text—each of these helps paint a picture of what exactly the card is representing. A Vorthos evaluates cards based on these components both in isolation and in conjunction. Vorthos was first envisioned by Matt Cavotta. [14] [15] [16] [17]

Examples of cards that a Vorthos might like include Deicide from Journey into Nyx, Crux of Fate from Fate Reforged and The Great Aurora from Magic Origins.

In 2015 Ant Tessitore wrote an article titled "Vorthos 2015" in which he provided an updated view of how one could consider themselves a Vorthos. In the article Ant divided Vorthoses into five categories based on what the individual appreciates about Magic: the Gathering:

  • 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
An imagining by the Magic Creative Team depicting Vorthos.
An unused conception image of Vorthos.

For the article Ant also commissioned artist Sam Keiser to paint an updated unisex image of Vorthos.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mark Rosewater. (March 11, 2002.) "Timmy, Johnny, and Spike", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mark Rosewater. (August 31, 2015.) "Vorthos and Mel",, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Mark Rosewater. (March 20, 2006.) "Timmy, Johnny, and Spike Revisited", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mark Rosewater. (March 08, 2015.) "The Player Psychographics", Blogatog, Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater. (March 09, 2009.) "Designing For Timmy", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Kelly Digges. (March 10, 2009.) "The Timmy Manifesto", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Tom LaPille. (March 13, 2009.) "The Yang of Timmy", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater. (August 03, 2009.) "Designing For Johnny", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Tom LaPille. (August 21, 2009.) "Johnny Drama", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Mark Rosewater. (November 30, 2009.) "Designing For Spike", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Tom LaPille. (December 11, 2009.) "An Open Letter to Spike", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Mark Rosewater. (May 7, 2007.) "Melvin and Vorthos", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater. (May 21, 2007.) "Design Language", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Matt Cavotta. (August 31, 2005.) "Snack Time with Vorthos", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Matt Cavotta. (August 31, 2006.) "Parlez Vous Vorthos?", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Matt Cavotta. (May 24, 2007.) "Blood Type V", Daily MTG,, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Matt Cavotta. (September 2, 2015.) "A Conversation with Vorthos",, Wizards of the Coast.