With 25 years of history behind it, an immense library of cards to draw on for deck building, and perhaps one of the most rabidly faithful fanbases in the Trading Card Game industry, it can seem daunting and intense when a new player is first introduced to the world of Magic. What cards in this set are good? What cards are cool but functionally useless in competitive play? What should I do if I don't have the time or finances to compete at my local game store, but just want to be better at playing with my circle of friends?
The Professor, a hapless Adjunct Teacher at the less prestigious (but definitely more safe) Tolarian Community College, produces YouTube videos weekly analyzing the value of new products and sets in Wizards of the Coast's trading card game Magic: The Gathering, the viability of cards in formats like Standard, Modern, Commander and Pauper, Lore Analysis videos diving into the stories told through Magic's cards, editorial videos discussing what should and should not happen in future Magic sets, and sketch comedy interviewing Cosplayers of famous Planeswalkers in character.
This web series provides examples of:
- Acceptable Hobby Targets: The Professor has made a few tongue-in-cheek jabs at Hearthstone for being a kind of all-flash, no substance version of Magic. As he points out, Hearthstone players can only gather at tournaments and on Twitch. Magic players mostly gather at local game stores- in person.
- Accidental Misnaming: Gideon just rolled with it. The Professor just can't let this go.
- Back from the Dead: Let's see, the Prof's been eaten by a dinosaur, sent back in time to the exact moment an explosion occurred, and has been zombified by Liliana, and yet he's always fine in the next episode.
- Big "NO!": During Prof's Ixalan reveal of his exclusive preview card for Ixalan, he's unceremoniously interrupted by Wizards of the Coast telling him that his preview card leaked to the public. The Professor doesn't take it well.
- Butt-Monkey: Tibalt. Every reference to this Planeswalker in the series sees him derided as useless and stupid addition to the card game and lore of Magic in the Professor's eyes.
- Disappointed in You:
- While the Professor had high hopes for the new Magic literature War of the Spark: Ravnica ushering in a new age of fiction for the game line, his review of the book quickly fell to this trope. The smart writing from the Ixalan short stories was gone, replaced with a tired disappointment and he promptly gave the book a D rating.
- The sequel novel Forsaken fared even worse, earning an F in his grade book for inconsistent character voices, absurdly short chapters, canon-shattering powers being glossed over, and accusations of biphobic erasure of the Chandra and Nissa romance plot.
- Evil, Inc.: Ludevic Laboratories, the company featured in the Professor's video showcasing his exclusive Shadows Over Innistrad preview card, Prized Amalgam. The video is chock full of dressed up corporate speech nonsense meant to earn good PR when the company exists solely to create monsters that consume the living.
- Evil Is Petty: For the ultimate conclusion to Magic's past 10 years of story narrative, Wizards of the Coast sent the Professor a preview card to show his audience After building himself up on camera about all the wonderful possible cards he could be sent- he gets a junk common that wouldn't even be played in Pauper tournaments. The Wizards team is soon inundated with prank anchovies pizzas, postings of irritating YouTube videos about the people who chose the preview card, notices that someone has registered websites that Wizards might use in the future, Twitter messages directing readers to break a Magic product survey, and are generally driven up the wall by the Professor - until they finally give him an Uncommon preview card.
- Expy: Gideon is one of He-Man, although he denies it. The Professor calls him out on it- and his Sudden Name Change when one person had a problem pronouncing "Kytheon."Gideon: "Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I challenged Erebos, the God of the Dead, by throwing forth the Spear of Heliod and saying..."Professor: *snaps fingers* "This sounds a lot like the intro to He-Man."
Gideon: *offended* "What, I don't, NO! I became Gideon, the most powerful man in the Multiverse! Together we defend Zendikar from the evil forces of the Eldrazi."
Professor: "That is the intro to He-Man. You should strive to be more complex than He-Man."
Gideon: "I'm not He-Man!"
Professor: "Skeletor is attacking the castle. He has kidnapped the Sorceress."
- And later...
Gideon: "By the Power of Grayskull, he must be stopped!"
Professor: *pointing and smirking* "Ah!"
* meaningful exchange of glances*
Professor: "So like I said, more complex than He-Man."
- Extranormal Institute: It's a university full of Planeswalkers. Still less strange than Tolaria East and West!
- F--: A grade that has been given out to the worst of the worst Magic products for sale. While The Professor is unafraid to praise quality MTG products, he's also keen to call out Wizards of the Coast or products made by/for the Magic Community that seem to be nothing more than quick cash grabs. The critiques alongside his grades are helpful in understanding what went wrong - or right - with this product and why a purchaser should steer clear or invest.
- Functional Addict: Jhoira comes off as one while describing her methods and suggestions for defeating Nicol Bolas. Giant robots, super-soldier slave races, and time water...The Professor: "I'm sorry, did you say 'Time Water'?"
Jhoira: "Yeah, you just drink a bunch of it and you find yourself in the future. I drink Time Water like crazy!"
The Professor: *Sniffs at an offered bottle and recoils* "This is vodka."
- Honest Advisor: The Professor is never afraid to criticize Wizards of the Coast, even if it means getting in their bad side. He isnt a contrarian he will give credit where credit is due but he is always honest.
- Inflation Negation: Magic is notorious for professionally competitive decks costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and the Professor often advocates for reprints of powerful cards to help drive down prices and allow new players enter the game. Until that happens, he continues to advocate for Pauper as a legitimate Magic format.
- Hipster: Nahiri in all of her pretentiousness.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Played for Laughs with Jace and his mind-manipulation. When he attempts to wipe the Professor's memory of what just happened, instead he wipes his own memory. TWICE.
- I Got a Rock:
- During every set launch the Professor plays The Booster Box Game, opening 36 Booster packs while trying to get cards worth $100- enough to buy another box and repeat the Game until he can't. The game inevitably ends with a dud box- which Prof uses to illustrate that buying Singles at your local game store is the best way to build a deck.
- Kaladesh subverted this trope, with Prof pulling not one but TWO Masterpiece cards. And the other cards in those boxes were worth enough that he got to keep BOTH of the Masterpieces. For context, there is a 1-144 chance opening a Masterpiece. Roughly one booster box in four has one Masterpiece and each is worth enough for an entire box all on its own.
- The Rivals of Ixalan Booster Box Game was spiced up with Stock Footage from dinosaur/pirate movies when Prof found Memetic Mutation cards from the set. When opening Zacama, Primal Calamity, a literal three-headed godzilla-sized T-Rex, we're treated to Jeff Goldblum's line from Jurassic Park: "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could they never stopped to think about if they should." The Junk Rare Captain's Hook is featured with the Neverland Pirates chanting "Hook! Hook! Hook!"
- Dominaria beat this trope into the ground, with Prof opening a whopping FOUR whole booster boxes before the fifth was a dud.
- Mundane Utility: Averted. Jace cannot, for the life of him, manage to use his mind magic to get out of the Professor chewing him out. The best he can do is simply keep resetting the meeting.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: The Professor is quite proud of the achievements of most of his students.The Professor: "Jace, Chandra, Gideon, Liliana, and the other one. (It's Nissa.)
- Offing the Annoyance: Many Tolarian Community College students attempt this on the Professor. It never sticks.
- Pelts of the Barbarian: Subverted and played straight when the Gruul clan pays a visit to the Professor's office (and deliver his preview card for Ravnica Allegiance. Their representative is a softspoken, snappily dressed lawyer who breaks into negotiations settling a legal dispute- either via mandatory sensitivity training or a Duel to the Death with either of his associates- muscular and bloodthirsty Gruul warriors wearing the stereotypical pelts and warpaint.
- Stable Time Loop: ... of a sort. In Office Hours: Jace Beleren, the aforementioned mind mage has reset the meeting at least once, with it playing out exactly as it did before.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The Professor accuses Chandra of being one to Jaya Ballard.
- They Killed Kenny Again: The Professor's students have the unfortunate habit of killing him over and over again. Luckily, it never quite sticks.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Professor sometimes makes some terrible mistakes during the videos. He doesn't wear the neck armor during a battle, causing himself to get killed by an arrow in his neck, He gives Jhoira the time of the explosion in his office right after insulting her, perfectly aware of her abilities, and makes a deal with Liliana right after discussing her attitude towards deals.
- "Untitled" Title: The channel features a podcast named Untitled Magic: The Gathering Podcast.
- Writers Suck: Well, Poets Suck. The Professor lets his... frustrations with the ambition of one Huatli, Warrior Poet vent during one of his sketch comedy videos.The Professor: "So you're a Planeswalker, a being capable of traversing all of existence, of shaping entire worlds to your whim and desire. And you would like a letter of recommendation. From me. Why?"
Huatli: "I would like to get a PhD in Poetry..."
The Professor: "You realize there is only one job available to someone with a degree in Poetry and that is teaching poetry. It's going to cost you $100,000 to get your PHD. And the starting pay for an Adjunct Professor is comparable to the night manager at a Marriot Hotel."
- Wacky College: Subverted and played straight. The "Lore" behind Tolarian Community College revolves around the fact that, while Urza's schools of Tolaria East and Tolaria West might be more memorable or prestigious in Magic as wizard schools, The Professor likes to note that his students don't regularly get killed in freak experiments. Played straight in that the students of school are a little less than... normal.The Professor: "Look, Big G, why are you here?"
Garruk: "Because Captain Fluffy crapped on your ceiling?"
The Professor: "No, why are you at Tolarian Community College?"
Garruk: "Football Scholarship!"