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Five Questions – Calvin Russell

As I was flying home from Grand Prix: Las Vegas 2015 I decided to find a new podcast to listen to. I already listened to Brainstorm Brewery, Monday Night Magic, Rivals’ Duel, and Pitt Imps but wanted something new. So, since my playgroup was pretty heavy into Commander (Magic: The Gathering format), I decided to give Commandercast a shot. I was pretty much hooked. We reached out to co-host Calvin Russell to be a subject of Five Questions. Thankfully he obliged.

To find out more about Calvin, you can find him on Twitter You can also check out the latest Commandercast podcast as well as the rest of the Commandercast community here. To support the show, head over to their Patreon account.

  1. Obviously, you enjoy playing Commander. What other games do you enjoy playing?CAM00598-1

Magic: the Gathering has always been one of my favorite games. Outside of Commander and a Prerelease/FNM here and there, you can find me playing a variety of phone games like Solitaire, Plants vs Zombies, Click Heroes, or some other random game I’ve heard of from a friend. Other than that I like RPG games like Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, and games where I can make my own character and play alone. I’ve also been known to play the Batman Arkham series for X-Box. Not that I have a problem with online gaming, I just like to be able to play when I want without needing to wait for other people to be available.

  1. The internet can be a hate filled place. How do you deal with the haters and the trolls on the internet?

Haters? Hahaha. That’s cute. But seriously, I really don’t pay them any mind most of the time. The only people I give time to are people who fit into at least one of three spots.

A. Fans who just want to say hey. These people are the main reason I do the show. They enjoy the product and just wanted to let us know they like it. Sometimes it’s something as simple as just saying thank you for helping them have something to listen to while they go to or from work or school. Sometimes it can go a little deeper as, sometimes, we talk about some deep issues on the show. We may start the show talking about something Magic based like Tilting (the effect that happens when a player goes on a losing streak and how it alters their mind state) but end up in a deeper conversation about depression. I have received emails from listeners talking about how depression in their lives was something they felt no one else understood and how hearing me talk about my own bouts with it made them feel better and not so lonely. If that’s not a reason to keep doing what I do, I don’t know what is.

B. People who like the show and want to make it better. Everyone has an opinion. These are the people who listen to the show, likes what they hear, but feels like it could be better. They tell me when the music is too loud and the conversations are too low. Is there a way to balance them out more? This topic was a little short, can you get *insert name* on the show because he/she is a well-known community member that loves this topic? Things like this are always welcomed. If you have an idea or a request for the show, I will try my best to make it a part of the show. I don’t promise it will happen as somethings are out of my hands. Some audio problems I can’t fix, some guests I can’t get, some topics go into the file for future shows but we never find the right time to talk about them. But I do try my best.

C. People who don’t like what they hear, but can actually tell you what or why. Saying the show sucks is fine. But if you can’t say why like the people in point 2 did, then I can only roll my eyes and scroll on. But if you can say why you don’t like the show, now we can see what can be done. Just know somethings are not going to change. William is the host, I’m the co-host and editor, we have a segmental format that we stick to. We can’t bring back people who don’t want to be back, we don’t plan on stopping the show, and William and I will be around the show for the foreseeable future. Asking one of us to leave the show is cute but won’t happen anytime soon. Asking us to talk least might work as long as it’s with context. As in did we talk over a guest too much, ok we’ll try to bring it back a bit.

Any other haters or trolls, we hand over to Nole and he takes them out back of CommanderCast Studios. What happens after that I don’t ask.

  1. How did you get involved in Magic podcasting?

For any of the long time listeners of CommanderCast, way back in the day when the OG Crew ran the place, we had a type of show known as the Call-Inferno. Basically, it was two host and a group of around 9 people from the community. Everyone from the community group had to have a topic they wanted to discuss, would be given about 20 minutes(10 to do their topic and 10 to jump in on the next topic), and it would be turned into an episode to be aired at a later date. I was a podcast listener and submitted a topic to Andy. My first time on a podcast was one of these episodes. If you want to hear it here’s a link.

After that show, I started doing a blog page about Commander, ThreeToTheFace.blogspot.com , where I basically made articles about deck construction. Andy got wind of my blog and I became a guest on the show a few times after that. My guest spot on the show lead to me doing a show with two other frequent guests, Christian Renoe and Cassidy Silver, called OffColorCast. It was basically CommanderCast’s rude little brother show. After awhile, Andy choose to leave the site and gave CommanderCast to William. William had me on as a guest a few times and eventually I became the editor and co-host.

  1. The Magic content providers community seems to be a fairly tight knit group. Do you often get to be a guest on different shows?

I have been on other shows, but I have a personal restriction where I only go on shows that I feel I can contribute to. I don’t play enough Limited or Vintage, so I will not go on any shows about those formats. Now if I started playing those formats where I feel like I would be able to actually contribute to a draw out conversation about them, I would be will to do them. A good example of this is a recent episode of Monday Night Magic where I was on because of a recent announcement on Commander. Normally I would not be on that show as they discuss tournaments and I don’t play enough Standard to feel like I could discuss the decks or the format changes.

Shows I have been on are Commander, Casual, and Lore based. I am willing to do any podcast as long as the host lets me know what they plan to do so I can figure out if I can have something to contribute. I’ve been on MNM, The Mana Pool, Show of War and Peace, CommanderCast, 6-Pack Set Review, OffColorCast, and few others. Normally people contact me to talk about playing Red, playing aggressively, or Commander.

  1. If you had to choose a single Commander to play for a month, you’re not allowed to play any others, what Commander would you choose and why?

That’s easy. I would go with my first true love. My flaming-haired muse, Ashling the Pilgrim. I would choose her because I could play her with basically any restrictions a question like this would have. Am I not allowed to play other legendary creatures in my deck? Ok. Does the deck have an artifact restriction or I can’t play eldrazi? Ok. I’ve played Ashling with redzonenothing but 99 mountains, all red cards, only burn spells, only equipment, and a variety of other styles. She’s always been my favorite and always will be.


© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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