Playing with Personality

Expressiveness is a core part of all games, but even more so in TCGs. It’s a realm where we get to express ourselves through the medium of the cards and show our excitement in doing so. Last month, Ben posted his blog on effective and expressive play [1], and it made me think how we, as Gem Blenders, express ourselves through our decks and playstyles?

Back in 2013 Mark Rosewater published a blog post of how they at Magic R&D (Research and Design) place people into three “psychographic profiles”, or types of players, to better understand what people liked about MTG [2]. The three types of players listed were Timmy/Tammy who likes the big powerful stuff, big numbers, Johny/Jenny who likes the intricacies of the game, how different effects come together and interact, and Spike, formerly known as the tournament player, who wants to win and test themselves as a player [2, 3]. Any individual, according to Rosewater, can be somewhat of an overlap between two of those types but rarely all three. MTG tries to design cards with these types in mind to give players the best experience. For more information on the topic, I would refer to the original articles, linked at the bottom of this blog post for your convenience.

It is easy enough to slot someone into one or more of these categories, but what does that really tell us about how they want to express themselves when playing a game of Gem Blenders? I think of myself as a Johny with a bit of Spike. I try to be creative with my decks, testing out cards and combinations of cards that I don’t see other people play. I also have a competitive side to me, but winning with interesting, creative, and nuanced decks takes priority over the current “meta” or traditionally played cards.

Creativity easily manifests itself when playing an indie title like Gem Blenders. It is the reason I was drawn to the game  in the first place. Can I maybe find better ways to describe myself as a Gem Blender? How do my decks express me as a player and showcase what excites me?

My very first deck was an attempt at an aggro deck based around Hornet (back when it had 4 attack, RIP) and supporting it with Capacitor to achieve even higher numbers. I had not yet learned the fundamentals of the game yet, such as not hanging gems [S1] and how long a game can really be due to the three-time 20 (or 25 back then) health rounds. It was still a worthy attempt at an aggro strategy. To set it up I utilised a combination of Hickory and Mark to search for the 2 LV2 blends out I needed, Usher for more gems, Pixel for shuffling blends back into my deck (an old effect) and Data Cipher. The deck was, as could be expected, inconsistent and inefficient and was soon retired.

The concept of the deck was however independently picked up again last year to build one of the strongest, if not the strongest, decks in the set 1 format with Capacitor Aggro [4]. A deck based around attacking with Hornet and Capacitor, as in first deck, but instead of trying to surge out gems, it utilized the gem efficiency of Jubilee, and instead of trying to recover blends it utilizes a variety of LV3 attackers to edge out the damage focusing on winning round 1 and round 2 before the opponent can scale-up and out damage it.

What drew me to this deck was the consistency of it with an almost perfect setup probability. It spoke to my need to be in control of the game, or at least my own options in the game. It had tempo, allowing me to do attack in the early game instead of delaying for multiple turns building towards a big blend. It allowed me to engage with the opponent and  force them to speed up to keep up my medium but unrelenting attackers.

Before revisiting Capacitor Aggro I had experimented with a number of ramp decks, trying to cheat out high level blends on turn 1 or 2 to put my opponent on their heels. There is something exciting about “cheating the game”, doing things that traditional gameplay (one gem a turn, gradual ramp for example) would not let you do, and cementing fear into others. The original variants utilized either Usher and Claire for massive gems drops on turn one and two, or Reflector and Claire [5, 6]. The decks took a lot of engineering to achieve consistency and let to the reliance on hero effects (specifically, Francisco with Palmer and Fatima with Fiona & Isabel to grab the gems and blends needed while also adding in Beth to combat the issue of having a lot of low level heroes). These variants have since been nerfed and made unplayable but the concept still lives on with lots of surges and other actions.

Much of what attracted me to the decks was the aspects of optimization, meaning the hero engines that would make it run, but also the deck composition and the more unusual deck and hero choices. This high  emphasis on gems that has become almost a marker of identification for an “Oarmfan” deck. What I like about these decks were the tempo of them and not only being able to express my knowledge of the card database, but also pilot these cards during the game to succeed. Finally, I like that these decks were able to accomplish so much so fast in the early game.

In contrast to the typical, fast-paced “Oarmfan deck” I have, however, left one deck out: Glitz-Blaster. It is one of the most boring decks I have ever created, but I need to mention it as it won me my first spot in the Gem Blender’s Hall of fame. The deck centered around healing with Glitz Energizer, moving gems around with Francisco to activate the healing, double it with Battery, and then in the mid-to-late game turn it into damage with Flash Blaster [7]. The deck simply stalled the opponent by healing, and eventually chipped away with enough damage to win the game. Super boring! Yet, it still utilizes cards and options I had not seen other players play to that point..

In the end, I do believe that I try to be rather inventive with my decks, doing exciting things with cards I don’t see other people using. But much more than that, I also see that my decks represent the tempo and efficiency I enjoy playing. They tend to have actions I can take from turn one, whether it be ramping, attacking with low level blends to aggro through round 1, consistency engines such as with Hickory, or Palmer to swap out heroes as I need them. I like decks with a lot of moving parts, so I feel like I am always doing something. I like a focus on consistency so I feel in control of what happens on my end with a lot of answers to what the opponent can potentially do to me, whether it be effects like Drain, Dissolve, Force Switch, etc. I believe these attributes reveal a well-rounded player who is curious with the wealth of different decks available to them. My decks mix my tendency towards thrill seeking aggro strategies with a high focus on consistency engines, high number of gems, and always including cards to answer what the opponent might or might not have up their sleeve. In short, aggressive, but cautious and always planning for an opponent’s countermoves.

But what do you think? What do you see as expressions in my decks that showcase my character as a Gem Blender? What about yourself? How do you see yourself as an expression through the decks you play? And how do you feel like Gem Blenders as a card game caters towards you in particular?


[1] Ben Florence (1. January 2024) “Effective and Expressive Play in Trading Card Games” in The Gemlandian at

[2] Mark Rosewater (3. December 2013) “Timmy, Johny, and Spike” at

[3] Mark Rosewater (8. March 2015) “The Player Psychographics” at

[4] Oarmfan the Feeder (31. May 2023) “Gem Blenders – May Champion Deck – Capacitor Aggro” at

[5] Oarmfan the Feeder (5. February 2022) “Gemblenders – Shenanigans: Claire/Reflector (LV.4 Turn 2)” at

[6] Oarmfan the Feeder (5 February 2022) “Gemblenders – Shenanigans: Claire/Usher (LV.5 turn 2)” at

[7] Oarmfan the Feeder (7. February 2022) “Gemblenders – Deck Showcase: Glitz-Blaster/Blaster Healing (Feat. Hans)” at


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