Pour tout savoir sur Magic the Gathering au Québec

Entrevue Philippe Gareau

Lorsque j'ai débuté ma page Facebook et mon site web, mon but était de souligner ce qui se passe au Québec en terme d'événements et de souligner les belles performances de nos joueurs. Comme notre province est remplie de bons ambassadeurs et de joueurs, je me suis dit pourquoi pas en apprendre davantage. Cela ne pouvait pas mieux tomber que débuter ma série d'entrevues avec notre tout nouveau champion Philippe Gareau. Bien que le nom Philippe Gareau sonne francophone, sa première langue est l'anglais!

1- First of all, congratulations on your first place. It’s already been a few days since you won your place at the World Championship which will take place in September. How are you feeling right now? Do you realize the magnitude of your victory?


It is by far my greatest Magic accomplishment to date. It will be the 4th Pro Tour that I will be attending, but my first Worlds. I really like that they added the Worlds slot for the winners of the Regional Championships because I find it makes them more like Nationals, except 3 times a year. With the removal of Grand Prix, there was a hole that needed to be filled and I find this GP/Nationals Hybrid to be a great fit. The fact that traveling to these events is easier is also a great upside. I just wish if there were some limited RCs at least once a year (I think it could widen the range of attendance).

2- I don’t know your Magic background. Could you elaborate on where you started? It was a long time ago, right?

I have been playing magic for about 25 years now. I was born in Montreal and then moved to the states when I was 5. I originally started at a day camp around the age of 10 in Florida. The councillors had decks and inspired the kids to buy cards. After that, I didn’t play much, since I had no one else to play with.

In 2001, I moved to Quebec City at the age of 13. I had a private French teacher to help me learn French and one of the first things she asked me was “What did you do as hobbies in the States?” I responded with: I used to play magic. She told me about a hobby store (Imaginaire) that was situated at Place Laurier and that they sold magic cards.

My parents took me there and the guy at the counter sold me some packs and told me that they had Magic Tournaments on the weekends and that I should check it out.  I did, and it became the way I would spend my time for the foreseeable future.

3- It’s very rare that people refer to you as «Philippe». Where does the name «Gareau» come from?

When I was first starting out I wasn’t the only Philippe in the group that played Magic, so in order to differentiate the 2 of us, the others would use our last name. Overtime, people would continue to do so since I was just generally referred to as “Gareau” because it was also shorter than my first name. Nowadays, depending on the context, I will just introduce myself as “Gareau” since that’s the name people associate me with and not “Philippe”.

4- What is your favorite format?

I actually have 2 answers to that: Cube and Mental Magic. Nowadays, I find limited Magic to be more “Organic” in terms of “The way Richard Garfield designed it”. Cube lets people participate in games of magic without needing to invest. Also, I find the playing field to be level since everyone has access to the same cards.

In regards to Mental Magic, it is by far the most complicated format a magic player can engage in and that plays to my strengths as a “Magic Boomer”. Having worked in a card store for over 15 years, I know some obscure magic cards and ways to use them in this “No luck, all skill” format.

5- What is your favorite card?

Life from the Loam. I have probably cast that card more than any other Canadian. The things that I like about it:

  • It can be played over and over
  • It generates card advantage
  • It fixes your mana/land drops
  • It’s essentially uncountable due to dredge
  • It’s cheap to cast
  • It doesn’t require to be drawn to be played
  • It creates engines of its own
  • It’s self sufficient
  • It enables graveyard strategies
  • And it synergies with Fetchlands and Cycling Lands or Strip Mine/Wasteland

But those are things that are within magics rules, and to me, this card also has symbolic meaning.

I like that it represents the cycle of life, the beginning and end of a relationship and the evolution of the human being. The fact that you need to spend a recurring resource (mana in the game, or time in life) in order to progress is really evocative of evolution for me. Being able to use past information, to fuel new ideas or adventures has great resonance with the way I view life and I believe this card does that mechanically and artistically.

6- The pandemic changed the world, Magic included. What was your attitude and experiences with Magic during the pandemic? It took a while for the Wizards to get back to business; had you given up hope that it would ever be the same again?

Magic for me during the pandemic was Cube building. I had so much time on my hands since I was neither working nor attending tournaments that I decided to build a bunch of Cubes. While I could only share this experience with 2-4 people at a time, I had to adapt the way I played, which led me to “Supreme Drafting” my cubes (I won’t explain it here, but you can always look it up) I also decided that since I was going to build multiple different environments that I didn’t want to use the same cards in order to generate different play patterns and vary the “rules of engagement” throughout all the cubes. Therefore, between the 4 cubes that I have currently built, there is no card overlap (all the cards are different, no duplicates) and besides the “Power Cube” which is 360 cards and is meant to be drafted with 8 people 3 packs of 15 cards. The other cubes are 576 cards and are meant to be drafted with 6 people 4 packs of 12. Which means that you can do 2 distinct drafts without using the same card pool from the same cube. This generates more replay ability and generates new archetypes. 

As much as we were in the unknown about the future of Magic during the Pandemic, I wasn’t exactly sure where they were going to go from there. I would like to say that at the moment we have a nice competitive system. I could be nostalgic and reminisce the days of Planeswalker points and GP byes, but I don’t think those things will impact the future that much, so I don’t really mind that they are gone.

7- How many hours do you spend on Magic outside of work? For those of you who don’t know, you work at the beautiful Imaginaire store in Quebec City.

The amount of time that I dump into magic on a weekly basis will depend on the importance of the events that I plan to attend in the near future. It can range from a small week where I spend maybe 5-10 hours to a giant RC intense testing week of 30-40 hours. While these numbers may look like having a second full time job, I am counting: hours spent on arena, hours spent talking about magic, hours chatting on messenger and discord, writing decklists in my phone, building decks for testing or for weekly events, the actual weekly events themselves. This stuff adds up.

And yes, I do work at Imaginaire Laurier.

8- Besides last weekend, what have been your best experiences at Magic?

I would have to say qualifying for my first Pro Tour (Kaladesh in Hawaii) via top 8ing GP Montreal in 2016 (Eldritch Moon Limited) was probably one of my proudest moments I had as a Magic player. Not only had I top 8ed a Limited GP (I was more regarded as a constructed brewer at the time) but going 9-0 on day 1 was also a massive accomplishment.

The second would be my actual first Pro Tour in Hawaii. Pascal May was on a pro testing team that point in his career and was kind enough to have me added to the squad. I spent a full week testing Standard in a beach house, in Hawaii. If that’s not a highlight, then I don’t know what is. I ended up going 9-7 at that event (6-4 constructed and 3-3 limited) playing the deck I had wired on for the team UB Zombies featuring Prized Amalgam, Voldaren Pariah and Haunted Dead. The cherry on top of that event was opening Smugglers Copter Pick 1 Pack 1 in draft and bearing Jon Finkel in the final round of constructed.

My second biggest highlight would come when I would qualify for PT25 (The team Pro Tour) with my good friends Gabryel Laporte and Julien Abenhaim. I really wanted to go to that event since I know it was going to be unique in being a team pro tour, so I tested a lot for the RPTQ and we eventually got there with a top decked 4th land in game 3 of our final match to slam Hazoret into play and swing for lethal.

My third biggest accomplishment would be finally winning a PTQ for PT Hoggak in Barcelona in 2019. I had been grinding PTQs for over 15 years and had never won one (I may have punted a final or 2) so finally proving to myself that I could win was a huge chip off my shoulder.


  • The first ever local event I won was an extended tournament at Imaginaire with RB Goblin Bidding in 2003. Siege gang commander was legal and there were a bunch of bans in extended post Tinker PT.
  • The first Magic award I ever won was Champs 2004 with 4C Gifts Ungiven control in Standard.
  • The first PTQ I top 8ed was Onslaught Block Constructed in summer of 2004 with RW Astral Slide Control

9- What changes would you like the Wizards to make to the game?

In terms of changes to the game, they seem to be doing that every set, so I can’t say that I have any specific things that I think are terrible about the game itself. In terms of VA lists for competitive formats, personally, I think Karn, the Great Creator should be banned in Pioneer, since not only does it generate a combo that wasn’t really meant to be, but it also prevents so many different artifact strategies from existing.

As for modern, there was a point where I thought Wrenn and Six could have been banned, and I think that moment will resurface eventually, but the axing of Yorion stopped the proliferation of Wrenn and Six’s dominance for a while (even though, I think one day it may still get banned)

For standard, I understand why people don’t want to play it in paper (I don’t really do it myself) but I really like the deck building aspect in terms of metagaming that it brings to events like the RC or the PT. Being able to test on arena for my event was really helpful from my point of view.

As for limited, I love that all the arena opens this year are limited and I think that 1 season per year at the RC should be limited too. I don’t think it is realistic to ask the public to get ready for 2 formats (like at the PT) to play in the RC and logistics wise, it’s a bit difficult. But I wouldn’t mind 1 Limited RC per year.

10- What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new player who would like to get into the competitive circuit?

This is a speech that I generally tell all low-level grinders that aspire to become top tier: There is no point in spending energy on the things you don’t control (matchups, the hands you draw, your luck). Focus on the things that you do control (your deck choice, your list, your sideboard plans, your play); preparation is key to success in all magic events. You won’t always get the best match ups every event, you won’t always draw perfectly and you won’t always fade your opponents’ top decks, but when you do, you better be on top of your game to take advantage of it, because if you don’t then it may not come around for a while. And you are going to be kicking yourself “man, I was so lucky today, but I kept screwing up because I didn’t prepare correctly” (side note: preparation can also be related to: getting enough sleep, eating properly and staying hydrated, staying focused). Knowing tournament rules, card interactions, how matchups are played, etc. are all things you can be better at during your preparation.


Your attitude is very important. There is no use complaining about how you got unlucky or how your opponent top decked you out of the game, since its not constructive information to share with others, no one learns from it and all you do is bring people down, when you should be encouraging them. Having a positive attitude while winning and losing is all part of being a good sport and that leads to making everyone around you better.