One of the greatest things about Magic is its ability to bring people together. Talk to any Magic player from the kitchen table to the Pro Tour and they’ll have plenty of stories to tell about the people they connected with through playing Magic. For this month’s Community Spotlight, we spoke with Robert and Danielle Garner, who invited the Magic community to join in their wedding at GP Vegas this year, and who educate budding Magic enthusiasts on their Twitch channel, The Planeswalker Academy.
Magic has been part of Robert and Danielle’s lives for longer than they’ve known one another. Robert picked up the game 18 years ago, when he first entered high school, and it became his primary means of making friends. “My brother had made friends, and they threw us some cards and decks, so we joined their group,” he said. “It was a good way to get comfortable in a new environment.”
Meanwhile, Danielle learned the game at her kitchen table and played casually with friends for over a decade. “I loved starting as a casual player because I got to learn all the rules in a non-competitive setting,” she said.
After meeting Robert, however, Danielle decided to venture out to game stores and test her skills in more competitive tournaments. Playing Magic together became a fun bonding experience for both of them, as well as an avenue for learning and growth. Before long, they were spending Sunday afternoon date days at drafts and Prereleases and taking vacations to faraway Grand Prix.
Magic Grand Prix have become more than just tournaments over the years – they’re community gatherings where players from around the globe can come together and celebrate their love of the game. Earlier this year, Robert and Danielle decided that Grand Prix Vegas would be the perfect place to celebrate their love for each other. They’d floated the idea of having a Las Vegas wedding, and after hearing about previous weddings that had been officiated during GP Vegas 2015, they wondered what it would take to host one of their own.
Robert’s job as a game distributor put him in regular contact with tournament organizer Channel Fireball, so he reached out to his client two months before the GP to see what was possible. Within weeks, he was emailing back and forth with Liz LaCroix, the Global Marketing Manager at Wizards of the Coast.
“Liz took the reins, asking questions like what our favorite cards and characters were and if we would mind different readings and other employees to be involved,” he said. “Most everything everyone saw was assisted by and gifted by Wizards.”
Robert and Danielle were married on June 17th, with Serra Angel presiding over the ceremony. Matt Tabak read the Comprehensive Rules entry for “Soulbond,” a triggered ability which pairs two creatures for as long as they remain on the battlefield. Mark Rosewater read “The Love Song of Night and Day,” a poem whose lines could be found in several pieces of flavor text during Mirage block. Pro player Reid Duke was even awarded a time extension for the match he was playing in the main event so he could walk Danielle down the aisle. The wedding was a major community effort, and the couple couldn’t be happier.
Back in their hometown of Reno, NV, the Garners are doing their best to pay it forward through a joint streaming project. After starting a small Twitch stream under the name “smrwntr” (pronounced “summer winter”), Robert and Danielle have rebranded their channel as “The Planeswalker Academy” and are cultivating a community that shares their love of learning. (“We thought streaming would be a great way to teach others what we know,” Danielle said.)
Whether they’re sharing draft tips or demonstrating good sportsmanship online, Danielle and Robert lead by example in their community. They’ve already reached their goal of 50 dedicated followers and are hoping the rebrand will help their channel grow even further. They currently focus on limited, but hope to branch out into constructed formats in the coming months.
Robert and Danielle currently stream four evenings a week at The Planeswalker Academy. Whether you’re looking to learn more about Magic or just want to support a smaller stream community, we recommend you head over to their channel and show them some love.
Photos by James Keating used with permission.