Timmy, Johnny, Spike – the MTG philosophy

Timmy Johnny Spike MTG philosophy
Wow, they even got their official MTG cards! (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Have you ever played a game of Magic: The Gathering or Magic Arena? That means you’re either a Timmy, a Johnny, or a Spike. Keep reading to find out what that means and who are you.

Magic is an incredibly rich and complex game. During the many decades that it’s been on the market, the game has brought thousands of different cards, characters, themes, and ways to play. There are countless formats with their intricacies and specifics.

It is difficult enough to pay attention to all of this as a fan and a player, so we can only imagine how difficult it must be for Wizards of the Coast to make the damn things. But they’ve got it all figured out through three fictional characters – enter Timmy, Johnny, and Spike.

Back in the day, the Magic design team had certain expectations of their players. For example, it made sense that everybody should get excited about a Shivan Dragon, right? Well, turns out these assumptions are wrong. While a large chunk of the player base would indeed get hyped about a massive dragon with Flying and huge stats (for the time!), they discovered there are also players who are there for different reasons, such as self-expression, sharing a hobby with friends, or earning medals. That’s why they came up with the three fictitious types of Magic players.


A Timmy is somebody who would get excited about a massive dragon. Better yet, a whole deck of massive dragons! Timmies make up the largest portion of the Magic user base. They are in the game to have fun, play the biggest and meanest spells, and watch their opponent gets squashed. The Timmy generally doesn’t mind losing a game or two, as long as he or she wins a couple of rounds of the FNM. Timmy is also a social player who enjoys multiplayer formats such as Commander.

The recent set Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths has tons of big monsters that appeal to Timmies.


Johhny is a combo player – a mastermind, a tinkerer, and a mad scientist. Think of the Izzet Guild of Ravnica or the mad inventors of Kaladesh – these are total Johnnies!

Johnny is generally not interested in the top-performing deck right now, or the 1.2% difference in win rate if you sideboard this with that. Johnny plays Magic so that he or she can build their own unique deck, discover a cool combo, and just watch it go off. Infinite combos, out-of-the-box thinking, and crazy gameplay are what Johnny is all about.

The recent banning of Agent of Treachery took away one of the most Johnny cards in Standard, but worry not. The docs are already back in the labs, cooking their next crazy combo decks.


You know Spike. You’ve seen him, you’ve played against him, maybe you’ve even cheered for him on Twitch. Spike is your ultra-competitive player, your FNM champion, and your tournament grinder.

Spikes love the game, but there’s something they love even more – winning. Spikes have no trouble going online (EarlyGame being an excellent place to start!) and following all the best decks. Spike will take the Tier 1 deck and play it repeatedly until mastered – the only thing that matters is victory. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with this.

Believe it or not, these three names have become a mainstay in MTG conversations and used by members of Wizards all the time. Now you’ll know what they mean with expressions such as “a Spikey card” or “so the Spikes can be happy”. Also, by now you should have a fair idea of who you are, so there’s that.

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