Spending a weekend with Frank Karsten
Recently, I was in Berlin to work on some YouTube content and I had the pleasure of spending most of my time with Frank Karsten, Hall of Famer and mathematician that has blessed Magic with the most important article of all time: ‘The Karsten Manabase!’
Frank is also a member of Team CFB Ultimate Guard and despite working together and often interacting during both in-person events and online, we’ve never really spent time together.
Often in the Magic world, the line between acquaintance and friend is very thin and after this weekend, I became Frank’s friend and also a fan of his!
We were staying at the same hotel and sharing the same work schedule for our content commitment so we got to spend a long time together, which made me know more about him and in today’s blog, I wanted to share our activities and fun conversations we had over the weekend.
We arrived on Thursday in Berlin, him from Eindoven, Netherlands by train and me from Ancona, Italy.
We met at the hotel and went directly to dinner. We got to meet the rest of the crew that we would be working with for the rest of the weekend. I ordered a nice Wiener schnitzel but after that, we were too tired and preferred to get a good night’s sleep to get ready for the next day.
Friday morning, Frank and I met at the hotel breakfast lounge. We both woke up super early and that meant we got to spend over an hour at the breakfast lounge talking about everything from the upcoming Magic World Championship that was going to start later that day to the academic studies that we did during our youth.
Frank is older than me, and his prime time in Magic was during 2001, when I was just eight years old, whereas mine came about 18 years later in 2019. He got to share old stories of early Pro Tour days and how “easy” it was to break the formats back then.
I love listening to accomplished players talk about their career, as I get to relive their memories and hear the excitement of their greatest successes.
Despite the fact that Frank and I didn’t know each other that well, there was definitely a connection, something that is common among every competitve Magic player, that makes us all share common experiences.
Friday was a long day. Frank and I didn’t work together on any projects that day, but the next day we would have plenty on our plates. Still, we shot a lot of YouTube videos and arrived at dinner exhausted.
It was Indian cuisine, something I’m not used to at all in my hometown of Senigallia, Italy, where the restaurants are mostly Italian and it’s very rare to find different types of food there.
I was with Frank and Tobi and they seemed to be very experienced with Indian food, whereas I delegated my choice to them and ordered the most classic thing: Mugh Tikka Madras, and it was great!
Tobi suggested I try a mango smoothie that is typical in Indian cuisine. I did and it was definitely a good choice. I’m so glad for these opportunities to travel and try different flavors and food.
At dinner, I told Frank and Tobi that the following day it would have been my father’s birthday, and that I was afraid I might forget about it. Frank assured me he would remember it for me!
We went back to the hotel, and despite all of us being tired after a long day of lights being pointed at us, I challenged Frank to a Modern match, since we were going to record some Modern videos the following day and wanted to warm up a bit.
We had some amazing games where Frank got me good with his Boros Charm, giving indestructible to his Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and flipping a Lightning Bolt off the top of my deck for maximum value!
The next day, Saturday, once again we started with an early alarm, not because we had any early schedule, but because both Frank and I loved to take our sweet time in the breakfast room, which was definitely the best part of the day!
I arrived a bit too early at the breakfast table, and as I was sitting down, starting to eat my eggs and bacon. Frank approached the table with a big smile on his face saying, “It’s a great day today! It’s papa Mengu’s birthday!”
I did remember it first thing in the morning, but the way Frank said it made it look even more special!
We spent the next hour talking about mana bases, politics, Pioneer strategies and geopolitics. Honestly, talking with smart people about Magic and interesting topics is one of my favorite things to do, jumping from one important issue to another wrinkle of our favorite hobby that we both successfully turned into work.