Portrait of an EDH Mind - ManaCurves

Andy Zupke • April 15, 2022

Portrait of an EDH Mind is a monthly series that shines a light on important individuals in the EDH community. We take a look at their history, their passions, and their views of EDH.

Let's talk about the Magic community's favorite redhead. No, not Chandra Nalaar. Chase Carroll, a.k.a ManaCurves, is a perfect example of what hard work, perseverance, and a huge, yet humble, personality can accomplish in the world of gaming content. In just a few years, Chase has garnered the respect and admiration of their peers and fans, attained sponsorships from UltraPro, TCGPlayer, and Moxfield, and has become one of the most successful EDH content creators working today. 

While their fanbase, by my standards, is quite substantial, including 16,000 followers on Twitter and 4,000 on Twitch, Chase still thinks of themself as an "average Joe" in the community. "Small but growing," they say, despite so many successes. Chase is an immensely popular streamer, a gifted writer, and now a video editor for a well-known podcast. They're living the dream of being a full-time content creator, something only achieved by a lucky few. So how did they get here?

As a kid growing up in North Carolina, Chase turned to gaming early as a means of escaping reality. Video games, like Timesplitters, were the fulcrum of Chase's childhood and the cornerstone of their love of gaming to this day. "Nerd culture essentially became my whole world," they say. They also spent many hours getting lost in comic books, like Gotham City Sirens, and watching Let's Play videos on YouTube.

In December of 2015, Chase's then-boyfriend introduced them to Magic: the Gathering. They started out playing his kitchen-table decks, including a mono-black lifegain deck with cards like Zulaport Cutthroat, Death Cultist, and Necropolis Regent (their favorite card at the time). Chase immediately felt drawn into this game because of the combination of both the social and the competitive aspects, and soon felt the desire to build their own deck. Not satisfied with building anything but the best, they walked into their LGS and asked the proprietors what the best commander was. Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind was their response, and that's what Chase built. 

Sadly, it wasn't all fun and games for Chase in the world of Magic. Their boyfriend ended their relationship horribly, leaving Chase to wonder if they even wanted to continue on with the game. Combine that with the many dangers of being a woman in gaming that Chase has had to endure, including unwanted touching, sexist comments, and even some stalking, it's a wonder that Chase was able to endure, but with the support of a wonderful LGS, and their love of the game, Chase persevered. Lucky for us!

While that first Firemind deck no longer exists, one of Chase's current pet decks is The Locust God, a sort of spiritual descendant of that deck.

A look at the Moxfield for Chase's Locust God deck will tell you one thing pretty quickly: Chase likes the pricey cardboard. The commander is from the Invocation series, which by itself could pay for 3 of my budget decks. Other high-price items include a judge promo Sol Ring, a Revised Edition Wheel of Fortune, and a foil 7th Edition Tolarian Winds. But the process of "blinging out" a deck isn't just about making it expensive, it's also about making it aesthetically pleasing, so the deck also includes several alternate art cards, like Secret Lair versions of Blasphemous Act, Ponder, and Impact Tremors, as well as Mystical Archive interpretations of Faithless Looting, Blue Sun's Zenith, and Brainstorm.

Chase doesn't do this with all of their decks, just the ones they truly love. So what's so special about this deck? Their Locust God build focuses on, as you may have guessed from the deck's name, "Wheel You Quit Buggin' Me," playing wheels and benefiting from them. Aside from the original wheel mentioned above, Chase also runs Teferi's Puzzle Box, Echo of Eons, Molten Psyche, Wheel of Fate, Windfall, and Winds of Change, and they use the massive card draw with damage-dealers like Psychosis Crawler, Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

But let's not forget those Insect tokens. They're gonna bring some pain too, with help from Purphoros, God of the Forge, Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, Strixhaven Stadium, Cavalcade of Calamity, Impact Tremors, Raid Bombardment, and Shared Animosity, and just in case you thought all of that sounded tame, Chase also seasons the deck with a decent amount of salt, with cards like Narset, Parter of Veils, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, and the Locust God combo card Sage of the Falls. Laboratory Maniac and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries are also here for the alternate win-cons, so Chase can just draw their entire deck and declare victory.

While Chase does have their pet decks, like The Locust God and The Gitrog Monster, they also love to frequently brew new decks, so much so that they have a weekly stream where they brew Commander decks live with viewers. This collaborative brewing method is something Chase champions and recommends to anybody willing to try it. The biggest benefit to this style of brewing is getting out of one's own tried-and-true methods and learning new ways to think about cards and strategies, something many of us could benefit from.

Chase uses this collaborative brewing stream as the genesis of some of the articles they write in their weekly spot on TCGPlayer, including deck techs for such recent commanders as Kosei, Penitent Warlord and Eruth, Tormented Prophet. In addition to these "Brewing Commander" articles, Chase's writing dabbles in such topics as "kill-on-sight" combo cards, best Commander cards from new sets, and various other Top 5 and Top 10 lists that readers love.

Chase's first foray into content creation occurred in 2019 on the U.K. blog Master of Magics, where they wrote the series "Cabal Therapy," which put a focus on mental health topics for Magic players. They also began streaming on Twitch that same year, initially playing on Arena, as that was what most of the Magic streamers were doing at the time. After a handful of articles, Chase left the Cabal Therapy series to focus on obtaining their Master's in social work. But then COVID hit, and obtaining a career in social work became nearly impossible due to restrictions on in-person meetings and a lack of tele-health options for clients, so after finishing school, Chase picked the writing back up with the weekly column at TCGPlayer, as well as a heavier streaming schedule. Now Chase was focusing exclusively on Commander, eschewing Arena for missing that crucial social aspect of the game that they desired.

In addition to writing and streaming, Chase recently put another feather in their cap, taking over video editing duties for the weekly EDHREC podcast, one of the biggest Commander podcasts in production today. With this addition, Chase's hobby has officially become their career. A dream come true, and much deserved. They've put in the time and the hard work, and absolutely earned all of the success that they've attained, becoming one of the most respected and admired people in the EDH sphere.

Even with making all this content and such a busy schedule, Chase is still very approachable and happy to collaborate often with other creators (this article, for example). In fact, it was through a collaboration about a year ago that Chase met and began dating Alex, a member of the Canadian cEDH/EDH/FAB content group The Spike Feeders. Alex lives in Canada, and, as of this writing, the two have only met once in person. But they still make the relationship work with frequent communication and appropriately nerdy virtual dates, such as a night spent in a Minecraft server built to look exactly like Disney World. Alex has given Chase something they've struggled to find their whole life: unconditional, and non-judgmental, love. You can't help but be happy for them.

After all of their successes, Chase is still the same humble and hilarious person. They love to laugh and to have you laugh with them. They love watching YouTube videos and playing Skyrim. They love Korean and Indian takeout and drinks from Starbucks with really long names. They love knitting and reading sappy romance novels. And they love playing Commander with their friends.

Follow Chase's linktree to find them on their socials, and catch them streaming 3 nights a week at twitch.tv/manacurves.

Andy loves EDH, travelling, movies, writing, whiskey, board games, and spending time with family and friends. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing from UW-Milwaukee. His daughter is the best kid ever.