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Getting Better...One Mistake at a Time

OK, I want to start off with a bit of an obvious statement that I don't think people really understand.
 
Simple (and usually small) plays can win or lose the game.
 
That is basically what's been bugging me in a nutshell.  For the last two weeks, it's been killing me.  I mean like...really bad.  Imagine having an itch in the middle of your back that you can't reach.  Now imagine that itch is a mosquito bite but now it's in the middle of your chest.  The problem is worse now...it's there and you CAN scratch it, yet it still won't go away.  It's been bothering me about THAT much.
 
I know that makes me sound real whiny and that's not the type of person I am.  The reason be bugs me, is because people keep asking for help, yet they don't want to look at the most obvious problems with their game.  You have to analyze your play and try to not make small mistakes.  Again, this sounds so obvious, yet people don't won't to listen.
 
Whether people want to admit it or not, the average tournament player doesn't want to admit their mistakes.  They usually think they've done all that they could do, but "it just wasn't their day."  Now, sometimes this may actually be true.  But honestly, it hold very little truth most of the time.  Competitors so often want to blame their shortcomings on outside forces.  Sometimes there is nothing you can do.  If I were to get out and run the 200 meter dash against Michael Johnson, I know there is no chance in hell that I'm going to win that race.  But in events that I feel I should have a serious competitive shot, I need to look at myself first. 
 
I'm not trying to be elitist here.  Again, I'm just making references to state a point.  When you look at the best athletes and competitors int he world, they work hard.  They accept their faults and shortcomings and try to learn from them.  That is what makes them read more books on their craft.  That is what makes them go back to the gym.  That is what makes them seek out a tutor.  They accept they have fallen short for reasons within themselves and work from that point. 
 
But that's enough criticizing.  I want to be my usual positive self and offer up some advice.  Here are some things you can do to help minimize your mistakes.
 
The most important thing is to look at the obvious.  When I ask players why they made such an obvious mistake, they usually give me a statement that involves them overthinking themselves.  Players seem to pride themselves too often on trying to make the good (and usually overcomplicated) play.  I know you read all these articles about fun combat tricks, ways to manipulate the stack, or even crazy mind games.  But the truth is, the right opportunities for those plays isn't there as often as players think they are.  If they were, they wouldn't be so special.  A lot of times, players lose simply by ignoring the obvious board position and miss one thing.  I've even watch people think about a big play with lethal damage available, but they simply forgot what their opponent's life was at.
 
Another good word of advice is play a deck that you know well.  Picking a deck off the internet Friday morning to play in your local Friday Night Magic tournament that same evening is not a smart idea.  Really good players can do that.  The average player is not good enough to do that.  Again, this isn't meant to be insulting, but these are true hard facts.  Not knowing a deck well can lead to all kinds of miss plays and pointless losses.  Why even risk the situation.  It gets even worse, because you won't know what to do against certain sideboard cards.  Even worse is the fact that you won't even be completely sure what to sideboard in each match.
 
You might also want to pick a deck that fits your style.  This one might sound a little weird to some of you guys, but this is important.  If you are used to playing beatdown, don't go trying to play a slow control deck.  If you are used to play a combo deck, don't to trying to play a complicated combo deck.  If you plan to play something different in a tournament, practice with it a bit.  Colors may even make a difference.  Some players are more familiar with certain colors, so that might be something to think about in selecting your deck.  Seriously, we have a guy at my local store that has trouble playing beatdown decks.  He has trouble figuring out the optimal attacking and blocking scenarios.  He plays control usually and is pretty good with card selection and getting the most out of his cards.  So it benefits him to play fewer decks that require creatures to turn sideways.
 
OK, so now you see that I can rant and be helpful all at the same time.  That takes skill by the way.  Alright, now I'm just patting myself on the back for no reason.  Let's move on.
 
Here is a neat deck to check out:
 
Green Sea
 
3 Troll Ascetic
3 Solemn Simulacrum
3 Eternal Witness
2 Viridian Shaman
4 Ravenous Baloth
2 Triskelion
3 Annul
4 Oxidize
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Mana Leak
3 Echoing Truth
2 Crystal Shard
12 Forest
11 Island
 
Sideboard:
4 Naturalize
2 Last Word
2 Duplicant
3 Vine Trellis
1 Crucible of Worlds
2 Gigapede
 
 
Unfortunately, I was going to surprise you guys and give you the first blue/green deck to appear in a while but Alex Schvartsman posted a similar deck on the internet.  The good side is that the other deck being posted showed me that Crystal Shard needed to be on my list.
 
Most of the deck makes sense and shouldn't need a lot of explanation.  However, there is a card on the slit that draws some attention and that's Echoing Truth.  The funny thing is that it makes complete sense though.  It's good against big creatures in the Ravager Affinity decks.  It's also a decent answer to big creatures that drop out early via Tooth and Nail.  It is a card that has been getting severely overlooked lately.  And truth be told, you need every bit of your Echoing Truth and Mana Leak against goblins.
 
This deck should also present a decent matchup against U/W Control and against Astral Slide.  Gigapede is a long forgotten creature than can help in both matchups.  There is also a full set of Naturalize hanging out in the sideboard which might be important.
 
And speaking of sideboards be aware that Vine Trellis serves two purposes.  It can come in to help against the creatures decks that give you fits, like Goblins and it can also help against land destruction heavy decks.  There is one crucible of worlds to help with the latter as well.
 
It's a neat deck to play around with that takes some getting used to.  Personally I would like to have two Chrome Mox in there somewhere, but I can't see where.
 
But that's it for me.
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at pojo dot com
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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