Many of the top pros had to start out
somewhere. They were each a
beginner. They each once had the mad urge to open
up packs. Most of the
regulars I play with can even remember not wanting to
trade their Shivan
Dragons for a Forcefield. This is well off of my
topic for today though. I
want to lay out a few ideas on ways we can make new
players more competitive.
Tournaments are fun for the
competition. No one likes just completely
running over their opponents. Those game are
unrewarding and don't prove
anything. Who wants to spend 19 hours building and
playtesting a deck only
to play in a tournament and obliterate his opponents
every round with minimal
effort. If nothing else, it would just make you a
lazy and bad player.
Honestly, if you do like a lack of competition and easy
might as well stop reading. I personally believe
that if you are one of
those people that like that type of tournament, you are
just lying to
yourself. You just like being a bully and stroking
your ego and you probably
have larger underlying problems.
My job today is to help level the
field. Help give you guys a few tips
to help increase everyone's playing skill as a whole.
You don't get better
practicing bad habits with bad players. Everyone's
knowledge within your
group has to be constantly expanding. You all need
to be learning everything
from deck construction to tournament play to general
rules knowledge. Some
of this requires the experienced players taking new
players under their wing
to teach them the ropes. But let's start with the
most important item: deck
Granted, I am by no means a deck
building expert. I'm just pretty solid
at predicting the metagame and coming up with solid
cards against them.
Regardless, one of the most common problems that people
have is they lack
focus. A lot of times beginners put in too many
cards that do too much.
They are trying to cover all the bases instead of
building their deck to flow
along one central line. Deck cohesion is probably
THE most important part of
deck construction. If the cards don't work
together, you are going to have a
hard time getting anything rolling. Also, having
Disenchant, Aura Mutation,
and Aura Blast all in the same deck is a bit much.
You can't have too many
cards that do the same thing.
Another part of deck construction
which is also important is
understanding a card's worth to the game. Some
cards generate greater card
advantage than other. Cards like Massacre and
Wrath of God can create large
amounts of card advantage. They give you the
ability to kill many cards with
your just having to expend one. For some decks,
usually various forms of
control, this is a very important aspect for card
selection. Another thing
to consider is card efficiency. How much mana does
the card cost you? How
much is this card going to help you towards your purpose
once it hits the
board? These are very important questions to take
into account. You also
need to consider how great the effect of the card will
be over a series of
Next, you need to have a decent
knowledge of the game. I am not saying
to know everything perfectly. Of course that will
help your game immensely,
but I don't believe it is necessary. I do believe
that you need to at least
know all of the basic phases. Learn when you have
priority to play spells.
A better understanding of the rules will help you when
playing, the main
reason being is it eliminates a large amount of the
confusion during play.
It can also make game play more interesting when both
players are able to
utilize the rules to their full advantage to outsmart
One of the most wonderful thing about
the game of Magic is "the stack."
When Sixth Edition hit the shelves, many were skeptical
as to how well this
new game mechanism would work. Admittedly, I
myself was curious as to how
well this "stack" was going to work out.
As I got to messing around with the
new Sixth Edition mechanics I started to realize how
great it was. Many new
players still don't realize that you can add effects to
the stack after EVERY
item on the stack resolves. This alone is a huge
aspect of the game. Also
understand that every effect, every ability, and every
spell enters the stack
and resolves top to bottom. One of the best parts
about the stack is that
you can make a physical stack on the table to help
represent all the spells
as they resolve to help prevent confusion. I think
if new players understood
this element, their games would be raised to a whole
Now of course knowing the rules isn't
going to win you all your games.
You need to have real playing skills. Most of
these fall into what I like to
call the Three P's: Persistence, Patience, and Pay
Attention. Persistence is
really important in deck construction and deck testing.
More often than not,
a lot of people give up on a deck early on in
playtesting. You have to try
different cards and different ideas to get the full
effect of your deck. You
can't just give up immediately. Even if you don't
end up playing the deck,
you can at least learn the intricacies of that deck.
This is key when
playing against it.
You have to remember to be patient
when playing. I am not saying to play
slow. Set the rhythm you need to during game play.
Just take your time.
Don't over commit. Don't be in a hurry to kill
your opponent and end up over
committing on the attacks. You have to know when
to pass the turn and take
the time to assess the entire board and game situation.
definitely be a virtue in this game.
Last but not least, pay attention.
I have watched hundreds of games in
my store. Maybe even thousands. I honestly
cannot tell you how many times I
have watched a game slip away from a player because he
or she was not paying
attention. Watch your opponents life total.
Be wary of the number of
attackers or blockers that your opponents have.
Don't be afraid to cast your
Chimeric Idol if you can look in his graveyard and see
that he has already
used all four Disenchants. More often than not,
new players psyche
themselves right out of the game. They get nervous
and forget the basics.
Just simply pay attention to the board situation at all
In closing, I am not saying that
these things alone will make you a pro
player. I would almost guarantee, however that
people will fear your playing
skills more if you brush up on the previously mentioned
aspects. You can
easily become competitive following the simple
guidelines outlined above.
As always, have fun and enjoy playing.
Hasta la bye bye,