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Don't Try To Be The Authority

Yesterday, I was talking with Jason, one of my employees. We were having a discussing that I personally felt was worth sharing with the Magic community as a whole.

Many times, players try to make themselves "the authority" on the game. I’m not speaking about rules and the like. I am talking about the game in general. For instance, there was one time I remember fairly well when I saw two guys trying to decide what card they wanted to play. It was a sealed deck tournament and the player in question had two or three card slots left to fill. Granted, I’m not the end all be all on the game of Magic, but I feel that my knowledge is good enough to be listened to. Anyway, I look through his remaining cards and I go through the cards he’s already selected to play. I think pick out three cards that he should consider putting into his deck.

These three players walk by overhearing our conversation. They begin to rant and rave as to why the cards I chose were terrible choices. Now honestly, I am not going to name any players here, but I do have to say that I do know for a fact that two of the ranting players are not that great. They have no Pro Tour appearances, zero Pro Tour Qualifier top eight appearances, and as far as I know, between them, they have only even competed in one Grand Prix event. I was later informed that the third player was one of the better players in his area, but had no noteworthy accomplishments.

I have another situation to recount. There was a JSS tournament that happened the same weekend that Grand Prix Dallas was being held (last October). As a matter of fact it was in the same hall. I had two of my local youngsters playing in the event. Both of my players were asking what they should do as far as draws and sideboarding. I explain everything to him and they seem content with my explanations. Well everything was fine and good until some more inexperienced players starting opening their mouths. For lack of a better name I am going to call them Player A and Player B. Player A walked over to me and says, "You know how you told us we could both draw in and the pairings would be decent for us?"

I look and him with a smile, "Yeah, you guys should both be top 4 and one of you should be in the finals."

Player A then said, "Well yeah. But Player B doesn’t want to draw anymore. Some guys are trying to convince him to play."

So of course, wanting to watch out for my guys, I walk over to the table to see what is happening. I was talking to a few of my friends, who by the way are upper level players with some notable achievements. They decide to accompany me to the table. I get there and I see player B in a discussing with his opponent. And for the record, Player B’s opponent wanted to draw. Anyway, I look over to Player B and ask him what the problem is. He says that his "buddies" are telling him that he should play and win, so he could be number one seat in the bracketing. I told him that was pretty much irrelevant to the situation. He asked me what he should do. I just told him that me and my "Pro Tour Buddies" think he should draw, but that it was ultimately his decision. Well his buddies continued on and convinced him to play. The end of the story is that Player B ended up playing a long boring match that he lost and both Player A and Player B got bad matchups and were eliminated in the round of eight.

There is a meaning to all of this. Don’t try to be an authority without credentials. It’s silly to try and rant and rave about peoples play style, deck matchups, good and bad plays, etc, without having something to show for it.

I have seen many times that there are players sitting at the last table talking about how another players deck is terrible and he doesn't deserve to be winning. They will make these comments event after the more successful player tried to convince the losing player to play something different. The simple truth is that is one player is having positive results with unconventional theory, and one player is having negative results with "proven" or "standard" theory, it is more than likely that more people should be listening to the winning player.

You can get better if you are listening to the winning players more than you rant about them. Sometimes you just simply need to have big ears and a small mouth. Spend less time complaining and more time learning. Owning a game store, I see this more often than I care to mention. Here’s another popular one:

I will be teaching some one how to play, or explaining a game to a new player and I will get interrupted. Many time, by some one wanting me to look at a deck. They usually make a statement along the lines of, "This is what I threw together with the new cards I got. I just wanted to know what you thought about it." So of course, I look through the deck. I ask them why they want certain cards in there so I can get a feel for what they are trying to get the deck to do. Then I starting pulling cards off to the side and telling them what some good replacements would be. The minute they start to argue with me. I stop and give them all of their cards back and just say, "It’s obvious you don’t want my opinion."

Again, like I said earlier, I absolutely do not feel that I am the ultimate say on anything Magic related. My opinion is exactly that, my OPINION. However, if you ask me for my opinion, put on your big ears small mouth face and listen to me. You can’t get better if you aren’t willing to keep an open mind and listen.

Don’t let your jealousy of their success stop you from gathering positive information form them. If some one sees you make a mistake, ask them what play it was and why they though it was a mistake. Don’t get defensive. If some one with better credentials is offering some advice listen to it. I am not saying to follow it even. Just listen to it. It might be helpful in the future. If you are reading this, you are at least attempting to have an open mind and that’s a huge start. Just keep your ears open for words of wisdom.

Sit your personal issues aside and your progress will probably advance more rapidly. It’s hard to get better when you think you are already the best. You have to be looking to improve. And honestly, I have to say that you can’t even turn away from players just being they are "lower level" than you. Sometimes, they have really good ideas. Sometimes they make a play that can be totally wrong, but can open your eyes to a few new ideas. There is almost always something to be learned.

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson 
a.k.a. PowrDragn 


name: DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my
writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a
little more. 

    I'm 23 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a
game store.  The Game Closet, my store is one of the premiere places to play
in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build
decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is
neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I
can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the
tendencies of the average player a little better.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour
Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I was
also invited to the Event horizons Invitational last year.  These are not
stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on
straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week
talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see
their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get
a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.
 I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I
plan to be playing it until it goes away...if it ever does.


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