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The Dragon's Den
Making Yourself Better

By DeQuan Watson - 07.28.05

Everyone seems to have a lot of questions to send us writers.  And we love it.  It's fun interacting with the readers.  It lets us know what you like.  It lets us know what you don't like.  And sometimes, we are even able to find out what's useful to you all.  The funny thing is though; we get some questions that get asked to us a lot.  Over the past couple of months, I've had a lot of people ask me one question.  And I bet you all would be interested in what that question is.

How do I get better at Magic?

The tough part is that I don't even know how to respond to this type of question.  There's no good short answer.  And honestly, there are a lot of responses that would apply to almost any game out there.  I almost feel bad when I have to give the simple quick responses.  But this is good for you all.  It means I had to turn it into a full article o get the most out of the situation.

I've stated some of the following in past articles.  I do know that we have a lot of new readers as well.  Some of the following things may even be new and interesting concepts to some players.  

Listen to the more experienced players.

This one sounds like it should be completely obvious, but for some reason it isn't.  There is a reason that some players consistently get to play in large events.  There is a reason that the top players (even locally) dominate the rankings.  And more importantly, there is a reason the experienced players keep beating you.

It's likely that they aren't super human.  They just have some simple thoughts and strategies that work.  They may have a better way to testing decks.  They may have a better understanding of the combat phase.  They might even just understand the rules better than you.  Who knows?  Whatever it is works.  Listen to them.  There's probably some useful information in their words.

Put your ego in check.

One of the reasons that players fail to listen to and accept the advice of the more experienced player is simply their ego.  You have to put your ego aside sometimes.  Maybe it's not even an ego thing for many players.  For some it's a bit of pride that gets in their way.  Whether you like the person or not, you need to be able to acknowledge the quality of player that person is.  If they are good, you need to be able to put your differences aside and listen to them.

Long story short; most of us aren't as good as we think we are.  Yes, I said 'us.'  There are many times even I have to put myself in check.  I've spoken with many top players and personalities.  I've heard many of them say that they constantly keep their eyes and ears open so they can learn from other players.  If people on the top level are willing learn from others, you need to be able to as well.

If you ask for honesty, be prepared to deal with it.

Again, this falls in the grey area of the above section.  But I seriously wanted to bring this up separately.  I know that I get submitted several decks a month, and I also look at a lot in my store.  I know that other feature writers get decks sent to them as well.  We don't mind going though the decks.  As a matter of fact, it's fun sometimes.  But, if you are going to submit something for review and advice, you need to be willing to accept the advice.

One of the things that really irk me is seeing being asked for help, but then having some one not listen to the advice I gave them.  Think about this.  If you ask some one for help on a deck (and we'll assume this is someone reputable), and you don't use their advice, what are you saying to them.  In some small way, that's like saying, "It was nice to hear your opinion, but I like my idea better."  Granted, this may very well be true.  And that's OK.  Just don't be surprised if that person doesn't offer up help in the future.

There have been many times that I've gone through a player's deck and offered up suggestions to replace cards and was met with resistance.  It sometimes feels like players want a better player to validate them.  By that I mean, they want to hear, "This deck is great," instead of, "This deck could use some help in these spots."  Don't be one of those players.

Silly as it sounds these are these seem to be the biggest obstacles on the road of player development.  Everyone seems to have the basics down, but it's hard making beyond that next level.  It can feel like there is an invisible glass ceiling sometimes.  Sometimes it can honestly be your fault.

I guess the simple statement to sum things up with would be: Accept more responsibility for your performance.  You need to know when you've peaked out and try to learn from others.  Of course I can go on a full rant about players not accepting responsibility for their losses or lack of progress.  Players want to blame everything on luck, their opponent having a better draw, not having the right deck, etc.etc.  To get better, sometimes you just need to start looking at yourself and see if there is a way that YOU could have made a mistake.  Usually, the answer is yes.  There are sometimes that you just get outdrawn and outplayed.  And you need to be able to admit to that as well.

All of these things show signs of maturity.  So these can say a lot about a person if you learn to follow all the important aspects of the game.

Until next time,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com  

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