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Be of Good Cheer
by Andy Van Zandt

Whenever I say "have fun" to my opponent, I mean it. But often I find that people feel that they can't have fun while playing competitively. This stems from several things; the dislike of losing, which is increased exponentially when it seems to be an important match or when it seems like the game was purely luck based; The feeling that you can be lulled into a false sense of comfort if you are trying to have fun, and thus be more prone to mistakes; The desire to crush your opponent being so overwhelming that the 'fun' of the game is lost unless you accomplish that; The fact that you seem to be continuously drawing land when your opponent pulled up all four of their saproling bursts somehow…
The list really goes on and on, since magic means so many different things to different people. But I think that since magic is a game, you should have fun playing it. Now if you look at magic solely as a business venture, or as something else that makes it not a game to you, perhaps this doesn't apply. But I think most people play it as a game, and even then they don't have fun. I don't really care to sit across from someone who is going to throw down their cards every time I drop a bomb; and to that end, I'm going to offer some advice on keeping the game in perspective.

Magic does have a large luck base to it. Accept that. True, skill in play and deckbuilding do play the larger role much of the time, but sometimes you are just not going to win. Sometimes there will be an entire week when you don't win, and you don't think it has anything to do with a lack of playing or deckbuilding savoir faire. Cope with it. Unless you think your opponent is cheating, accept that you are going to lose against all odds sometimes. Now, to be fair, you should always pay attention to the game at hand, and you should always try to spot your mistakes and learn from them, but if you have replayed the game over and over in your head, or asked your opponent if they think you made any mistakes, and you are still baffled by your losses, then keep in mind, the cards get shuffled. Sometimes they fall unfavorably for you. When this happens, feel free to whine and complain and be noisy, but try to keep it all in fun. I realize that I will not always pull up the mana that I need, and when this happens I'll sit and make fun of my lack of topdecking skills. To a similar degree, if my opponent stalled out at two land while I am going to work on them, I'm going to assume they realize it is beyond their control sometimes and be able to either play the game out and either try to recover, or have some fun and set a silly small goal for yourself in the game, like damaging your opponent. If you aren't going to try your best at it, don't. Scoop right there. If you aren't going to nod and accept that you won't always draw the 4 lands to make your deck flow, and are instead going to throw a fit about how bad a player your opponent is and how they wouldn't have won if they hadn't been so lucky, then you are a loser, not just at the game, but in general. Scoop and move on. Even the best player can be beaten down at a local tourney by some kid's poison deck. Even you can lose to a bad draw on your part, or a good one on theirs. Sit down, play your best, and don't ruin the game for your opponent and yourself by crying about the unavoidable. If you don't pull your key cards, laugh at yourself. When your opponent mulligans down to four, pump your fist, because it happens to you sometimes too. If your opponent thinks you shouldn't revel at their inability to draw land, then that's because they can't accept the luck content of the game. Have as much fun as you can when you are losing and when you are beating the snot out of a blue control deck. Some people will never ever ever be at least placid about their loss; it's always someones fault, or you are a bad player who just got lucky, or something. Pity these people, because they are missing out on an important fun-to-be-had opportunity. They have lessened their own ability to have a positive experience with the time they have spent, and they have basically wasted a portion of their lives by playing a game and not having fun. Even when you make a game-altering mistake, although you should beat yourself up about it so you can learn from your mistake, you should not mope about the rest of the game because of it. Gain as much as you can out of the experience; learn not to do it again, and move on, have fun. If your opponent is blatantly cheating, call the judge, and have fun as your opponent is punished for being a jerk. Always have fun. Seriously. Don't shell out $25 to spend a day in misery… if you are going to do that, just give me the money and I'll back over you with a car… at least then the money goes to a good cause. Or go see a movie. Or anything, as long as you aren't wasting yours and everyone else's time and emotions being the sour spot of the day. It's hard to ensure that your opponent will have fun (unless you just throw the match) because some people even get annoyed if you sit and smile and are polite for the entire match… some people are unreachable. But you don't have to be, and you can make the conscious decision to have fun before you even register your deck. Hopefully someone has learned something from this article, about themselves or about others. And hopefully I'll get to play that someone at a tourney sometime, so we can both have an enjoyable game.

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