Becoming a better player


  • TMD Supporter

    @brass-man I absolutely won a ton more when I played as frequently as possible. AND I once went back and watched a replay of a bad beat, completely realized how I fucked it ALL up for myself. Stupid plays like crazy. This was a long time ago, and I was using a deck that I've never been great with, but still it showed me how my perception of the matches differed from what actually happened.

    I'm not sure of the name of this phenomenon, I suspect it's just cognitive dissonance paired with the fallibility of memory. It's crazy how bad we delude ourselves though.

    Don't beat your self up either though. Learn to give yourself credit where it is due.



  • @moorebrother1 I think there is a slight disadvantage to people always knowing what deck you are on, but I think repetition and expertise with a specific deck far out way that. Look at @Montolio as an example. At champs, or any time on-line, every opponent that sits across from him 100% knows he is on shops. But he still wins consistently because of how well he knows the deck.
    I think the key for me to getting better (and I'm not great btw) is just learning to slow down, and think a few seconds before each play. The other key has been to remember my mistakes and learn from them, instead of getting tilted by them. I don't like to mess up and lose a match because of it, but if it helps me play better in future matches, then the mistake was not that bad after all.
    And above all, I have to have fun. If I'm so focused on winning that I'm not having fun, then I am missing the point of playing the game. Winning is nice, but the purpose of playing a game is to have fun. I find if I keep a good attitude and enjoy the game, no matter how much I am winning or losing, I play at a higher level because I am more relaxed.



  • For me, being a better player is something like you becoming an expert on a subject. When i started playing magic, i always found myself coming back to a particular archetype (prison). I have since ventured out of that archetype to brew fun stuff, but always came back. My synopsis on how to be a better player is from that mindset, of having "mastered" a deck/archetype.

    My goal then was to play this deck into the ground, until i knew it backwards and forwards. Depending on the format, that changed to knowing what my opponents decks are and how they win. Knowledge is power!
    After you know your deck, and how it interacts with other decks in the format. you can get a sense of what role to play in your game. Are you the aggressor? or are you controlling until you get your hay-maker/card to get you back in the game? If you have built a deck that you are passionate about (this is especially important in vintage since these cards are an investment!) then you should know what cards you need in any given situation.

    PLAY TO YOUR OUTS. if you are on the back foot, or even if you have the advantageous board-state, REMEMBER THIS! Your opponent doesn't want you to win, plan for your opponent to try and stop you, even when you know you have game on board (unless you have information that says otherwise).

    I went to Champs 2017 and had the pleasure of meeting a great many people and seeing many different decks being piloted in front of me. I am unfortunately in an area where i have to beg my friends in between modern rounds to grab a proxied vintage deck and jam a game or two before the next round. Between that and using an awesome app to get sample hands (top decked) during down time, all i had to get my knowledge up was listening to EVERY podcast, EVERY youtube video, watching streams when i could, and talking to friends that play legacy and sometimes vintage with me, theorizing about everything i could think of.

    Any deck you decide on playing, number one I think is picking a deck you want to win with (of course after evaluating what you think the meta is and what would do well). Knowing the intricacies of your deck vs other decks (triggers, timing, what your opponents spells actually say, oracle text!) Then looking into all the information you can. I would literally go into work listening to Vintage Super league, So many insane plays podcast, Leaving a legacy podcast, anything i could to increase my knowledge of the format.

    After that was all said and done, I got ready for EW over the course of two months and came out with a respectable unpowered 6-4 record. I only lost to myself one time that tournament, the rest i blame variance ;-) which unfortunately, is a thing sometimes :-P



  • At a general level, the key to becoming a better player is to focus on the little things and understand whether the decisions you made were correct or not given the information you had available to you at the time. The posters before me made a lot of great points but I wanted to add a few things that didn't jump out to me from what has already been written here on the topic.

    I have extracted a lot of meaningful insight by taking copious notes during serious testing sessions and tournaments so I can revisit key sequences after the fact. I write down all of my opening hands and spend a few minutes after most matches to document any specific details which might be useful down the road. I recommend adopting a similar approach and really committing to revisit your games to understand what happened.

    In addition to taking notes, I encourage you to seek out players who are better than you and befriend them. This was the single most important thing that I did as a Magic player and I am supremely confident that I would not be anywhere close to the player or person that I am today without @Prospero as a mentor. Not everyone is as lucky as I was, but finding a good sparring partner is invaluable. Whether you actually play games together or just bounce ideas off of one another, it is significantly harder to succeed as a lone wolf rather than as a pack.

    Finally and possibly most importantly, make sure you are having fun. As @Brass-Man said, getting better is a job after a certain point and it doesn't pay well, so make sure you are enjoying yourself. Personally, I try my absolute hardest to playtest in person with friends that I can play fun, competitive games with and only play MTGO as a last resort. If or when it stops being fun, don't hesitate to take a break. Personally, I play sparingly between November and February of each year to give myself time to unwind and recharge before diving into my preparation for the 6 or so paper events I play each year. Without this annual sabbatical I would have burned out long ago.





  • Knowing what your opponent is on is HUGE....in certain matches. If you are on blue and you are facing shops and know it, what are you going to do? Are you going to mulligan into your single hurkylls? Are you going to mull until you have 3 basic/fetch lands? if you do, you likely lose on mulls more than you win on luck-sacking into the perfect hand. Your best bet is to play that deck you are comfortable with, hope to make smart plays and minimize error, and win with any luck.

    Now if you are on a certain deck running 1-strip/4-waste and perhaps even something like main sorcerous spyglass and KNOW your opponent is on dredge, you are damn straight mulling a good hand of 7 for a decent hand of 6 with waste/spyglass is a HUGE gain in game 1. It is the difference between a near auto-loss into a favorable g1 matchup. Even in a deck you are semi-comfortable with as opposed to a deck you've mastered, if you have ample cards against a deck that hinges on one axis and know you are facing that deck, you are much better off. The same could be said running a null rod-based deck vs PO storm. If you know that matchup is happening, you are better off mulling into the 1-of chalice or turn 1 rod off a mox than keeping a solid hand that won't win until turn 3 or stop artifacts.

    If you have 3 basic land + an orchard, and an oath...you keep that vs shops. If you have that hand vs PO, you probably lose. If you have that same hand in your oath deck and also know you have FoWs and null rods, you probably mull that away instead of hoping to live to turn 3 with no answer to getting stormed out.

    So, the answer to the question again is: it depends. Based on the matchup, the knowledge vs mastery can make a big difference.



  • @thewhitedragon69 said in Becoming a better player:

    Knowing what your opponent is on is HUGE....in certain matches. If you are on blue and you are facing shops and know it, what are you going to do? Are you going to mulligan into your single hurkylls? Are you going to mull until you have 3 basic/fetch lands? if you do, you likely lose on mulls more than you win on luck-sacking into the perfect hand. Your best bet is to play that deck you are comfortable with, hope to make smart plays and minimize error, and win with any luck.

    Now if you are on a certain deck running 1-strip/4-waste and perhaps even something like main sorcerous spyglass and KNOW your opponent is on dredge, you are damn straight mulling a good hand of 7 for a decent hand of 6 with waste/spyglass is a HUGE gain in game 1. It is the difference between a near auto-loss into a favorable g1 matchup. Even in a deck you are semi-comfortable with as opposed to a deck you've mastered, if you have ample cards against a deck that hinges on one axis and know you are facing that deck, you are much better off. The same could be said running a null rod-based deck vs PO storm. If you know that matchup is happening, you are better off mulling into the 1-of chalice or turn 1 rod off a mox than keeping a solid hand that won't win until turn 3 or stop artifacts.

    If you have 3 basic land + an orchard, and an oath...you keep that vs shops. If you have that hand vs PO, you probably lose. If you have that same hand in your oath deck and also know you have FoWs and null rods, you probably mull that away instead of hoping to live to turn 3 with no answer to getting stormed out.

    So, the answer to the question again is: it depends. Based on the matchup, the knowledge vs mastery can make a big difference.

    People have known what I was on for the last 5+ years and that hasn’t stopped me from succeeding. I don’t disagree that it can win you matches, but mastery is more likely to win you tournaments.



  • @will I assume you are a dredge player? I think one thing that limits the effect of knowledge parlaying into a win is that most players rely on their SB completely to beat things like dredge. If you happen to know the opponent is on dredge AND have ample maindeck answers, the knowledge can prevent you from having to win games two AND three and set you up to win game two OR three (since g1 vs dredge is a loss for many people). If you have the knowledge, but no maindeck answers, you don't get to use that knowledge to your advantage.

    Again, assuming you've been on dredge the past 5 years...if your opponents played a typical 60 with very little dredge answers main, then having them know what deck you are on would have minimal effect vs you. All they would "know" is that they're going to have to win games two and three.



  • @thewhitedragon69

    I’m a Workshop pilot.



  • @will Then yeah - I already mentioned shops. Knowing you are on shops doesn't benefit a blue player...what are they going to mull into that would cripple you? Knowledge vs mastery is only applicable when facing a deck the hinges on one axis - like bazaar for dredge or artifact mana for PO storm. And that's also if you maindeck ways to hit bazaar or shut down artifacts (waste/rod). If you are facing blue, fish, or workshops, there's literally no maindeck card you'd want to mull a good hand away to find.

    The gains of knowing your opponent's deck is limited to certain decks - namely dredge, PO...maybe oath if you maindeck something like cage/priest/decay or are on the mirror and want a hand of orchards as opposed to oath. Decks like workshop (aggro or prison) blue control, big blue, most fish builds are immune to your opponent knowing your deck because there's nothing they'd prefer to see over a good opening 7 against you.



  • @thewhitedragon69 your opponent won the die roll and choses to begin.
    You draw a 7 of :Mental Misstep, Flusterstorm, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Preordain, Dack Fayden, Treasure Cruise. Its a fine hand in most cases i would say.

    But if you know your opponent is on shops, this hand just loses immediatly to any turn 1 taxing effect. You should mulligan this hand if you kbow your opponent is on shops, making the shops deck (and pretty much every deck out there) not immune to knowing the matchup.
    Sure, knowing what your opponent is on benefits you sometimes more or less, dependent on the deck, but its never absolutely irrelevant.

    Still, really mastering a deck and knowing all the fine lines, instead of constantly switching just to suprise your opponents, but playing them all mediocre seems the way more solid approach.



  • @aelien

    Playing a spread of decks medium well is a recipe for failure. Being varied is good, but you can achieve the same effect off actually being varied by throwing a curveball every so often. I'm primarily a blue pilot, but I've shown up to events playing Shops or Dredge on occasion, so people know that I could be on other decks.

    Even from those limited experiences, I will attest that playing poorly loses a lot more games than having opponents mull some marginal hands against you.


  • Administrators

    To be clear, when I said:

    @brass-man said in Becoming a better player:

    mechanical playskill > mental hygeine > decklist > inducing your opponent to make mistakes > information management

    I didn't mean that information management is irrelevant ... I just meant for most players, there are so many more important things to worry about that concentrating on hiding your deck is a wasted opportunity cost.

    Can you get a few % points by an opponent misplaying because they think you're on a different deck? Sure. But all of those %'s go away if your opponent scouted the room. They go away in the top 8 when everyone knows SOMEBODY who has played against you in the swiss. They go away when your opponent isn't a regular and can't guess what you're on even if you always play the same deck. Most importantly, they go away in game 2, which is > 50% of the games you're going to play.

    Nobody here is making so few mistakes that they'd get more mileage out of that .05% bump in 10% of games, rather than just playing the deck you don't make game-ending mistakes with. For certain, I don't come close to playing that well. I'm not the best player in this thread, but nobody here is playing at a zero-mistake level.

    Does this mean you should never switch decks? Not at all. But there are other more important factors. Playing a matchup from the other side of the table can give you real insights on how to win, and if you're similarly strong with two decks, it can be correct to play something different as the metagame changes. I just don't think surprise value has a lot of weight here.

    If you run into a situation where getting an information advantage is free? Awesome, go for it. ... but don't sacrifice something more important to get it ... and almost everything in magic, (like avoiding play mistakes or adapting to the local metage) is more important. Don't pitch your Ancestral to counter their Preordain.



  • @aelien "immune" was perhaps not the right word, but "far-less-impacted" is more apt. As I said, knowledge of the opposing deck in shops vs blue is really minimal advantage. This is very different from knowing the way to beat PO storm or dredge. Again, I'm saying knowledge is most valuable against decks that hinge primarily on one mechanic that you have the maindeck answers to stop. Why do people keep using shops vs blue as an example when I've addressed the minimal impact of knowledge in this matchup many times???

    Also, knowing your opponent is on shops with the hand you suggested - they have to have one of chalice, one of thorn, or a sphere in hand. That's 6 cards in a deck of 60. Even if they toss out a golem, you still play 2 moxen and preordain for more mana (or draw land as well on your draw). If you mull that away because you know they are on shops, you basically give them a sphere in hand, assume that's their turn 1 play, and assume you won't draw land. That hand, if they DON'T have sphere/chalice basically wins the matchup. You are going to throw away a good hand of 7 for an unknown hand of 6 by assuming they have the sphere in hand and want to play it? (If they have only tomb/sphere or land/mox/sphere and spells costing 2 or more, they likely won't want to lead with sphere due to locking themselves out.) You basically give them the hand you fear, just by fearing it - and can mull into much worse hands.



  • @thewhitedragon69 That hand as described, would be crappy to keep. If they have a taxing effect you have lost immediately, thats a chance you should not take, especially because the hand isn't even good against them if they don't have a taxing effect since you are already on 5 cards (Flusterstorm and MM are dead cards). Mulligan to 6 to find a FoW and a more stable mana source like a fetch land is great.
    The reason why i brought up Shops vs. Blue is especially because of the reason that you pretend that its "minimal impact of knowledge" in this match up, which just isn't true.

    If i enter a tournament with a blue deck and i could choose for which match up i always get to know what my opponent is on, Shops would definitely be in high consideration.



  • @aelien I guess you have a point there, but I'd still have to say the knowledge of shops when you are on blue is less than knowing you are against dredge or storm if you are running wastes/rods. Sure, you can mull into a hopefully better hand against shops, but you still have to play the game and try to win. If you are against dredge or storm g1 and have the answers for their deck in your main (say sorcerous spyglass vs dredge), you probably just win on the back of one card. The knowledge in that case turns an almost definite loss into a probable win. Mulling anything in blue against shops just means you MAY have a better chance not to get blown out immediately and a chance to win if the match plays out well for you. That's less impact to me.


 

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