Improving at MTG One Step at a Time

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Magic: the Gathering is an extremely hard game. Because of the hidden information that exists in this game, it can often be complex determining optimal play in a given situation. I have found myself scratching my head even if I can see the replay of a game I played. Yes, I now know what cards my opponent actually had, but what if they held other cards, would my line be different?

In order to improve myself at the game and to put myself in the best position possible to do well at my first Pro Tour, I think it’s beneficial for me to catalog some of the lessons I am learning along the way. Today I decided to jump in an M15 8-4. I know Khans of Tarkir is the latest set but I think there are benefits to playing different draft formats. For example, Khans of Tarkir has you looking to optimize your mana base as much as possible. This skill will certainly transfer to other draft environments.

I beat my round one opponent soundly but committed numerous errors in round two to punt the entire match away after being up 1-0. I took too much time in the first game, leaving me with only ten minutes so time pressure was definitely a factor.

One of the mistakes I did was a type of error that I have done in the past. My problem is that for particular cards, I pigeonhole their usage. Kird Chieftain is a card that I am used to only seeing the offensive side of. It sounds stupid but on a given board state with Kird Chieftain, my mind doesn’t think about this card allowing me to use its ability to help trade up some of my lowly creatures. This application simply escapes my mind sometimes and I lost game two due to this error.

I can think of another example from the past. It was also hard for my mind to see lines where using Titanic Growth on an opponent’s creature would be beneficial. Maybe it’s a creature I absolutely need to get rid of and in combination with Pillar of Light, Titanic Growth would do the job, but my mind doesn’t ever consider pumping an opponent’s creature.

Outside of just playing more games so that my mind can think of different applications of cards, I’m not sure what the best technique for me to avoid future errors are. Maybe a mental exercise is to keep looking at cards and imagining if there are unorthodox uses for them.

KYT

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