One of the easiest mistakes to make in Magic (and in life really) is to make assumptions not backed up by data. During spoiler season, it is all too easy to scroll through new commons and uncommons and dismiss them as “unplayable”, despite the fact that you haven’t even played with them yet. I do this far too often. Did I have Grapple with the Past as being a format staple when I first saw it? Vessel of Nascency? Not even on my radar. So I’m trying hard to not jump to conclusions. To not dismiss everything outright, just because I think I know better. It’s hard when you only have so much time to test. When you have a job or personal life soaking up all that precious Magic time, what are you to do? For me, I’m going to stop making assumptions. I’m going to stop assuming I know more than the people putting up the results. I’m going full Spike.
Johnny’s dead. Timmy’s gone. We put ‘em in the ground, and I’m ready to move on. If you like to brew, to make your mark on the Magic world with your own unique take on a deck or archtype, I’m probably going to let you down, because you won’t find any spice here. This is the Magic equivalent of stereotypical English cooking. This isn’t Flavor Town, its Blandsville. Here we boil everything and refuse to use condiments. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with brewing. There are most likely great decks out there, yet to be discovered. What I’m saying is, I don’t have the time for that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t either. So let’s put down the notebook, get to netdecking and let’s get Spikey.
“You just said you going to stop jumping to conclusions and try and not dismiss things out of hand, but then you immediately threw all brewing out the window? What is the deal!”
The deal is, I used to dismiss brews as simply being bad. I’d see something I didn’t always understand and it is easy to disapprove of something when you don’t understand it. And while I don’t think I’ll be picking up any brews anytime soon, I’m going to try not to disrespect them. Just because something isn’t what I would play, means it’s bad, it just means it’s not me. I’m interested at looking at what deck is putting up the best results and hopping on that train. Enemy #1, that’s me. This Cardboard Crack comic puts it pretty elegantly.
With that in mind though, we aren’t going to expect free wins. It’s going take work and effort to know how to play whatever we pick up and we can’t be giving away free percentages. It’s all too easy to throw a match away because you don’t respect your opponent enough. We’ve all done it. Sat down and made an assumption about our opponent because they are playing some homebrew. We let our assumptions lead to sloppy play, poor mulligan decisions, and we lose the match. The moment you start thinking you deserve to win, is the quickest way to lose. And that’s a loss both deserved and earned. Treat every opponent like they are Owen Turtenwald. Treat them with respect, respect their plays, their deck choice, and play tight. That’s how you win. Nothing is free in Magic.
“So we are respecting brews, but not necessarily open to playing them?”
Sound pretty hypocritical I know. But it all comes down to time. I don’t have the time to do the work. To tune and adjust some wild new beast into a lean fighting machine? That takes time I don’t have. There are so many decisions and skills to practice in Magic, so many things you need to go right in order to win. Mulliganing, sequencing, when to play scared and when to go for it, bluffing, reading your opponents bluffs, knowing your role in any given match up. That is a lot to manage for my little brain. Tuning a brand new deck, figuring out its position in the metagame, that’s just another thing to manage on top of everything else. If I can skip all that, if I can leave the legwork to a testing team of pros, that’s an edge I’ll take. I’ll skip the deck decision and put my trust in someone better than me. I’m not embarrassed to net deck. I’m not embarrassed to be a barnacle. At the end of the day what I care about is the results.
If this appeals to you, hopefully we can work together and get better at this game. We can try and be better players and better opponents at the same time. Rotation and a fresh standard seems like the prime time to do this. The more and more I’ve become invested in Magic, the more I’ve found myself embracing that atypical Spike attitude, and I can’t help but feel like it’s working. The PPTQ and RPTQ top 8s started rolling in a little more often once I started picking up the de facto “best deck” of the format. Those matches got easier once I stopped inserting pet cards into my mainboards. The post board games got a lot easier when I stopped thinking about what I was expecting to play against, and I just started playing a pro’s suggested 75. Maybe this seems obvious to you, maybe this all seems redundant. But it took me a long time to “kill the boy”. To stop thinking I was smarter than everyone else and to start listening. I’m still not there yet, but we’re working on it.
“So your point is to read other people’s articles, and to copy their 75? That’s it? Why should we bother reading what you have to say then?”
I wish I had a smart answer to that. I couldn’t even write this article without constantly asking myself that question. Why should you read what I have to say? Who does this guy think he is? The best answer I could come up with is because I care. A lot. More than you could ever know, I live, breath, and eat Magic. All I want to do is play in tournaments. I get finished with 15 rounds of a GP and all I can think of is when is the next one. When do I get to play more Magic? So I’m hoping this article is the embodiment of all that passion, all that effort. And maybe you can reap the rewards of that hard work.
Plus, I’m going to try and do the work for you. I’m going to scour the internet, the dregs of Magic critical thinking and compile it for you. I’m going to look at what everyone better than me is saying, and I’ll and try to find the commonalities. And I’m going to pick up that 75 they suggest. And I’m going jam it in testing, jam it on MTGO, and I’m going to try and learn everything I can about it. So I can share with you what I learned, and maybe we can do something with that. Hope this wasn’t too much conjecture for you in my first article, but I wanted to outline where I am coming from as a player, and what I’m hoping this column accomplishes. It’s time to put in the work. Next week we’ll get into the specifics of decklist and talk about its intricacies and matchups. I can’t wait to see the results from the Open next weekend, and pick up some sweet 75. I have high expectations for a certain 13/13 for 13 (insider info: it doesn’t really cost 13) and a free uncounterable 5 damage board wipe that often tags along. But if it doesn’t put up the results? No darlings here, just results.
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