The MTG Community - Improving Your Game [Edward Eng]
Some of this might be trivial to the veteran players out there. If it is, I hope this is just a reminder for you to keep your game up. For others who are newer to Magic, this might be a good shortcut to learning how to play more optimally.
Ever since I was kid, people thought I was a quick learner. For the most part, I probably agree. That doesn't mean I'm cocky, but it certainly means that I carry myself with a particular level of confidence. And as I mentioned before, confidence is an integral part of being successful in Magic and in life.
So one might ask, "How do I build confidence?" Well let me tell you, one of the best ways to build confidence is to always be willing to learn. How do you learn? Try things. And try a lot of things. Make mistakes. But more importantly, LEARN from your mistakes. And MOST importantly, as Donald Trump (potentially the next president of the USA) once said, "Learn from OTHER people's mistakes, it's much cheaper that way!"
Here are some key things I've learned over the years. First and foremost, you must get into the habit of asking questions. And secondly, asking the correct questions. So here we go...
1. What happens if I do action A?
This is the most basic question you should be constantly asking yourself throughout every game in every match.
Example (Eternal Formats)
There are only lands and sorceries in both graveyards. You opponent has a Tarmogoyf on the board. You Lightning Bolt the Tarmogoyf. What happens? Does Tarmogoyf die? Nope. The Lightning Bolt resolves. Then state-based effects are checked. By that time, the Tarmogoyf is a 3/4; hence, it survives the 3 damage.
2. What happens if I do action A versus action B?
Magic is a complex game because there are so many choices. But that's what makes the game so fun. And part of the fun is trying to figure out which choice is the best option at any given time in a game. But how do you determine what's best? Well, it's time to start the comparison game.
Example (Standard Format)
You cast the Hero's Downfall on your turn to kill Ashiok.
You pass the turn and wait till the end of your opponent's turn 4 to Hero's Downfall the Ashiok.
What happens if you take Action A? Well, you're 100% positive that you'll kill Ashiok. And what happens if you take Action B? Well, you're definitely NOT 100% positive that you'll kill Ashiok since your opponent might have countermagic in his or her hand.
3. Why am I doing action A?
This question is a bit similar to question 2 but also feeds into the following question.
Example (Modern Format)
Your opening Naya Burn hand of 7 on the play is...
Assuming you don't mulligan this hand, what land do you play first and why? For the most part, playing the Wooded Foothills and fetching for a Stomping Ground to put into play untapped to cast Goblin Guide and attack is correct. Why? Because you put Wooded Foothills in the graveyard to full your Grim Lavamancer that you'll probably play on turn 2. You'll also want to fetch-shock yourself in case you draw an Atarka's Command in the next few turns. Not to mention, you want to attack for 2 with Goblin Guide on turn 1.
Turn 2 is also a tricky one. And it's a turn where you'll most likely resort back to question 2 (What happens if I do action A versus action B?) on whether or not you should cast Lava Spike after Grim Lavamancer. Most of the time, it's incorrect to cast the Lava Spike because you have a Lightning Bolt in hand; thus, prompting question 2.
What happens if you take Action A? Well, you won't be able to Lightning Bolt your opponent's Wild Nacatl on his or her turn; thus, losing tempo. And what happens if you take Action B? Well, you give yourself the opportunity to Bolt the Nacatl on your opponents turn. Plus, you free up your mana on your turn 3.
4. What line(s) do I need to take to win?
As you can see in question 3's example, those are the kinds of questions and lines you should be taking to set you up for winning a game. And sometimes you have to shift your game completely.
Example (Modern Format)
Your opponent is playing Jeskai Control. And you're playing Naya Burn. You're on game 2 and you won game 1. Your starting 7 is...
You both keep and your opponent starts with a Leyline of Sanctity in play. Well, it's obvious that you pretty much need to win by attacking since you didn't side in any number of Destructive Revelry. But what do you do with your burn spells? Start preparing to take the line of burning yourself to pump your Monastery Swiftspears. Also, keep mana open when you can to protect and pump your Monastery Swiftspears with Boros Charm.
Finally, I'd like to talk about sideboarding. The reason being so is that there are also questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to sideboarding. The most basic one is...
5. What cards should I side in based on what my opponent will most likely bring in?
Example (Modern Format)
Alright folks, I hope this was helpful. And I look forward to seeing you on the battlefield.
Peace, love, and good games...