Friday, February 11, 2011

Reviewing Previous Games

If you want to be good at magic, there are a lot of strategy articles you can read, and a lot of ways to get practice. But you will never get anywhere if you don't follow this rule: always review your games. If you don't review how you played previous games, you'll never know if you played well or not, and if you didn't play well you won't be able to improve that, and you'll keep losing because of the same mistakes.

I know a lot of people out there who try and get better at magic by just practicing all the time, never reviewing, and so I wanted to post this to give an example of what I mean. This is a review I just wrote up of a game I played very poorly against UG Vengevine. I made a lot of mistakes, because I had never played against the deck before this match, so there was a lot I got to learn from while writing this that I would've been oblivious to if I had never tried.

"vs aubartender (UG Vengevine)

kept a hand with 2 inquistions, preordain, jace, doom blade and 2 lands. Seems pretty nuts. I
can disrupt all his early plays, as well as kill an oracle or frost titan and make sure i
stick a jace.

first inquisition sees forest, khalni garden, beleren, garruk, lotus cobra, island, spell

It can take beleren, lotus cobra or spell pierce.

If it doesn't take spell pierce then the my opponent can play an island preventing me from
getting anything other than the spell pierce the turn after with my other inquisition, so I
take the spell pierce to see that extra card the next turn when I take the jace or the cobra.

How do I win?: If garruk sticks I have no way of killing it in my hand. Drawing
creeping tar pit takes my whole turn to put garruk to 1, and my whole next turn to kill it.

Nighthawk takes 3 attacks to kill it and would require me to another land as well. My best
bet is to counter garruk and start jacing.

I can't start jacing if I let him stick beleren, and have no way of killing beleren in my
hand. But I have to find a counterspell for garruk or he will destroy me.
He plays khalni garden.

Draw preordain. The next turn I have up one blue or one black. I can preordain to find a
counter, leading to the series of plays: lotus cobra, doom blade plus inquisition if
preordain hit a land; or lotus cobra, inq preordain if no land. If that happens my opponent
plays land garruk and I basically lose.

How do I win?: I can preordain into a land, then doom blade the cobra and inq the jace or I
can inq the jace, then next turn doom blade the cobra, then the turn after that preordain to
find a counter AND a land (if I didn't draw one).

I believe the former is better, I did the latter.

I inq the jace, play my tapped land and pass the turn.

My opponent plays cobra as expected. I draw drowned catacomb and am forced to doom blade it,
play my tapped land and pass.

My opponent passes with three mana untapped. If I do nothing my opponent plays garruk and I
am way behind so I can't play around counterspells.

How do I win?: I can preordain into an untapped land or a mana leak. Mana leak gives me an
answer to garruk, untapped land gives me the sequence: second preordain into mana leak.

I preordain into two untapped lands and put them both on the bottom (not understanding that
an untapped land gives me another preordain). Still, I blind draw an untapped land. However I
don't play it, I play my tapped land instead. This is my biggest misplay, as it lets my
opponent stick a garruk that I cannot deal with.

My opponent doesn't play garruk, he plays vengevine.

How do I win?: Priority one: stop garruk from landing, priority two, get rid of the

I preordain into an irrelevant card and a nighthawk. Thinking that nighthawk can
block vengevine or attack garruk, I keep it. This allows me next turn to attack garruk with
hawk AND tar pit and kill garruk, leaving me on 12 and tapped out with two jaces in my hand.
Then after going to 8 I can leave nighthawk back and play jace to draw some answers.
So I play nighthawk and pass the turn. He attacks with vengevine, and I block (?!). This is
basically game over because I can't deal with garruk anymore. I have to tap out to take
garruk to one, he has 6 mana total and I have to tap down to 2 lands to kill it, putting me
too far behind to come back.

He play's garruk, untaps and plays fauna shaman. I draw doom blade.

How do I win?: I need to remove garruk as soon as possible. I can doom blade fauna shaman to
stop him from tutoring, but at this point I have to kill garruk, so I just have to hope he
has no other creatures and tar pit into garruk twice in a row.

I don't do that, instead I play jace and bounce fauna shaman. He's able to play frost titan,
untap with garruk and play fauna shaman, returning vengevine. He misclicks and doesn't attack

How do I win?: I need to remove the frost titan (which tapped down my tar pit) and the
vengevine to not die immediately. Then remove the garruk. I only have 4 mana so I can doom
blade frost titan and pay 2, and bounce VV, or bounce frost titan and pay two and doom blade
VV. If I bounce VV he'll just play it again and attack immediately, so it gives me more time
to doom blade the vine and hope he can't play two creatures.

Instead I brainstorm with jace, even though there are no answers in my deck, and doom blade
the titan. He kills jace, attacks me and makes a beast with garruk leaving garruk on 4 mana
and plays a jace.

Now I can't win, because I have to tap out to attack garruk to prevent an overrun, and if I
do there's nothing I can draw to come back from the life I'll be left on after an attack, and
so I concede."

I played this game very poorly, making many misplays. On top of that I didn't side board as best as I could have. I should have sided in my duresses, knowing that garruk was a problem I could not solve without a counter spell and I needed extra answers. However, by writing this review, I was able to see all of this. So the next time I verse this deck, I'll be ready. I implore you, if you want to improve your game, to do the same.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Standard Daily Commentary on MTGO

For a while now I've done a commentary series of games I've played on Magic Online. After a bit of a break over the Christmas holidays, I'm back to recording games and uploading them to Youtube and to I try to focus on and explain my thoughts as I play, so you can get a bit of insight into my mind. This is an example of the kind of videos you can find on my Youtube channel:

If you think you might be interested in this series, and a whole like of other series like it, head on over to my youtube channel and subscribe:

I'll keep my blog up to date with results as well, so you can come here if you want to skip all the video stuff and just see how things went. In this series, shot today, I hadn't played in a while when I started up again, so I was a little rusty. The first match was against a somewhat terrible goblin deck, and the UB matchup against aggro is pretty good, so it wasn't hard to take down. Round 2 was against the mirror, so it was a little harder, and I made a bit of a terrible blunder game two which cost me the game. Even still, I took down game three to move on 2-0. After that I played a series of games against boros that I'm sure I played terribly. I didn't have to watch it over more than once to see a number of things that could easily have won me that match, but as it happened I played poorly and lost. The final round was again against the mirror, and a few more mistakes combined with a lot of bad luck left me with a final score of 2-2, which isn't in the prize bracket.

Straight after this I played another event and went 3-1 (I could have easily gone 4-0, but in the final game of the final match I didn't play around a certain Eldrazi Monument that I very easily could have and I got pretty annoyed at myself), and the beauty of daily events is that you can lose 2 in a row, and then place 2nd on the prize bracket (3-1) and still make a profit, that's not to mention how things go if you place 4-0. So I'm still up tickets in the end, and looking to record a lot more commentaries in the near future.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mirrodin Besieged Launch

I went to the launch today as I said I would. First off, I didn't realise that faction packs were prerelease ONLY, so I didn't even have to decide. I ended up being mostly Phyrexian anyway, and made a pretty sweet Brg infect deck. In case you've never played with the new set, infect is a keyword that gives a creature the ability to deal poison damage (10 poison counters kills a player), as well as making the creature deal damage in -1/-1 counters to other creatures like wither.

So a few of the major players in my deck, and some of my thoughts on the cards that won me games.

It's been clear for a while now that these two cards are good in limited games. Both of these just happened to be in my sealed deck, and neither one let me down. I never cast arc trail without gaining significant card advantage and tempo, and plague stinger was the number one cause of death for all of my opponents. Flying with poison is still good, nothing has changed there.

This is another card that's been around awhile, but probably hasn't seen as much play as the other two due to rarity. I've got to say, I always knew this guy was good, but he's never blown me away before, until today. I never lost a game that I got him out (except for the game against the mortarpod deck *grumble*), and he often times did 6-7 poison damage without ever connecting with the opponent himself. You need a lot of infect guys to make the lord of infect good, but when you do, he's insane.

This is the first of the impressive cards from the new set that I had in my deck. It's good in a very similar way to how arc trail is good (destroying two cards with one), and I was lucky to have both of them in my deck. While it is similar to arc trail, it has very different conditions to making it good. With the burn spell, they need small butted creatures, with this, their good cards have to be artifacts. I actually ran into a situation where I could have used either Into the Core or arc trail to kill the same two creatures, I went with arc trail thinking it was more likely for my opponent to play more artifacts than small creatures. I'm still not sure if I made the right move, but in the end it didn't make a difference, as my opponent's next two creatures were a 4/2 artifact and a 3/1 artifact.

The last of the crazy good cards from my deck is another of the new cards, and man is it crazy. Before now the only way to get an infect guy into the air without using equipment was to play plague stinger, a 1/1 that packs a punch but a 1/1 no less. That's not true anymore, as there is now an flying poison imp, who sits in the air as a 2/2... 3/3... 4/4? Oh wait they're dead you win. Seriously, if they don't kill this guy or set up a series of flying blockers, they will be dead in a few turns. Just don't play dumb, instant speed removal does exist, and if your opponent goes for your imp's throat after you sacrifice all your creatures, you will probably lose that game. My only problem with this guy all day was that he seemed to like the bottom of my deck, i only drew and cast him once, and he didn't even have to pump himself by that point to finish my opponent off.

Apart from these VIPs, my deck contained a lot of infect burdles, a few good removal spells, and a couple equipment to give me reach. I ended up coming second with a near undefeated record, tied for first in match wins and losing by a tiebreaker of 0.1%. The guy who ended up coming first was the only guy who beat me in a single game (he destroyed me 2-0, and then again in the friendly between rounds), and he did it with this card:

The bane of my decks existence, and the latest card I've developed an irrational grudge against (the previous one being Lighthouse Chronologist, damn thing won my opponent two games when I was a turn or two from winning and I had nothing in my deck to kill it with.) As for Mortarpod, well if you take a quick survey of all common and uncommon black infect creatures in Scars and Besieged you'll very quickly see a trend in toughnesses that looks like this: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2... and as you can imagine, a card that gives your opponent the ability to sacrifice his far inferior dudes to destroy your entire army is not going to be your best friend. I even got the Praetor out to pump my team, and my opponent played a little idiot, sacrificed it and one of his germs and my army was back to being defenceless.

But despite this utter destruction, I still ended up thrashing my other opponents, awarding me a very close second place. Now to go open my prize packs and see how many Tezzerets I can snag. Until next time,


Friday, February 4, 2011

New Blog

Wow I haven't blogged since I was in high school, but that went semi-successfully so what's the worst that can happen right? I've once again decided to give my two cents to the internet, to repay it for all it's done for me. If you want to give a theme to my blog it would probably be MTG, but don't expect me to stay on topic all the time. I spend a lot of time playing magic but that's not all I do.

As for right now, I'm brushing up on new cards for the Mirrodin Besieged launch next week. I didn't get a chance to go the pre-release due to lack of cash, but I got paid in time to make the launch. The last launch I went to I placed first with an undefeated record, so I can't slack off when I've got an image to uphold (really M11 was just overly nice to me luck-wise, but that's not the point). The first thing I've got to decide is, mirran or phyrexian. Maybe I should make a pro's and (other pro's?) list to help me decide:

Phyrexian Pros
  • Sweet infect cards
  • Awesome release card
  • Best limited Zenith (black one obviously)
  • Living weapons

Mirran Pros
  • Er... people won't think you're following the crowd by picking Phyrexian?

Ok so it's obviously a little more involved than that, but it's clear i've made my decision. I like to win, so I'll be fighting for the phyrexians. Now that that's decided, i'm off to study the cards (all the cards, I have to know what my opponent's are playing too), and hopefully I can catch a bit of luck tomorrow. I'll be back then to post my results (and hopefully do a bit more of an involved blog post, this is my first one in a long time after all. I'll get better I swear!)