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.



  1. Good read and great insight. Ought to improve my game!

  2. I've always wanted to get in to Magic, and now I have a resource to go to to learn how to play

  3. Never realised how competitive Magic really was until a couple of years ago, really skilled game!

  4. i havent played magic before but i should probably check it out

  5. Am I the only one that still enjoys Pokemon?

    Can't say I've picked up magic but I know a bunch of guys that play in there free time. Sounds fun.

  6. It sounds very brain's like Homers, for new stuff to get in, old stuff needs to leave :)

  7. Not sure what it all means but you might want to correct your formatting.

  8. @Chris C

    No you're not the only one who still likes Pokemon. My blog is ALL ABOUT Pokemon. :D

    And another quality post Sasquatch!

  9. i totally agree with you...magic is like platying chess, you need to review what you have done in the past to get better

  10. I haven't played for years but this makes me want to get back into it.

  11. Detailed review. Keep it up, I do this when I pokemon TCG hahah.