This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Strategy

Grandpa (Eric)

By Eric (AKA Grandpa Growth)

 

Wherever knowledge goes, misinformation is sure to follow. Some topics can be confusing. Magic is a place where this is true more often than not. “No Uncertain Terms” is meant to give all players that same base of requisite knowledge to completely understand an issue; to give all Magic players, new and old, the language to communicate and fully understand each other.

Let’s begin right at the top. What is strategy? Let’s pull some definitions straight from Webster.

 

Strategy – A plan or method for achieving a specific goal or result.

Your strategy is the most basic description of how you are planning to win the game. Let me give you an example that will probably sound familiar:

“Deploy cheap creatures early to pressure the opponent’s life total. Use burn spells to clear away blockers or finish off your opponent once they have stabilized the board.”

This is the strategy of ‘Red Deck Wins’. It is true for virtually all versions of the deck across every format, but it is necessarily vague. It isn’t meant to be an exhaustive playbook of all your potential actions. A strategy is more like a title than a table of contents.

 

Lines

Your line is a short script of your upcoming actions within the game. If your strategy is to win by taking control of the board, your line would be to cast a removal spell on your opponent’s creature and then play a threat of your own on your next turn. You may have multiple potential lines that you could take and choosing which is best is simply a matter of skill and experience.

This terminology applies specifically within the game. When you are discussing potential, hypothetical lines, (like say, your ideal opening turn) that is a script. This difference is subtle and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably despite of my best efforts. You see, a script is like the fire escape plan. It all sounds good on paper, but when people are on fire the situation rarely evolves according to plan.

 

Tactics – Any mode of procedure for gaining an advantage.

A tactic is the actual play. The specific thing that you do to gain an advantage. An example of a tactic would be using your removal spell on the end of your opponent’s turn so that they must choose to use a counter spell now, clearing the way for your next big play.

Usually, when we are talking about tactics, we are talking about playing on the mental level. If all you do is draw your card and play it every turn, you aren’t playing tactically. You aren’t thinking of what your opponent’s plan may be or when you could use your cards to greatest effect. Tactics are best honed through practice, but require more than just rote repetition of the same action. Remember:

 

You must think to win.” – Grandpa Growth, 2015

 

An analogy: You’re planning a vacation. Your strategy is to drive there. Your script is the turn by turn directions that you plan to take, assuming nothing funny happens. Tactics are the actual maneuvers themselves; taking detours around traffic, passing slower cars, stopping to rest when you need it. When you string together your upcoming set of turns, that is your line.

I hope that cleared some things up for you. Learning the language to communicate with Magic players can sometimes be a daunting task, but other times all it takes is a quick look at the dictionary to get your terms straight.

This is all important to set up, because we are going to be using it next week when I talk about building decks for a specific strategy.

Let’s end with a quote from one of the greatest strategic minds of all time, Sun Tzu:

 

All men can see these tactics by which I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy from which victory is evolved.” – The Art of War

 

GG

 

 

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