This entry is part 9 of 24 in the series Unexpected Results

Posted by Brian aka ChaosMTG


It’s currently 4:30 am. I’ve been awake for 34.5 hours and have had next to nothing to eat in the past 44.5 hours, yet somehow I feel fine… My body is weird. But that’s not the point. The point, partially, is that the internet takes me to some strange places when I have nothing better to do. (Technically, that’s all the time… But more so at times like these.)

Some highlights of the oddities among tabs I currently have open include Gatherer visual spoiler of cards illustrated by Steve Argyle, adorable fennec foxes, this… Triangle, the random card generator, a tab that I can’t legally say is a torrent of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, a randomized wikihow page, a video that conveniently ties in with said wikihow page even though it was opened about twelve hours earlier, ponies, and several things on Reddit that would be a bit too far outside of my comfort zone to actually link to (and possibly in violation some guidelines that keep getting a certain someone’s images removed…). The real point, though, is that somehow I ended up at this lifehacker article about motivating yourself to exercise when I noticed something…

Ok, I admit it, I haven’t actually read the article yet. Whenever I see an article that has bullet points like this, I have to scroll through them before I start reading. Conveniently, all of these bullet points happened to be great great advice in relation to Magic, especially EDH; so I came over here and started writing instead of actually reading it.

  • You’re not lazy, you’re just starting from zero.

This one applies mostly to new players, but I could see it applied to deckbuilding too. I’ve heard staples criticized as lazy and/or uninspired but, for most players,  I’ve found that they act as a stepping stone into the format – helping them as they start understanding it and remaining solid reliable cards as they become more accustomed to it. The same could be said of netdecking to some extent. “I want to try [inert legend name here]” … “Oh, ok, here are some decklists that use [legend name] and here are the cards that most of them use with [pronoun].”

  • Set the Bar Low and Start Small.

Pretty much the same as above, but more in regards to the bulk of the deck. Most players aren’t going to just immediately come up with top-tier decks when they make a new one; if your goal is to just make the deck playable, you won’t have as much to worry about initially.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Ok, this one is a bit off… Most players should probably be a bit more hard on themselves and realize their own errors rather than blaming factors outside of their control or not acknowledging their misplays. Still, even when you’re being hard on yourself, don’t be too hard on yourself, it will just ruin the game for you.

  • Don’t get caught up in the “all or nothing” mindset.

Also known as hypercompetitiveness. When you get too competitive, you lose sight of the main goal – having fun and playing a social game. Do you like winning? Probably, most people do; that’s fine. Just don’t focus so hard on winning that you miss out on the aspects that actually matter.

  • Understand how habits work.

Habits lead to stale play. Learn when to shake things up, but also learn your playgroup’s habits. Do you usually end up playing the same games against the same decks? Do you never let a certain spell resolve for fear of the results?  Well, stop doing that every so often. Conversely, counter that spell that someone always plays because it’s not too much of a threat but still value to them.  Do something different… Anything. This also works strategically; if you can understand your opponent/playgroup’s habits, you can also use them for your own benefits.

  • Find your “Secret Sauce”.

Gather your tech. No matter what your deck, there is some obscure long forgotten card out there that fits perfectly with it. Did you know Remove Enchantments exists? (Did you actually take the time to read and understand the oracle text?) Thicket Elemental is also a thing. I didn’t know it existed until a few days ago and I’m surprised I haven’t seen it in Maelstrom Wanderer decks. (It will soon be in mine. Also, here’s a definitely-in-no-way-related shameless PucaTrade plug.)

  • Whatever You Do, Make It Fun.

This is the entire point of the format after all. I’m not going to suggest trying to change your entire hypercompetitive meta if you’re not having fun, but suggest variants. Don’t be afraid of house rules. Try an Omen-Pool-Planar-Star* game, try a game without general damage. The more you change, the more fresh the game stays.
(*Omen-Pool-Planar-Star: A planechase game, in the star format, with both the effects of Omen Machine and Knowledge Pool in play)

  • Join Communities that Build Positive Habits.

Both real and online, get involved. Become active on forums. If you can find a playgroup that you like, go with it. If not, try to become a leader among your playgroup and build the positive habits/playstyles yourself… Or start your own playgroup, if you can. This is also where the social contract comes in. (But I don’t feel well enough versed on that subject to actually discuss it; I’ll leave that to Nole.)

  • Use Technology Wisely: To Recount Your Victories.

Or your defeats – any game, really, as long as it was memorable, why let any memorable game go unrecorded when you have access to the internet? Blog about it, post on a forum, or do something completely different! My playgroup uses a Facebook group to record games and generally maintain contact.

That’s all for today, but I think I’ll leave you with a story of one of my own victories… (Queue flashback music and nostalgic filter.)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer vs. Omnath, Locus of Mana vs. Rafiq of the Many vs. a fourth casual non-EDH deck that wanted to join in.
The early game drags on for a while where the Jor Kadeen player gets in some damage.
I don’t have much to do in the early game but build up mana as the Omnath player amasses an army of Ooze and Plant tokens.
I eventually have enough mana to kick a Rite of Replication of the Omnath player’s Primeval Titan, getting 10 more lands for me.
Omnath swings, trying to knock me out, but gets me down to 1 life instead, making me lose my titan tokens in the process and drawing his attention to killing the other two instead.
So, now I have 20 mana to work with.
Next turn I draw Soul’s Attendant and drop Stormtide Leviathan and Rhys the Redeemed in hopes of building up my life and to buy me some time since he has nothing with flying, hoping he doesn’t have a Beast Within or something waiting.
I don’t remember exactly how it went until the end, but it involved a lot of token quadrupling and lifegain each turn with Doubling Season and Nature’s Chosen on Rhys.
Eventually, he has a Platinum Emperion out and I have Platinum Angel I’ve played almost all of the legends in my deck for free by tutoring them up with Captain Sisay with Hunting Grounds ability on the stack.
The board state ended up a bit too complex to fully explain, but luckily there’s photographic documentation:
578623_3469071699785_2073585008_nAt this point, with the board state as insane as it was, it took a few turns for me to remember that I had Rubinia Soulsinger in play.
I steal the Emperion with Rubinia and swing for the win with a double striking, double combat, double exalted, hexproof Stormtide Leviathan riding a horse.

Series Navigation<< Unexpected Results 008 – Banlist Blues (and Greens)Unexpected Results 010 – Choose One or More >>