Wednesday, December 28, 2016

If you want to get good at MTG you have to set SMART goals for yourself

If you want to improve at Magic the Gathering, you have to set clear goals for yourself. If you want to become the best local player at your FNM or want to win the Pro Tour does not matter but with a clear goal you can more easily see what steps you need to take to achieve it.

A smart person once made the SMART rule for goals. That works for business people. It works for MTG players as well.

A useful goal should be SMART!

S: Significant. Your goal should be significant. It should mean something to you. Achieving this goal should be a milestone in your Magic career. It can be a small milestone but it still has to be significant to YOU.

M: Measurable. Your goal should be measurable. "Get better at Mulliganing" is not a SMART goal. "Mulligan 10% less hands" is better. Measurable goals should not focus too hard on win rates as your win rate suffers from variance - you are still drawing cards from a deck and looking to much at your win rate will make you too results-oriented, a classic downfall for players of any card game (or all random games).

A: Attainable. Set realistic goals that you can reach within a meaninful period of time. "Being in the hall of fame" is a nice goal but it will not lead you on the path you need to take to master your local FNM metagame.

R: Relevant. Make sure your goal is really something you want to achieve. Consider the costs. Making the Hall of Fame will require sacrifice along the way. Are you prepared to make that sacrifice? How will this goal help you achieve your longterm goals?

T: Trackable. The goal must have a set time when you should have achieved it. "Play ten FNMs" is a worse goal than "Play ten FNMs before January 2018"

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Always ask yourself what you could do better in Magic

One enormous mistake most Magic players make is to try to justify their plays and try to prove that they are good enough players.

Magic is a very complicated game. When I was playing in my 2nd World Championship I was fairly convinced that the game was solved. I attributed my 8-10 record to bad luck, bad matchups etc. Shortly thereafter I fell off the pro tour circuit. I could not have been more wrong. Magic has proved again and again that it is one of the most complicated games around. It is far from solved.

Always ask yourself what you could have done better in a game of magic. Review your games. Look for your mistakes. Look for your tendencies. Know your mental shortcuts and do not be afraid to reconsider them.

The question you should always be asking yourself i s "How can I improve my game". Never ask "Why did this happen to me?" If there is anything in common among Magic pros that are constantly successful it is their neverending quest to question what they know of the game, listen to other good players and improve, improve, improve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Red Deck Wins in Pauper

A new kind of Goblin deck has appeared. Its not all Goblins. It is more like a traditional RDW deck. Lets have a look at it

Main deck
19 Mountain
4 Mogg Conscripts
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Cohort
3 Goblin Heelcutter
3 Inner-Flame Acolyte
4 Jackal Familiar
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Fireblast
2 Chain Lightning
4 Mudbrawler Cohort
3 Porcelain Legionnaire
4 Valley Dasher

3 Electrickery
4 Flame Slash
2 Flaring Pain
3 Smash to Smithereens

3 Pyroblast

Attack with aggressive creatures. Clear the way with burn. Its all 1997 again. I am going to give this deck a try for four weeks on the MagicGatheringStrat youtube channel. Here is the first match vs a Jund deck. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Aehter Revolt is coming

It is soon time to take the power back! Spoiler season over the holidays is always kind of weird but it has started and it should be ended around January 12th.

The Prerelease is January 14-15th

Magic Online Prerelease starts Jan 27th.
Magic Online Release Date is Jan 30th.

Pro Tour Aether Revolt takes place Feb 3-5th in Dublin, Ireland.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mysterious WotC survery

Wizards sent to certain customers a mysterious survey on a new packaging. It was just a matter of time when it will leak to the public. The names of new sets and picture of Ajani and prolly Vrasca on the booster packs made some buzz. The excitement was raised by theoretical setting in which these characters meet. It seems that after Egyptian Amonkhet set we will travel to Aztec's or Mesoamercia lands. But, according to earlier MaRo's statements it is allegedly more likely that we will return now to well known land, not visit a new one.

Wizards quickly confirmed that the pictures are authentic, but stated that it only represent concepts for packaging, not the actual package. In fact, identical packaging exists and is sold in stores such as Walmart. So why really Wizards conducted this poll? To check how the pictures present on the boosters or rather the to observe the reaction of players?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Stompy back on top in Pauper

After the banning of Peregrine Drake, people expected midrange decks such as Murasa Tron and MBC to rise to the top again.

Curiously this has not been the case.

This is the metagame today

1. Stompy 12.5% (29 decks)
2. Delver 12.07% (28 decks)
3. Affinity 12.07% (28 decks)
4. Kuldotha Boros 9.05% (21 decks)
5. Elves 6.47% (15 decks)

Five aggro decks! MBC is nowhere to be seen. Tron is at #6.

Why? I believe the metagame is still in flux and that perhaps people are just picking midrange decks that are too slow. For now Pauper seems to be an aggrofest. If you want to play more than one color you better make it Affinity or Boros.

Here is a sample 5-0 Stompy deck. Some choice suprise me. Wild Mongrel and Basking Rootwalla are tested and found to be wanting long ago in the Stompy lists. I don't see what makes them viable now.

Main Deck
2 Basking Rootwalla
1 Bonesplitter
1 Epic Confrontation
16 Forest
2 Garruk's Companion
4 Groundswell
2 Mutagenic Growth
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Rancor
2 River Boa
2 Silhana Ledgewalker
4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
2 Vault Skirge
4 Vines of Vastwood
2 Wild Mongrel
4 Young Wolf

3 Epic Confrontation
4 Gleeful Sabotage
2 Gut Shot
2 Natural State
1 Relic of Progenitus
3 Scattershot Archer

Do you have any thoughts on why aggro is dominating a format supposed to be dominated by midrange? How did Drake deal with all this aggression so successfully? Or did it?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pile shuffling

Today a few words about a pile shuffling. The question is whether it is really shuffling. Firstly, what is pile shuffling? Cards are simply dealt out into a number of piles, then the piles are stacked on top of each other.

Pile shuffling is not a shuffle at all. It is a deterministic method of reordering cards and counting them while pretending to shuffle. This only ensures that cards that were next to each other are now separated. Moreover, for any number of piles, the right number of repetitions will bring the deck back to its original state. This means you can predict with 100% accuracy, where cards will end up after 'shuffling' them. The pile shuffle might be useful in games that do not require complete randomization, such as Cards Against Humanity, where no player gains a competitive advantage from being able to predict or influence the order cards are drawn in, but you shuffle to provide a different game experience.

As far as you know it now and you should be aware, that some players might use this technique to have edge over you. Then, cutting opponent's deck may be not enough. To prevent your opponent from cheating this way do a riffle shuffle or a normal shuffle of his deck. 

Most of your opponents probably aren't using some complicated way to get an advantage over you by shuffling... But these cheaters are out there, and when you get paired against one, you don't want him to mess with you.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The end of the year of Modern Flashbacks

The year of Modern Flashbacks is coming to an end.

Its all Return to Ravnica block and M14 left.

Nov 30 - Dec 7: RTR x3
Dec 7-14: GTC x 3
Dec 14-21: RTR block, RTR+GTC+DGM
Dec 21-28: Magic 2014

RTR was the best of these formats IMHO. GTC is blindingly fast and the block format draft was quite strange. Magic 2014 was just superslow, make sure you draft Divination highly.

So what are your thoughts on the year of Modern Flashbacks? It seems to have brought prices down (along with everything else that has happened). Was it fun?

Holiday Promo: Thopter Pie Network

Every year on the occasion of Christmas time Wizards print a special card given only to its employees and sanctioned games stores, so are pretty unique This year's holiday promo is Thopter Pie Network. However, if you are thinking right now whether it is a good investment I will dispel your doubts very soon. Let's analyse the price of these promo cards using Mtggoldfish as a tool to quotation. We may notice that a newly released Chrismas promo card in December is worth more less 100 USD and it starts steadily declining in value as the time goes. Take a look at current prices:

2015: Goblin Sleigh Ride, 26.19 USD
2014: Mishra's Toy Workshop, 38.08 USD
2013: Stocking Tiger, 26.14 USD
2012: Naughty / Nice, 32.48 USD
2011: Yule Ooze, 35.36 USD
2010: Snow Mercy, 70.18 USD
2009: Season's Beatings, 40.22 USD
2008: Evil Presents, 68.42 USD
2007: Gifts Given, 136.11 USD
2006: Fruitcake Elemental, 48.79 USD

As the times goes on the investors expect the higher return rate on investment. However, the data presented above shows that regardless how many years passed these cards don't gain on value (only one exception Gifts Given). Despite of a limited printrun of Holiday Pormos a strategy to buy and hold a card for few years and observe how the profit is steadily raising doesn't work here. So, putting it all together - Holiday Promo cards are terrible investment, unless you may get them really cheap and you will sell them as soon as the possible.