Land, go. Land, go. Land, go.

Villainous Wealth for, uh, seven?”

“Jesus fucking Christ.” And I slam my cards together in anger.

Let’s call that a composite scene from a few of my recent Magic: The Gathering games, which I reproduce here to dramatize a problem I’ve been seeing in myself: too much salt.

And I’ve not even been doing badly lately—in fact I’ve been doing pretty well—so I extra don’t have an excuse. What are my symptoms?

  • I haven’t been as gracious of a loser as I would like to be.
  • I have blamed recent losses more on mana flood than is probably accurate. (Not so much on mana screw, though, which makes me wonder if I shouldn’t be playing fewer lands or more highly prioritizing card-draw spells, such as Tormenting Voice in aggro decks or Bitter Revelation or Enhanced Awareness in more controlling decks.)
  • I haven’t been as generous in offering the handshake after a loss, or saying “good game” to my opponent—regardless of how good a game I thought it was.
  • And, perhaps most importantly—especially when it comes to my friends in Team Draft League—I don’t think I’ve been a very fun opponent to play against. Lately, when I’m on the back foot, I’ve just been getting very tilted and salty and unpleasant. And I don’t like it.

What should I do? The first step, as they say in recovery, is admitting that you have a problem. Of course it isn’t as dramatic as all that, but the analogy applies. So let this article serve as notice that I recognize that there is a problem.

It’s relatively early for me, too. I haven’t yelled at anyone or flipped a table or etc. I’ve just been not the best version of myself when playing Magic.

Why is this happening? I have a few theories.

  • One, I’m at a point in my Magic career where doing well is really, really important to me.
  • Two, Team Draft League is competitive. I was picked relatively highly in this current season, and that makes me feel as though I need to “justify my seed,” to use a March Madness term.
  • Three, I might think I’m better than I am, and that I don’t “deserve” losses. Which is patently bullshit.

Going forward, I’m going to try and arrest this saltiness. In the past, I’ve felt that I’ve played my absolute best when I am calm and relatively free from emotion—stoic.

I want to get back to that—and that’s hard to do when I am letting my passions and emotions rule me. If I feel that playing passionless is me at my best, then allowing my emotions to take over when I hit a skid of bad luck all but insures that I will be unable to recapture the placid, cool state that I value—to be able to see those 1’s and 0’s, as Hugh Kramer recently said.

And I want my friends to hold me accountable. So call me out if I’m being too salty in a draft, friends. I promise that I will be chill.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.