By Tyson Leonard

Editor’s Note: Meet Tyson Leonard, our third contributor to the new, rotating Scrub Report! Tyson’s articles will appear over the next four Fridays, as he details the highs and lows of being new to MTG. If you’d like to write for The Scrub Report, send an email to [email protected]

Read Reports From the North Part 1.

Part 2: Mistakes Were Made

I can still remember opening my first pack of Magic cards. It was a distant eight months ago, and Journey into Nyx was the newest set, and therefore my choice. I had no cards of my own yet, but had already decided on building a Timmy-like Simic deck. To my delight I opened the Timmy-est of green bombs, [casthaven]Heroes’ Bane[/casthaven]. I thought to myself, what could be better than a hydra that keeps getting bigger. I picked up some complementary cards, and went straight home to build a deck around this game-winning rare.

That was the first of many mistakes I’ve made playing Magic. It’s heartbreaking, I know, but [casthaven]Heroes’ Bane[/casthaven] just isn’t constructed playable. My original Simic bombs deck turned into a Gruul monstrosity deck, and then finally into a mono-green devotion deck that I still have sleeved up. Cards like [casthaven]Heroes’ Bane[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Fleetfeather Cockatrice[/casthaven] were replaced by much better cards like [casthaven]Polukranos, World Eater[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Courser of Kruphix[/casthaven].

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“It’s heartbreaking, I know, but Heroes’ Bane just isn’t constructed playable.”

 

Everyone already knows the best use of a mistake is to learn from it. As a new player mistakes will happen a lot, the problem is recognizing them. Some are easier than others to identify. Missing a prowess trigger is almost always a mistake, but when it comes to mulligans, or choosing which card to take off [casthaven]Thoughtsieze[/casthaven], it becomes a little less clear.

Knowing your deck, as well as all the popular decks in the format, is a good start to knowing your mistakes. So is practicing. But for me the biggest help was having people just flat out tell me when I’ve misplayed. If I’m playing casual, the first words out of my mouth after a game are usually “Do you think I should have…”. Not everyone you play against is going to have a definite answer, but most of the time they will at least have some input.

Playing casually it’s easy to acknowledge your mistakes once you’ve caught them. When it comes to competitive play the little bit of Spike in us can get in the way.

The first big competitive event I was able to play in was the recent GP Vancouver. After playing casually so much I was actually excited to play in such a formal environment. I went into the tournament expecting to make mistakes, and to hopefully learn from them. In the week leading up to the GP I played games where I pointed out every trigger, and announced every phase. Even so, I didn’t make it through the first round without forgetting a rather important [casthaven]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/casthaven] trigger.

Despite many mistakes, after four rounds in the main event I was 4-0. I sat down for my next match and promptly lost 0-2. After doing so unexpectedly well in the first few rounds the loss was more devastating than I would have thought. Instead of looking back to find my mistakes I immediately started thinking of excuses; I was new to Modern, I was playing against a much more experienced player, the nerves got to me. All of these were true, but relying on any of these excuses wouldn’t make me a better player.

It was a feature match, so after I’d gotten over the loss I was able to watch it and find my mistakes. I quickly found a few. One involved not playing around Cryptic Command. Nowadays I can recite the text for Cryptic word by word.

Learning from your mistakes isn’t just for those of us aspiring to take down GP’s and play in the Pro Tour. Playing EDH around the kitchen table becomes much more fun when everyone is at a higher skill level. Part of the draw of Magic is it’s complexity, but to fully experience that complexity you have to understand it first.

"This article isn't meant to be yet another Mr. Miyagi moment."

“This article isn’t meant to be yet another Mr. Miyagi moment.”

This article isn’t meant to be yet another Mr. Miyagi moment. I’m not trying to impart sage wisdom. For one thing, I’m the scrub, not the karate master. In summary, the process of making mistakes and learning from them, is for me, one of the reasons I enjoy playing Magic so much.

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