Zach is on break this week for finals but in the meantime we revisit this timeless tale of MODO and Anger…

Time to admit something: I’ve been getting angry lately. A lot.

I’ve been without my computer for five and a half weeks. It broke thrice in as many months. Sure, it’s getting replaced with a better model for free, but that still leaves me without a computer. This makes playing Magic Online difficult (I’ve gotta borrow a computer) and it makes streaming impossible (borrowed computers can’t handle streaming). Also, it makes life difficult, as I rely on my computer for everything, from maintaining communication to maintaining my sanity (I’m a huge introvert). So, I’m under some amount of additional stress at present.

I’m sorry to whine—I didn’t write this to complain about my computer situation (I do plenty of that in real life). I want to set the stage for you. Before these problems started in June, I drafted on Magic Online five to twenty times a week. I was infinite, so I never/rarely had to put real money into the game; I won enough drafts to continue drafting, which is no easy feat. My limited rating (which doesn’t matter for anything but is a good indicator of progress) was hovering a few points shy of 1900 (a signpost I’d never hit and was excited to surpass). I was winning and it felt great.

Now, I get to draft maybe twice a week on MODO.

And

I

Keep

Losing.

 

AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!

 

 

 

Ahem.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

Blind with Anger

If there’s anything I’ve learned from therapy and psychology, it’s that denying or suppressing emotions is unhealthy and unproductive. So, I accept my anger. I’m ready to listen and perhaps determine why I’m feeling this way. It’s time for a conversation with myself.

AngerI’m angry!

Logic: Yes, Anger. You always are. Why are you angry right now?

Anger: We’ve been losing. When we lose, I get angry!

Logic: Clearly. However, this wasn’t always the case. Previously, losing was a mild frustration, but rarely did it make us angry.

AngerYeah, but we didn’t used to lose this much. Remember our precious Limited rating? We were finally about to crack 1900 and now we’re below 1800. Remember how we were infinite and had more tickets and packs than ever before? Now we’re BROKE. We need to spend real money on Magic Online. We ^[email protected]@#$ing suck!

Logic: More blunt that I’d put it, but yes, Anger, those things have happened. However, I’m not certain that you’ve answered my question. The question is why have these things been happening?

Confidence: Logic, dude, you’re not gonna get a straight answer from Anger. Why not listen to someone who knows the real deal?

Self-doubt: Why…are you even…bothering…Logic? I don’t think…that we’re good…at Magic anymore. Let’s just…accept it…and try something else.

Confidence: Whoah, that’s bogus! We’re great at Magic!

Anger: NOPE. LOSING.

Self-doubt: What he…said.

Logic: I’d like to get us back on track. Let’s table pondering why we’re angry and investigate why we’ve been losing. This surfeit of losing coincides with Theros’ release on Magic Online. Perhaps the new format is at fault. Goodness knows we’re not as experienced at Theros as we were at Innistrad, Avacyn Restored, and Return to Ravnica block. It shouldn’t be surprising that we’re still learning the format.

Confidence:   It’s not the learning curve—we’re fantastic at picking up formats! Remember how we rock at old set Limited, even when we’re the least experienced player at the table? The learning curve isn’t the problem. It’s probably Anger. He’s making us lose. We’re too angry to focus.

Anger: I am not! #$^#$ you!

Confidence: Are too! #$^#$ you!

Self-doubt: We’re not…good at all…formats. Rise of the…Eldrazi…

Confidence: Yeah, yeah, we’re not that great at Rise. That’s the exception to the rule.

Logic: Self-doubt has a point. We’re not skilled, at least not immediately, at every format. We lost every Return to Ravnica draft for the first six weeks it was out.

Self-doubt: Those were…good daysto be me.

Confidence: Those days sucked!

Anger: Hrm. I don’t remember them very much.

Logic: Fascinating! The last time we were struggling with a format, we responded with despondency rather than rage. I wonder what is different between Theros and Return is Ravnica.

Confidence: Except we’re not struggling with it! We’re crushing drafts in paper! We win drafts or at worst go 2-1. Always. We never lose in paper. And in paper Magic, we’ve got better opponents—you can’t deny that our testing partners or even the average player at a Twenty Sided draft is better than the average player in an 8-4.

Anger: Damn right they are!

Self-doubt: I’m not…so sure.

Confidence: Something’s wrong. We’re losing on MODO to worse players.

Self-doubt: Are…we?

Anger: Yeah! We’re losing to losers! Of course I’m angry!

Logic: We appear to have an answer. The question at hand is what is different between Theros and Return to Ravnica. The answer, which Confidence provided, is that we’re consistently winning in paper Magic but losing online, whereas in Return to Ravnica, we lost consistently. I’d like to investigate why.

Confidence: That’s an easy one. Remember our last draft? The one with the sweet blue-white heroic deck?

Logic: Yes, that deck losing in the first round was the impetus for the article. We even have a screenshot of it from our Facebook post.

Facebook post UW draft

Draft WU

Self-doubt: I wrote…that bit about…0-1 drop.

Confidence: Mystery solved! It’s Self-doubt’s fault! He wants to lose and he’s dragging us down with him! He thinks we’ve gone soft after months of not streaming. I tell ya, ya can’t trust folks with dashes in their names, amiright, guys?

Anger: HOW COULD YOU?!

Self-doubt: Me? But…I…

Confidence: I even finished that sentence, but you sabotaged the entire draft! Why won’t you listen when I tell you how awesome we are?

Self-doubt: But…we’re not…remember that time…we lost to Owen T-

Anger: AAAARGH!

Confidence: Lucky pro with all the rares? How were we supposed to win? Probably cheated, drawing that Supreme Verdict all the time. That wasn’t our fault.

Logic: We’re off-topic again, and I think we’ve learned something interesting. Let’s return to our blue-white deck. We were very proud of it.

Confidence: Deck was a work of art. Said so myself.

Self-doubt: We’re not going…to be that…lucky again…soon.

Confidence: Luck?! Drafting that was skill! We read the signals like a pro and drafted the best deck at the table.

Anger: And we lost!

Confidence: To some rando!

Anger: So unfair!

Confidence: We should have won!

Anger: Yeah!

Logic: Clearly, you two have made up.

Self-doubt: No one makes up with me.

Logic: Self-doubt, calm down. I think we’ve gotten to the bottom of this. We lost in game one to our opponent casting Shipwreck SingerGray Merchant of Asphodel and Rescue from the Underworld to recur the Gray Merchant. We lost game three to four activations of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, thanks to a pair of them and Rescue from the Underworld.

Confidence: What a lucksack! We were about to win those games and then BAM, he topdecks like a champion!

Logic: I’m not so certain. Our opponent still had cards in hand was making sure to keep creatures on the battlefield, rather than trade them off in combat. In game three, we chose to double-block the Gray Merchant.

Confidence: Dude, we had to block it—we were at eight life!

Logic: I didn’t suggest that we shouldn’t have blocked it. I question why we double blocked it with our 3/3s.

Self-doubt: I was…wondering…about that.

Logic: If we single blocked it, we might have lost our Thassa’s Emissary or Battlewise Hoplite to a Pharika’s Cure, but our opponent would not have been able to use Rescue from the Underworld to use both Merchants.  We would have gone to one and survived.

Confidence: Alright. Your point, smartypants?

Logic: We didn’t acknowledge the possibility of our opponent having relevant cards. We were focused on winning.

Anger: I’m confused. Don’t we want to win?

Self-doubt: When we’re…winning…is when it’s…important…to know…how things can go… wrong.

Logic: I’m astonished, Self-doubt. It’s rare that we so often see eye-to-eye.

Confidence: What’re you siding with him for? Maybe you both want us to lose!

Anger: Wait…why are we fighting?! I don’t understand!!!

Logic: I’m sorry, Anger. As it turns out, this isn’t your fault at all. Your unusual passion is the symptom of our dilemma, not the cause. Self-doubt, while you may often plague us at every decision and every social situation, you are not the culprit either. While I find finger-pointing to be both detrimental to positive interactions, and technically impossible as we’re abstract concepts, I lay this burden at the feet of Confidence.

Confidence: What? Me?! Why would you attack me, after all the years spent building me up? I’m a good emotion! I’m the good guy here!

Logic: Unfortunately, you are not the protagonist today. I posit that we have been plagued by cockiness. Our bravado has grown to such a point that we’ve eschewed superior play. We no longer consider alternatives to lines of play or situations that could go wrong for us. We barrel ahead, self-assured of the superiority of our drafting, deckbuilding, and play skill.

Confidence: But… that doesn’t explain why we’re winning in paper Magic…

Logic: You’ve graciously provided the answer to that question. I quote, in paper Magic, we’ve got better opponents—you can’t deny that our testing partners or even the average player at a Twenty Sided draft is better than the average player in an 8-4.” We respect our opponents in paper Magic. We don’t take it for granted that we’re better than them.

Self-doubt: That makes…my job…a whole lot… easier.

Logic:  We’re not quite so cocky when playing paper Magic, Confidence. That’s why we’re still winning.

Confidence: But… I’m… so… it’s my fault?

Anger: HOW COULD YOU?!

Self-doubt: You’re starting…to sound…like me……..heh.

Logic: This is a good thing, Confidence! We’ve isolated the cause of the problem: imbalance. We had a very, very good run and that gave us an inflated ego.

Ego: You rang?

SuperEgo: I wanna be on the Justice League!

Id: I bring out the true form of Weltall!

Anger: GET OUT! This head is crowded enough!

Logic: *Ahem* Well then.

Confidence: That was weird.

Logic: Indeed.

Confidence: Look, I’m, uh, I’m sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to take things too far. It feels really good to feel good, amiright?

Anger: Yeah! Why don’t I feel that way right now?!

Logic: It looks like the lesson has been learned. Confidence, we all love you (well, inasmuch as I understand the concept of love)—and no, Love, that is not an invitation to join the conversation, we’re just about finished—but you have to listen to Self-doubt sometimes. I know that it sounds strange, but it’s nevertheless true.

Self-doubt: I feel like…we’ve… made some… progress. Well…you have.

Confidence: Alrighty. Well then, care to draft, folks?

Logic: I’m surprised you needed to ask.

Self-doubt: I’m… not… sure.

Anger: You never are! Drafting time now!

 

 

 

 

Lust: I was meaning to ask you, this, but why weren’t you in Typecasting?

Tribal: Creature gave me the wrong time. Sent me to a Kaijudo meeting instead.

Lust: Ah. Well then, got any threes? 

Tribal: Go fish.

 

—Zachary Barash

twitch.tv/ZennithGP — Join the livestream!

Magic Online username: Zennith

Zachary Barash is kooky. If you’ve read this article, it should come as no surprise.

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