The last half of 2018 has been nonstop traveling and magic competitions for me. I’ve gotten accustomed to the “always on the go” lifestyle: finishing a week of school and work then hopping on a plane for the next big Magic event. Now the Star City Games Tour Season Two has ended, I have a handful of weeks off from competitive Magic. Maybe you’ve had the thought, “How do I stay competitive over break?” or “What do I do now?” I’m excited to have a couple weeks to relax, but I also want to improve in the next season. Here are some of my plans for the break to relax, but still stay competitive.


Magic Arena has been a great way to play and practice Standard and Limited for free. There are still economy issues within the game, but it doesn’t take too much time to build a Tier 1 Standard deck on Arena if you are trying to play for free. Otherwise, you can sink money into the game to get good decks almost immediately. Magic Fests in 2019 will have plenty of these two formats to look forward to, so Arena could be a great way to prepare for these events while having fun too!

If you’re like me and play more SCG Tour events than Magic Fests, you would know that there are no Limited events. So if you’re looking for Limited, Magic Fests are the way to go. However, if you’re looking for Standard, there are six Team Trios events and one Standard Open events in SCG Tour Season One, so there are plenty of opportunities for our Standard lovers. Most of next year will consist of a new Standard with the addition of the second set of Ravnica in January. While you won’t be able to test the new cards over break on Arena, you can find some friends to playtest with in paper when the spoilers come out.


In recent news, MTGO is not receiving the monetary support that is being put into Arena.  MTGO can still be a helpful way to practice eternal formats over break, however, specifically Modern. Modern is one of the most popular formats in Magic, hence why most individual events on the SCG Tour are Modern. With Arena not supporting Modern, MTGO is one of the best ways to practice Modern.

Many people who go to lots of events use rental services to rent MTGO decks to play, rather than buying entire decks. This is helpful if you’re changing decks often, which is not uncommon in the Modern format. However, if you are sure that you’re only going to play one deck (or have the money to buy multiple decks), it may actually save you money in the long term to buy instead of renting. I don’t play MTGO too often, but there are various tournament and practice options available on the program. You can play in practice lobbies, you can run a deck through a five-round league, and you can even enter scheduled events.

FNMs/Local Tournaments

In between large tournaments you can hit up your local game shops for some Friday Night Magic or any other local tournaments! In my experience, FNM is a more casual environment where you can practice and get reps with a deck, while still having a relaxing and fun time. It’s a way to play Magic over the break to keep you in practice but isn’t as “high-stress” or results-oriented as a large event.

Finding a good LGS may be hard for some people, and it may take a few tries in finding the right one for you. I am lucky to live in a city with 5+ game shops, and I have one amazing game shop I go to every Friday that I’m still in town. It took me a couple tries finding an LGS I liked, but I’ve made many great friends and memories at the LGS I go to now. It can be really relaxing and fun to take a break from high stakes/intensity tournaments to play in a bit more casual of a tournament.


Twitch is the popular way to watch all your favorite Magic streamers! Watching some popular or pro player streamers can help you improve you Magic game, especially if you aren’t interested or don’t have access to the previous ideas I listed. Hearing various people talk through their plays, instead of making decisions on your own, is a great way to hear different perspectives and learn. You start to see plays and lines that you have never even thought about before, or you can see a misplay and hear the streamer talk through their line of thinking and realize what a better play was.

These are just two examples, but there are endless amounts of things you can learn from watching streamers and/or participating in their chat. Speaking of streaming, in 2019 I plan on streaming Magic consistently and as often as I can! This is another thing you can do to immerse yourself into Magic, especially over the break. Set up your own Twitch channel and hit record, and you can keep up with Magic through Arena/MTGO while interacting with your viewers in chat.


Finally, it’s important to realize there are other important aspects to life than just Magic. The holidays and/or a break is here—take a deep breath and relax. Self-care is extremely important, especially if you have been eat, sleep, and breathing Magic like myself. My family is very into the holiday season, and I’ll be going to my parents’ house to celebrate and spend some much-needed relaxation time with them. I also plan to spend time with friends, maybe taking a couple days off from doing anything Magic-related. Play Richard Garfield’s new game, Keyforge, play some video games, eat unholy amounts of Taco Bell, play in the snow, or whatever you enjoy ensuring you get the self-care you need over the holidays. I hope everyone has a great break, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of me in 2019!

Ally Warfield is a Magic grinder and personality. She hosts the VClique podcast and is an up-and-coming grinder with an impressive range in terms of archetype selection. You can find her on Twitter @ArcticMeebo.

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