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How I Became a Much Better Player with Deliberate Practice

February 8, 2015

Tight technical play decides more games of Magic than all other factors combined.

- Patrick Chapin (Hall of Famer and “The Innovator”)

Applying Deliberate Practice to MTG

Many years ago, I used to play on Magic-League. It’s an online MTG league that kept ratings. You start out at 1600. My rating was around 1650 so I was basically a slightly above average player. For months, I played many games to try to increase my rating but I could not do it until I did one thing.

I started applying “deliberate practice” to my game. Instead of just playing games over and over and hoping to increase my rating, I became intentional about improving my playskill.

A lot has been written about deliberate practice. The book, Talent is Overrated, was instrumental for helping me understand the concept and applying it to MTG.

Here’s what my practice looked like.

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4 New Features on MTG Analytics

August 5, 2013

I added four new features on MTG Analytics that I think you’ll find useful.

First, I partnered with TCGplayer to gain access to their pricing data. You can now see the card prices and total decklist price on the decklist pages (example). To calculate the total decklist price, I use TCGplayer’s average card price. If you click “Price Breakdown View”, you’ll see a list of all the average card prices of the decklist (example).

Second, I used the TCGplayer prices to create an average decklist price for each archetype. Check it out.

Third, you can see the average card quantity for each archetype. For example, currently Jund Midrange plays 2.90 main deck copies of Scavenging Ooze and 3.78 main deck copies of Bonfire of the Damned. To see this data for other archetypes, click the bar chart icon next to the archetype name on the deck metagame page.

Fourth, I added the card metagame. This feature shows you which cards are seeing the most play. Learn more about the card metagame by visiting the about page.

Introducing MTG Analytics: A Simple But Effective Metagame Tool for Standard

June 25, 2013

In the last two weeks, I’ve been coding feverishly to build a new Magic The Gathering site and I’m excited to launch it today.

Here’s the link: MTG Analytics. Note the URL is “.net” instead of “.com”.

MTG Analytics is a metagame tool to help players understand the standard format quickly. I wanted to build something simple and easy-to-use, a site where you could determine which decks were doing well right away.

On the home page, you’ve got the top ten archetypes with their metagame percentages. You can go to the deck metagame page to see more archetypes and a pie chart.

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How to Immediately Become Better at Sideboarding

June 7, 2013

One of the most common comments on this blog is players asking for sideboard plans. This is not surprising because sideboarding can be pretty tough and it often determines wins and losses.

If you think about it, your sideboarding strategy can really influence how well you do in a tournament. For example, you play in a four round FNM. Two rounds take two games to complete. The other two rounds take three games to finish.

That’s four games where you didn’t use your sideboard and six games where you used it. In 60% of your games, your sideboard came into play. That’s a pretty big percentage. Basically, if you don’t learn how to sideboard well, you could be disadvantaged in the majority of your games.

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Two Principles That Will Make You a Smarter Deck Builder

June 2, 2013

This weekend, Brad Nelson destroyed the field at the Starcitygames Standard Open in Baltimore. In the 10 Swiss rounds, he only lost one match. Then, in the top eight, he mowed through every single opponent without losing a game to capture the trophy.

His deck of choice was the under-the-radar Green/White/Black Varolz Midrange deck, also known as Junk Aristocrats. I really like it because it illustrates two important deck building concepts.

Check out Brad’s decklist below and then let’s talk about the two principles.

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11 Tools for Aggro Decks to Beat Board Sweepers

January 5, 2013

You’re on the draw with an aggro deck versus a control deck but you’ve got a good start in your opening hand. You go through your mana curve perfectly and develop your board while your opponent hasn’t cast a single spell.

Turn one, one-drop. Turn two, two-drop. Turn three, three-drop. Things are looking good for you. You’ve got a significant presence on the board in just three turns.

Then “Kaboom!”

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Why You Should Be Netdecking

January 7, 2010

bloodbraid-elf.jpegLauren Lee has a great reason to netdeck:

There is little reason to build a decklist from scratch. Back in the day, the game of Magic used to be equal parts deckbuilding and playing. Winning decklists had no way to be shared amongst the whole player pool, and thus you had to come up with your own ideas to try to beat an unknown field of decks. Magic has passed the time of those Dark Ages. We are experiencing Magic Renaissance. We have more information than we know what to do with!

Tournaments are currently skewed in favor of those who play well, not necessarily those who build well (outside of Limited). In other words, if you want to build your own deck to win a tournament, you better be damn good at it. But if you’re a Level One Kraken Hatchling, you’re better off finding a decklist someone else has already refined. Most of your time should be spent learning how to play well, not build well. The latter is an excellent ability that you will eventually pick up, but the first is essential to have. And the sooner the better.

Step 1 in Becoming a Better MTG Player: Realize That You’re Terrible

September 17, 2009

Gavin Verhey on becoming a better Magic The Gathering player:

There are three pieces in this improvement process that are the most important once you realize you really want to win and commit yourself to doing so. They are each very important:

1. Realize that you are terrible at Magic

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10 Ways to Stay Focused While Playing Magic Online

September 17, 2009

Steve Gargolinski gives 10 tips for improving your focus when playing MTGO. You can also apply the principles for live play.

  1. Always Aim High
  2. Reduce External Distractions
  3. Understand What You Are Trying to Accomplish
  4. Garbage In, Garbage Out
  5. Rest and Exercise Your Body and Your Mind
  6. Breathe
  7. Understand When You Are On Tilt
  8. Bring Yourself Back
  9. Admit Mistakes, Avoid Negativity
  10. Consider Meditation

How to Prepare for Magic Online Release Events

September 12, 2009

Brad Nelson has a great article on how to get the most out of Magic Online Release Events.

Brad talks about the limited tournaments you should play and raredrafting. He even has a section on Standard.

With Zendikar being released in a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to bookmark the article for reference sake.

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