Common "Mistakes" in Magic You Shouldn't Kick Yourself For
- Hans Davidson
Regret selling your Snapcasters for twenty Euros? Missed that game-winning Thragtusk trigger in the Top 8 of a PPTQ? Hans takes a break away from Modern this week to bring you an article about why you shouldn't feel bad about these (and other) common "mistakes" that we've made!
When it comes to Magic, we've probably made moves that we wish we could take back. In this week's article, I want to look at these "mistakes" and try to convince you that they aren't things that we should be kicking ourselves for doing. In some cases, they're important learning experiences that help us become better players. Without further ado, let's dive in with our first – and perhaps most common – mistake.
1. Missing Triggers
Triggers are a fundamental part of Magic. And if you've been playing paper Magic for a while, you've missed triggers that you wish you had remembered. Although missing a trigger can be detrimental (and even an infraction at higher Rules Enforcement Level), I'd argue that the blame lies with the concept of triggers and how they are enforced in paper Magic rather than with the player. Even players at the highest level of play will make mistakes, and forgetting triggers is a symptom of the imperfect nature of humans. Perhaps it's natural to beat yourself up for a trigger that would have won you the game, but everyone misses triggers, and we can't help doing so in paper Magic because the rules in place allow for triggers to be missed.
The mistake of missing triggers, on the other hand, can be eliminated by machines, and when playing Magic in a digital setting (such as MTG Arena or Magic Online), it's impossible for a trigger to be missed. If your goal is to stop missing triggers once and for all, these digital avenues will provide you the setting for that to never happen again.
2. Playing Your First Bad Deck
The first bad deck I played was a Jeff Hoogland deck from 2014. He had brewed up a red-white taxes deck called "White Moon," and here's the deck list from a YouTube video he posted with The Meadery MTG.
|White Moon by Jeff Hoogland|
|23Lands||10Creatures||18Instants and Sorceries||13Other Spells|
|4Arid Mesa||3Aven Mindcensor||3Boros Charm||1Ajani Vengeant|
|1Marsh Flats||3Brimaz, King of Oreskos||4Lightning Bolt||2Chandra, Pyromaster|
|4Mountain||4Young Pyromancer||4Lightning Helix||1Gideon Jura|
|7Plains||3Magma Jet||3Blood Moon|
|2Rugged Prairie||2Molten Rain||1Batterskull|
|2Sacred Foundry||2Pillar of Flame||1Isochron Scepter|
|3Temple of Triumph|
|2Magma Spray||2Mirran Crusader||1Molten Rain||3Path to Exile|
|1Relic of Progenitus||3Torpor Orb||2Wear // Tear|
The best thing about looking at this deck in 2018 is realizing how obsolete many of the cards have become due to the power creep in Modern. Chandra, Pyromaster is outclassed by Chandra, Torch of Defiance; Brimaz, King of Oreskos can't compete with the likes of delve creatures and the litany of 4/4s that prowl the format; and Batterskull still costs five mana. Then again, in 2014, these cards were barely getting the job done. A control deck playing Boros Charm and a bevy of two-drops were not a recipe for success and taking this to my first Modern tournament at my LGS netted me a grand total of zero match wins.
The thing is, there's nothing wrong with that. Playing a bad deck while playing against Cruise Delver, Pod, Twin, and Dig Through Time-powered blue decks made me realize that there are better decks I could be playing and that I don't get any brownie points for entering a tournament with a suboptimal list. I learned from that experience, and I became a lot more critical of playing unproven rogue decks. This isn't to say that rogue decks are bad or that they shouldn't be played. Rather, a player wanting to play well should also learn the skills to identify what makes a good and bad deck in a given metagame. This White Moon deck wasn't any good in any capacity, and a look at the list shows all sorts of problems that the deck had: Clunky hands due to the Temples, Isochron Scepter being cute more than optimal, and Boros Charm in a supposed "control" deck, just to name a few. In the short run, I may have lost a ton of games, but I've gained a better understanding of the game in the long run.
3. Missing Out on a Speculation
If you keep up with card prices, the value of cards in non-rotating formats have been shooting up across the board lately. I'm not just talking about the Reserved List jaw-droppers like Underground Sea; I'm also talking about the Mox Opals, Karn Liberated, Noble Hierarch, and their ilk. Even commons and uncommons from older sets have shot up in value due to supply and demand, and Devoted Druid is almost a five-euro card. It's no wonder then, that speculations in the secondary market and card prices is a second (if not a primary) hobby for many Magic players, and people discuss in length about the next big break-out card like investors talking about stocks.
It's easy to get caught up in these discussions and experience a pang of FOMO or "fear of missing out." You hear stories of people buying into Kolaghan's Command at two euros or Goblin Lore for pennies, and you too get wrapped up in keeping your eyes peeled for The Next Big Thing. Inevitably, when the next card sees even the slightest signs of spiking, you dump a good chunk of money into what you think will be the break-out price-spike of the year. I've done this countless of times over my Magic career, and I've ended up getting burned more often than finding success. Even that "success" is relative – the amount of card value I gained was either cancelled out due to buylist prices or they were such a miniscule amount that taking on a few extra hours of work for the week would've netted me the same sum.
The lesson learned from all of this? Speculating on cards and the value that you gain from it aren't as big as they're generally made out to be. The likelihood that you hit it big (and keep hitting it big, so that you stay in black) are as likely as people's chances of finding power and dual lands at garage sales. Understand that the value of your cards will go up and down and that fiscal responsibility is more important than making ten euros off a speculation.
4. Selling Your Collection
Pro player and Hall of Famer Eric Froehlich tweeted recently about how he has regretted every time he sold off his cards. Other players chimed in about their regrets as well, especially after seeing how much more expensive the cards they had sold off had become. For some, the cards had sentimental value and they wished that they still had those cards to look at and play with.
Most players that have been playing for a long time have sold cards or even collections, and the recent jump in card prices have made these financial decisions look silly. However, repeating what I've already said: The value of cards goes up and down. Furthermore, we have no control with regard to whether the price of a card drops or soars. While we may be able to say in hindsight that people should have held on to their collections if they wanted to sell at a higher price, other factors could have contributed to a very different scenario. For example, another global economic crisis would have had a devastating effect on the market of collectables, and Magic cards would have plummeted in price as people sold their collections to pay their bills and put food on the table. Rather than kicking themselves for selling their cards knowing how much they are worth now, players should be thinking about why they sold those cards. Were the cards sold because of the goal they wanted to accomplish? Was the sale a necessity of the situation at the time? Did the decision to sell the collection open another avenue of opportunity or happiness? In the end, selling your cards and collection isn't just about the numbers.
Anyway, that's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by, and you can let me know in the comments below if you have any other "mistakes" that players shouldn't feel bad about!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.