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Playing to your strengths – by Alex Lavoie

Posted on February 12th, 2014

Articles Magic: The Gathering

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Today’s article isn’t going to be about a specific deck or archetype. It’s not going to be about whether or not to play a specific card over another. This go around I’ll be going over a simple notion that could help you make that all important decision going into big tournaments.

Player A – “What deck should I play??!”

Player B – “Just play the best deck.”

How many times has this little dialogue occurred over the last 20 or so years? Too many to count I’m sure.  Is player B correct? …Of course he isn’t. Well most of the time anyways. Caw-Blade was a thing after all, but we won’t get into that right now. Many factors influence deck choices for Magic players and I’ll be going over a few of those in today’s article.

Factor #1. Familiarity with a specific deck can sometimes be more important than picking the better deck. Going into a PTQ the last thing you want is to not understand certain interactions between cards or strategies. This would not happen with a deck that you have been playing for months. This concept has been advocated by many players, most recently by Reid Duke who played with a Green-Red-Black deck for most of last season where the majority of the pro community had given up on it. His reasoning was simple: The percentages gained from playing a better deck are outweighed by the percentages gained from my general knowledge of the deck and its matchups. His perseverance was rewarded at Grand Prix Miami where he won the entire event playing said deck.

Factor #2 Range: Let us first talk about the concept of range in regards to Magic. Your range is the array of Strategies that you are able to play most efficiently (Aggro, Midrange, Control, Tempo, and Combo). These strategies are very general and there are many subtypes but for the sake of this article we will leave it at five. What type of deck do you play the worst? It’s important to know your weaknesses in any game you play. Luckily in Magic you can mitigate these weaknesses by just playing a deck that you pilot better than another. I have never played a dedicated aggro deck in a high level tournament. It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing aggro decks but it’s just not quite in my range. I play control and midrange at a much higher level. Some cannot for the life of them play control, it depends on the person. The fact that I cannot play aggro as well as I would like is certainly disappointing but the saving grace is that I have had enough knowledge of self to not make the mistake of thinking that I can.

How does one expand their range? The answer is quite simple, PRACTICE! Why can’t I play aggro? Because I don’t play aggro, it’s a vicious cycle. So next time you go to your local Friday Night Magic and want to play something different, consider a tempo deck if that’s what you struggle with. It could end up paying off in the long run. Just remember to be honest with yourself when it comes to deck selection. Your ego is your greatest weakness…and with great weakness comes great responsibility! Wait that’s not how that goes…

Well that’s all for today, what type of deck do all of you struggle with? Leave a comment and the strategy with which people have the most difficulty will definitely be subject of a future article.

Until next time, you stay classy magic community.

Article submitted by Alex Lavoie. For any questions or comments feel free to email Alex at AL_X11@HOTMAIL.COM

 

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