4 Wins, 4 Ways to Get Better at Magic

Ready to take your game to the next level? In honor of winning my fourth Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier, I’ll give you four pieces of practical advice, that could improve your win rate at Magic.

1. Cling blindly to your pet card, paying no heed to results.

Have a sweet piece of tech you discovered, or fun interaction you like? Jam it. All the time, every time. Is it not pulling its weight, or actively bad after a few matches? It just hasn’t had a time to shine yet. To take it out would be admitting fault, and good players have no faults. This is the card that people will talk about when they mention your name. Make sure it’s AWESOME.

2. Insult your judge.

If they couldn’t take the heat, they wouldn’t put themselves in such a visible position. Judges are the nerds that the other nerds kick sand on. If they could play Magic with the big boys, they’d be doing it. Make sure they know it. As long as you assert dominance, there’s no way it can come back to haunt you.

P.S. Please let me retake my Judge test, I’ll be better I promise.

3. Consult greater powers.

Endear yourself to the powers within the game. I, of course, do this by loudly singing the flavor text to Always Watching, to the tune of Ralph Vaugh William’s 100th Psalm tune, between every round, to praise the Archangel Avacyn. You will receive looks of puzzlement, or beatific bliss if your voice is good enough. Worry not about the unbelievers, the results will speak for themselves. I also tend to hedge my bets. To do this, I make a pentagram out of various flavorful black cards, and rip apart a goat token and place in the center for sacrifice. This also does me the favor of appeasing Griselbrand, just to keep the scales even (You didn’t think Griselbrand was dead, did you? Have you seen Reanimate, or Goryo’s Vengeance? HE CAN’T STAY DEAD). Now, your opponent will groan about your luck as they mulligan to five, and you’ll outwardly agree that you’re lucky, but on the inside, you’ll only think about the centuries of torment your soul will have to endure, just so you can get a promo Snapcaster Mage.

4. Make a friend, by being a friend.

On the drive home from GP Toronto, my car-mates and I stopped for food at an A&W. For the record, Canadian A&W’s are an abomination of the form; gone are chili-cheese fries, replaced with that dish’s jealous and incompetent younger sibling, poutine. It was a nightmare.

poutine

But anyway.

Also there were three other magic players. I didn’t know their names, but I recognized their faces as Canadian players that I’d battled at various tournaments in the area through the years. They ordered their food, we ordered our food, there was no interaction between our groups. That struck me as odd. Here I was, travelling four hours each way and spending a whole weekend on an experience, and these people I didn’t know were traveling for the same experience, and we all had to suffer through a Canadian clone of American food, and none of said anything. So I did the only thing I could think to do in such a situation.

I challenged them to an emperor draft, and the loser had to pay for the food.
There was interest on both sides, but it didn’t happen. The timing and logistics of such a thing were prohibitive (we were still on track to make it home before Game of Thrones came on). But it was worth a laugh, and got the groups talking.

Looking back on Grand Prix Toronto, it was the most fun I have had at a GP, and I think it had little to do with earning my first Day 2 or my first Pro Point. It was singing show-tunes with Nick on the drive there; or resisting Steve’s attempts to get me drunk after Day 1; or talking with Jake, Travis, Jaren, the Ann Arbor Crew, and a few friends that I made at the event between the rounds. At some point, I realized that the reason I go to these events, has become less and less about slinging cardboard, and more and more about sharing and making stories with the great community Magic has at its core.

I didn’t want to go to this PPTQ at first. I had a busy weekend of cleaning and cooking to look forward to, I didn’t have the cards to play the deck I wanted, and I had been feeling pretty down lately. But I just happened to have to travel to Clinton Township for work, and stopped by Gamer’s Gauntlet Friday because I was in the neighborhood. It turned out to be very fortunate. I picked up some cards for EDH I had my eye on, played with some friends there that lifted my spirits, and Travis was kind enough to lend me the cards I needed to complete G/W Tokens. After learning some other friends intended to go to the PPTQ the next day, I felt much better about going.

The actual magic was enjoyable (I love this deck, in a way I haven’t felt since Dungrove Elder rotated), but I don’t want to bog you down in a play by play. Only five rounds of Swiss, and pretty good matchups. I sped over U/R Tutelage, went wide of Bant CoCo, out-valued R/G Ramp, then drew twice into Top 8. Then I played Ramp again, capitalized on some mistakes against Naya Walkers, and got a little lucky to beat 4 Color Rites in the finals.

I also discussed The Great Debate (How well Game of Thrones is adapting a Song of Ice and Fire) with Jester’s wonderful store owner Bryant, much of the same with my hilarious friend Mike and generally goofed off and had a good time. I felt blessed.

The lesson I’m trying to impart here, is that there are wonderful people playing Magic, and you can gain a lot from them, and hopefully, you can give to them as well. The free flow of ideas, cards, and stories keeps the community healthy and fun, and when that’s the case, you win a great deal more than a PPTQ every now and then.

drew

Drew “Green” White’s Tokens Deck
4 Sylvan Advocate
4 Hangarback Walker
2 Lambholt Pacifist
4 Archangel Avacyn
4 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Oath of Nissa
3 Declaration in Stone
4 Dromoka’s Command
2 Secure the Wastes
4 Canopy Vista
4 Fortified Village
2 Westvale Abbey
8 Forest
7 Plains

Sideboard:
1 Westvale Abbey
2 Tragic Arrogance
2 Display of Dominance
2 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
1 Declaration in Stone
1 Secure the Wastes
2 Den Protector
2 Evolutionary Leap
1 Linvala, the new one
1 Clip Wings