If you ask Magic Players what they want, you’ll hear a couple answers: Queue for their first Pro Tour, hit Silver, Top 8 or win a Grand Prix or Pro Tour, etc. the list goes on and on. But despite how naturally talented you are in the game, one thing is consistent and that is preparation. The great Ben Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Now I don’t think that is fully true in Magic, but you can definitely improve your win percentages by adding effective preparation to your gauntlet.
2017 is only 10 days away, and every one of you should be preparing a set of goals (personal, health, magic, etc.) that you can strive for while the Earth does another rotation around the sun. I won’t be going into your non-magic related goals today but that is something that you should focus on. Magic is a great game and a competitive outlet for many, but it is much more fulfilling when it’s a part of your life and not an outlet that takes over your life.
So take the next 10 minutes and jot down what you would like to achieve next year in Magic. Okay done that? I’m going to take a leap of faith that you’re telling the truth, so let’s continue. No matter what your goals end up being, you need to follow these principles:
Dedicate to making mini goals and track these throughout the year.
For example, if you want to win/top 8 a Standard Grand Prix, you can make multiple mini goals. Attending more Standard Grand Prix, investing in a Standard collection, playing more Standard events, reading Standard articles and watching Standard coverage on twitch are all mini goals that can improve your chances of winning a Standard Grand Prix. Doing more drafts in the year won’t necessarily track directly to improving your Standard results. Make yourself monthly KPIs (key performance indicators) that you will record each month to see if you are on track.
Focus on only playing with players who are on the same level as you or better
If you remember playing the Pokemon games when you were younger, you would remember how you could start with a weak Pokemon and switch to a stronger one in order to win your battle. However, the experience that the first one got would level up significantly. This is true as well in Magic, where you will find that better players will force you to play better to beat them. You also usually walk away with more tricks in your toolbox to utilize in games. I can’t overstate enough how much of a game changer this can be for you.
Don’t let your tournament failures define you
So many good players let themselves get discouraged after they continue to lose event after event. This is a big mistake since even the best of the game go through rough patches and variance can be one cruel mistress. Even if you are the best player in a tournament, you are still not a mathematical favoured to win since the difference in skill level in most events is not that great. This is a result of the internet era, where players are constantly improving by watching coverage or reading articles.
Focus on adapting to your metagame
This is true both in all formats even limited. The more aggressive decks become, the better midrange decks become. If control decks become better since they naturally pray on midrange decks, it’s probably best to go back to a hyper aggressive deck to render their spells useless due to their mana inefficiencies. In limited, when a trick is considered terrible and no one plays around it, that gives you perfect license to actually play it and get blowouts where you normally wouldn’t. After Pro Tour Honolulu, Aether Marvelworks all but disappeared due to the presence of the blue counter decks and UW Flash. As I said right after the Pro Tour, the metagame would devolve into attempts to dethrone UW flash and when that happened, Aether Marvelworks would come back and it is now the new King of Standard.
Review your past tournaments
Did you win? Did you lose? Doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are making the right choices when you are put to the test. Poker players are very familiar with this technique since they play a huge volume of hands and the only way to get better at making decisions is to dissect them in the future when you have the time.
Take a Breather
Magic isn’t everything and sometimes you will have a burnout period when you play too much. Let yourself have some other hobbies to relax with and you’ll find yourself come back to the game with even more passion.
So, no matter what goals you have for 2017, I hope Wizard’s Tower and I are able to help you achieve them. Have a great holiday season and I’ll be back in the New Year with a Super Sunday Series preparation report.
All the best,