Learn to Lose

Although back in the day, I didn’t really have this problem, since people in my part of the world weren’t really very good in Magic: the Gathering, these days if you want to be good, the thing you need to know learn first is losing.

Obviously this requires some explanation, as its somewhat counterintuitive. But yeah, you need to be good at losing before you are going to get anywhere.

First, there are simply people who will get pissed after losing and return next week to the FNM with a chip on their shoulder. They will use most of the week to think about how they will beat the player they most felt embarrassed them, even if they won’t necessarily play against that player and will lose focus of the big picture. Gladly, there aren’t too many of these people, but if you happen to be one of them, you need to lose this attitude.

Second, you need to be able identify the reasons you lost. You might want to think you lost because certain circumstances didn’t happen. What you need to think about is how you can bring about those circumstances. You might have a dream scenario with your deck, but if its too fragile or slow, you might have to rethink the validity of your scenario or how you can make it better. This is a game of high variance, but you can control it somewhat. Don’t get greedy with your mana. Shuffle your deck properly, even if its late and you are getting tired of it.

You might also just have been outplayed. Many new players are unsure of priority rules and the stack, so they play things on their when they could be waiting for a more opportune moment. They may overextend and leave themselves open for sweepers, or they might not play a card because it might be countered or leave a creature off of their deck because it always gets killed.

But, to learn how to recognize where the problems are, you need to be able to step back and analyze the games you played. I make mistakes all the time, but I try not to repeat them and usually I don’t. When I do make a mistake, I just take a moment to think about it. Not too long, since I don’t want to slowplay, but just enough time to balance myself again.

Here’s one example of how this can help. You make a mistake, and do what you can do to help.

In many cases you won’t have outs, but here Mihara was able to find a chance, which he could use. It wasn’t much, but this was in the quarterfinals of Worlds 2006, so you need to look for any and all possibilities. He was able to because he didn’t let the mistake rattle him. Well, he did, but instead of sitting back or compounding his mistake, he was able to get his head back in the game.

I’ve seen people do very stupid things. That’s fine. We all do that. But what you shouldn’t do is to compound those mistakes. I’ve seen people activate their Mutavault, see that it was a mistake and attack with it anyway. Yes, that might seem like a good bluff at the moment, but it won’t help your game in any way.

So, we all do stupid things. What stupid people do is not learning from their mistakes and refusing to identify their own mistakes. That’s not the right way.

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