Playing MtG Against New Players

Last summer we were at Lauri’s gathering for guild members. We played a lot of games, one of which was MtG. We didn’t play much of it, but I played against a younger guy. I had a bunch of decks with me and I decided to play my copy of Travis Woo’s Monogreen Eldrazi deck. I curved out perfectly. I got a Spawnsire of Ulamog into play on turn three (with a small Genesis Wave) and activated him to cast the real big boys from my sideboard on my next turn.

Yeah, I crushed him. He had so little to say in that game that I don’t actually remember what he played.

So, I decided I’d rather play a fairer deck and changed mine to a standard white weenie of the time. He also changed his deck. I later heard from Lauri that my opponent had been boasting about this deck and had chosen it in order to crush me. I guess he’s able to beat all the players in his circle with it. But at the time, none of them played competitively, so actually, he had no idea what he was about to face.

He played slivers and actually probably had a pretty good start with a couple of good, old style Muscle Slivers. On the other hand, I had the perfect curve, again, with Champion of the Parish, into another one and a Boros Elite on my second turn, and Fiend Hunter on my third. So I was attacking for 10 on my third turn (with a standard legal deck of the time), after getting rid of my opponents defenses.

He scooped.

Not exactly my proudest moment, but it was pretty damn funny.

Magic is a game you can learn pretty quickly, despite complexity, but it takes a long time to master. I haven’t yet mastered it (and probably never will), but I’m pretty good. What I don’t want to do is discourage the new players. I want this game to thrive. Neither do I want to patronize them by not playing to my fullest ability.

This leaves me in a bit of a pickle. I seem to have the best possible luck when playing against new players. Just a couple of weeks ago, as I was playing my new favorite monoblack aggro deck against a young man playing his monowhite creature-based deck, I drew three Lifebane Zombies in a row… Just the best of luck. Or probably it just feels like it as most of the cards are much more effective against the newer players because more experienced players will find ways to protect themselves. My deck isn’t even that good, as it can’t win many of the decks in the format, but it is enough to utterly beat the simple decks of the new players.

I do my best to give them advice afterwards. Nothing complicated. I don’t try to make them deckbuilders in one short speech, but I do try to give them one or two principles they can follow and reach the next level of their development. I don’t think most of them take in what I have to say unless I can remind them of something concrete that happened during the match, but you can always.

In the end, its a character building exercise for many of them. Learning to lose is very important part of the game. Without that skill, learning to win will be much harder.

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