As a whole, Friday was a fairly typical FNM for me. I went 3-3 and ended up 15th/41. My deck was solid even though I wasn’t confident my draft was that good. I made a few questionable decisions, which probably influenced my draft somewhat, but I’m not sure how much. Pack 1, pick 1 was Obzedat’s Aid, even though I knew I didn’t like it. I took it over a Beetleform Mage, which was unfortunate considering I ended up running a straight Simic deck. Pack 2, pick 1 was Lord of the Void. I thought I might switch into black for it… but I didn’t. I passed a Frilled Oculus that would have been great in my actual deck. It also caused me to pick up more mana fixing and gates than I ended up needing or wanting. Oh well. I still ended up with a strong deck that held up fairly well. I had an army of fliers and other strong Simic creatures — I still ended up with two Beetleform Mages, even. It was a simple two colored deck that didn’t try to do anything fancy.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the night went. My last loss was disappointing — it went to game three and I was thinking I had it in the bag (a bunch of fliers and my Beetles were out and he had no blockers for them) and he went and played Supreme Verdict. And all I pulled after that was land. It was a hell of a move on his part, though — he held a lot of good creatures in his hand that he could play right away and just stomp me.
But the biggest difference between Friday’s tournament and the one before was my attitude.
Last week I read a really good article by Louis Kaplan, who recently won the Iowa State Tournament, about how a player’s attitude and expectations can influence their game. Kaplan had lost in the semi-finals and finals of large tournaments a lot, so he started expecting it. But he was reminded by a fellow player that he was good enough to win those matches and shouldn’t have been losing them all the time. So going into states Kaplan reminded himself that he was good enough to take it all, and kept that thought in his head all day. And he ended up winning.
Kaplan’s article reminded me that sometimes we are our own worst enemies. I’ve been feeling discouraged lately and I think last week it really showed. I still enjoyed myself, but after my first loss of the night I basically told myself I’d have mana problems all night, and had an overall negative attitude during my actual matches. I also went through a spell where I blamed a lot of my losses on bad luck. I almost wrote an article about it, actually. But what it came down to is that I don’t know what I can do to get better at this point.
I’m a fairly strong player, considering how long I’ve been playing. My first draft was the last FNM in November, and I only went to a couple in December. Before that I played extremely casual Magic with Astro with preconstructed decks. And I didn’t start drafting consistently until after Gatecrash was released. So I’m pretty proud of the fact I can already routinely go 3-3 and 3-2 in a fairly competitive LGS. And that’s what I kept reminding myself on Friday. Yes, I want to get into the top 8. I want to start going 4-2. I want to get better. But I’m pretty good already, and the only way to get better is to keep playing.
I’m particularly proud of one of my matches Friday: it was against a guy who is really good. He’s been playing for forever, and has beaten me before. He’s also one of the many good friends I’ve made through playing at my LGS. Every game of the match was close. I won the first one by remembering I had my one scavenge creature in play (Drudge Beetle). So I chose not to block all the damage coming at me (it was a lot, and he had Necropolis Regent on board) knowing that if I blocked with the Beetle, let it die and then scavanged onto my remaining creature I could get him for lethal the next turn. I lost the second match to the Necropolis Regent — I just couldn’t deal with it. I was really close to losing the last game too, but, in a move similar to game one, I decided not to block with all my creatures because I had Totally Lost in hand. I almost played it when he attacked (again with his Regent) but I realized I could get him for lethal by saving it until my mainphase and removing his only blocker.
I’m really happy with my decision making in that match, which is why I’m so proud of it. And those are the things I need to keep reminding myself. While I still need to take note of mistakes, I also need to remember my good decision making. And keep in mind that I’m actually a decent Magic player after all.
All for now,
p.s. Another guy from my LGS posted something about this in our Facebook group too. He read Kaplan’s article too, and went into the Game Day tournament with an “I’m gonna win” mindset… and he did! Positive attitudes win games, people.