Why I keep playing, even when I lose.

PLAY ALL THE CARDS. Standard Sealed is a crazy format, but really awesome because I got to play Clone and Haunter of the Night Veil. Did I get them both out at once? No... but it would have been awesome! (But when I was playing for fun and switched decks with a friend, he did... and it was not awesome.)

PLAY ALL THE CARDS. Standard Sealed is a crazy format, but really awesome because I got to play Clone and Haunter of the Night Veil. Did I get them both out at once? No… but it would have been awesome! (But when I was playing for fun and switched decks with a friend, he did… and it was not awesome.)

I’ve devoted a bunch of my posts over the past several months to tracking my progress at FNM. Every week, save for a couple exceptions, I wrote down how my draft went, my record and what I’d learned from the night. It has helped me think critically and analyze my playing and that has probably helped me become a stronger player.

But if I wrote my normal recap this week I might get so discouraged I won’t want to go back to FNM on Friday. I might throw my draft deck across my room. And I might just become inexplicably annoyed for the rest of the day. So I’m going to save Astro and my coworkers from that and just not. But I do owe you guys a post about this weekend, simply because I played A LOT of Magic. I went to draft on Friday (obviously) and then on Saturday I decided to play in my LGS’s Standard Sealed tournament. Which meant I spent nearly 16 hours at my LGS over those two days.

On Friday I went 1-3-1 with a deck a U/W deck I thought was fairly strong. I had mana troubles again, but the biggest issue was the fact I only had two or three creatures that could really count as win conditions. I was really good at stalling (hence the unintentional draw), and creating a board presence that was impossible for my opponent to get through, but if I didn’t get my good creatures out all I was able to do was delay the inevitable. Which, as you might have guessed, was very frustrating. My cards of note were Opportunity, Serra Angel, Pacifism and Water Servant. The Pacifism actually tabled for me in my second pack, I was astonished. However, I found out later that the guy to my right was hate drafting white all night — he said he picked up TWO Serra Angels and an Angelic Accord. I was really annoyed, but it made sense: I knew white was open, but I wasn’t getting many extremely good cards because of him. And at our LGS we have so many people hate drafting is not even helpful; I didn’t play him all night, and all he did was make my deck worse. I was especially annoyed when I remembered I’d drafted to the right of him last week too. Who knows what picks I missed out on!

On Saturday I tried my hand at sealed again. The only other times I’ve played in sealed tournaments have been the prereleases. So I don’t really have much experience even with a normal six-pact sealed environment. The Standard Sealed pool was a booster of each set in standard right now, which is eight packs. And I only started playing at the very end of RTR, so there were a lot of packs I haven’t played much with. (Thank goodness of pick-a-pack!) That meant I had to cut down a pool of 100+ cards to only 23. It was stressful, but I managed to make my deck with only a small amount of input from my neighbors. I didn’t want to depend on other people because when I go to the GP in Oklahoma City I won’t be able to at all. Luckily it was really easy for me to pick red as my main color — I had basically all the red removal and some really strong creatures, including Mondronen Shaman. It was between black and blue for my second color — I had more removal in both colors and some really strong creatures as well. Plus, I had Duskmantle Seer and Haunter of the Night Veil, so I knew I would probably splash for those no matter what. I ended up picking blue because I had some good control cards, like Opportunity, but I decided to take out the Seer and just splash black for Doom Blade and the Night Veil. One of the guys building next to me suggested taking out the seer because it could go very badly for me, too. I ended up only going 2-3, but I had a really good time overall.

On both Friday and Saturday I had moments of huge disappointment. I was annoyed at myself because I thought my decks were decent and I just could not get there. I had mana issues both days (out of all the packs I opened, I got zero fixing) and it’s just as hard to play your cards when you’re stuck on three mana as it is when you just don’t draw spells. But I never conceded a game because I tend to think there is a chance I could draw SOMETHING that could help me, and if I play well I could still have a chance. But that doesn’t make the losses any less frustrating. In fact, it kind of makes it worse, because I had moments where I was just convinced I was a terrible Magic player. But I kept playing. I couldn’t help it… I have only dropped once, and I regretted it almost immediately. Every game is an opportunity to learn.

After I scrubbed out of the tournament on Saturday, I stuck around while the Top Eight was played out and hung out with the guy who runs our tournaments. He’s super nice and really helpful. We played a couple matches, and despite the fact I lost most of them I had a lot of fun. After a couple of matches with my original deck, he looked through my pool and swapped the blue out for the black. What he came up with a red/ black control deck with a blue splash for the Duskmantle Seer, Clone and Haunter of the Night Veil. We played several more matches and swapped decks to play more. I don’t even remember how many games we played, but it was a lot. And I lost a lot, but since it was not in a competitive situation I didn’t get nearly as frustrated when I didn’t pull any of my blue mana and when we swapped decks he had no color issues. So not fair. But it reminded me that it is just part of the game — when all of your blue mana is at the bottom of the library, it’s kind of hard to draw it.

Playing all of those games and talking to the judge also made me realize that I really am still kind of a MTG newbie. I’d finally gotten the hang of drafting the RTR block when M14 came out, and I’m having a harder time adjusting to the new format than I expected. But it makes sense — it’s my first non multicolored set and the drafting strategies are different because of that.

And when my LGS’s judge messaged me later apologizing for not explaining more elaborately about his changes to my deck because it wouldn’t help me later, I realized how awesome my LGS really is. The people I play Magic with there are one of the main reasons I play every week. Not because I need to be the best, but because Magic people are awesome. My play group is full of wonderful people who genuinely care about each other. They’re helpful, awesome and very good at cheering me up when I’m frustrated.

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately, and partly it’s because of my recaps. I want to be improving, and I want you guys to read about successful nights, not failures. It’s increased the pressure I put on myself to win matches, which makes it harder when I lose. As a result, I don’t have as much fun because I’m too hard on myself. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. And it shouldn’t be ALL about winning, but also about having fun and enjoying the company of my friends.

So next Friday I’ll try to keep that in mind. After all, if I didn’t like the people at my LGS, I probably wouldn’t have gotten so into the game. So screw you, mana problems and annoying hate drafters… you can’t ruin my fun! My friends are too awesome for that.

All for now,
Bale

Why do you keep playing MTG (or other games) when you hit a losing streak? What brings you back to the game?

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4 responses to “Why I keep playing, even when I lose.

  1. I have left so many limited tournaments after throwing my whole deck, rares, lands, sleeves, and all, into the garbage. I feel your pain. It’s my awesome LGS that keeps me coming back, too!

    • I don’t know what I’d do without my friends and LGS. The other day the judge joked I should just flip the table/ throw my deck across the room after he played Haunter of the Night Veil and Cloned it for the second game in a row. It was ridiculous, but it was so much fun too. It’s kind of reassuring knowing everybody has had their moments of rage associated with MTG.

  2. Running magazines/blogs often recommend coming up with a set of goals for each race. Like one might be a performance goal (win/loss for you, but maybe a time goal/placing goal for a runner), but others would be things like “focus on pacing” or “do a negative split” — so that if it’s seriously just not your day, you don’t feel so defeated. Maybe this would help ease the disappointment of the rough nights for you, too?

    • Hmmm. That seems like it could be good — I could focus on my strategy and how well I paid attention to my opponent’s playing as opposed to the actual outcome of the match. Because sometimes you can play your best and still lose, but usually there’s still something to be learned/ proud of. 🙂

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