Author Archives: brookgd

Working with Theory

Magic is a game of nearly infinite possibilities–even in a format as small as standard there more possible card interactions than can be categorized easily, which makes sufficient  playtesting a near-impossibility.  Actually testing every reasonable variation of every viable deck against each other is something even the pros don’t have time to do, and even that doesn’t cover playtesting the sideboard possibilities.

Instead of trying to complete the Sisyphean task of playing every deck against every other, playtest time should be spent trying to gather broader pieces of information.  For example, if I were testing UW Control against UR Twin I wouldn’t bother playing set ten game sets with every UW list I have seen recently against every UR Twin list I had come across–that would take far more time than is available and would not cover the other, similar, matchups such was UWR Control against URW Twin, or UB Control against URB Twin, and so on.  While playtesting, I instead look at the matchup as a blue-based control deck against a deck featuring the Deceiver Exarch-Splinter Twin combo as its main win condition.  By broadening the scope like this it becomes easier to focus on the big picture and gather information that can be applied to more decks.  In this case I might note that the Ux Control deck does not have many significant threats for less than five or six mana, which makes applying meaningful pressure to the combo deck difficult, which gives the combo deck enough time to sculpt a hand and board state that should give it the chance it needs to push through.  It may also be learned that the combo deck is susceptible to a variety of hate cards such as Torpor Orb or Spell Skite, and that it can answer these with Shatter, Into the Roil, or (in the ‘Skite’s case), Twisted Image. Read the rest of this entry

Red Card Loses: Why I Play Blue

Deck selection is one of the most important factors in tournament success.  Choosing the right deck can allow you to do well despite a lack of preparation or being a weaker player than your opponents, while choosing the wrong deck will end your tournament before it begins regardless of any edge you have in play skill, experience, or knowledge of the format.

I consider myself a Spike, and any tournament I enter I intend to win.  Since I came back to the game after a hiatus and started playing competitively near the end of Ravnica block I have played UR IzzeTron, UW UrzaTron, UB Mystical Teachings, Four/Five Color Control, UW Control, Mythic, UW Control, CawGo, and CawBlade.  All of these but Mythic were the premier control decks of their time.  Part of the reason I have always chosen these decks was that I am familiar with and enjoy playing control, but the Spike part of me makes me think that I would play a different deck if I thought it was the best deck for a given tournament. Read the rest of this entry

59 Mountains and a Craw Wurm

Magic is a competitive, zero sum game.  In every game there is one winner and one loser.  When playing in a game like this it is much easier to see any mistakes that you made when you lose than when you win.  After all, if you lose it is obvious something went wrong.  If you won it is easy to think that you must have done everything right, but this is not the case. Read the rest of this entry