At some point almost every player has asked this question, whether it was your first locals or after months of being your shops number 1 punching bag at some point you decide you need to get good.
The only question is how?
Today I’m going to explain my own self review process and hopefully it helps some people. I use this same process for any card game I play and so far I feel like it’s done me pretty well.
The Golden Rules
You can never play perfectly.
No matter how amazing your track record always think critically about your plays, that doesn’t mean you can’t be confident or proud of your play but never get lazy.
Think through your lines.
Just in case anyone isn’t aware lines are your lines of play. Basically what can you do, what will it lead to and how can your opponent respond to it. If you take a moment to think about what you’re doing before you do it, you can avoid those embarrassing misplays that lose you the game.
Even good cards can be bad.
This is a pretty recent lesson for me but in my opinion the most dangerous cards are cards that are never bad. What does this mean? Well some cards will never do something bad, in fact they might be game winners. However that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better option, maybe a new tech or bumping up the count on another card would actually do more for you. Most recently I had this problem with a card called “Ixalan’s Binding” while playing magic. Now while I could credit a handful of wins to this card and it was performing well for me I started to realise that playing the card had a significant opportunity cost and but cutting it I could make room for more versatile cards and improve my deck that way. Convincing myself this was the right decision was hard, after all this card had won me games and seemed to be working well in my local meta-game but in the end cutting it added so much more. So always remember, just because a card is always good doesn’t mean something else won’t be better.
So with those established lets look at my personal process.
I break it down into 3 separate steps (more 3s that a D-robo deck today)
Step 1 is probably the hardest thing to do, but it’s so important. One of the best ways to help with this is to find a good testing partner. Your opponent is far more likely to spot your mistakes, after all that their job. Another tip I have is audibly making note of your misplays (obviously check with your opponent is okay with you doing this) not only can it open up discussion about the play to anyone around (if you want that) but it also gives you a more tangible note of what went wrong. Finally don’t get demoralised by your own misplays everyone makes mistakes and they’re the best way to learn.
Step 2 learning match-ups is key to your success in any card game. You have limited resources and using them the most effective way for the game you’re in is important. Once you have a battle plan try it out, if it isn’t working then it needs to be worked on. Maybe you tried to grind when you should be rushing or maybe you were holding onto one card when you should’ve been holding onto another, no matter what take note and make adjustments.
Step 3 Your play is excellent and you know the match-up like the back of your hand but something is still going wrong. Normally that means it’s time to take the deck back to the shop and get tinkering, or sometimes a complete overhaul. Take a critical look at your card choices, do I want to see this card more,maybe one card was clogging in your hand? Once you’ve finished compare your new list to topping lists (just remember not every top is perfect so compare tops to other tops) and look at what they’re doing. Ask your friends about your list, if you’re having trouble explaining a choice re-evaluate it.
And that’s my process for improving. Even with these steps you can still fall into pitfalls, never let yourself get too cocky. Big fish in small ponds are never ready for the ocean.
One Last Important Point
This is a big one and I know a lot of people aren’t going to like it. With regards to larger events, such as BWC and such-
You cannot expect a bad deck to win.
Tier 1 is tier 1 for a reason, they are the most consistent and powerful decks and they are the most likely to win for you. By all means feel free to take your totally original Distress dragon build but you can’t expect it to win for you.
If you want the best chance to do well take the best deck you can.
Just because people know how the best decks work doesn’t mean they are any less powerful, consistent tops are consistent for a reason.
There are Many Paths to Mastery
And with that we are done. Remember this is just my method and many people have many different ways, and as always –
Thanks for reading