Common MTG Mistakes for Intermediate Players

Magic players are getting better and better. They learn to avoid the common mistakes that new players make faster and faster. Things like overvaluing life gain, how to double block and how to be mana efficient are now common knowledge. The biggest mistakes I see intermediate players make is to take these first MTG theory lessons too far and over correct their original biases. It’s great that more players understand the fundamentals, but it’s important that you are learning the right lessons and not short cutting. 



Header - Blocking

In Magic, being the attacker is the easier job. The old saying “math is for blockers” is not just a meme. Blocking is much trickier than attacking because multiple creatures can block one creature. The more creatures you have, the more possible combinations of blocks you have available to you. The defender does have some advantages, however. Two smaller creatures can team up to take down bigger creatures, letting you trade up on card quality. A 3/3 is a better card than a 2/3, but if a pair of 2/3s block a 3/3, that’s a one-for-one trade. The advantage of the attacker is the defender takes on risk by double blocking. Imagine the same scenario, but this time the player with the 3/3 casts Giant Growth. Now the trade is a two-for-one in the attacker’s favor. The double block’s ability to trade up, but its risk of potential card disadvantage, is one of the fundamentals of combat.

Giant Growth

Intermediate players understand this concept, but they don’t take this far enough. Why stop at double blocking? Why not triple or quadruple block? Let’s return to our example of 2/3s vs 3/3s, but now the defender has three 2/3s. If you suspect the attacker has a Giant Growth, blocking with all three of your 2/3s will trade two of your creatures for their creature and their Giant Growth. Instead of card disadvantage, you are now trading evenly again. Just because combat is usually one or two creatures blocking one creature doesn’t mean you need to stop there.


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1 thought on “Common MTG Mistakes for Intermediate Players”

  1. One I saw recently involved the heuristic of if you have an instant you want to resolve, and your opponent has mana to interact, wait until their upkeep to cast it. That way they have to spend their next turn’s mana instead of this turn’s mana and tap low for the turn.

    Problem was the opponent was tapped out, the streamer could have resolved the spell on their turn with no possibility of it being countered.

    Spell was countered fwiw

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