Playing Around Your Opponent’s Cards – Deep Dive

For today’s Deep Dive, I wanted to delve into the subject of playing around your opponent’s cards. 

Sometimes it’s correct to just “go for it,” but there are also situations where instead of an alpha strike, you should give your opponent two extra draw steps because if you play your cards right, no matter what they draw, you’re going to win anyway. 

When you play a game of Magic, your goal should be to maximize the chances of winning the game. There are a ton of small decisions that add to it, starting with your opening hand.

Should you keep this two lander on the play?

Should I keep my premium removal spell or use it on my opponent’s two-drop so I don’t fall too far behind in tempo?

Can I afford to use my last counter on my opponent’s powerful spell or should I rather save it for their game-ending combo piece?

All of these should always be calculated decisions, especially when playing with known deck lists. And so is playing around your opponent’s cards, although a big part of it comes with experience. The more you play, the more natural it’ll feel to make the correct decision in certain situations. 


Header - A Limited Example

Lets take a look at a good example from Limited

Second Thoughts

You’re playing a match of Draft. In game one, your U/W Flyers opponent has shown you three copies of Second Thoughts and no instant speed card draw spell or flash creatures. Now you’re in Game 2 and they kept their opening hand, played a creature on turn four and then passed their turn five back to you after playing their fifth land. Should you attack with your creatures if you can get in for a profitable attack? 

In this situation, the answer is usually no. If my opponent keeps their seven-card hand, only plays one card in the first five turns and passes back with all of their mana open, representing Second Thoughts, there’s an extremely high chance that that’s exactly what they have. What else can they really have? I don’t expect my opponent’s to keep six lands and a four-drop, especially now with the London Mulligan. 

The best solution in this situation is to add another creature to your board and pass back without attacking. If your opponent again just passes the turn back to you, just keep developing your board while they’re still stuck with just one creature in play. At some point, they’ll either be forced to play something on their own turn or they’ll simply fall too far behind on board. 


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