Breaking Through – A Lesson in Humility


Magic, first and foremost, presents itself to us as a game. We do not usually come in looking to be the best or to break a format, but rather just want to have some fun and maybe do a little winning en route to the fun. Somewhere along the line though, this mentality shifts, and it can happen quite drastically. Not that this is a bad thing, but it does change Magic from being just about fun to being a competitive outlet. Fun and competition can and do of course live side by side, but competition in and of itself comes with some baggage.

We want to be the best — period. To do this, we want to beat the best, showcase our knowledge of the game, and impose ourselves on our fellow players. This does not have to come in some violent tirade or anything, but we do wish to share our knowledge of the game as being the “correct” way of thinking about the game. After all, if our knowledge is incorrect, how can we possibly be, or strive to be, the best?

Handling your Ego

It is here where one’s ego begins to get in the way of their progress. I know this firsthand, having been there before. We all want to think we are better than we really are at some point. After all, isn’t that a self-fulfilling prophecy you wish to have come to fruition? Well of course, but unfortunately, a cocky or arrogant attitude is simply not the way to get it done.

Recently, as many of you know, I began doing some videos for Channelfireball. This has only been going on for a few months (from my end) and a few weeks (from the public end) but already has me thinking about Magic, myself, and life in a whole new context. The transparency one has to go through in order to produce one of these is off the charts. You are forced to be honest with yourself which is an act that many claim they do, but I am willing to bet most do not do it to the extent that they should be. I did not know what that level was until embarking on this sort of video journal if you will, but it is certainly higher than I would have ever expected.

In fact, I would encourage everyone out there to test their hand at some videos. You don’t have to put them online, although that is the highest level of transparency, but even just watching over your own games after the fact with a critical eye really alerts you to missteps along the way. There are complications, of course. For me, for example, I need to view my videos and weed through the mistakes caused by distractions in commentating and in Magic Online only barriers, like misclicks.

Now these types of mistakes are still ones to be corrected, but they do not necessarily showcase your play mistakes which are the biggest factor we are looking for. That said, you are going to find plenty of play mistakes in addition to the other types of mistakes and if you cannot pinpoint a certain mistake, it is best to err on the side of caution and just assume it was a mess up. This type of exercise will not be easy at first. You will find yourself scrambling for reasonable explanations to your bad play and often will be content with the scenarios you create, but this does not mean you are any less wrong.

I have found that the constructive criticisms of those who watch my videos is actually helpful in forcing me to accept mistakes. Most of the mistakes I find for myself when re-watching the videos, but occasionally I find myself rationalizing even when there is no reason to do so. If you do decide to record your Magic Online videos, have a friend critique them with you after the fact as that will at least mimic the effect of a forum.

It is pretty common knowledge that everyone is going to make mistakes in any given game of Magic. Even when going through and re-watching the same game again, it is still possible to make mistakes with mostly perfect knowledge in hindsight. This means you are never going to reach some level of perfection even with intense film study and game analysis, but this should hardly keep your from improving at least in some capacity.

Throwing your ego around not does not just come into play when you are analyzing your own play, however. Has anyone ever gone to read some article, noticed a mistake, and done everything you can to be the first to point this out? Sure, maybe you are ono of the 5% of people not to do this, but chances are you know exactly what I am talking about. Pros make mistakes just like an average FNM player makes mistakes, and just like the kitchen table player makes mistakes. Looking at these and providing constructive criticism is one thing, but making the mistake finding a challenge to show boat just how awesome you are is basically pathetic.

Go into any article on this site and skim through the comments. I guarantee you will find someone who does nothing but point out mistakes in grammar, play, or theory and use those mistakes to try to make himself look better. This is the online equivalent of name-calling. When someone makes a mistake, chances are they will find out about it within the first 2 hours of that piece going public, it is just the nature of the Internet. No one actually needs to read 50 comments about how they messed up if these posts do not add anything to the discussion.

I appreciate all of the viewers and readers who give me feedback that is constructive and helps me to further my game, as I understand I can learn just as much from you as you can me. But reading a ton of posts that are totally selfish in nature and are basically bragging about how you caught someone’s mistake is just pointless. Learn to stomach the fact that you caught a mistake until you can figure out some constructive advice to go with it. Believe me, no one is at home keeping track of who got in there “FIRST!” over the span of X amount of time. Be the bigger man/woman one time.

This may seem like it has no relevance to furthering your competitive game, but it actually does. Habit-forming is insanely powerful as I have written on before. It is crucial that someone learn to develop good habits in all walks of life in order to maximize them when it counts. You cannot steal candy bars and gum from gas stations but claim it’s ok because you have yet to steal money from your work. Things don’t work that way. Once you have exposed your mind and body to a gateway opportunity, it is only a matter of time before that begins to bleed over into other areas of your life.

Think about your playtesting for example. How many times have you disregarded something your partner has said simply because you view yourself as better than him? It happens all the time. In reality, if LSV or Saito were sitting there telling you the same thing, you would be listening in a fully devoted manner. Now sure, your partner may be wrong more often than LSV would, but give him the benefit of the doubt and at least listen to him. Have your discussion or debate afterward, but do not just tune him out because you think you are better.

It is probable that every single Magic player can teach every other one something they would not have known otherwise. This won’t always be the most groundbreaking morsel of information, but even learning about some card that you may not have known existed could influence your deck design years down the road. The point is to not take anyone or anything in Magic for granted.

We all start somewhere after all. Do you think that NBA stars are looking down at the 20 somethings playing ball at the park and spitting out phrases like, “Man, those guys only think they are good?” Obviously not. They have already proven themselves to the world and have the NBA as a shining beacon of their work. But why must that be the threshold where one’s demeaning attitude begins to fade? Why must we step all over our fellow man or Magic player to promote ourselves? Can we not lean on our actions and skill alone?

Sure, this might not get you recognized as quickly, but if anything, that simply lets you know that your game needs work. There are always going to be those who prey on others at every level of every competitive venture known to man, but that should be the exception, not the rule. All the time spent bashing your fellow player could instead be spent critiquing your own game and improving as a result.

It goes without saying, but results speak much louder than words and I can assure you, you will recognize a spike in your play and results when you begin to look internally instead of focusing on outside forces. Once you begin to critically analyze your own play, the doors open up and you can begin to improve in areas you never knew needed improving. It will be embarrassing at first, but so long as you can set aside your ego for a while to take a few licks, the return investment is one that is nearly priceless.

The key to learning to step aside and focus on you is to differentiate the game from the community. Yes, every time you sit down and shuffle up, you are doing so with the intention of winning a match of Magic. Your opponent knows this, regardless of whether he is a stranger or your best friend. Because of this, you don’t need to do anything at that point other than win.

Control your Emotions

But when you take this attitude and turn it on to the members of the community outside of the match area, trouble ensues. We are all a part of a somewhat underground culture and should embrace that difference rather than segregate within an already segregated community. We have so much to learn from each other that we are really just holding ourselves back both as individuals and as a community when we cannot set aside our own ego to further the game as a whole. As the saying goes, “A house divided cannot stand.”

I think the Pro community on the whole does a good job of displaying this effort. Yes, there are the occasional rivalry and what not, but in general, most of us are friends. We spend time together outside of Magic and enjoy time with each other but when the match slip is set beside us, we fully understand that we are there to win and expect nothing less from our opponent. This is akin to the example given from the NBA earlier, as most pros understand that they have little left to prove. Yes, they want to win, but they need to do that for themselves, not for the public eye. Venture a little further down however, and you have the PTQ grinders who tend to take the “step on the little people” approach to its max.

It is not that these types of players are bad people, instead, they are just trying to move up the totem pole and degradation of their peers seems to accomplish this. Of course broad generalizations are always going to have holes in them, so if you are not among this mindset, I hope I have not offended you. The takeaway here though is to understand that Magic is more about mastering yourself than it is the opponent.

If you can accept your flaws and actively look to work on them, you will receive the biggest take away both from a Magic perspective and a life perspective. The opponent is just there as a means to be able to play this amazing game. The real challenge will always be within. So check your ego at the door and actively look to improve. Be honest with yourself and good things will come as a result. Thanks for reading.

Editor’s note: Conley will be gunslinging this weekend at the M11 prerelease in Los Angeles, so be sure to stop by and meet one of the best minds in the game!

Conley Woods

61 thoughts on “Breaking Through – A Lesson in Humility”

  1. I agree completely with your point, sadly attitudes like the one you are pointing out have pretty much ruined Mexico’s Magic scene, everyone thinks they are perfect at the game, and they won’t bother to help each other at all, no good playtest groups because of that and if you beat them it’s not because you played better, it’s because:

    A) You cheated
    B) You’re a lick sack

    not all players are like this of course but many many of them are…they could really learn a thing or two from this article.

  2. This is a great article! It’s something I notice a lot–the general tone of Magic commentary and articles runs along the lines of, “I’m right, period.” Thanks for writing, Conley.

  3. Conley,

    I have enjoyed your recent draft and standard videos, and I hope that I have been able to learn from them.

    But I’d also like to thank you for a great article. I have taken a similar position in my group before (i.e. that you can learn from any other magic player, you just have to be open to it), to little effect. Perhaps if I had been as eloquent as you, I could have changed some minds. And I hope you do.

  4. Goo article, love the last paragraph. The real challenge will always be within. Lol.

  5. Completely unrelated, but what video-making software do you use? It seems great, and I would like to try some of my own.

  6. I think it is part of the process of becoming decent at anything to go through the ‘think youre awesome at it’ phase. It almost invariably leads to the humiliating tearing down followed by the important life lesson where you actually begin to learn how to do something properly. I used to fence competitively for several years and I called this phase “Moving from being good at being bad at X, to being bad at being good at it”. Once you get through this hump you begin to learn from your mistakes and quickly improve your game.

  7. The Channelfireball crew uses Camtasia… other than a little audio lag issue with the videos, they turn out pretty good. A fairly expensive program though… they have a 30 day trial I would check out first.

    Thanks for the positive feedback guys!

  8. I justed wanted to say thanks for the constructed videos. It takes guts to open yourself up to all the forum trolls. I watched your whole standard daily the other day, and I really got a lot out of it.

    keep on trucking

    p.s. You need to go back on the Playground with Djinn it was my favorite podcast of the year.

  9. “maybe you are on of the 5% of people not to do this, but chances are you know exactly what I am talking about.”

    You spelt ‘one’ wrong.

  10. I find this funny because on this very site, people like Josh Silvestri just slam on people to the point of even posting videos from ggslive just to prove a point about how bad he thinks most Legacy players are…

    Conley, I know that he isn’t you and that you presumably wouldn’t do that kind of thing. I also am not trying to lump you together with the other writers on here necessarily. But just pointing out that A) Your points are clearly valid (I have done videos) and B)you can find examples on this very site.

  11. I really like your videos – especially the new constructed series. I’m actually glad you wrote this article because it bothers me when I read the comments and see all of the criticism and not enough appreciation for what you are doing. I hope this helps to cut down on some of it. You are a pro and we are really lucky that you take the time to share your perspective on things.

  12. @Ozryel – I’m gonna assume you’re being sarcastic, because there’s no way you could have read this article and then seriously made that comment.

    Anyway, I’ve always found that one really easy way to improve your game is to slow down and try to understand your plays. Instead of making snap decisions, recognize the play you would make and actively consider the reasoning behind the intuition. You’ll make far fewer mistakes, and it gives you time to see new strategic plays that you might not ordinarily catch.

  13. Woops, forgot the last bit – This plays into the humility thing, because you need to be honest with your reasoning. If you make the right play for the wrong reason, you need to be willing to recognize that so you can learn the correct basis for your reasoning.

  14. Conley, you are one of the pros that I care most about. I love your articles, your spirit, and your outlook.

    You are certainly well on the way to mastering yourself. You have poise while remaining down to earth and personable. You are not afraid to think and experiment outside the box. This article just cemented my views.

    Please keep doing what you do. I can’t wait to see where you take yourself. Personally, I will do my best to better myself, my play, and my community. Success takes an army, but every army is made of individuals.

    If anyone, pro or beginner would like to converse about the game, feel free to get in touch. My e-mail is faeriedustedfate(at)gmail.com .

  15. This article is an epic failure, I cant believe you post this garbage, lol jk. I like that you brought this up because I think my game has stopped improving because of this very reason. Good Article bro.

  16. Awesome article and great perspective. I’ve learned something for sure. Best quote: “Magic is more about mastering yourself than it is the opponent”

  17. Wow,

    This article is a massive eye-opener to me. I have been struggling with my game for some time now. So much, that is has an effect on my life besides the game. It feels like I am stuck with myself, with no way out.
    I really doubted myself, because it seemed that no matter what I tried, I couldn’t win (when it mattered). This is because my focus is on winning and trying to prove myself to my friends and the (Dutch) magic community, of which I am a part. Perhaps I am not as good as I thought I was!
    I will use this to reset my focus on having fun, and try to improve my game (and others).

    Really, thanks!

    Micha-el van Luijtelaar
    The Netherlands

  18. What program do you use to record your draft videos? That’d be a good thing to include with the suggestion that others do the same.

  19. And just to be clear – I added the editor’s note at the end of the article, not Conley. He’s not calling himself one of the best minds in the game – I am (because, well, he is). Though that would be pretty sweet if he called himself that at the end of an article about humility.

  20. insightful and sincere. I may still be little more then a limited warrior now due to budgetary contraints, but wanting to be better starts with being humble. Good reminder to those who might forget where they started out from.


  21. @ Andy
    Actually, he didn’t ;). But neither did you…. amazing isn’t it ^^?

    I feel I am usually honest with myself (to the point of kicking myself for all the stupid mistakes I make for no reason) but I do have issues with accepting a loss against a “lesser” opponent due to not drawing any of my zillion outs when he’s (apparently) topdecking like a nutter (in Limited, draft usually). Last friday I had a nice deck with plenty removal (2 vendetta, 2 narcolapsy, last kiss, corpshatch, regress) and managed to see maybe 3-4 of them over the course of 3 matches. Losing to someone in the last round who had a L3 cryptologist since turn 4 or so and I couldn’t find removal for the life of me. What pisses me off most in this case is the feeling that I can’t learn from this except that “sometimes you run badly”. Imho, that blows.

  22. I apreciate yor effort, Conley, but dont waste your time. I mean, people are stupid (including myself sometimes).

    Just take your first draft video for example. It was more than reduntant that the audio had problems, but even then there were dozens of coments of people pointing out the audio sucks and etc. Then there were the mistake with Aura Gnarlid. Kinda obvious that the people saw it and didnt even bother reading other people’s coments to avoid being repetitive, so why bother/worry/be upset about them?

    I think, however, that some playing mistakes should have been pointed out, because some times is not that obvious (even for you) and seeing some other playing perspective might be good for us as a whole.

  23. Dude thank you for writing this article, this was a much needed reminder for a lot of Magic players myself included at times. I can remember driving home from FNM upset about a misplay while my friend was in a great mood because he had just spent 4-5 hours playing the greatest game on earth. He is the one that made me realize that Magic is about the game not winning and far to often we turn that around. By doing so I had sucked the fun out of the game. Thank you again.

  24. Quote: “How many times have you disregarded something your partner has said simply because you view yourself as better than him?”

    That’s the biggest possible fallacy… 🙁 I know I’m not that good at magic and every time I say something, it is always: you don’t know what you’re talking about you are not good at this game. Or we disregard your testing result, anyway you loose with the deck because you are not good…

  25. Really good article.

    The truth is alot of the best advice your going to get in your life your not going to like and its something your going to have to learn to deal with like a grown up. Which can be very hard when the person you are getting recieving this advice from is not behaving in a grown up manner themselve’s (as is most often the case when it comes to the internet).

    I think this is also much harder to deal with if your generally a well mannered person who would not dream of adressing someone you do not know in the way some of these people do and are just no use to being spoken to like that.

    I have experinced this first hand, doing draft reports for various sites some of the best advice I have recieved has been really rude and belittling and with absolutely no tact. It’s hard to take advice like this particulary when as you say the person is doing it to make themselves look good rather than to help you. Yet I persevered and my draft skills improved immensly, so I am the real winner

    I often wonder how many new magic-players are put off by the stinking attitudes, (I think this is an attitude of people striving to make it I agree), born out of frustration I’ve been there as well. Who get shot down in a cruel and insulting manor, at the first foray into competative magic. This was my experience for sure back when i was a kid but I set out to prove thoose people wrong and like always i pretty much did. Rocks to be me.

    I think its important to be vigilant to not turn into one of these people which are pretty much the epitome of the word geek. In my opinion which is why I appluade this article so much, a much greater effort to stamp out this kind of behaviour in magic should be made at large, as it just makes the community look really bad.

  26. Thank you for writing this. Your MTGCasts and Standard videos, in addition to articles like this one, have made me a fan.

    The tone, message and writing quality in this piece makes up for a couple of the more derisive articles on CFB from the past week.

  27. Man, eye opener for sure.

    Thank Conley. I feel my biggest flaw is not leaving my ego at the door. I am super competitive in every sport that I play and have been that way since high school.

    This article gives me a bit of hope that I can turn it around and start to have a little more humility. I am not someone who is the random internet jerk, I just get annoyed and frustrated when I lose to someone I feel is an inferior opponent. Maybe they weren’t so inferior after all 🙂

    Once again, great article. Keep up the good work man. I have watched all of your draft videos and your standard daily.

  28. This article is really, really good. Taking the ego out of winning makes you a much better Magic player. You should be proud of what you do, but if you make it the basis for your self worth, then it will destroy you. Opponent one outer’d you? Now all of a sudden, you have nothing to live for. Make a terrible play that results in you winning an event, now you are a wonderful person and the world is your oyster. People need to understand that it is a game, and unless you can divorce yourself to some extent from that, you are always going to be playing for the wrong reasons.

  29. I really liked this article as it discusses an issue I have been struggling with for some time now. I thought that being aware of the problem would be enough to solve it, but it keeps popping up. Perhaps this is also caused by the fact that I find it hard to differentiate between a stimulating friendly rivalry with other local players, or that I am playing for the wrong reasons: to be better then them instead of playing my best game. Any other suggestions on this theme would be greatly appreciated.

    Once again, really nice article!

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  31. Practical application of this article: when you lose a match try to ask the opponent what mistakes he noticed. Usually they can point to something. I also try to ask them if there are any specific cards / strategies they don’t want to see from my side and keep this in mind for future sideboard strategies.

  32. Was this article inspired by those comments to your first Rise draft video? (The one with bad sound)

  33. Thanks CW!

    The constructed video was AWSOME! and the drafts… I’ve taken so much from them and its made me much better.

    Thanks again and keep them coming!

  34. You had some good points here.

    By the way, I just wanted to drop you a reminder that the last PTQ’s are comming up, so if you wanted to do an Esper revision, consider this a request for it to occur either next week or the week after at the latest.

  35. Thanks Conley, good article as usual. I usually don’t comment unless something really catches my eye, but I hate reading through the comments and reading about grammar mistakes or people being critical of small things…its just a waste of time/energy/space.

    Anyways, on to my question…I don’t know if you will have time to respond but I hope someone from the site can…

    This is my situation. I have a work schedule that makes attending events like PTQs or even FNMs very difficult, so I tend to focus on drafting current sets on MODO. I figure this will help my card evaluation skills as well as work on deckbuilding and playing tightly as well as I can. The only other time I get to play is a few times a year when I get together with friends to celebrate a new set release. The problem is that I am better than the other players in that group, so I find it hard to learn from those sessions.

    Any advice on how to improve my game when essentially playing in a vacuum? I watch modo replays but its tough when there is no one there to discuss picks/play mistakes with.

    Thanks in advance for considering my question!

  36. Great article, sadly those that need to read it the most probably won’t.

    also, Lick Sack is my new favorite insult

  37. Great article. Even if most of it has been written about before, and should be well known and common practice.

    The lesson of respect can always be repeated one more time.

    The humble approach is something I work on, and most of the time succeed in it, but sometimes when Im “in the zone” I can be pretty mean/evil without understanding it myself (making “jokes” that cross the edge of bullying my fellow nerds).

    There’s only one thing I want to add to the article, in the part of PTQ grinders.

    “If you step over the line, try to find the one who’s feeling you’v hurt, and tell him your sorry”

  38. I have experienced this exact situation from making videos and posting them on the internet. Good article.

  39. After reading the article, I was pleased to see that it was halfway down the comments before people started joking, but also noticed a few typos in the first few comments, and found myself wondering, is this a test? Nothing even close to affecting the meaning, and thus no reason at all to comment, but based on this, I was happy to see the total lack of attention 🙂

  40. Is what you mentioned above as true in games of luck as in games like Chess or basketball that involve no luck? The reason I am wondering is that in a game without luck, if you won, you know that you are better. But that is not so with Magic. I can see how someone’s ego can get the better of them with Magic, as someone can think that they are better than they are. With chess, there is no mistaking how good you are (unless you play against bad opponents).

  41. Zach, despite there being luck heavily involved with magic, the better player will still win the majority of the games (all other things being equal). I would argue that there are not “luck based games and not luck based games” but rather every game has a varied % of luck and skill.” That said, I believe the article applies to every game, but only the skill portion of it.
    In regards to your comment about knowing how good you are at chess, or knowing you’re better than your opponent…I believe you may have missed the point of the article.
    Suppose you are the chess grand master champion of the world or whatever, and you had a double (another you), identical in every way. Who would win a game of chess if you played your double? odds are you’d both be running around with kings at the end, and the game’s a draw. now suppose you’re able to develop your skill after this initial game by watching a replay and your double is not. You would, in theory, be able to catch mistakes you made in the initial game, and be able to improve your game enough to checkmate your double. Because there’s always something more you could have done game to game, you can never play perfect, and it’s important to examine your own play to improve.

  42. Conley, you are by far my favorite writer and person in the entire magic community. This article and is a must read for anyone wishing to qualify for the pro tour and effectively make this amazing game a bigger part of there life. However in some respects i do disagree with you. Mainly on the idea that the pro community has been doing a good job being sportsman like and embracing the game. I read articles over and over again by the so called “pros” telling me (the reader) im bad at magic, i should get over the monetary cost of magic, how superior blue is of a color, how flavor is not important etc. i could go on and on but these jaded self conceded people (Aj Sacher being the worst offender) have an attitude that is terrible for the game and ultimately encourages the average ptqer to be a jerk and step on their fellow player. When Cedric Phillips makes headlines for being a douche this just gives the message that playing like this on a high level is the only way to play magic. i know you disagree with me Conley but i just felt my opinion was more than valid and every pro should read this article as well.

    Thank you for listening to my pro rant.

  43. Nice article.
    I’d like to get a very own article about the part where you say that everyone can teach you something about magic.
    In the particular case, in my play group there are other 3-4 good players whose lineplay is to me unforseeable.
    Given the results we have, we’re pretty much all on the same level but when we talk to each other, we usually don’t agree about which is the right play to do.
    When one is looking the game of the other one, it happens very often that the watcher will think “Oh man, what he’s doing? He’s screwing up everithing” just to see 2 min later that the play gave him the victory.
    Sure magic is a great game in part because it allows to have a own style of play, but i’d like to see an article who can help us to recognize, given the situation, which style is the most effective.

  44. I appreciate the fact that someone with the ability to communicate to the masses would at least try to bring this line of thinking to the forefront of the community. Even within my relatively uncompetitive local FNM scene, there are numerous players who spend most of their time trying to walk over the newer and/or less skilled players at the event, despite the fact that they’re often only winning because of the budget disparity between grown men and minor children.

    Last night was a prime example for me, as a player in another match ended up wrathing the board clear when he likely had the win on the next turn with his sole creature and its evasion, despite his poor board presence. The guy seated across from him noted the mistake, and proceeded to tell him about it, oh, fifty times through the course of his turn. Finally I said something (was seated next to his opponent) about maybe being a little gracious instead of pointing out his mistake, over and over. His response was that he was “teaching”, where I pointed out he was just being an ass.
    Thankfully, the other guy topdecked Emerge Unscathed and unearthed a Hellspark Elemental and won with it (told you, not the most competitive of environments).

    Personally, I’m really tired of people acting (and writing, I just skip over the articles written by the two authors already mentioned in the comments because I know how they’ll be written) like jackasses to their peer community while playing a card game where your cards have painted elves and angels on them in the name of “improving”. Thank you Conley for bringing this up (and for the rogue deck ideas, something else I appreciate about MtG).

  45. Another great article Conley! Truly awesome people don’t need to point out other peoples mistakes just to prove how awesome they are. It people that are great don’t need to go around pointing out they are great. Being great speaks for itself! Just take me for instance… I’m freaking amazing and I don’t have to go around saying it everywhere.

    I think your suggestion about recording your matches and having your friends critique you is a great idea and its really a win win situation as they will learn from your good plays as well. Keep em comin!

    —Tangent was here,,,

  46. @Marshall: Wow dude, you are so much better than Josh now. Thanks for proving that on Conley’s thread.

    @The Article: Nice. I’m not above making an ass of myself on online forums, as much as I try not to, but I have noticed that listening to obscure advice, especially with cards I’ve never played with before, really pays off. I got my first PTQ t8 playing with Ghitu Slinger. I mean, Ghitu-Freaking-Slinger.

  47. I approve of this product and/or service.

    In seriousness, great article. 95% of people can benefit greatly from it.

  48. Awesome article with great points! There’s nothing better than meeting players that are far ahead of you and being able to talk to them w/o them being mean or hateful.

    Also, if you can’t afford camtasia, maybe you guys could look into FRAPS.

  49. there’s 4 stages to progress at certain things

    consciously incompetant
    unconsciously incompetant
    consciously competant
    unconsciously competant

    You get good enough to win an odd draft or 2-1 it and you progress from 1 to 2, and alota ppl stay there.

  50. Another point I’m hoping adds to the discussion (pardon the rant):

    In my local Magic community (PTQ’s, FNM’s, weekly tournaments) there is a reasonably close nit group of hard traders and aggressive players that bend the rules to get ahead. I’ve seen bewildered new players traded out of “those dumb old lands that do damage to you” for a bulk rare when those fetches were $20+ a piece. Also one of those in this group was diqualified from national qualifiers shortly before Top 8 for his regular practive of stacking his deck. He and others I have known to double draw on their turn, talk down other players, proclaim their own superiority, and and basically do everything to grind out of the PTQ circuit as the article mentions are the worst kind of what you’re talking about.

    Cheating is bad practice. At your level of competition, fraud is punished. Getting to the “big show” with bad habits means you’ll be running when you haven’t even learned how to walk without a crutch.

    All CCG’s aside, the worst result of this is when I see kids this group knows becoming more and more like them. "Once you have exposed your mind and body to a gateway opportunity, it is only a matter of time before that begins to bleed over into other areas of your life." is the quote from the above article taht seems to apply.

    Its sad to see players admit they know others cheat and go along with it, and also see some of them attempt to pick up the same habits and patterns because it ups their DCI rating in the short run. More importantly I see a moral degredation I wish I could fight directly. All I can do and try to do is be real and as good of an example as I can be. I don’t cheat. In life I’m no better a person that anyone around me, but that last three word statement I hold a little pride in.

    Maybe this wasn’t the intended focus of the article and for that I apoligize. Hopefully this message helps someone out there to see the light. Thanks.

  51. This article was great Conley. Sometimes the MTG community needs to be reminded of what character is, and they’re lucky to have you as a role model. Keep it up and thanks for your contributions.

    To the previous poster: people who cheat only get to the big show on the shoulders of those who look the other way. If you and your friends know cheaters, please do us all a favor and call a judge when you see this happen in your game. There is no other way to do it. Knowing they often cheat and cheating are two different things, so we don’t want to just smear a name; but if it happens in your game, or the game of one of the people you know, do the right thing and call a judge. Believe me we’ll sort it out for the better.


  52. –> Even when going through and re-watching the same game again, it is still possible to make mistakes with mostly perfect knowledge in hindsight. This means you are never going to reach some level of perfection even with intense film study and game analysis, but this should hardly keep your from improving at least in some capacity. <–
    I think that’s because you don’t have programs to analyze played Magic games like you have in chess. Programs with better-than-grandmaster-strength that can calculate the best response with perfect knowledge and the best response with calculated probabilities (meaning: which card is likely to come, which is not?). And that responds in your variants. I think such a program would change a lot, like that things did for and in chess.

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