Plagued with casual syndrome for the first few years of my Magic quest, I have seen the error in my ways and decided to study the beautiful craft. Sad to have so much time wasted, but excited to use the knowledge to build upon. Please come with me on my journey. I want to talk about a valuable resource and perhaps the gravy of playing Magic: the community and your team.
If you’re new to Magic, or new to the competitive side, I highly encourage you to reach out to the community. I have made many friends and connections, allowing me to build a network and support system. This allows me access to all of their knowledge as a community, bouncing ideas around and learning more than one would alone. Somehow, with luck, in that network I found a home with my team. This was the beginning of what I felt was my personal advancement in Magic: becoming ambitious and feeding from the energy of the team.
Like any other team, we are a family with goals. Individually, we each bring passion for the game, ideas, and drive. We support one another to push ourselves and to stay strong, even in defeat. We come to one another for tips, advice, and, most importantly, the constructive criticism that can come from friends. We are able to maintain focus and brainstorm with purpose, bringing together strategies and helping one another to reach their objectives.
The communication is constant, and all members come forward with ideas and thoughts. These ideas build upon one another and grow, expanding and finally being filed down and polished into decks with interactions and purposeful sideboards. It’s important to get all of these ideas in one place for the team to access and have them organized so multiple projects can be worked on. This also allows all members to have the chance to engage, given a platform for their thoughts to be shared and heard. We manage this in a private group on a social media site.
Being the student, I read and follow all of my teammate’s posts, look up the card interactions I don’t know, and read the comments. Watching the ideas grow and form is an amazing way for you, personally, as a new player, to start recognizing the connections and flow in Magic. Even in decks you aren’t interested in playing, there is still immense value to gain from understanding them to expand your knowledge of Magic, and, of course, learn how to beat the deck later in competition.
Being part of a family also means having a learning environment without fear of being put down and personal support to help guide you on your Magic quest. There are no stupid questions. It’s important to remember this. I often start my questions with “I have a stupid question,” fearing that what I am about to ask is obvious or very simple. Asking to confirm helps you remember, so you don’t overlook that one interaction that could have won you the game just because you were unsure; it seems silly in the long run. Questions aren’t stupid, and I’ve found most are more than willing to answer. Only when you ask and do not listen do people get frustrated and find your questions annoying.
Keep in mind when seeking or giving advice that we all learn differently, but please respect and value the time they are taking to teach you, and the time one is investing to learn. This is the tradition that keeps Magic alive.
Our family is made of talented mages that draw their power from all different mana pools, master different strategies, and become skilled in their own areas. Each member becomes a teacher, and each member becomes a student of one another. This allows all of us to become stronger individually and unbeatable together. Being the least experienced caster in the family, I find the team my strongest resource. Be forewarned! You can drown in Magic knowledge. Yeah, it may look easy, but these people have been playing for years. The game itself is over 20 years old, making it older than some of its players. If people have been playing long, they are passionate about the game and excited to pass on their knowledge. I found it easy to get caught up in all the excitement of learning to play something new, but I would also drown in confusion. Different formats, different bans, different lists, different interactions, the stack … and then the joy of playing with foreign cards, because that’s what your friends have.
It’s a lot to take on. My advice is get a general feel for Magic: Learn the basics, such as the progression through a turn, card types, and the stack—things that govern Magic on the field of battle, for these will be constant. You should start to get a general feel for the unique properties each color has to offer. I suggest beginning your grind with a deck more flavorful to your playstyle, something that interests you (and can actually win; while a deck may look and sound fun to play, if your team advises against it, listen. No one wants to continue to learn a game they constantly lose). Personally, I have a Red spark, and though I may call upon the other lands, I feel most powerful on top of my mountains.
Learn your deck: Play it as much as you can. Play with cards up, play with your team helping, and play against them. Once you know what your cards do and feel confident in your play, expand on it. Learn your teammate’s deck. There has been a problem with “too many cooks in the kitchen.” I suggest pairing with one or two teammates at a time when playing through games until you become more comfortable and need a greater challenge. This witch got super lucky and is local to a high level Red wizard, so I’m able to study and advance my understanding of the burn archetype. He also helped open my eyes to other archetypes by having me watch the board state of my opponent and question what could be in their hand.
Remember the reality of walking into a Magic event. By the end of round one, half of the room will be winners, and the other half will have lost. You will lose—sometimes to chance, to variance, to luck, misplays, or victim to the perfect top deck. But you will lose. Accept it, and don’t let it hold you back. Do not blind yourself to your losses, though. Instead, try to determine the reason you did not win. This is where playing with teammates comes in really handy. Evaluate what went wrong. Land flooded? Perhaps you’re running too many lands, and your team can help you tune your deck list. Didn’t see an interaction that would have won you the game? Take the time to review it with a teammate, learning its boundaries and when it is most effective. Having this open dialog and being able to get help is how you advance your knowledge as a caster. Continuing to learn and play is how you advance your skills as a caster. Then you will find your losses being more variance-based than due to misplays.
And, at last, we, as a family who practice together, learn together, and grow together, also celebrate together. The victories are shared and we are proud of them each.
The Magic battlefield is not an easy one to navigate. Don’t wander it alone.