The Power of Influence
How Newer Players With Limited Card Pools Can Win Multiplayer Games
How Newer Players With Limited Card Pools Can Win Multiplayer Games
The Influence for This Article
A Wizard Did It
After reading this article it's apparently obvious to me that there's not enough information out there to help a newer player with a small card pool win a multiplayer game every now and then. As such, I'd like to take this opportunity to shed some insights on the subject. To give everyone out there an idea, I've been playing multiplayer Magic for the past 12 or so years. I'm a bit of specialist in that sense. I've played in various metas of various sizes (ranging from 4-9 players) during this period and let's just say that I've played with my fair share of newbies . Because of this I consider myself to be more than qualified to assist newer players with relative small collections in accomplishing a feat that may currently feel overwhelming and improbable; beating stronger players with deeper pockets and card-pools. Throughout this article I'll reference Wizard's on multiple occasions so you best give it a quick one-over before trekking onward. Some of my comments or statements may be somewhat lost on you otherwise. Besides, as critical as I'm going to be about it it's still probably worth your time to read it.
My motto? No lotto!
Before we begin, let's clear the air about a sensitive topic. Anyone *can* win a game of multiplayer Magic. The guy playing a deck of pure Islands deck could, in theory, somehow win a game. It's possible. That doesn't mean that it's probable though. This is what I disliked most about the Wizards article that I linked in the intro and what inevitably prompted me to write this article. It's a technical truth in the same way that it's technically true that anyone who purchases a lottery ticket can win the lottery. As long as you play the game there's a chance (no matter how slim) that you'll win it all. The advice proposed in the aforementioned article, in my mind, is basically telling you to play the lottery. You already are. It doesn't need to be restated to you. What the article should have explained to you (in my mind) is methods to achieve victories at a significantly more probably rate. Nevertheless, the first disclaimer that we need to address is that there's no magical solution out there that will guarantee victories for you. They don't exist. Magic may not be a "pay to win" game but it's pretty damn close. People with more money and better collections than you have a big advantage and nothing will ever change that. Still, what I can offer you is advice that has a reasonable chance of significantly improving your current overall win % (assuming that you're still a fledgling to the game obviously). I do not believe that the aforementioned article will. Don't relegate yourself to playing the lottery. You can aspire for better than that. No, you should aspire for better than that. Still, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's briefly analyze why "guile" and other personal qualities have little value in real-world multiplayer Magic games. It wouldn't be fair to criticism the article without defending my claims after all.
Guile (and other other personal qualities that you possess) cannot physically manifest in a game to overcome raw statistical power. That is, you cannot use guile or cunning or wit to attack a 3/3 in to a 4/4 and win. Magic is a game of hard numbers and so personal traits can only ever have so much of an impact on the outcome of the match. This isn't chess. This isn't poker. People are not working with the same resources and utilizing them differently. If my decks have cards such as Boros Reckoner and Phyrexian Obliterator and yours are filled with Warpath Ghouls and Hill Giants then all of the guile in the world isn't going to save you. I have superior resources and even if I utilize mine incorrectly and you wield yours correctly I'm still a huge favorite to win. As I've previously alluded to, Magic isn't a strict "pay to win" game but it's pretty damn close. People who make significant investments in the game have enormous advantages over people who don't because cards that cost more money do more for the same amount of mana. This inevitably leaves qualities such as intellect, cunning, guile, etc. as little more than fluffy nonsense terms that won't significantly sway things over way or another when you're just starting out. Even if we assume that your opponents don't possess any of these qualities it doesn't change the fact that their cards have better numbers for less mana. Still, let's discuss the sheer absurdity of this assumption in the first place.
Plato vs Homer... Simpson
Your opponents aren't always idiots. I'm a smart person and I play magic. I know plenty of other smart people who play magic. I bet you do too. Heck, they're probably some of the smartest people that you know. Do you really think that you can easily out-guile, outwit, outsmart, and out-think those people? Do you think that you could outsmart ME? Ha! Don't make me laugh you mere mortal. All kidding aside, aren't you being a tad presumptuous at that point? I mean, why can't your opponents be just as smart or possibly smarter, more cunning, etc. than you? Let's get back to reality for a second. People who make significant monetary investments into Magic are often people who enjoy mental exercises, employing strategic solutions to problems and who just plain take pleasure at putting their mind to work. What this means is that your opponents probably aren't going to be brain-dead morons that they're often portrayed as who'll fall for every trick in the book. This is why articles that praise the merits of "outwitting" or "out-thinking" your adversaries irk me. You can puff up your chest and feign strength all you want but at the end of the day that doesn't work against intelligent people. They can sniff the obvious traps out and they also know how to call bad bluffs. Any strategy that relies on you outwitting or outplaying these kinds of people is probably just a pipe-dream and little else. I realize how conceited that sounds but I mean I don't think that it's an unrealistic statement to make. You're the newb and they're the experienced pros with better cards. Anyone who's played the game for any length of time is going to be able to see through your petty ruses and crush you with raw power and experience. This transcends Magic and encompasses virtually any strategic game/exercise in existence. You're likely severely underestimating your foes (or overestimating your own abilities) if you assume that you can accomplish otherwise. With that out of the way, let's further explore why the "lay low and pounce with guile" strategy isn't a particularly compelling one to employ.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Kitten
Laying low and pouncing at the very end is basically the best strategy for everyone to pursue. Take it from someone who's almost always going to be the best player at the table; it's exactly what I'm going to try and do too. Unless your deck outclasses the rest of the field by a significantly margin then it rarely-if-ever makes sense to attract a lot of attention to yourself. I mean, what benefit is there to being a focus target? None. What this means is that better players than you (with much more powerful decks) are going to be employing this strategy as well. I too want to innocuously tip-toe my way to the end with a weak player and crush him or her with my superior cards and play skill. It's an easy win for me and I'm never going to be too proud to take it. Now, some of you might be thinking "yeah but I'll win that duel some % of the time... right?" Yeah, you will, in the same way that some % of people will win the lottery each year. It's possible that your bad, inconsistent deck could beat my powerful, consistent one that's probably worth 20 times more than yours is. It's not even close to being probable though. I will beat you 90% of the time (if not more) and bear in mind that you'll only make it to the finals once every eight games or something (these numbers are clearly fabricated but they're not completely unrealistic). In a 5 player game that gives you an overall win % of 1.25% in a world where the average overall win % would be 20%. That's pathetic. No one should ever be content with such a trivial success rate. You can do better than that. I know from first-hand experience that you can significantly improve that number if you put some effort in to it. Allow me to show you how.
The Influence of Your Cards
Foundation; More Than Make-Up
I think that the best piece of advice to extract from the original article is that winning games starts at deckbuilding. Building stronger Magic the Gathering decks is the best way to increase their competitiveness after all. The premise of this section is that A) you're probably not using the best cards in your pool, B) you're probably not maximizing their value even if you are and C) in time you'll find yourself working with a team and you'll need something that you can contribute. I know that you're not an expert at evaluating cards yet and it would be completely unreasonable for anyone to assume otherwise. Still, I can give you some specific and useful advice that should be easy to apply. Since this article is aimed at new players with smaller card-pools, I'll try and cover the basics while being as specific as possible. Everyone started somewhere and everyone (myself included) sucked at building decks initially. As such I'll briefly cover some tips and tricks to building better brews. This won't be a comprehensive guide or anything but it will touch on a lot of important subjects. Your cards can have a bigger impact than they're currently having and I'll do my best to oversee the shift.
Stop Hitting Yourself
The first thing that's going to happen is that you're going to start building 60 card decks with 24 or more lands. BUSTED! Look buddy, I've heard it all. "No, our games are slow so it's ok if I run 75 cards." "Oh I want protection against mill." "20 lands works fine for me, I don't need more." "I've never had a problem with my deck so what's the big deal?" Save it. Your empty words are inexcusable self-justifications that are hindering your ability to succeed. I don't care what your reasoning is because it's wrong. You do not play with enough lands. Period. Your decks have too many cards. Period. This isn't a discussion topic. There's not going to be a back-and-forth debate. You're not some special flower who knows more than the experts. You're wrong. Stop being wrong. Until you accept this as an absolute truth then I promise you that you'll continue to flounder and fail. Everyone around you plays 60 cards decks with reasonable land counts for a reason. It wins games. If you legitimately want to improve then you're going to have to start following in their footsteps. I don't want to article to get bogged down in math so I'll keep this simple and clear. Decks with 24 or more lands are going to consistently hit their 4th land drop on turn 4 and have a decent shot at making it to numbers such as 6. What this means is that you'll actually be able to play a game of Magic the Gathering. How many games have sat around doing nothing because you had 3 lands in play and a hand full of 5+ mana spells? It's probably a lot isn't it? Don't sit around while other people do cool things. Play your powerful spells as well. With respect to playing 60 cards, the logic is simple. First of all, you will not get milled out in a normal game. No deck takes 60 turns to win (not even your bad ones). Playing 60 cards ensures that you'll see your best cards as frequently as possible to ensure a consistent performance. It also helps to keeps variance in check but I mean that's a bit of an advanced subject so I think that I'll leave it at that. The main point that I want to drive home is that your deck doesn't have that many fantastic cards just yet and the worst thing that you could possibly do is hinder your chances of seeing them every game.
Ok, you're now willing to build real decks with realistic card numbers (it's not a question; it's a statement). That still doesn't help you much does it? Your collection may not be amazing but it's still too big for you and you probably can't evaluate a card properly just yet right? Don't worry, it's fine. I'll do my best to guide you. First of all, you'll want to play with as many of your bombs as you possibly can. It's hard to explain what exactly a "bomb" is but it basically means "a really good card." You can probably already single yours out since they tend to be rares with high mana costs and I mean it doesn't take much to pick them out in a lineup. If nothing else you can ask your friends if you have any but I mean they're not very hard to spot normally. Your bombs are best bets with respect to actually winning the game and so you should never be shy about fielding them. A 5/6 flier for 6 still kills anyone in 4 hits and it doesn't matter how much better he is at the game than you are after all. Still, that's all obvious. You probably already knew that. Let's talk about things that are less obvious. The next thing that you want to look for are globally destructive and scaling cards. Globally destructive cards are just that, global and destructive. That is, they negatively affect everyone. Think Earthquake. These cards are awesome because more people means more targets so a decent spell can suddenly become amazing when it's hitting 5 or more players and/or their creatures or whatever. Even though these kinds of cards may seem scary since they usually negatively affect you, you should still feel confident about running them. Remember, your cards are worse than those of the other players. Playing a Chain Reaction, even if it nukes your own team, is probably fine because your team probably wasn't very scary anyways. Next we'll cover scaling cards. You should almost always play cards that increase in power as your number of opponents increases. Look at Syndic of Tithes. Cute little 2/2 for 2 right? Well, hey, Extort is pretty good if it hits 5 people isn't it? That's a 10 point life (you gain 5 life, 5 other players lose 1 life) swing for 1 mana every time you cast a spell! That's nuts! What about Lurking Predators? A chance at a free creature every time an opponent casts a spell? Sign me up! How about Wight of Precinct Six? That's a sick 2 drop! These kinds of cards are your life-savers and they can legitimately win games if left unchecked. Anything that says "each opponent," "for each opponent," "whenever an opponent," "number of creatures your opponents control," etc. should probably be windmill-slammed in to your decks. These are all mindlessly powerful types of cards that win games. Play them. Moving on, you'll want to look for anything that's durable or recurrable. Durability could mean protection (Blood Baron of Vizkopa, indestructibility (Tajic, Blade of the Legion), regeneration (Mortivore) or even untargetability (Thrun, the Last Troll). Cards such as these are resistant to removal and powerful in combat which will give you an edge in long, grindy games. Recursive creatures are similar but tend to be things like Rot Farm Skeleton that can be "bought back" as required. Again, the idea here is that you'll always have action if you have some of these in your list. Finally, look for cards with persistent effects. Pestilence is a good example. You can activate it as much as you want so it's a great mana sink at any stage of the game. Any card with an activated ability (Olivia Voldaren), or even one that just triggers every turn (Plague Spitter) is probably going to be a solid inclusion.
What Not To Wear
Ok, I've gone over the basics of the kinds of cards that you should be playing with. Let's briefly analyze cards to avoid. First of all, it's important to remember that multiplayer games have multiple opponents. Seems silly but it should significantly improve your deckbuilding. For example, everyone in the world will tell you to run Duress in your Black duel decks. It's a no-brainer. Want to know a horrendous multiplayer card? Duress. 1-for-1 trades are fine in duels because you usually come out ahead on mana/tempo or because it enables you to stifle their gameplan. This doesn't happen in multiplayer. When you Duress Bob you are both down a card, you're down mana, and every other player is now ahead. 2 players are down resources and it didn't cost them anything after all. Value! This is why you should always be weary of spells that just trade 1-for-1. Counters, spot removal, discard, land destruction, all of it is significantly weaker when you're dealing with multiple opponents. Now, you're going to run spot removal. I can't stop you from doing that. Still, I'm going to strongly encourage you to avoid running 1-for-1 spells that don't affect the board. Spot removal, at the very least, kills a 5/5 that's attacking you. Things like discard, land destruction, counterspells, etc. don't. If you play with them then you will probably struggle to win. Now, you will probably have plenty of spells that don't fall in to these categories. You can still probably apply the same logic to them though. If a card is at best a 1-for-1 and if it doesn't affect the board then it's probably not very good. Pump spells (Giant Growth), lifegain (Angel's Mercy), protection effects (Stave Off), rituals (Dark Ritual) and more are all examples of fairly weak cards that you probably shouldn't run if you can afford not to. Another general rule is to avoid Auras. Some exceptions such as Rancor and Unflinching Courage exist but in general you'll just get blown out by removal and eat 2-for-1s all day every day. Don't run them unless you have it on good authority that your particular Aura is "worth the risk." With respect to creatures, again, we need to keep the player count in the back of our minds. You cannot aggro a multiplayer table out of the game so it's kind of pointless to play a deck with a bunch aggressive early drops. At best you kill one player and lose but more realistically you just lose. I generally advocate avoiding 1 drops since they have small bodies and weak abilities (in general, this isn't a hard rule) and I also caution against loading up your decks with weak 2 drops. If we're talking about Scavenging Ooze or Wight of Precinct Six, sure. Those kinds of cards are fine. If we're talking about Elvish Warriors then you're going to struggle in the mid-to-late game. The basic idea here is to play as much "fat" as possible. Play greedy and avoid loading up on early drops if you can (every meta is different) so that you can rip decently-sized bodies throughout the game. As another general rule of thumb is to avoid playing vanilla creature (that is, creatures with no abilities) since you don't want cards that are worthless once the body becomes irrelevant. Centaur Courser may be a 3/3 for 3 but I mean he's going to be worthless the second that people have 4/4s. Dark Imposter may not be the biggest creature ever printed but at least he can still do something on turn 6 when people have big blockers at their disposal. Think big, think late, think versatile.
Sherlock Does it Again
"Geez Tich, you must be some kind of deckbuilding genius. Look at you telling people to play their bombs and to avoid playing obviously bad cards. Yeah, your insights are sooooooo valuable." /sarcasm. Yeah, I get it. Even you, as a newb, have probably figured most of this stuff out already. Still, I'm doing my best here, I don't know why you feel the need to put me down ;~;. I forgive you though. Let's try and cover some things that are less obvious. First of all, I strong advocate playing 4 or so card advantage/draw spells. You know that Blast of genius that you opened? Get that in your deck. Why? Because it finds you your good cards. Your bombs, your global spells, your scaling spells, etc. will all win you games. A random Welkin Tern will not. When you're filling your deck out do your best to get some draw spells in there (if you have some) instead of tossing in some marginal creatures or spells. Staff of Nin may not be very fast but it's still better than a Grizzly Bears or whatever so you may as well play it to dig for your Kalonian Behemoth. Your average card quality is low so you're much better off finding your best stuff and leaning on those cards to win you games. On that note, run a bit of ramp if you have some. "A bit" could be anywhere from 4-6 cards but I mean 4 is a great place to start. You don't need a full playset of anything so I mean if you own 2x Orzhov Keyrune and 2x Orzhov Signet or something then that's perfectly fine. Why is ramp is important? Well, for the same reason that draw is. Most of your cards probably suck so you may as well focus your efforts on casting your best ones. Your best spells are probably expensive though and getting the mana to cast them is always going to be a challenge. Still, decks with draw spells and ramp can consistently find and cast powerful cards and that's probably going to be your best bet to steal a game every now and then. Anyone can cast an Insurrection and win, even you. For the record, I can already smell your tears of disgust. "24-26 lands AND 4 ramp spells. You want me to play a deck with 30 sources of mana? Are you insane? What about my cool spells!?!? I hate you Tich (ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻ ." Ok, let's all calm down and take a deep breath. ┬─┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ). Better? I get it. I was the same newbie player with a 73 card deck that had 21 lands. Spells are cool and lands suck. I know. We all know. Still, this is what real Magic looks like. I have seen countless newbs sit around doing nothing because they have 3 lands in play and a hand full of Magmatic Forces. The ratio between loses to mana screw and mana flood isn't even close. It's something like 9:1 in favor of screw. Do yourself a favor and play decks that have lands, ramp and draw spells. That way you have a good chance of hitting steady streams of lands and spells and a good chance of both finding and casting your best stuff. If you're seriously looking to win significantly more games than you currently are then this is probably the best course of action for you to take.
The Influence of Your Actions
If Not Guile, Then What?
Look pal, you spent the first 30 minutes of this lecture talking about how money wins games of Magic then spent the next 45 on building decks with our puny collections. What the heck is wrong with you you hypocritical jerk? No one told me that being a teacher was going to be this hard . I'm getting to the important part, just bear with me for a little longer. First we need to discuss the history of Magic up until this point.
Alright, I know what you're all here for. Hardcore nudity! No, wait, that's wrong. Sorry, we're on the Internet, I kind of forgot that this wasn't porn related. Anyways, what you're still waiting for is a legitimate way to win games even if your card pool isn't the best. I've come out and said that laying low and pouncing sucks. I stand by it. What, then, is my alternative solution? Patience my young apprentice!
Bound by Duty
I'm going to assume that you've played Magic with your playgroup a few times by now. You're a smart person with a head on his or her shoulders and so you probably have a bit of a vibe on who the top dogs are. If you don't, hey, that's fine too. You'll get there soon enough. The point is that you probably know who the best players with the best collections are already. They probably win more than their fair share of games and they probably play cards that make you foam at the mouth. I'm going to tell you something right now and it's probably the most important lines of text in this entire article. I'm even going to bold them for you. You have a duty as a competitor to actively try and defeat the strongest players at some point every session before they assert their dominance or eliminate too many of your potential allies. If you make no moves against them then you will never experience a steady stream success and/or consistently taste victory. You will just lose. This is both saying and not saying a lot of things at the same time. First of all, if you lay low and do nothing then you will continue to (almost) never win. That is a promise, a guarantee... heck, it's my pact with you. Yes, I am that confident about it. You are not in a position to play for the ultra-late game against the best players. Your deck just isn't that good. Playing the back 9 against Tiger Woods isn't going to magically be easy. You're going to get crushed over and over and that's assuming you even make it that far on a regular basis to begin with (spoiler alert: you won't). Don't let anything or anyone trick you into thinking otherwise. However, I am not saying that you need to try and take control of the game for its entire duration. Is that clear? I am in no way telling you to try and pull all the strings in an attempt to mastermind something grandiose. That type of play-style doesn't appeal to most people. I'm aware of this. You just want to have fun playing with your friends, your boyfriend, your family, etc. That is fine. I will never try and take that away from you. Still, I firmly believe that you have a duty to the other competitors to take action against the favorites at some point during a match before they lock the game in their favor. You owe it to everyone else who's trying to win to actively try and win yourself. Get that? A-C-T-I-V-E. I.e the opposite passive. Make a move before it's too late or you'll never achieve the success that you seek.
Life of Pi... Errr... Tich
I'm going to share a personal story with everyone. It's relevant so just put up with it. When I first started playing it was with my best friend and my 2 brothers. My best friend had more cards and more experience with the game so initially he beat us all a bunch. Oh how that enraged me. I couldn't beat him with cards but then I realized that I did have my brothers and my desire to win. Huzzah! Every game I would rally them against him and he'd go down first while trying to take me out. He'd usually fail (it was almost always a 3 vs 1 after all) and I'd proceed to win just about every game. Why? I had the second best selection of cards. Go me! Still, my brothers didn't possess the foresight to rally against me after my best friend fell. None of them ever made an active move against me that the other could rally behind. They splintered and fell once I stopped leading them. For the record I would have easily lost every time. I mean, my friend would go all out on me and there's no way that I would have been able to beat 2 decent decks afterwards. Still, that didn't matter, because they would rather do nothing and lose than actively rally against me and win. For a good ~2ish years I basically never lost a game. Hey, I was a 16 year old punk who only cared about winning. Sue me.
Making The Big Plays
Now, that's all well and good, but what's the lesson to be learned here? What can you do to actively win a game? Your deck isn't great and it's so unrealistic in my opinion to assume that you could magnificently outsmart or outplay the other players (I don't mean that maliciously, not even the favorites should think that). What's our option then? Let's revisit my anecdote for a second. What did I do back then to beat the better player with the better cards? What was my big play every game? I'd rally the weak against the strong, become the strong and beat the weak. Hmmm. Seems logical no? I'm going to teach you a mindset and an argument that will appeal to people on a rational and sensible level. Your entire goal should be to go as far as possible with the weakest possible players. I want everyone to think about the following statement:
"X is currently in a dominant position and has won the majority of our previous games. If we don't form a temporary alliance to take X down then (s)he'll probably win the game like (s)he always does. I'd rather duke it out with you Y or you Z than watch either or us lose to X in the end. We stand a much better chance of beating one another than beating X after all."
That's a compelling argument isn't it? It's rational, it's sensible, it's supported by evidence and it appeals to people on a personal level. Why, then, are people so afraid to employ it? Like, this is a perfectly reasonable claim that will appeal to smart, rational people who're trying to win a strategic card game. Got that? You get to interact with strategic, intelligent people on a strategic, intelligent level. None of this "just outplay everyone" crap. Going as far as you possibly can with the weakest possible players is the best way for anyone to maximize his or her overall win % after all. Table talk is a perfectly fair part of the game and like it or not it's always going to happen. It's also by far and away the best means for the weak to rally against the oppressive and its mere existence should ensure that tyrannies rarely establish themselves. No matter how scary the best player is you should be able to handle him or her if you actively work towards it as a team. I'll admit that being forced to team up on people is never ideal but I mean what's the alternative exactly? If Tich wins every damned game on the back on card quality isn't it irrational and illogical to compete with him on that front? If you truly want to start winning your fair share of games then you need to take the people who're winning more than their fair share down a few pegs.
Is The End in Sight?
Now, why did I share that story first? Why am I telling you something that not everyone will feel comfortable doing in practice? Oh ho, you thought I wouldn't account for that, didn't you? You thought that I forgot about how my brothers didn't rally against me even though they easily could have and even though they saw me do it every game. Right? Magician please. I know that not everyone wants to speak up and take a leadership position. I know that some people frown against open alliances. I've played with more newbs than you could possibly imagine. What's the goal then? What's the key the winning? Get to the damn point already! Sorry, but all of this really was necessary. Hopefully it will all be made clear in an instant.
The Big Reveal
Alright, I'm going to tie this all together as best as I possibly can. The reason why I needed to help you as a deckbuilder is because I need you to be able to offer a team "something" at "some point" during a match to take a dominant player out. Even your bad deck will have some ok cards and those ok cards, in conjunction with the ok cards of other players, can beat the powerful cards of the strongest players. Well, not always, but more often than not. You don't have to make big plays against people all game long but you need to be able to offer something impactful eventually and you owe it to everyone else to use that window to try and make something happen with them. Now, let's get back to the idea of going deep with weak players. See, I have a secret to tell you. You only found out about this article because someone with experience linked it for you. That means that he or she has read and he agrees with it. Ho ho, the plot thickens. I get that you may not want to stand out and try and make the big plays yourself all the time. If you do, awesome! If not, that's cool too. My hope is that the semi-experienced player who showed this article to you is also playing with you. Yeah, you can see where this is going. When he or someone else tries to rally the table against the the person who always wins, wanna know what you're going to do? Well, you'll put that ramp and draw to use by playing your best spells to the best of your abilities to try take out the key threat. You will have an active role in it. Having an active role doesn't mean that you have to initiate the damned thing though. It doesn't mean that you have to explicitly join and/or form an alliance either. Following the charge of another player is just as good. In other words, I simply want you to start taking active roles with respect to advancing your position with other relatively weak players. So, what happens when people try and take out the next threat? Do the same thing! Keep taking out the scary players who always win and rally behind the underdogs trying to make something happen. Don't be afraid to try and stage something yourself every now and then either . Its probably best if everyone shares the burden and makes a stand every once and a while. Eventually you'll start making it further and further with people closer to your own level. Those are people who you stand a chance against, especially if they got beaten up a bit along the way. You can't beat Tiger Woods or Roger Federer but you can take a game off of your dad every now and then after all. You're an underdog but not by that much. He's just an old man after all.
Not The Face D:!
Before I wrap this up I want to take a second to champion why this is such an effective tactic. Something that you've probably noticed in your games is that people are basically never gunning for the newbs. Oh, sure, they often lose early on, but it's not like people are going out of their way to take them out. Here's a tip that will hopefully pan out for you at some point. All thing being equal, the pros would rather see you win than another pro. "Wait? What? That can't be right can it? These guys with their big collections... they must all be best buds! Stupid Tich and his lies." No, seriously, good players hate seeing other good players win. Here's our mindset: "I think that I'm the best player at the table. Therefore, if I know that I'm going to lose, it's in my best interest to try and save face. If I go down beating a weak player I will appear to be on his or her level and that will reflect poorly on me. As such, I should target the strongest players who are close to my level before going down. There is less shame in losing to a strong player than appearing to lose to a weaker one. I could even act as though my intention was never to win but to merely take my rival down." Got it? These guys want you to win. If 3 people ally against me I'm going 100% full kamikaze mode against my best friend (the second best player) or my younger brother (who is good at the game now) or whatever to try take him out. Or, in other words, I'm not going after the 2 newbs. I think that you'll find that most players are like me. Help me help you. If you force the best players to kamikaze against each other you make it easy to get ignored and go far with other weak players. Your weakish cards are still brutally effective when the strongest players are firing their best spells at each other after all. Still, if you do nothing then we will crush you every time. I can't drive that point home hard enough. You are not required to take the "bull by the horns" and plot against me all throughout the match but someone at some point has to make a move against me before I seize control of the match and you better be ready and willing to support that player. Get my back against the wall and force me in to that face-saving kamikaze reaction. It's your free ticket to going deep.
The Influence for this Conclusion
Umm... because every post of this magnitude needs to be wrapped up I guess o.O? After reading this I hope that you, as a newer player, can go out there and start winning some games every now and then. I can't promise you your 20% or anything but I know that you can do better than you current 1.25% or what have you. It starts with building better decks so that you can make meaningful contributions to team exercises. While I'm not expecting people to play the role of "mastermind" I personally believe that you owe it to your fellow competitors to take an active role in your matches at some point. Even if you're just following-up on someone else's initiation, that's fine, just know that if if you sit around and do nothing that you'll inevitably lose like you always do. There's a middle-ground between "doing nothing" and "doing everything" that you'll have to strike if ever want to escape that rut that you're in. With any luck the people around you will share the burden because it's always easier to start something new together. Regardless of where you are as a player I hope that you've taken something from this because I truly believe that more players could be winning more games if they took some gradual steps forward. It doesn't have to be a huge, immediate shift but I mean at some point you have to stop letting people like me get away with murder. It's your duty as a competitor to rise up against the strong. Don't let your fellow competitors down.
Comment away boys and girls. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.