Budget Brewing: Friday Night Fun Part 4 of 5, How to Win and How to Lose

I don’t know how to tell you this, so I guess I’ll just put it out there.

I was chewed up and spit out this last Friday. Pretty badly. There wasn’t too much of a learning experience to be had from it, unfortunately. I’ll cover the tournament, but it won’t be like usual times. Instead, I’d like to focus on something else.

How to win and how to lose.

I learned a long, long time ago, in another capacity, that losing hurts incredibly more than winning feels good. Generally speaking, its human nature to accept winning as what is supposed to happen. Great. You’ve accomplished the goal you set out to do.

But failing? Failing hurts. It’s not uncommon for my face to become flush with frustration at the situation, wishing for some outlet so that I don’t do something or act in a way that I’ll later regret. Having such emotions is perfectly normal, so long as they don’t inspire boorish behavior. End the match, shake a hand and vent to your friends.

I look forward to Friday Night Magic from the moment I wake up Saturday morning, but this game, after all is said and done, is just a game. There’s a couple prize dollars to take home, but there is no penalty for failing. Nobody throws you in jail. Nobody breaks your kneecaps.

But, if you refuse to learn, you deserve to lose. Plain and simple.

Our game isn’t perfect. There are many ways to blame the nature of our game for our shortcomings, but to me, that’s like blaming the dog for farting. The only reason I’ve become minimally intelligent at Magic is because I take others’ considerations and lines and compare them to my own carefully. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a slave to the opinions of my peers. I have no problem saying that I don’t agree and give an explanation as to why. From there, I can have a complicated discussion and take the information learned home to stew over. I’ll add to my repertoire and bag of tricks for next time.

A five-minute conversation, even if it is screamed at the top of lungs, will make me a better player, and might be the reason I win more often in the future.

Losing is wonderful for learning, if you don’t leave the table enraged and push the information gained down a bottomless pit, never to be thought of again.

The same can be said about winning. And probably more so and probably harder to do. It’s easy to exclaim about a victory, dive into an EDH game and forget about the round while you wait for the next. I mindless carry on, thinking about something else all the time. It’s easy to do, but I know that I make mistakes even when I win, and I just so happen to not get punished for them. Take a moment and think about your plays. Were they really the best? Would you have won more efficiently if you chose those?

I’d like to tangent off onto a small aside on interactions with opponents for a moment. I feel like a large majority of players, particularly new ones, believe they are being polite to an opponent when they are actually being accidentally rude.

I’ve had a faux pas many times at the Magic table, but I feel it important to touch upon. Unless you are dear friends with an opponent, just leave them alone when you win. Wish them luck in the future rounds and be on your way. “Good games” when your opponent was stuck on two lands on a mulligan to four just shouldn’t be said. Remarking to them about having difficulty playing spells is taboo. Outreaching a hand upon trouncing someone mercilessly is insulting.

I believe that, in most cases, a hand shake should happen upon sitting down to a new opponent, and the loser of the match should offer a second one at the end of the match. Of course, there are stipulations and circumstances where this doesn’t apply. Being an ambassador of the game to a new opponent sways you to act in one way, and an opponent fuming at the ears sways your actions in another entirely.

Friday Night Magic is about having a good time, in whatever way you choose. If winning is a good time to you, great. If learning is a good time, even better. If you had a rotten day and you wanna sling spells just to escape from your desk, cubicle, truck, cash register or mansion to make you happy, more power to you. Smile when you lose and choose what you say carefully.

I didn’t win a single match at FNM. I lost my first three rounds, got the bye in the fourth and dropped so that I could draft. I’ll face the music. It happened. I’m over it.

Now what? Now it is time to reflect. Let’s take a look at the deck, and see what I could have done better.

[Editor’s note – click any of blue card names or featured card images to view and purchase the card from Jupiter Games!]

I don’t enjoy playing control. At all. I’ve written about playing decks that line up with your play style and preference, and I still believe most players should stick to decks they are comfortable with. I’m much more of an aggressive player, and I wasn’t comfortable playing this deck before FNM started. I rarely ever decide to play the defensive deck.

But, I would like to arrive at that point someday. If I continue to strive at becoming a better player overall each time I shuffle, I cannot simply avoid one half of the Magic dichotomy just because I think Islands are icky. One day, I would like to become a skilled and master control player. I’m not there yet, and I will never be there unless I at least give it a go. Brian Kibbler has made a Hall of Fame career out of playing Forests, but I’d bet nearly anything he could beat the control mirror against an overwhelming percentage of the population.

I designed this deck to rely on spot removal because the two most effective wrath effect cards were not playable to me. I’m not comfortable playing Mutilate in a deck with 9 Swamps, and I was not playing white for Supreme Verdict. I played Robert Deemie in the first round again, and the lack of access to those two cards, or something to their likeness, was probably the biggest tool I was lacking in that matchup. He had the luxury of 4 Gruul Charms to wipe out all of my Nighthawks and Geists in a Thor-like blow.

I also, as any player should be in today’s Standard metagame, worried about Boros Reckoner. Kraken Hatchling, I still feel, is an excellent solution to that extremely annoying card. An opponent must attack into it and use a burn spell if they wish to do ground damage. This is true for many aggressive cards in Standard, with the exceptions of cards like Ghor-Clan Rampager and Thragtusk.

The spot removal I was relying upon was intended to clear the path for a gigantic Consuming Aberration. Despite doing poorly with this deck last week, I still contest that this card is bonkers. I’ll probably revisit this card in the future, perhaps with a better understanding of cards to utilize around it. At one point during FNM, it was a 25/25 with ease. Perhaps a BUG deck would be a better shell for this card. Slapping a Rancor on a creature that avoids Ultimate Price and burn spells (assuming you play correctly) that will kill your opponent out of nowhere. And you would get additional triggers after replaying Rancor.

My brewing instincts are tingling thinking about it.

I love a good Dark Confidant, and Duskmantle Seer does a fine imitation, but I would rather just have a Dark Confidant. I don’t really care about my opponents having an extra card too much any time that Duskmantle Seer is hitting them in the air. But, Standard is so aggressive, every time I cast a Seer, it serves as a wall. I was always holding back attacks while taking damage from my own spells.

I was also slightly terrified of the possibility of flipping a huge spell to kill myself. Dimir Charm was useful in this sense. I barely used the other two modes besides manipulating the top of my library. While the possibility of showing a Staff of Nin off the top had me quivering in my chair, I still love Staff of Nin.

At a side event at GP Boston last year, an opponent remarked about his neighbor last round playing a turn 6 and 7 Staff of Nin in M13 Sealed. I smiled as I held a foil Staff of Nin after I played my regular one on turn 6. The card does things.

I don’t know about you, but drawing an extra card a turn while pinging my opponents life each turn seems like a great deal to me. The only problem is that you are quite often dead by the time you can cast it and have it do something. I have no problem boarding this out against an aggressive deck, but it is simply amazing against both midrange and particularly against control.

The sideboard was pretty standard this time. I wanted to have tools against control matchups, particularly against opposing planeswalkers and Revelations. But, I felt this was the best place to have my Nephalia Drownyards. This card would have been pretty bad in my original sixty, considering I do not have much access to mana fixing. I wanted to ensure I had access to them for the control mirror, but I wanted to have my color creating lands in the maindeck.

I would like to revisit this deck in the future. I’m interested to see what shell I can shape around a card like Consuming Aberration become a gigantic headache. I warned everyone to hold on to and grab as many Hellriders as they could when they were two bucks after Dark Ascension came out. I believe Aberration has the potential to become the new Hellrider in popularity and price, if the metagame slows some. I’m interested to see what Dragon’s Maze brings.

I don’t feel like it would be wise to cover a tournament where I barely won a game, so I’m going to skip that section this week. Everyone has those weeks, and it was good for me that I did.

I hope that I am able to plan better for Simic next week, the last of my guild themed weeks. From there? Who knows. I hope you’ll keep reading as I figure out what will become of this highlight of my week. Until next week, whether it’s the kitchen table or the feature match, have fun and keep brewing.

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