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When Nothing Goes Right

Last week I went over some of the decks you’re likely to see in an open format. Talking about decks and reviewing them is important but I’m in a fortunate enough situation to be able to test each and every one of those decks. Today I’d like to discuss one of the the often left out aspects of Magic.

What do you do when you lose with everything?

Sometimes one of the huge benefit of having access to a wide variety of decks can also create a trap for the player. Having easy access to everything gives me the ability to shift between whatever I’m interested in at the moment or what I’d like to test.

I spent the last two weeks playing the entire gamut of decks, almost 15 decks across two or three leagues with each deck. This can easily create burn out. Instead of trying to potentially learn a deck deeply, I wanted to spend some time getting an idea how each deck would play or sideboard. However when times get busy, I end up rushing through a ton of different games and don’t learn nearly as much as I should. So instead I kept losing over and over and over.

The Scarab God
This last week ended up being different. I narrowed down the decks I was more interested in and tried to focus on those. The decks I focused on were Ramp, Temur Energy (with and without The Scarab God), and Mono Red. As I mentioned before I was losing with everything. That included these decks as well.

What I continually miss when I try to play all these games is the importance of taking a break. I consider my down time as a time when I should be battling but that’s not always the case. Just like with continuous exercising or studying, it can do more harm than good. While playing for an extended period of time can be acceptable, it’s really easy to lose track of time playing on MTGO. In physical tournaments rounds are timed and you very rarely go from round to round without a break. MTGO is unique in that time between rounds is quite short. It’s not rare to play an entire League in an hour. Oftentimes I’ll stream two or three Leagues and only be live for a few hours. It’s quite easy to jam a significant amount of matches in a short amount of time.

It’s weird to discuss something that’s plainly obvious but still something important. A lot of times just taking a step back from what you’re doing can help immensely. Another option that a lot of players don’t take advantage of is to have a friend watch your games. Your friends and testing partners can be resources to assist you in getting better. Just getting a second set of eyes can help for some of the smaller things you might be missing. There are a couple ways to do this, but I think the best method might be to have them watch, write notes, and talk with you when you’re done. Having someone interact with you during the entire match, while in some cases beneficial, can create some weird habits where tougher decisions can be even harder to solve if you’re used to having someone over your shoulder. It can be helpful in tough spots to discuss different lines with someone it is important to not become reliant on always asking others for help.

So what do I do if I can’t win with anything? First, I had to take some time off. I’ve really started to get into Overwatch and am spending more of my time trying to have fun playing that. So after some brief time apart, I decided to go back to what was working for me before.

After all, if it isn’t broke, what is there to fix?

Sam Pardee took this deck to the top 8 of GP Denver and the deck has still be very impressive overall. Even though players are now trying to build their decks specifically to beat Mono Red, it is still performing quite well. As I discussed in last week’s article, it’s not enough to just hope that surviving an early onslaught is going to overcome this deck. Being able to go long is a new game this deck can play. Hazoret the Fervent and Ramunap Ruins gives the deck an edge in repeatable damage sources. After trying to run through everything, I just settled on this: I’d play Mono Red and see how that ended up.

Warping Wail
I was very happy with my deck choice but two decks were rising in popularity that made me want to change some sideboard cards. The only change I made was: -1 Sweltering Suns and -1 Magma Spray for +2 Warping Wail. Warping Wail lines up well against the rise of the ramp decks and as a way to combat control decks. The real relevant mode here was to counter sorceries to be able to beat cards like Hour of Promise and Fumigate.

For the tournament itself, it was a mostly short affair. I had a close set against the Red mirror in my first round after byes. I split the next two rounds against Zombies before falling to Jeskai Control. At 3-3 I made the decision to take some time off and hang out with some friends instead. After some great BBQ, I played some laser tag and during this time, I was reminded how important it was to take a break. Magic can be incredibly stressful and can take a lot out of you. Not taking the time to explore a new city or eat somewhere new can lead to you missing out on some great times.

Spoilers will be in full force next week so I'll review some of my favorites and hopefully have some deck lists available.

Food review

And with that, I'd like to create a kind of new segment in my articles where I talk about a restaurant I visited over the weekends when I traveled to an event. I'm looking for a name for this portion, so make sure to leave suggestions in the comments below.

If you've ever seen my Facebook, you'll see me tag any Korean BBQ restaurants a reasonable amount. It's one of my favorite dining experiences and I'm always happy to try a new one. The one I visited this time was called So Korean BBQ.

If you've never been to one, the premise is you pay for all you can eat BBQ (my favorite kind) and select some meats and it is all cooked on a burner in front of you. For a new place I always look at selection. At this particular restaurant, we had the option of over ten meats for the basic level of all you can eat! We took the opportunity to try several different kinds, but the bulgogi is always my personal favorite. The restaurant served large portions, so I didn't feel the need to over order, and the flavoring was strong without being overpowering. While it was very busy, our server made sure to be quite attentive to our table. In terms of cleanliness, I would rate this place very high. Despite being high traffic, the tables and utensils all looked taken care of and the floors looked fantastic.

Overall, I'd give So Korean BBQ in Chantilly, VA an 8/10. If there's ever another tournament in the area, I'm making sure to visit this place again for dinner.

Ixalan is now available for Preorder! Pick up sealed product and singles as they're posted!