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By: neckfire, Eddie Davenport
Jul 07 2017 12:00pm
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 Magic the Gathering at its heart is a game but for many of us, it’s so much more than that. For me, magic has been a saving grace in my life. I met my best friend playing Magic, I could travel around the nation playing Magic for a time when I was younger and ultimately Magic has been the source of constant fun in my life ever since I discovered it. But ultimately, Magic is a game. Being a game there is winners and losers and with losing comes the wanting to know why you are losing. This is shown in a conversation I had on Facebook with a friend a few weeks back. Friend: You know, since Modern Masters 2 came out I am literally down over 1,000 tix on Magic Online. 

Me: LOL what? Are you serious.
Friend: Well no, but I have lost more than I usually have lately and I don’t know what to do.

This little exchange got me thinking though, what do you do when you find yourself constantly losing? So, I sat down and decided to come up with a compact list of things to do to improve your game and prepare for your next tournament.


One of the biggest mistakes we as Magic players make is not owning our mistakes in a game.  We’ve all heard the stories at an FNM or even from friends who are playing on Magic Online. They usually go something like this “my opponent got so lucky!” “I just got mana flooded and my opponent drew the nuts”. The stories go on and on. The point of all these is instead of focusing on what the player could have done differently they usually blame luck or the opponents draws. This is not to say that sometimes the opponent just draws an insane hand and there is nothing you can do. Every player no matter how good (even the pro players) make mistakes. How we as Magic players improve our game is we are honest about them. 


Magic is a two-player game. So, when you are constructing your deck you need to ask yourself what is your plan for when your opponent tries to interact with you. There are many answers to this question, you can try to win before they do anything in a hyper-aggressive shell or you can try to control everything by playing counters and removal.

The point is when you sit down to build your deck make sure you have a plan for what you are trying to carry out and then make sure the cards you include in your deck actually do that for you.


While this is similar to point number two, I wanted to give it its own section because I believe it’s worth talking about. No matter if it’s in a limited or constructed environment your deck needs to have a win condition. 

Now a win condition is any number of things, in limited it could be a set of powerful spells that you build your deck around or just a mass of creatures that you back up with removal so that you will eventually win a game. The same goes for constructed. If your win condition is a 5-card combo, then you probably need to check your deck construction and include win conditions that are easier to pull off. The point is that in magic your opponent is trying to win also and you need to make sure that your win condition can survive your opponent trying to execute their plan.

Using these three points I would like to discuss how I use them in my testing for events (or just for tracking purposes for playing leagues). 


There are many methods for tracking results. I prefer using Google Docs spreadsheets.




These are just sample pictures from an old spreadsheet that I still have on Google. But the method I use to track is the same one I use today.

The method is self-explanatory but this goes back to the “own your mistakes” advice but records everything. If you lost purely to never drawing lands beyond your opener, make a note on the match notes but still record it. If the deck is performing properly then results like that will even out.


One of the useful things about using Google Docs is you can allow other people to edit your spreadsheets bringing in testing partners.

When testing with friends talk out all your plays. If you are playing in paper you can actually take back plays but on Magic Online, you don’t have that option. That does not mean that you can’t pretend you did do something though. Pretend a creature is dead or something didn’t happen or they are at a virtual life total. The main point that wants to repeat is to just talk through all your plays on both sides no matter how irrelevant.


When a card comes up or someone suggests it in your group test it. Now at a certain point, you can almost test it by just talking it out and seeing if it fits your game plan but always test cards. A lot of times when I’m testing with a friend if we want to test a certain card we will play the max amount of copies just to see when it comes up if the card is useful

The flip side of this is when testing cards ask yourself when you drew a card what would you rather this be. Keep track of those thoughts maybe you just want that other card over the one you are playing. But always let the results do the talking and not just what you want to happen.

Hopefully, this will help you guys out and we can all grow as magic players. Let me know what you think in the comments or if you have any other ideas that you use to help out.

Until next time, thanks for reading
Eddie Davenport
Neckfire on MODO
Neckfiremtg on Twitter.




Nice article! Could you by MindlessMarty at Tue, 07/11/2017 - 04:47
MindlessMarty's picture

Nice article! Could you expand on what you info do you have on the "sideboarding" tab of your spreadsheet? Also, do you have a template for that spreadsheet? All these years and still don't have one...this might be the time to do it, so thanks for the inspiration!

hiya by neckfire at Tue, 07/11/2017 - 12:27
neckfire's picture

Under the SB tab I put my sb guide for when I share the results with friends, we also talk about what we think we should do. As far a template I just copy from the old one. I don't have a saved template just use the old one over and over again.