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By: Plainswalker83, Marcus Brunstetter
Jan 30 2017 1:00pm
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This article started out a few different ways of the past week. It was fine enough but so much more continued to happen that I felt the need to come back and fix what I had written down.

This week I wanted to talk about loss or losing. There will be magic involved don’t worry but I want to start out on a personal note, so bear with me.

The second week of January was tough for my family as the Patriarch on my Dad’s side passed away after fighting cancer. Many of us handle loss in different ways but I have hope due to my faith and that at least makes some of it easier. It does not take away the initial sting or even the fact that I will not see my uncle on this earth again but it does not cause me to mourn hopelessly. However my family suffered more loss. This past Friday my stepbrother passed away due to complications from Diabetes and then last night my dad called me to tell me another aunt passed away because of a heart attack.

The point of this is not to create a sob story and have you all feel bad for me. What it has done for me is put things in perspective and allow me to shift focus a bit. During this time I have actually been playing more magic because it was something to take my mind off of sorrow. I will not pretend for a second that my mind was at its sharpest though which led to a lot of losing and some bad decisions. That is what I want to write about in this article.

Losing for me was always something I was afraid of. I felt that I had to validate why I played magic. If I lost it was like I was wasting my time and letting down those that supported me. It got to the point where I completely hated losing and I did not want to play if I did not have a chance to win the tournament/league/ or even 2 man queue.  Focus and dedication has also been very hard for me especially in MTGO.  

Some of you may have noticed that I can jump from format to format trying to find what I want to stick to on here. MTGO for me is sometimes a blessing and a curse. I can be impatient and get frustrated with what I am playing so I sell off that deck and buy cards for a new one. I make some poor decisions and end losing tix on each exchange. My collection has been abysmal since I had to sell it off to pay for car repairs and all of that has left me in this downward spiral of magic mediocrity.

However in recent weeks I have been learning much more from the process of failing and losing games of magic.  I also have been trying to figure out a way to fix my dissatisfaction so I can start building on what I have instead of being impatient and throwing tickets away. I will be laying out not only why I have been losing but what I have learned from it and why I think in order to win you need to lose.

Losing due to lack of focus/dedication

This one may be one of the biggest reasons. This happens solely on MTGO. If I sat down at a tournament in a brick and mortar store I would never bring my family with me. I would not have the T.V on or try to eat a bowl of cereal or other meal while playing. For some reason it is very hard for me to sit down and play magic on my computer and focus solely on the game I am playing there is just always something around to distract me. I also did not really treat certain games as “real” sometimes when I play magic online I treat as if I am just playing a video game but if I sit down to a paper game I take it much more serious. This is the first thing I need to work on and fix.

Losing due to deck choice

This is an excuse for me sometimes but it is also a fact. I lose a lot because of what deck I choose to play. In paper I put so much thought into what I am going to play because honestly I can only afford to play one type of deck. I only play Standard because that is all I really have time for since I run a Standard League part time for my Local Game Store. However online I feel like I have access to a lot more. I have played close to a million things online and it is really hard for me to pick something and stick with it. I know that if I just started collecting cards and building toward something that I would be much better off. I need to stop selling cards off to buy new decks and losing tickets that for me are not so easy to come by. Thankfully Craig Wescoe has come through again. I had already been working on some sort of mono white deck in Modern and then I saw what Craig played to a top 4 in a recent MOCS.

Death & Taxes
Modern MOCS Nacatls4Life - 75 Cards Total
4 Blade Splicer
4 Flickerwisp
1 Kor Skyfisher
4 Leonin Arbiter
4 Restoration Angel
2 Serra Avenger
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Thraben Inspector
27 cards

4 Path to Exile
4 cards
4 Aether Vial
4 cards

2 Honor of the Pure
2 cards
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Eiganjo Castle
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Horizon Canopy
9 Plains
4 Tectonic Edge
23 cards

3 Burrenton Forge-Tender
1 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Leonin Relic-Warder
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Rest in Peace
3 Stony Silence
2 Sunlance
15 cards

This is something that I can start working towards. I want most of these cards in my collection anyway and maybe I can get to the point where I can start to have a real collection again online. Who knows maybe in about 20 years I can afford to play the Legacy version again.

Losing due to mistakes

This is where self-examination is important. There have been countless times where I click through an attack phase or just F6 instead of F4. Mistakes that I would not make in paper but add up to crushing defeats in the online setting. There are also times where I just make a boneheaded play. That will always happen and these are things that can end up making you a better player. When you realize you are making mistakes do not just sluff it off to your opponent getting lucky or MTGO being a poor client. It is when you see what you are doing wrong that you can learn from those mistakes and improve as a player. Sometimes variance does beat you but a lot of times you play the best you can and push through. There are many times I sit down and think that I am going to play a flawless game. I plan on taking each turn and decision and really thinking it through so I will not make a mistake. However online is where I make the most mistakes. That simply needs to change.

So three things can help us improve as players and help us to stop losing.

1.      Focus

2.      Deck choice

3.      Own up to mistakes and stop repeating them.

Am I saying adhere to those things and you will never lose again? Not even close but I assure you all of those things will improve your playing. I need to take this advice to heart and actually act on it.

I hope I have been somewhat helpful. I will be back on a more normal schedule as family drama settles down. I may be working on a new article series or continuing with Modern and testing brews etc. We shall see what develops. Thank you for reading and until next time!