R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Dec 26 2019 1:00am
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It's a shame the title isn't talking about Dre.

Sometimes life just gives you a bunch of rough beats, then you get some more rough beats in the game.

It happens to all of us. It should. Life and winning games of Magic shouldn't be easy, that would be boring.

So recently, I've noticed that the number of rough beats in life and in the game very much influence each other. I've had a rough couple of months, and it's been translating in my play, I've watched a few matches back from the last few weeks to see where I messed up. And it was undeniable looking back that I just made some plays because I got impatient or bored. Or just not wanting to do the work of thinking about what my plays are after a long day.

It's strange how other things influence your Magic playing skills. You think to yourself about how you have been doing it for over a decade and that you'll be fine. But I, for one, definitely notice a difference when I've been playing in a good mood or in a bad mood.

So yeah, that kind of leads me to say that you should get your stuff together outside of Magic. Your plays can tell.

As an example: I've done well at every PPTQ where I worked out in the morning before playing. And I've crashed and burned almost every single one where I didn't. I didn't feel any different at all while playing, though. But just looking back at my results in comparison to my workout schedule, the results have been undeniable. So next time I play in something big like a Modern Playoff Challenge, just randomly naming that, of course. I know I should work out beforehand.

At this point, the next thing that comes to my mind is about playing hungover. But I haven't had a glass of alcohol in years at this point, and I honestly barely remember how I played at tournaments where I was hungover. But I've definitely seen people play through what looks like their own deathbed at tournaments before. It was rarely at the winning tables.

Don't get me wrong though, playing Magic while being less-than-sober is amazing. I've done a ton of it. A good friend of mine even had his own Cube were Phyrexian Mana was replaced with taking a shot. It was full of cards that started out as something like:

Farmer Blarmer
~ Gets a +1/+1 counter for each shot you take when casting it.

I remember it starting out as a 4/4 or a 5/5 until one spite match happened were I just shot it all the way up to 10/10 to upset someone.

I won that game.

I did not win that night.

And the card still got nerfed. Oh well.

Sometimes spiting someone is just worth it. Anyway, while I recommend enjoying yourself with your friends, it might be a good idea to plan it out a bit more if you want to be serious about your tournaments. Just go party on Friday and play on Sunday. Or if it's a GP. Party on Thursday and play on Saturday. I know not every pro does this, there are a ton of stories about pro's getting hammered and sleeping for 2 seconds before going on to win major tournaments. But you aren't them, you should only try that when you know, you can do it and get away with it. That is if you really care about winning the whole thing.

That gets me thinking. What would other good habits be before a tournament? Well, besides the obvious ones such as know your deck, bring your deck, know what your cards do, know the meta and bring a pen and some paper. But beyond that? What should you do as preparation? Meditate? Take a walk?

When I still did paper tournaments, I usually just listened to some music or talked to some friends before the first round. Those same friends noticed that I would always lose my first round of the day. So they flat-out told me to go and do a warmup round before the start. I found it weird at first because I was scared that everyone would know the deck that I would be playing. But just getting warmed up is so much more important than hiding whether I'm on Blue Moon or Kiki Thing. Because let's face it, most people don't care or can't tell. And if they really want to know, they'll have a scout walking around. Which is something that should be forbidden as fast as it could be banned, but that's a whole other rant.

One of the biggest things that need to be said, though, is that you should feel good at the tournament. One of the biggest reasons I quit playing real-life paper tournaments was because I hated getting up at 6 or 7 on a Saturday, then getting manascrewed once or twice and being out of contention because of something that I had no influence on. At first, I forced myself to go through with it, because everyone has those stories and you can't have a victory story without some rough beats. But for me, it just got to a point where I had to honestly sit down and think: "Is this really what I want to be doing with my weekend?" It honestly even took me a long time to figure out the answer too. I only realized it when I went to Copenhagen and enjoyed every day beside the GP a lot more. I loved the travel that came with going to international tournaments, and I've seen a lot of beautiful places that I will remember for the rest of my life. But when I honestly think back to them, I barely remember the tournaments I played in, and I still lovingly think back to all the places I've been. It was a harsh realization to myself that I was going to the tournaments while all I really wanted to do was travel. But it was a good one to have. And I regret nothing. I mean, let's be honest, if I would have won everything I ever played in I would have been extremely pleased with what I'd done.

The grind just got me down really fast. Especially the weekends where I would work on Friday, fly on Friday night, get to the hotel, do some sleeping and deck preparation, and then in the morning hurried off to the tournament grounds in the hope that I had prepared enough and knew where it was. Then I would fly back on Sunday evening after the last round and then worked on Monday. I did it a few times, but I would never in my life do it again.

The other thing that was a really rough beat for me was the length of the rounds in a real-life tournament. I know it can't really be helped. But I play fast, and I usually spend 30+ minutes doing nothing in between rounds, and that's while I mostly just play slow control decks. I've done entire rounds in 10 minutes with aggro decks, only to have to wait over an hour for the next round.

So it was some rough beats for me, but now I know I just want to play on Magic Online. And I know I play better when I'm feeling well. Does it matter for you? Or can you be like some of my friends and go partying till 5 in the morning, take a nap and win it all?