Friday, December 25, 2009

Preparing for the San Diego PTQ

I feel pretty unprepared for the San Diego PTQ tomorrow. So I'm going to list out every trick from Zendikar as an exercise.

The thing about playing around tricks, however, is that you really need to think about whether you want to play around them or not, at any given point. You don't want to play around EVERYTHING because you may end up putting yourself in a position where you can no longer win. Risks need to be taken, but they should be calculated risks. Being kind of a reckless player, I prefer to "risk winning" than "risk losing." But there are definitely times when I shouldn't run right into an obvious trick. Patience is sometimes key.

There's less of a cognitive load if I'm not spending copious amounts of time recalling all the tricks I need to be thinking about. I'd rather they just pop into my head. If you play Zendikar Limited a lot, this is automatic for you already. But I don't play Magic every day. And because of Christmas, I haven't played Magic at all this week.

While playing Magic, you should always be reading all the information presented by your opponent. Ideally, it all gets delegated into subprocesses, so that your conscious attention can be focused primarily on gameplay. But your eyes should always be glancing at your opponent's lands, your opponent's hand, and areas off to the side that might be hiding equipments or enchantments. If possible, look at your opponent's face, too. There will often be information written there that is not available anywhere else.

I have gotten pretty good at immediately detecting when wrong lands are being tapped. But it feels more like intuition than constantly checking everytime my opponent taps for mana. My brain auto-detects when something is wrong. The longer you play, the better your instincts get in this regard. But if my brain is a little zombified because I'm tired, I will stop paying attention at all, and I can miss things. So it's important to recognize when you're tired, so that you can jog your brain to start working again.

On this note, I found out Caffeine is a TERRIBLE way for me to do this. It distracts me more. My body isn't used to Caffeine, though.

So, when looking for tricks, the FIRST thing that should pop up in your brain is the lands your opponent has UNtapped. That is the information that you are given free of charge. If your opponent likes to stack his lands, make him spread them out (seriously). I find it disrespectful to play with lands all in ONE BIG pile. But some people do this. Bad manners, man. But generally I think only new players do this. So just tell them nicely.

Because the color and number of lands open is the first sign you're given about what they may be holding, it's important to DEEPLY associate a trick with its mana cost. As soon as you see 3WW up, you should be thinking Arrow Volley Trap.

For this reason, I'm listing them in that order.

By the way, I apologize about the inconsistent formatting. Blogger does some really weird shit sometimes. I could fix it, but I'm lazy.

White Brave the Elements
White Shieldmate's Blessing
White Pitfall Trap (Trap cost)
1White Arrow Volley Trap (Trap cost) Someone lost to a severely mana-screwed opponent by swinging with 4 creatures into the opponent's only lands, which I think were two Plains. Extreme case but ouch. 
2White Bold Defense Everyone forgets Bold Defense
2White Narrow Escape
2White Pitfall Trap
2WhiteWhite Day of Judgment
Not really worth playing around rares. But if you see it, you should take note. I tend not to overextend when I'm winning with what's on the board anyway, just to be safe...
2WhiteWhite Windborne Charge
3WhiteWhite Arrow Volley Trap
2White + 3White (7) Bold Defense (kicked)

Blue Whiplash Trap (Trap cost)
Blue Lethargy Trap (Trap cost)
1Blue Into the Roil (unkicked)
1BlueBlue Cancel
1Blue + 1Blue Into the Roil (kicked)
3Blue Lethargy Trap
2BlueBlue Summoner's Bane
3BlueBlue Whiplash Trap
Some of these are more important to play around than others, obviously. Because some of these are much more playable than others. 

Black Disfigure
Black Vampire's Bite
BlackBlack Vampire Hexmage
If it's on the board already... well, you probably should be aware of its ability. Sometimes people forget.
BlackBlack Marsh Casualties It's probably more worrisome kicked. 
1BlackBlack Hideous End
BlackBlackBlack Gatekeeper of Malakir (kicked)
2BlackBlack Vampire's Bite (kicked) 
4Black Mind Sludge
3BlackBlack Marsh Casualties (kicked)

Red Burst Lightning
Red Inferno Trap (Trap cost)
Red Punishing Fire (Buyback cost)
Red Unstable Footing
1Red Goblin War Paint
1Red Punishing Fire
1Red Seismic Shudder
RedRed Goblin Bushwhacker (kicked)
2Red Mark of Mutiny
2Red Slaughter Cry
3Red Inferno Trap
2RedRed Goblin Ruinblaster (kicked)
4Red Burst Lightning (kicked)
3RedRed Lavaball Trap (Trap cost) 
3RedRed Unstable Footing (kicked)
6RedRed Lavaball Trap
Against a very aggressive red deck, a lot of these will just blow you out. In which case there's little you can do. 

Green Primal Bellow
Green Cobra Trap (Trap cost)
Green Vines of Vastwood
1Green Baloth Cage Trap (Trap cost)

1Green Tanglesap Actually played sometimes
1Green Khalni Heart Expedition A trick that sits in front of you
1Green Quest for the Gemblades Another trick that sits in front of you
GreenGreen Vines of Vastwood (kicked)
2Green Harrow Acts like a Growth spell with Gear or Landfall dudes
4Green Relic Crush I just realized this was Instant speed hah
3GreenGreen Baloth Cage Trap
4GreenGreen Cobra Trap

I had fun writing this out. You probably won't read it, though. That's kind of why I guess it was more of an exercise for me.

I recommend just drafting more. But in Sealed, different cards become playable. Like counter spells. So there is a difference, and you need to take that into account.