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Words of Paradise: Stepping up your game

May 12, 2009

As a card player you draw cards, hold them in your hands, and make decisions. If you are playing Magic with another person you pick up on some things. Some people show their emotions on their sleeve, like when they draw a land when they needed a spell they slump their shoulders in disbelief of their luck. I am sure you have heard of a ‘Poker face”, and I will tell you, a good one will make you play wrong. It just happens.

Watch your opponent. Being able to read your opponent when they draw a card will considerably help you. It gives you information of what is in their hand, and can drastically change how you approach a scenario you are faced with.

Little effort of putting it into their hand, or just a very minimal glance at the card they just drew will usually lead you to believe they drew a dead card.

Other cards have slight variances. For instance, they just play most things that are going to stick on the field like a creature or a perhaps a borderpost. 

The moment they draw an instant, they usually get the look of question “What should I do with this?”. A glance at that, then to refresh their memory they look at the field.

Watch where they put their cards. I used to arrange the cards in my hand so that the relevant spells are at the top and the lands are in the back and I now watch for that trait in other people. I once played a kid that had the face of a statue. Poker face passed down through the generations. He would draw a card with the same face every single time. I then got to look at his hand during one of our matches with a Tidehollow Sculler or something, and I noticed how the cards were arranged. Spells and then lands. I continued under the assumption that he keeps his hand organized at all times. Sure enough, he would draw and file it. Lands hit the back of the hand, good stuff on top.

Take notes. When you are cruising on Sculler’s boat through your opponent’s hand, write down what you see. If you see 2 plains, each of them different art, jot down the artist and watch which ones he plays. Some of that stuff is actually better if you can memorize it, because if your opponent can see you writing that down then they will play accordingly. 

Things I take note of is alternate art of the same card. I see a Karpulsan Forest from Ice Age and then one from 10th edition, I take note of that. If I see a card is foil, I take note. Anytime a card goes into your opponent’s hand, either from drawing, bouncing or searching for it in their deck, make sure you write it down.

Know their graveyard. Late game is a perfect time to get to know your opponent’s deck. Look through their graveyard often to become familiar with what they could be playing in the future, or perhaps what they can unearth. Check for those flashback abilities and don’t let them jump out at you when you least expect it. Counting cards is a great tool as well. Probability makes it way in their too. Saw 2 Path to Exile the first game and around turn 9 you still haven’t seen one. Be expecting your best guy to turn into a tapped land sometime soon. Feel free to take notes here too.

Check the competition. Finished with your match? It might help you in the long run to get up and check out the competition while you aren’t playing. Watch for key cards and attach them by face so you can say “Dr. Pepper shirt guy runs Colossal Might, Volcanic Fallout, and Magma Spray.” When you start a match with him, be sure to write down a little reminder to yourself about it.

I hope to get in as many articles as I can before Regionals strikes. 


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