When building a magic deck, as a player you are forced to consider the way the deck curves out in order to make sure the deck functions. We all know that if a player doesn’t do anything for the first two or four turns of the game, their ability to win the game falls off rapidly. So we all collectively know that building our deck in such a way as to keep out dead draws and clunky hands gives us the better shot at winning the game of magic.
But, there are gameplay considerations that magic players often don’t consider when playing their deck that often give them a poor pattern of sequencing or often can lose the game. Simply casting your 2 drop on turn 2 may not actually be the correct play, even if all signs point to it. This integral tug of war is the battle between curve and card value.
We all want to curve out. One mana for a card selection spell, two mana for a removal spell, three mana for a counterspell for control. For aggro it is one drop, two drop, three drop. But there are situations where casting the spell that you have in your hand simply because you have the mana to do so is just wrong. For example, if you have a lightning strike in your hand, and your opponent casts a seeker of the way, do you cast it? You might, but if you have played against this deck, you might also know that you run shock in your deck and your opponent is tapped out. Perhaps as well it may be the only removal spell in your hand, and if you don’t lightning strike your opponent’s monastery mentor your single target removal will be overrun by their tokens. So do you cast it?
This is the fundamental discourse between these two lines of thinking. Should I counter the Baral, chief of compliance? Or should I save that card for when they are attempting to storm off and I need to tag their crucial gifts ungiven? Is one card in my deck superbly important for one given matchup, and tapping out for that card is bad because it leaves it vulnerable? Should I cast my Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet against their aggro deck on turn four, or should I wait till turn five and risk dying in order to keep up dispel to protect it from removal? Looking inward and deciding what the correct line is is not only paramount for high level competitive play, but will also require large amounts of patience.
It is my belief that people often get stuck into their lines of play too often and early, and don’t really give pause to think about what is going to happen next. They do not give the consideration of what they could draw and what their lines of play are. If your deck has 4 lightning strike and 2 murder, is it worth it to murder this 2/2 when you won’t be able to kill their 5/5 or 6/6 later? Most players will just kill it and untap in order to not lose tempo, but not losing tempo on turn 3 is not as important as not dying on turn 7 when they cast a verdurous gearhulk, out-power your board, followed by swinging in for 27 points of damage.
These break points in a game will always be decided by the player who considers their card quality. If you don’t understand this dynamic, you will never be able to swing a backwards game in your favor, or be able to pressure your opponent to the point of no return. Saving spells for their intended role is crucial in order to keep the game(s) you play from falling apart around you, especially in complex board states.
But this also brings up my favorite point in all of magic. These kinds of decisions and thoughts really don’t matter unless you follow the other rule that leads you to this kind of decision making: play more magic!
I know, I know, it’s been said a million times a billion different ways, but the truth of the fact is that knowing more about magic makes you better at magic, so, therefore, play more magic. It really is true!
If you play more magic, you’ll have an understanding of more scenarios and it will make you better player. You won’t know to save your murder for their 6/6 until you have lost to their 6/6 after casting the murder earlier in the game. Having to learn the hard way is a surefire way of learning the cost of card quality vs. tempo, even if it isn’t very fun. Along with this, having and maintaining this skillset is paramount in order to keep your head above water when playing against other skilled players. They’ll know that glorybringer is on its way turn 5, and they’ll know that they have to be ready for it.
I know I have learned the hard way, I’ve lost plenty of games casting my spells on curve just to lose to one card because I couldn’t produce an out to the card they played. Sometimes, it is the pain of losing that solidifies the knowledge that is used to attain victory. So keep these tips in mind the next time you sit down to play, and you’re sure to produce better results, and really think about your plays. Curving out is important in all resource based card games, but those resources are never going to matter if you’re just dead.
That’s all for this week, and let me know what you think in the comments!
See you next Monday!