Hello dear readers, and welcome to this weeks edition of Know Yourself. We will be keeping it a little short and sweet this week (finals are right around the corner) but regardless, this week I will be covering a few phrases that ring through the halls of card shops everywhere and ultimately lead to us being worse players. These phrases lose a lot of merit the more you play, and I look to take down some of these stigmas and ideas so that you can progress as a player and think a little more critically about your games. Saying you lost because of some of these reasons simply is just bad practice.
- “you only lost because its THAT deck”
This phrase is one you hear a lot, and it is ultimately at the detriment of a lot of players. There has always been a boogeyman deck that makes you think that winning is an insurmountable task for you as a player. Temur energy, Abzan Midrange, Mono-black devotion, U/W control, burn, jund, etc. There will almost always be a solid tier one midrange deck in most formats, but that doesn’t mean you should preemptively write down an L on the sheet just because these decks are good. Most of the time, I would argue that getting in your own head and just causing yourself to play poorly due to that causes more losses than anything else. Don’t be afraid of the “best” deck. It isn’t worth the stress, especially if you want to be more competitive.
- “I didn’t draw my sideboard card, so I lost”
This another phrase that irks me and that comes up a lot, specifically in order formats where people are experimenting or have particularly potent cards for certain matchups. However, it is also dangerous to put to many eggs into one basket. There is a reason dredge can fight through so much hate in modern, and why just casting rest in peace out of the sideboard doesn’t matter that much some of the time. Leaning too hard on one card instead of understanding what your deck has to do in that matchup in order to win is critical to success. If I am playing Abzan against affinity and I don’t draw stony silence, that doesn’t mean that I lose. I simply have to be able to understand what else I have to do in the matchup to win. Maybe it means spending resources to kill off lands and smaller creatures so I can edict their etched champion with Liliana of the Veil. At the end of the day, if you’re leaning on one card in your sideboard to “save” you, maybe it’s just a bad matchup and you should look to adding a few cards more to the board if you expect it to be popular.
- “I lost because I mulliganed”
Possibly one of the more justifiable phrases uttered here on this list, saying you lost because you had to mulligan a poor hand down to six cards is often not correct. You can say you lost because you mulliganed perhaps if you mulled to four or three cards, and even a decent 5 sometimes just can’t get there, but I am often hearing the phrase used to describe a player on the draw with a perfectly reasonable six card hand who scryed to the top, and then “lost because they mulliganed”. You did not lose because a mulligan, you definitely lost because of something else there. Maybe you lost because you gave up the idea of winning when you mulliganed, but losing that 1 card did not affect your win percentage so much that you were just doomed from the start. So don’t feel so down and out because you had to keep a 2 land hand on six. You still have a good shot, I swear.
- “I lost and my opponent was obviously worse than me”
For my final topic here, I just want to address a sentiment that really irks me. The idea that you lost but someone is worse than you could very possibly be true, but when I hear this it just doesn’t register right. You lost, but they were worse than you. Okay. Did you draw poorly? Okay, then you lost because your draw was poor, along with some other tertiary side effects. Maybe you tilted out because they weren’t sequencing correctly but still killed you with an electrostatic pummeller because you couldn’t focus? Okay, then you lost because you titled out. Maybe you lost because you made a mistake, and denigrating your opponent by talking badly about them behind their back doesn’t exactly make you look good and doesn’t let you grow as a player. This statement is one of hubris, and It doesn’t create a fun magic environment, and doesn’t let you learn. I certainly have been guilty of this one in the past, and looking back, it was just wrong to say so. There was so much more to the situation than “my opponent was bad and I still lost.”
What do you think? Are some of these justifiable?
See you next week!