Do you run just to sweat? Do you sweat when you think of running? Do you feel like you’re not improving at the rate you had hoped? Did you cheat on your New Year’s resolution before February? If so, you’ve come to the right place to help you with taking action on setting and achieving your Magic goals.
This week’s Method to the Madness is all about consuming content with a purpose.
The internet has made information readily available at our fingertips, anywhere and at any time. If you are reading this article then you undoubtedly consume other Magic related content in the hopes of improving your skill at the game that we all love. However, simply reading about techniques and practicing over a period of time doesn’t help you improve unless you are focused on why your doing it. It’s like the old saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” and this applies to content consumption just as much as physical practice does to an athletic sport. Magic is a mental game, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people improve their play from simply synthesizing information that they read, watch, or listen to on the topic. You can go to every website and read every article ever written and sure you’d probably gain some tid-bits of knowledge that will assist you but you can maximize your time if you focus on specific objectives that you are trying to reach.
In order to save time and maximize the benefit you are receiving from the content you consume, you have to first determine what you are trying to improve. I encourage you to make a list of what aspects of your game you feel is most lacking. This could be anything from card evaluation in Limited, to how to pilot certain decks, or even the mental game with regards to tilt. It can be anything. Once you have identified your areas of self-identified weaknesses, determine how you’d like the improved version of yourself to perform. If it’s card evaluation in Draft, you could potentially write down that you want to be able to know between specific similar power level cards which ones are the better choices in specific situations. Explaining to yourself exactly how you want to perform is key in determining how you allocate your time attacking that issue. Try to avoid saying things like, “Be better” specificity is the goal and will better allow you to measure your progress. At the end of this process you should have a list of aspects you feel need the most improvement and a specific end state you want to reach.
Types of Content
The next step is determining the types of content that best match the aspects you want to improve upon. Let’s say that one of your weaknesses was piloting your Mono-Green Stompy Standard deck against Turbo Fog. Your end state was that you wanted to be able to intelligently sideboard against the deck and identify key cards and situations to watch out for that provide your opponent with an advantage. If this is the case then you would probably benefit more from reading an article that goes in depth about a sideboard guide for your Mono-Green deck than a podcast about the Standard format in its entirety. It sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to simply get sucked in to Magic content as pure entertainment as opposed to using it to answer specific questions that you have. Continuing with this weakness, we’ll say that we want to find a few articles about Mono-Green, Turbo-Fog, and to watch game play on YouTube of the match up with the intent of pausing at situations to predict the best line of play. Once you quickly decide what you are going to consume I recommend finding the websites and videos and having them all ready rather than looking for one at a time. It will help prevent you from getting sidetracked and will also allow you to compare opinions of several content producers.
Once you have found the content and gleamed the lessons from it, the job isn’t finished. Now it’s time to try out the new skills. Try re-watching the match videos and determine whether the plays were the best ones. Play your deck against a friend and incorporate the new skills and even try out the opponents deck to see how it feels from their perspective. Host a Draft with some friends and discuss the decisions your making and apply the lessons learned. Whatever the technique you are attempting to improve, there is always a way to practice it. The practice can lead you to discover new aspects that you may want to research. In addition to applying the skills, make sure that you continue to take notes of the results of your practice sessions and the lessons from the content. It will save you time in the long run by decreasing the need to revisit articles and will keep you focused on the specific goals you have set for yourself. At the end of this cycle you will be left with hopefully an improved understanding of the game and new goals from which to repeat the process. This will provide you with a glide path of incremental growth that allows you to gradually improve your skill in a focused manner.
That wraps up this week’s Method to the Madness. Do you have other methods of setting goals and focusing your improvement and how you prefer to consume content?
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