Building blocks to tournament level Magic the Gathering play.
- Know your Metagame: As I’ve said before, metagaming plays a large part of MtG. Having a rock to smash a field of scissors is an awesome feeling. That five card combo pet deck of yours may be fun but is it a good choice against the field you expect to see? If not, changing decks is probably a good idea. This lead me to point 2.
- Card Efficiency: A deck only has 75 cards (60 in deck, 15 in sideboard), no more, no less. As stated above, a five card combo deck may be very fun but if a two card combo deck wins just the same and is faster, more resilient, easier to draw; Which do you think is going to do better? Playing cards that are less efficient than other cards that serve the same purpose makes your deck much weaker than decks that are optimized. This can be seen quite clearly in the changes to Reanimator/Sneak and Show decks in Legacy by adding Grisselbrand. He replaced Progenitus in Sneak and Show as well as many of the other creatures in Reanimator due to how much more powerful he was than those options.
- Know how to Sideboard: Your sideboard is only 15 cards, every card counts. Wasting slots on cards that help matchups your deck already does well against is counterproductive. Having cards that are good against multiple decks is a plus. As important as the cards coming in is knowing what cards to take out of your maindeck. In the RDW mirror I’ve talked about before, Jackal Pups were automatically sided out, why? The creature removal of choice in RDW is burn, so hitting the pup meant killing a threat as well as hitting me thus giving a 2 for 1 advantage in killing the pups.
- Know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em: Proper mulligans give you a fighting chance when things look bleak. If you’re playing with many low cost cards, an opening hand with one land may be fine but for most other decks, this is a auto mulligan. A rule of thumb, take into account your opponent’s options and if a hand can not be stabilized by turn 3 or earlier, mull it. This is especially relevant in matches against combo decks that can autowin unless you have an answer ready on turns 1 and 2.
- Redundancy : If an effect makes a deck better, the more cards with it, the better. For a fast aggro deck like zoo, having a fat one drop is vital and thus you see anywhere from 16-24. In merfolk, having 16-20 creatures that make other merfolk bigger is the gameplan and benefits from having as many as possible. In combo decks, redundant card draw/tutoring means hitting the cards needed to win consistently. Redundancy also protects from having cards extracted by lobotomy effects, discard, meddling mages, pithing needles, etc.
If anyone knows of any other Magic the Gathering fundamentals else to add, let me know.