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The Simple Rulebook

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Hi, I'm Eddie Mucha, I'm an Irish player living in Germany.

At the current age of 15 I've played 1 Pro Tour, Paris, and top 16ed Irish Nationals multiple times. You guys probably know me as that kid in the game shop, always looking to duel. But I've grown up a little and now I'm the big kid, now looking to crush newcomers (I'm a nice guy really ). Over the last year my play skill has increased to no end and I have started playing bigger scale tournaments and having bigger scale success to match. Before Magic Weekend Paris I had never advanced past the quarterfinals of a PTQ - whether I choke, go on tilt, or whatever logic is behind it, I just couldn't do it.

On Wednesday before the Magic Weekend I broke the chain, going 8-1-1 and qualifying for Paris in the LCQ but the Pro Tour didn't go so well. I had been practicing Extended which isn't much use when going to play a Standard Pro Tour. I was also running on about 3 hours of sleep, built my deck the night before the event and thus I managed to go 0-5 in the Constructed portion. I won my 1st round of the draft portion but decided to drop as too much Magic is not good for the system.

Then it all went off, I finished 3rd in the Extended PTQ on Sunday, top 8ed a PTQ the next weekend and just last weekend finished 2nd in a 400 man MTGO PTQ. I can attest these successes solely to a change in play outlined by the following 9 pointers to improve your game. Without further ado, here is my code of tournaments.

  • Rule 1: Be in good physical condition. Make sure to have showered and eaten properly etc. before an event. Your physical state will always affect your mental state.
  • Rule 2: Don't think of points or records, or cut off criteria. What you need for top 8 is irrelevant during games, what is relevant is the game at hand. If you concentrate on what record you need, or the importance of a game during the top 8, your play skill will decrease rapidly, and you will find yourself losing.
  • Rule 3: Disconnect from your opponent as a player. I am a better player online, or in events in foreign places, as I tend to do worse against players I know are good. My few memories that stick out are games against various players in PTQ playoffs and cash events. In these games I made bad decisions that lost me games, and even matches. Against one opponent I kept risky hands and was so scared of losing, I gave up my chance of winning. Against another I made risky plays to try and just win straight up without fully thinking things through, and made some of the worst sequences of plays games 1 and 3 of my life to lose the match. Against the last opponent I let the fact that I was outskilled and in a bad matchup get to me too much, I thought defeat was inevitable and made it inevitable this way. These are all experiences I have learned from and this is one of the most important things I've learnt recently.
  • Rule 4: Know your deck inside out. At any event I will be able to tell you my matchups, exact decklist and sideboard and gameplans for every match. Also at sealed events you will often see me just looking at my deck. It is very important to familiarize yourself with a deck you are playing. Between rounds take time to try and memorize your 40, including manabase. This has often been very useful for me when deciding on mulligans, or formulating gameplans.
  • Rule 5: Stay alert. This is a personal weak point. If you have ever watched Guillaume Wafo-Tapa or Kai Budde play you will have seen this. I learned this first hand when playing with Kai. When making decisions he did not look at the board, or the other players, but was able to consider every factor when making a decision. He had memorized every permanent and kept mental notes of how the opponents had played and what it had signaled. This is generally impressive, but he had memorized the whole board in a game of 2HG perfectly. This is truly a skill.
  • Rule 6: Try to come with a correct mindset, which is generally a blank one. You just want to play, and concentrate on playing your best, not on finishing within your expectations. This also ties in with the phrase: Top 8 isn't enough. A lot of players think going into a tournament I want to top 8. They become content with top 8. If your top 8 win record is less than 1/8 you should be thinking about what is happening here.
  • Rule 7: Stay in good shape throughout the day, and while this may sound like a mammy thing, drink lots of water, eat properly, and don't eat any sweets or greasy foods that will tire you.
  • Rule 8: Be aware of the presence of judges. Judges are there to help the game be played properly, and should not only be called in for extreme things. While personally I try to fix problems between the players as often as possible, I do not hesitate to call a judge if one is needed.
  • Rule 9: It's a game. It should be fun, and while there is a competitive aspect that is quite dominant in it, you should always try to find fun in the game. This also counts for not getting angry or upset when a game does not go your way. This will only hurt your further chances, tilting is not something I would advise.

I know the strategic content of this article isn't of the highest complexity, but they are simple rules that aren't followed, even though they are known by almost every competitive player.

That's it for now, any comments are widely appreciated. Until next time, when I will be going further into the strategic side of Magic.

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