As December comes to a close, I find it almost impossible to not reflect on the year behind me and to look forward to the year ahead. Aside from my personal and professional life (of which I feel I have a lot to be proud of), my life as a Magic Content Creator has never been more full. 2018 was the first calendar year I spent as a partnered streamer and as a podcast co-host. It is also the year where I expanded my content creation to a written form on this very blog. I cannot tell you how long I dreamt about being able to produce MtG content. The support I have from the audience of my stream, the newly acquired partnership with Star City Games for my podcast, and the opportunity to write for Cardsphere all feel too good to be true.
Reflections, however, are not only about recognizing your accomplishments but about recognizing your shortcomings. As both a magic player and content producer there is a lot that I know I need to improve on and I’d like to hold myself accountable to my community with a list of resolutions I have for 2019.
1. Play More Aggressive Decks in Limited
It is no secret that M19 is one of my least favorite limited sets of all time. In that format, RW aggro was probably the best deck and after 150 drafts I only ended up in that archetype a handful of times. As a content producer (especially for the podcast) I pride myself on getting in more reps than most people in a limited format. The amount of first-hand experience I get with each set is, I believe, what sets me apart from other folks out there. That first hand experience needs to contain as much information as possible, which means getting out of my comfort zone and dipping into all the archetypes a set offers. A recent discussion on “Lords of Limited” with Ryan Saxe about drafting aggressive strategies has me looking at these decks in a new light. I believe that not exploring these decks as much as other strategies in each set is leaving out a key piece of the limited puzzle and ultimately holding me back from a level up in all aspects of my game. Which leads me to my next resolution.
2. Make a Strong Effort to Not Miss Lethal
This is something fairly embarrassing to have to put in to words, but I miss lethal damage. A lot. It doesn’t often result in me losing the game. A lot of the times where I miss lethal, it’s not a big deal and I can close out the game on my next turn. But there are certainly times where it does cost me a win.
But there is a bigger issue here, and that's my ability to miss winning lines of play. I can go ahead and make excuses all I want about being distracted by streaming (which does require more focus) or that when I’m so far ahead it doesn’t matter, but the fact remains: this is a leak in my game. It represents a sloppiness and an inattention to detail that I’m sure leaks into other parts of my game as well. I am not playing with any aspirations of professional success as a Magic player, but nonetheless I am an extremely competitive individual and this is stopping me from playing at the level I would like to be at.
3. Reduce the Level that Tilt Affects my Game
Have I mentioned that I’m an extremely competitive person?
Losing a game of magic is something I can handle. Variance is a factor I’m quite familiar with. Twitch chat being sarcastic or suggesting lines of play that aren’t legal is certainly something I’m used to by now. But something about the combination of some number of those elements can activate my Tilt Trap Card and turn me into a version of myself that is not the best.
If I have no aspirations of being a professional Magic player then the game should be, above all, fun. At times it can be an expensive hobby, streaming can be a frustrating experience, and the game can seem unwinnable.
I am going to do my best this next year to try and have those negative aspects of the game affect me less. I think I can afford to have a bit of a thicker skin and to take more ownership over my emotions when I play. This means recognizing when I’m not in the best head space to play as well, but my goal is to eventually eliminate that as an option and be able to stream through the winning and streaks and the rough patches.
4. Check my Ego at the Door
As an actor (that’s my profession in case you didn’t know), you have to have an ego. Rejection is the name of the game, so having a thick skin and a kind of blind confidence in your talents and skills is really the only way you can keep on the grind. For content creation, I think you need something similar. The opinions and advice I present in my articles, streams, and podcasts are all open to be praised or ridiculed by whomever chooses to consume them. I think in my reception to those comments, my default is to be defensive and skeptical.
I don’t think I gain anything by that other than the preservation of my ego. It is my hope to be more open to the feedback I receive from the content I produce. More specifically, when I see others with differing opinions on card evaluation or lines of play, my default is to dismiss them. “They almost certainly don’t draft as much as I do, so their opinion probably isn’t as valid.” Again, I don’t believe I gain anything from this default reaction. I’d like to take in the responses from the members of my community in a more open minded way in 2019.
5. Continue to Pursue a Role in Magic Coverage
As an actor and Magic the Gathering degenerate, it has been a dream of mine to be a part of a Coverage Team. Like streaming or podcasting, this combines a lot of the skills and talents I’ve cultivated over the years into one perfect package. Those close to me know that about a year ago, I began actively pursuing this dream, but have sort of put on the brakes as it seems a very difficult niche to break into.
As I look back at everything I set my mind to in 2018 and all that I’ve accomplished, it makes me more determined and hopeful than before to continue to pursue this dream. I don’t know what this means exactly, but putting it down on paper felt like a step towards reigniting the drive to achieving this goal.
I know this is a departure from my usual strategic fare, but as much as card evaluations and draft strategies help you to become a better magic player, I believe personal evaluations do as well. Hopefully, this has inspired you to make some Magic related resolutions for 2019, too! What are they? Send me a tweet over @Lordtupperware, I’d love to hear them.
Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year to you all!