Not Good is All Right!

Ben Fischer • April 13, 2022

What do you do when your losing streak just won’t seem to end?

We’re deep into Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty limited, and there are so many things to love about this set. Everything from the presentation to the gameplay is of the highest quality, with some even adding NEO to their lists of all-time-great draft formats. I'm having a blast looping Colossal Skyturtle and Season of Renewal, using ninjas to bounce Spirited Companion and Virus Beetle, and slamming The Kami War anytime I see it.

There’s just one problem: I’m not very good at winning games of NEO.

It comes for us all, eventually...

I finished Crimson Vow with a 64% match winrate across 66 drafts, a result that makes me very proud. It feels bad to admit that across almost as many Neon Dynasty drafts, my winrate is about 10% lower. I’ve really felt it, too- I went about 3 weeks without any 7-X drafts, and despite having plenty of fun, I found myself tiring of the format noticably faster than normal.

You can say that again.

It’s hard to describe exactly how this made me feel. Magic the Gathering is ultimately a game, but it’s also a big part of how I choose to spend my time. I’m well aware that I could just be happy that I’m still winning any games at all, but it's scarily easy to fall into the trap of linking your mood and mindset with your performance in a game. I found myself feeling like a failure for not posting trophy decklists, wild screenshots, or absurd winrates like other limited creators, which made my gameplay worse, which made me feel worse… These feelings can quickly turn into a spiral of negativity.

Well, at least until the next set releases.

The ultimate takeaway from all of this- not good is all right! It’s perfectly okay to experience variance from one limited set to another, because not every limited environment is the same. Any expectations regarding gameplay or performance are ultimately self-imposed. I find it easier to dispel some of the negative comparisons when I remind myself that this is not my career like it is for some people, and that we all have different yet valid ways of playing. As long as I'm having fun, I'm doing it right, but the moment it instead becomes about satisfying a need or distracting me from other priorities, it's time for a reality check.

Failure to plan is planning to fail!

I was able to catch myself before my downward trajectory took me too far, and I sincerely hope sharing my experience can at the very least allow you to keep an eye out for signs of a similar trend. Magic is an incredible game, but like many incredible things, there is a point of diminishing returns. Recently, I’ve been catching up on some books, videogames, and movies that have been on my to-do list, and I feel as though my time is well spent (as opposed to losing a few more games of Neon Dynasty). It does not hurt to have a plan in mind, should you ever find yourself in a position like mine. When the losses won't seem to end, what are some things you will do instead?

For more dives into Mental Magic, check out our recurring series on the Draft Chaff podcast. See you on the Streets of New Capenna!