Essential Magic Articles

How to Stop Losing

by Malvar

Opponent makes you lose

Unlike the other 3 situations, this one is the hardest to see coming...because normally you don't see it until it happens. You will find yourself in a comfortable position where the game seems under your control, and then "BAM!" you just got knocked out of the match. The good news is that this situation is (to a larger degree) under your control, but recognizing you are in this position is harder than the other three. This is because it isn't a "current" losing situation, but rather a "potential" losing situation. Lets look at some key identifying factors:

Ways to recognize that your Opponent might be trying to make you lose:
1.) They are not attempting to lock up the board.
2.) They are seldom committing permanents to the board, or the permanents they are playing are not apparently relevant.
3.) They have a hand full of cards and seem unconcerned with your advances.
4.) They are very concerned about the game state and most especially...the stack.
5.) They seem to value permanents that you cannot see immediate value in.

...or the most important...

6.) They are telegraphing a card in their hand.

An important thing to remember is to not confuse this situation with your opponent being against the ropes. Your opponent top decking a win is a very different thing than your opponent baiting you into a trap. One of the easiest ways to identify this situation is when your opponent has about 10 lands on the board and hasn't played anything for a few turns. If the opponent draws, then plays a single creature and passes the turn, unless that creature is totally changing how you handle combat, the odds are that your opponent is against the ropes and you should try to apply a little more pressure.

The likelihood of this happening with a skilled player is slim, mainly due to them not committing anything useless to the board. A card in the hand that could be anything is more valuable than a card on the board that is only one, useless thing...right? What is more likely (and this is a trait that I recognize, and have to work on in myself) is that your opponent is telegraphing a card in their hand. They want you to think that they have that removal spell, or that pump spell, so that you don't attack them. Many other people have written long articles about bluffing effectively, so I'm not going to reiterate those points. I am however going to give you some simple, general advice.

If your opponent WANTS you to know they have a certain card in their hand...then you can be 90% sure they don't have it.

If they are being obviously counting up damage and doing math, then odds are they are bluffing. You can't deduce this if your opponent is new to Magic or they failed 2nd grade math, but with any good player it's usually the case. They are trying to do just enough to put the thought into your head that they have a certain card.
Take a moment to think about this kind of logic. If your opponent wanted to win, why would they want you to know they had a card that would let them win? Why would they give you the opportunity to play around it? If I were your opponent, I'd want to make you walk into a trap...not give you hints as to what the trap is.

The bottom line to avoiding a loss in this situation is:

1.) Recognizing if your opponent has an answer to your threats
2.) Determining if that answer will win them the game
3.) If it does not win the game for them, can your recover in time to win?
4.) Is the time it takes to recover going to give your opponent enough time to draw a better solution?

Last edited 9/17/2007 11:42:56 AM Page 4 of 7  Prev  Next  Go to page:

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