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Essential Magic Articles


A Cardboard Education

by Solpugid


Don’t think of this section of the article as either an attack on or defense of the war, but merely my thoughts. Also understand that I’m writing this from the only perspective I know well: that of an American citizen. I hope that you, too, can be open-minded about this topic using the daze-principle above. Just consider it for a moment. There have been many, many tragic deaths in Iraq because of this war (from both sides), and I’m sure most everyone would like to see an end to them. However, if the troops are simply removed from the country, what is left to show for the work the soldiers did which cost them their lives? Sacrifices will have been made, but the end product will be wholly without gain. This is the exact downfall of the “swapping” daze scenario above, albeit on a much more important scale. I will admit that I was a big proponent of the “remove our troops!” argument, until I was playing with my Threshold deck and the daze scenario came up. Suddenly things didn’t seem so clear-cut anymore.

So how many of you are still with me now, and not off writing hateful comments about my ignorance? If you’re still reading, be assured I’m moving to a…safer topic.

Ever since the second grade written tests have been a part of my academic assessment. Back then they were merely arithmetic problems, but later they became complicated calculus or sophisticated essays. But despite the differing levels of difficulty, I always approached tests the same way: “finish as soon as possible, because if others are finishing first it means they’re smarter than you”. I had this notion that it was a better display of intellect to finish quickly than to use up all of the time allotted. Now don’t get me wrong, I almost always did well. But there are plenty of times where I know my grades could have improved had I taken some extra time on the questions. This sure sounds like the advice of a parent or an academic counselor does it not? Well, I learned this lesson (once and for all) from Magic.

At its core, Magic is a game about managing resources: life totals, cards in hand, power and toughness of creatures on each side of the board, etc. Perhaps the most important of these resources is mana. Barring mana acceleration, available mana can increase by no more than one each turn (from the land you play). Each turn you regain access to all the lands you used last turn, and then have new access to the land you just played. Unused mana is wasteful, then, because you don’t take full advantage of the resource given to you. This can often be the downfall of countermagic (Cancel, etc.) based control decks, since they may refuse to play threats if they want to keep mana open to counter an opposing threat; if that threat never comes, their mana for the turn may be wasted.

Making the most of the time given to you during tests is the same exact thing. Using less time now will not give you more during a later test, and therefore not using it is wasteful. This is a great lesson to learn for a successful school career. And to continue analyzing my foolishness, why did I finish so quickly in the first place? Because I’m smarter than everyone? No, because I was insecure. Being unsure of your “position” within a group, be it in a Magic tournament or a class, can be rather stressful. This stress can often be good, giving you the motivation to study for that test or practice for that tournament. But when the stress hinders your ability to do well something is very wrong. At any given Magic Tournament there will probably be a player better than you are. They may push this advantage by playing quickly, leading you to believe that you have to maintain their game-pace. If you do then you’re giving them the advantage. Take your time, slow down, and think through all your decisions. Your opponent may mock you for your speed, but you’ll have a far greater chance of beating him and slashing his ego to pieces. Just make sure you’re not taking too much time for small decisions, because that can be wasteful too.

Once I realized I could do better on tests when I slowed down and thought through my decisions, but left more time for the harder questions, I was able to overcome by false fears that I was dumber for moving slower.

Thanks Magic, for all the life lessons.

Last edited 12/7/2007 2:57:45 PM Page 2 of 2  Prev  Next  Go to page:

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