Sunday, 25 August 2013


'Sup guys. Blog time!


1. All same cards in your deck should be the same version: Same art, same foilarity, same language, no obvious condition differences. Say your opponent Boomerang's your Island and next turn you play an Island with different art. Your opponent now knows the card in your hand is an Island and not a counter-spell.

Hardmode: Bring your own set of conforming lands to limited tournaments.

2. Whenever you add a card to your hand, shuffle your hand. This will ensure your opponent never knows which card you just drew (unless of course you have zero cards in hand). A similar case to this; you play Lay of the Land to find a Swamp. Assuming you can cast anything regardless of which land you play, you should always shuffle your hand then play the Swamp. If you play any other land you're telling your opponent you have a Swamp in hand.

Sidenote: in the interest of saving time you should only shuffle your hand just enough so your opponent can't keep track of your hand. Any more than that is unintentional stalling.

3. When there are no 'on-board' decisions to be made, your ideal thinking time is zero seconds. Otherwise you're revealing information about your hand. For example, don't pause at the end of your opponent's turn deciding whether to Doomblade their creature. Those who know me are probably chuckling right now. I'm notorious for taking time trying to find the mathematically correct play whilst revealing information, thus making the incorrect play. This is something I'm working to improve. Also, don't touch your lands until you know exactly what play you're going to make. Tapping and untapping will hint at what's in your hand. Of course this swings both ways; you can pretend to think end of turn and pretend to tap your mana. Bluffing can get quite deep and go beyon the scope of this blog...and my sleep deprived mind.

4. When an effect causes both players to discard simultaneously e.g. Liliana of the Veil, discard your card face down and only reveal it once you're opponent has selected their card to discard. If they see your card first, they'll have more information when choosing their's.

5. Gifts Ungiven: reveal all the cards to your opponent at the same time. The cards you find first are more likely to be the cards you most want in your hand. If your opponent sees which cards you find first, they'll have a better idea of how to split the Gifts. Of course you can try double bluff and find your least wanted cards first...up to you, Gifts is a difficult card to play! Same goes for splitting your opponent's Fact or Fictions: reveal your split all at once. There are many other cards like this, you get the idea.

6. In any format where you can play cards with miracle, you should always 'miracle draw'. That is, look at the card you draw before putting it in your hand. This tells the opponent that you may be playing cards with Miracle rather than them being sure you're not.

7. When sideboarding, always dump most of your sideboard into your deck and then pull the cards out. This will eliminate any information your opponent may garner from watching you. You may even mislead them into thinking your deck has changed more than it actually has. On the same topic, with good preparation you'll be able to sideboard quickly and hopefully catch how your opponent is sideboarding.

Hard mode: Pro tip from Chris Cousens: in limited, have a matching set of lands sleeved up to board in and out at the end of games. This can mislead your opponent into thinking you've changed colours or something else drastic.

8. Keep all tokens and dice off the table until they're required. Otherwise you're just revealing that your deck utilizes them i.e. revealing information.

Don't be this guy
9. If someone asks about your deck and you believe they won't make useful suggestions to improve your deck, then you should not tell them anything. You may play that player during the tournament and they'll have a better idea of whether to mulligan or not. They may even tell other people what you're playing. I've personally won matches because my opponent mulliganed until they had a removal spell because they thought I was playing my Hermit Druid deck when I was actually playing Scapeshift. 
The thing I've just explained is a bit 'hard-mode' but I am obviously a big advocate of it. It really depends on your play group whether it's worth it. Some people will be offended that you won't share with them what you're playing, and maybe your rapport with that player is worth disadvantaging yourself during the tournament. In general I'm happy to tell people what I'm playing if I see the tournament as a testing exercise, in which case I want my opponents to play as well as possible. 
During bigger tournaments I am guilty of asking my friends if they know what my stranger opponent is playing. This makes me a bit hypocritical I guess.... judge me if you will.

Hard mode: If someone asks you what you're playing, lie to them. Tell them you're playing a deck which requires distinct mulligan decisions when playing against. This will give you an edge if you get paired against them. "Oh man, did that Planar Cleansing that I opened get to you?"..."nah, I took the 'X' instead, Cleansing didn't suit my deck, but now I wish I did take it, ha ha!" etc

10. Sam Loy special: Look at your opponent's scorepad at the start of each round. They may have been a lazy scrub and left information on it. If they've scribbled card names down, chances are they're playing Thoughtseize/Gitaxian Probe or the like. Some life total change patterns can give away deck styles too.
11. Scout. Once you've finished your match, immediately report the match result, deal with any hunger/thirst, then go straight to the tables in the same bracket as you. Hopefully you can get a scout on your likely opponents' decks for the next round. 'Fedora guy is mono green' 'hot chick is UB control' etc etc

12. Don't scoop. When you're almost certainly dead and going to game 2 or 3, play it out to gather as much info about their deck as possible. Also, you never know: your opponent may misread a card "What?! Rolling Earthquake is both players?!". They may make a rules infraction and the other four they made in previous rounds will add up to a game loss. Their partner may call them demanding sex immediately, so they concede to you and drop from the tournament. You never know...The only exception to 'don't scoop' is if you're 99% to lose the game and you think their won't be enough time in the round to win games 2 & 3.

Ok, there you have 12 strictly better tournament behaviours. If you weren't already doing all these, then I'm happy I improved your game :)

Until next time,