MTGYou #78 – What is this Modern Format you speak of?

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This Week In Our Main Phase:

We take a question and answer approach to getting information about the Modern format this week on MTGYou.

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MTGYou #77 – Pre-Board to Post-Board

bitmapThis Week In Our Main Phase:

We take a step into the pre-board to post-board strategy while playing Magic, in this second take of episode 77, in this weeks MTGyou!

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MTGYou #76 – Fast and Furious, the Aggro way of Life!

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This Week In Our Main Phase:

Want to win more games with your Aggro deck?  Aggro decks getting you down and taking your wins?  We cover the solution to these questions and more in this weeks episode of MTGyou!

Read moreMTGYou #76 – Fast and Furious, the Aggro way of Life!

Better After the Break

MTG BreakWhy is it that many people who play Magic: The Gathering take a break?  Some say they take a break due to the money involved.  Some say its due to a significant other.  As for me, it was due to my moving away from those I played with.
After about five years away from Magic, I have become a better player.  I have been back in the game for almost three years now.  I have learned more and have been able to advance my play style better then when I played before.

When I learned to play magic, over 20 years ago, my play group included my family and a few of my friends.  My older brother was by far the better player.  He had learned from co-workers and friends how to improve his game.  The rest of us just didn’t “get it” at the time.  We played to beat each other and built decks with only our few opponents in mind.  I had played at a few stores and never did well.  It was just about the fun of the game, and not the competition. I don’t feel that there is anything wrong with this, you just don’t improve.

I’m not really sure what set was out when I stopped playing.  I had to move, and my cards stayed behind with my friends.  I would stop at the local game store in my new town, but never bought any cards.  Eventually, I moved again and this time, when I stopped in at the game store, I bought me a Deckbuilder’s tool kit.  It wasn’t much, although enough, to reignite my spark.  I went to a few Friday Night Magic games, still no luck at winning.  I started listening to a few podcast, and started talking about magic with some of the people that I played with. to get ideas for better decks.

Then, out of the blue, I realized something; I saw the game in a different way.  I started to notice when to play cards and when to wait.  I started to see the synergy in the cards.  I started to see combo pieces in the cards.  I started to notice the different ways my opponents played, and how to use their play style against them.  These are thing that I never would have seen before my “Magic Break”.  If I had not taken my leave of absence from this game, I don’t think I would have ever changed the way I played.

Now, I go to FMN with a tested deck.  I go to see if I can get first place.  I have become a much better player, and I have my break to thank for it.  I have the people that helped me as I got back into the game to thank for it.  Having a new play group helped me realize my new view of the cards.  Magic has become a whole new game to me, and I found a new way to enjoy it.  I still play for fun.  I still enjoy the casual game, whether I win or lose.  But now, I am also able to enjoy the high amount of competition that Magic has to offer.

So… if you find yourself on a “Magic Break”, remember that Magic will be here for you when you return.  It will be the game you remember and it will be better.  Not only will the Game be better, but so will you.  Take the break that most players feel they need.  But don’t venture off too far, we are waiting for your return.  I hope to see you on the battlefield of a FNM, PPTQ, or Grand Prix in the future.

Mono-Red Basics!

GTT-MTG-003__62264_zoomThe mono red deck is one of the most well known and mostly played decks in Magic: The Gathering.  With it’s easy to play style and inexpensive card base, it is a good starter deck.  It is a good choice when you don’t know the meta in a new area.  When it comes to playing, the steps are simple; play mountains, cast creatures, turn creatures sideways, repeat.  Following these steps and with a little luck you will be winning your FNMs in no time.  OK, maybe it’s not that simple.  Mono-red can be a simple deck to play with, but it still takes a certain skill to win.  I would like to go over a few of those skills and tips.  I am going to focus more on general game play over specific card strategies, as mono-red can drastically change based on the current sets available..

The first thing to remember when choosing to go mono-red is that the longer the game goes, the lower your chance of winning.  The first game is in your favor.  You need to take full advantage of this and plan on hitting your opponent’s life total as fast and hard as you can.  Closing out game one as quickly as possible.  Your burn spells in this match are best used to hit your opponent.  With the occasional burn spell removing a blocker or two.  Your creatures are your best resource here, but don’t be afraid to lose one or two in your quest to attack.  Losing a creature to let two more through is one step closer to getting your opponent within range to finish them off with the burn spells in your hand.

With round one over, and hopefully a win, you move to where the mono-red skill test starts.  At this point, your opponent has had the chance to sideboard against you.  The next game (or two) are going to slow down.  You will need to plan accordingly.  When you go to your mono-red sideboard, you need to ask your self, “What is the most efficient way to get my creatures through combat?”  Adding more burn spells or combat tricks to help clear the way against heavy creature/ mid range decks.  Adding what card advantage red has against the more controlling/ slower decks.  Removing your lower costed spells from your main deck to replace them with higher costed, better spell.

Now onto game play.  Getting your opponent into burn range is still the plan of attack.  Starting out fast is important, hitting you opponent for half their life by the end of turn three is a great goal.  After turn three, however, you will also need to slow down.  You just being one turn faster is how most of these games will go.  I have won many games with my opponent saying, “If I had one more turn, I could have won”.  Being on the offensive is still the roll you need to play.  However, just turning your creatures sideways to attack every turn will no longer work.  Your creatures are an expendable Asset.  With each attach you want to force your opponent to have to choose whether to lose creatures, or lose life.  If blocks are declared, don’t let you creatures die without purpose.  Combat tricks are your best friend here.  If those fail, or you don’t have any in your hand, burn spells are a good second.  Keep in mind while playing with a mono-red deck, using two cards to remove their one, is a good trade.  This goes for blocking as well.  I am a fan of the double block.  Setting up a double block is a great removal tool for the red player.  Blocking a 4/5 with a 2/2 and a 3/1 while letting a 3/3 slip by, is a regular scenario.  X/3s are much easier to remove with a burn spell, then a X/5.  Plus, combat tricks still work great hear too.   As long as you still have some in hand.

The last thing you want at this point is to run out of cards.  Unfortunately, this is what mono-red does best.  Running out of cards right before you can close out the game is very common.  The top deck is where you will find many of your wins.  Luckily, we get cards that have the text, “Exile the top card of your library.  Until end of turn, you may play that card”.  I would definitely recommend at least two of these cards in your sideboard.  I bring in these cards almost every post-board game. Good examples are Outpost Siege and Chandra, Pyromaster.  Having the ability to have that extra card a turn will often be the difference between winning and losing.  By this point in the game, you should have the mana available to cast anything you exile.  One of the big advantage you get from this is that it gets you past your lands.  Letting you draw something you can use.  Don’t let these card go to waist.  Your opponent will know what that card is, use that to your advantage.

These are just the basics when playing mono-red.  Of course, the best play tip is to practice with you deck.  While doing that, keep in mind these final notes.  Game one is almost always in your favor, own it and end it.  The longer the game, the shorter the chance of winning.  Sometimes it takes two cards to remove one.  Creatures start the game, Burn spells finish them.  If your losing a creature, make it count.  I hope this is helpful to those trying mono-red, and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I.