Oh, Playtest Already!

Oh good lord people, there are only a few days to go. Stop just talking about it and do some playtesting! I know what you’re going to say: “I doned some playtesting, it’s all theory now and tweaking muh decklist.” Well kind sir, you’re more wrong than “prison cuddles.” if ya know what I’m sayin’.

Oh good lord people, there are only a few days to go. Stop just talking about it and do some playtesting! I know what you’re going to say:”I doned some playtesting, it’s all theory now and tweaking muh decklist.” Well kind sir, you’re more wrong than”prison cuddles.” if ya know what I’m sayin’.

I too, have fallen into that trap numerous times. I’ve been playing this game long enough now, since, err… Visions. Which is… *counts on fingers* err, since Visions anyway. Is it just Magic players who count the years by the base sets? Anyway, it’s a long time, so I kinda like to think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to Magic, as I’m sure many of you do too.

…And therein lies the problem.

When I look at a group of decklists, probably from a top 8 somewhere, I convince myself I can see the overall picture, what’s going on if you will. I can figure out which deck beats what, and which deck has been built incorrectly. I can even tell which deck has the best chance with”da ladies” later that evening! And yes, the answer is always going to be”any deck played by Osyp or Nassif,” for truth.

I am truly confident in my ability to pick up a deck and play it to victory. I believe that I can copy a top 8 decklist, and make a run for the first available top 8. I have apparently done enough foul-smelling, mind-altering substances in a previous life that I know I can take a top 8 list, make a few modifications, suit it in bright pink sleeves, shuffle it like a boogie, and pilot it all the way through a top 8 and out the other side. All the while stealing”da ladies” out from under the noses of Osyp and Nassif. And we know with Nassif, that this is no mean feat.

(I feel I can get away with that call, as my shnoz is an horrendous beast with a fearful reputation of it’s own at the best of times.)

But I am wrong.

(Not about my nose, phear teh nose!)

I am wrong that I can just take a deck and run with it. And no, it’s not because I’m awful *places hand over Telfer’s mouth* that’s a different story altogether.

You will never be so good that you can just walk in to a tournament without playtesting and hope to do well. No, I mean never and or ever. Sure, this sounds like a bold claim, but if Kai goes into a Pro Tour with just his good looks and a packet of gum, he’s gonna get nailed like a plank by Osyp, Nassif and crew. Who will have no doubt playtested like an obsessive-compulsive with an itch.

(Is that last paragraph less than PC? Let’s discuss that.)

(Discuss, discuss.)

(And now back to our irregularly scheduled article slash rant.)

In other words, you may well be the best player in the world. But there is always someone right behind you who is quite possibly willing to practice that much harder than you to take that elusive spot, and of course”da ladies.” I’m willing to bet that you aren’t the best player in the world.

“But uncle blisterguy!” I hear you cry.”How can we take the spot and get”da ladies” too, gosh-darnit?” Well gentlemen and ladi- oh who am I kidding, other gentlemen, the answer is to playtest, playtest, playtest. And by that, I mean the actual shuffling of cards and playing of hands.

This includes:

Playing against your friends with your decks: This is the no nonsense actual stuff we’re talking about here. Forty games of Ravager verses Goblin Bidding in an hour and not stopping there. Don’t forget those sideboards, I’m sure I wrote about that once, back when Ice Age was standard legal, or something.

Taking to commons with marker pens to make decks to play with your friends. I don’t wanna hear none of that”I don’t have deck ecks or why.” You tellin’ me you don’t have a buttload of Malachite Golems, Viridian Joiners, and Oompa-Loompa Pooper-Scoopers lying around?

Shuffling up two decks by yourself, for lack of another person, to see how they play out. This has got to be better than sitting in front of the TV at night, huh? Hell, why not do both!

This does not include:

Sitting around talking about it. Is your name Descartes? Probably not. If it by some strange fluke happens to be Descartes, then proceed to question two. Question two: are you also a 16th century philosopher? If you somehow answered”yes” a second time, Oh My God Sell Me Your Time Machine!!1!~

Reading every possible article the internet has to offer. You’ll be surprised at how many articles don’t come with a signed affidavit confirming the wondrously skewed results portrayed within. I know for a fact that some people will just plot and plan, scribble and doodle, and give you a”refined” decklist and claim it to be gospel without having touched the cards.

Writing out decklists on a piece of paper, and staring at them while you try to derive sustenance from the end of your pen. It’s true, pens are tasty. But top 8s are tastier.

Oh of course those last three things listed above can get you somewhere, but without actually shuffling up and going for it, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and subsequently pouring Cajun style chili syrup on the wound.

It’s amazing like double-glazing how much you can learn from a few games in the current Standard format. Like just how much of a control deck Goblin-Bidding seems to be, and how much playing seven maindeck artifact destruction spells in a mono-Red control deck appears to do nothing against aggro-affinity.

I could go on for hours about what I have discovered from that fancy playtesting stuff, but it counts for naught if you don’t do some yourself. So quit playing with the internet! Get in with the practice, qualify for Nationals, and write us a freakin’ tournament report about it!

(And yes, I even want the bit about how you missed your alarm and how Billy’s car didn’t start.)

Most of all, best of luck this weekend to all of you that playtest, and a pox on ye who don’t!