The Daily Shot: Magic Lessons From Around The World

Twenty proverbs of ancient wisdom, scoured from sources across the globe. Twenty relations to modern Magic, and reminders of things that will improve your game. Twenty wise-ass comments thrown in for free.

I’m back, and we’re unfurling the scroll to bring you another action-packed episode of”The Daily Shot.” I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s article a whole bunch – I wrote it to appease people who like it when I waste their time by talking about nothing in particular. Gotcha! Expect a breathtaking rundown of the worst 3CC creatures ever printed sometime this week.

Today you’re going to learn to play Magic better, and your teachers will be our ancestors from around the world.* If you pay attention, you may also learn how to be a better person and a better member of the Magic community at large. Tune in, turn on, read on, and enjoy.


“Remember to dig the well long before you get thirsty.”


A good view of preparation in Magic.

The early game is the time to prepare for the late game – and if you’re going to need to bust out and win the game at some point, you have to make sure your deck can assemble the tools it needs. If you’re going to Upheaval, you’re going to need nine mana, and you’re going to need that Psychatog in your hand. You have to get everything prepared, and you have to rig things a little by playing the right amount of search and multiple of the key cards.

What exactly does it mean to be”thirsty”? Facing lethal damage, you are thirstier than a mofo. It’s time to go to the well – you know, the one you dug when you were casting Fact or Fiction last turn and taking the ol’ Heave-Ho.

This proverb may also refer to playtesting. If you’re going to need results, sow the seeds in the weeks before the event.


If you cannot catch a fish, do not blame the sea.”


If you run into eight bad matchups in a row because you were too ignorant of the metagame to make the right deck choice, it’s your own damn fault.

This also refers to excuses in general. Look inward for blame, Grasshopper.


“It is not for the blind to give an opinion on colors.”


This seems to say:

“You guys who think you can do a better job than R&D can stick it where the sun don’t shine. When you ask, ‘Why did they print this?’ or ‘Why don’t they print this?,’ you are doing so with absolutely no knowledge of the upcoming expert level sets. For the most part, you are ignoring massive portions of the player base in order to appease your own demographic. 99% of the time, you are second-guessing the powers that be when you’ve done next to no playtesting of your own.

You are not privy to consumer studies like R&D and their associates. You haven’t had the privilege of playtesting the card in question alongside other future cards from the same block. On most occasions, your suggestions are completely unworkable and would serve only to annoy the other 99% of the players that you personally don’t give a rat’s ass about.

“Here’s a middle-finger salute to the second-guessers of R & D. Reprint this.”

I don’t agree with 100% of that, but I think that’s pretty much what it says. The lesson for you, gentle reader, is this: Stick to what you know. If you don’t know, ask.


“Trust in God, but tie your camel.”


Everything you need to know about luck in Magic in seven words.

All the luck in the world isn’t going to help you if your deck is a complete pile of dung, or if you play like a brain donor. Build a solid deck and play it well, and the luck will come.

Playing OBC Alter-Reality tech? You didn’t tie your camel.

Throwing matches away left and right? You didn’t tie your camel.

Insufficient playtesting? Camel.

Insufficient bedrest? Camel.

Luck pretty much evens out for everyone in the end, and that means the playing field is level. The camel-secure demographic is going to walk all over every poor lout who didn’t take five minutes to pound a spike and hitch the reins at the oasis.


“Measure forty times, cut once.”


Playtest. When you get tired of that, playtest some more. When you get tired of that, go on the Internet and read all the match coverage you can. When you get tired of that, playtest some more. When you get tired of that, sleep.

When you wake up, playtest. You’re only going to have one shot at greatness, so when the time comes you’d better be ready like instant coffee.


“He that blows into the fire must expect sparks in his eyes.”


This goes toward general behavior in Magic, and as part of the Magic internet community. If you play mind games and talk trash at the table, expect a spotty rep and maybe some judge attention. If you mouth off, expect some feedback… And not all of it will be good.

Did you know that there is actually a phenomenon called”trait transference” that occurs in written and spoken mediums? Columnists and other mouthpieces who attribute characteristics to others unwittingly trick the subconscious of their readers into attributing those same characteristics to themselves.

If you constantly praise people, readers/listeners will subconsciously believe that you yourself are worthy of praise. If, on the other hand, you constantly belittle people…well…you get the idea.


“Six feet of earth makes us all of one size.”


The Weissman rule, but in reverse. If life doesn’t matter (except for the last point!) as long as you have board control, the counterpoint is, of course, that board control and card quality doesn’t matter if you’re dead.

This little credo explains why aggressive decks work when they play terrible cards like Goblin Raider. It’s all in the Flores article”The Redistribution of Wealth.” They might play White Knight on turn 2 when you’re playing a pile of crap like Goblin Raider… But guess what? They’re dead on turn 5 anyhow, and what a shame it is that the poor guy never got to use all of his”better” cards.


“Fault denied is twice committed.”


Is a French proverb about cheating really what Magic needs?

Okay, I’m just kidding. This one is simple, and it applies to two different parts of Magic. First, don’t be a lying jerk. Second, if you play poorly, draft poorly, build a poor deck, you have to be able to admit it to yourself. Don’t deny that you bombed.


“Never send a chicken to bring home a fox.”


I think this one is about sideboarding. I have lost track of the number of times I have seen people include cards in their sideboard simply because they happen to be”sideboard cards,” and they couldn’t think of anything else. Is Execute going to do anything in a field full of Monoblack and U/G? No? Then why play it?

Do you really need Sacred Ground in that W/G beatdown board? Braids has been dead for months, and Balancing Tings is gone as well. Monoblack and U/G are the biggest foxes around.

Execute is a chicken. So is any other sideboard card that does pretty much nothing. Who are you kidding with those Aegis of Honor?


“To lose a friend, make him a loan.”


This should be the motto of Magic storeowners everywhere. Hey, all you deadbeats who owe your local storeowner money… Do you think a gaming store is easy to keep above water?

Pay back what you owe, you shiftless bastards!


“Do not hit the fly that lands on the tiger’s head.”


Hey, you multiplayer fanatics!

Don’t Wrath if the burn player doesn’t want you to. If he wants something dead, he’ll do it his own damn self. Global effects that save your own skin while simultaneously annoying pretty much everyone else will end up getting you killed.

The more general lesson is this: Make sure you realize what you’re getting into when you choose a course of action. If you Mutilate, those guys you Butchered are coming back. Don’t forget it.


“A lovesick person looks in vain for a doctor.”

-West Africa

This is an easy one: The basic message is that there are some maladies that physical medicine can’t cure. Lovesickness is one such affliction.

Another good example is Magic Online.

Those poor guys will never leave home again. Someone set up a clinic.


“Pearls are of no value in the desert.”


A great proverb for the player and the collector alike. Some things seem great, but are useless in certain (often common) situations.

Will a Mox Pearl do you any good if you’re hankering to build the latest, greatest T2 deck? Only if you sell it on the quick and take a big loss. T1 cards are the ultimate pearls, and I think the desert is probably the Pro Tour.

Another view of this one… Does Upheaval do you any good if you only have four land? No? I thought not. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve died with a handful of pearls amidst the desert of landscrew, I’d be rich.

Lastly, this can apply to cards that have no use in a particular matchup. Do you ever want to draw your Mutilate in the Monoblack mirror match? It’s a wrecking ball, sure… A pearl, if you will. But every pearl has its desert.


“When one has no needle, thread is of little use.”


And when one has no Alter Reality, Llawan is of little use. Here comes the sledgehammer of Magic strategy, and it has a message for you:

The first rule of Shot Club is: Don’t play combos where both cards are useless when separated.

The second rule of Shot Club is: Send Geordie lots of money.


“When the fox preaches, look to your geese.”


Did Kai say this? Probably not, but it means you should stay on your toes when a good player seems to be”on tilt,” or when he’s acting a little happier than usual. It’s probably a bluff.

I’m not exactly Amarillo Slim, so I only do the basics, but I’ll tell you this much – when I act like I’ve overlooked something and you can attack for the win, I have the Aether Burst. When I act like I’m attacking for no reason on the last turn, I have a reason. I bet other players are very much the same.


“He that cannot dance claims the floor is uneven.”


He that cannot play claims that his opponent drew like a God. In time, you’ll learn to see through all the bull, and you’ll start to figure out which players really got screwed in any given round and which ones just played like crap and lost, and deservedly so.

Students, keep your eyes open and learn quickly. People who can admit defeat are the people you want to learn from and playtest with.


“When the ship has sunk, everyone knows how he or she could have been saved.”


Hindsight is 20/20.

Take it from me – after any given tournament, you’re going to have every opportunity to beat yourself up over every mistake. Don’t do it too hard. A little reflection and analysis is healthy, but it’s not good to obsess about it – that sort of thing just makes you feel miserable.


“Even the powerful ox has no defense against flies.”


Dave Price liked to play beatdown decks because there are no wrong threats, only wrong answers. This proverb seems to speak about something that deck designers always have to take into account – the search for silver bullets.

It must be nice to play Psychatog. Even the powerful”I have five creatures and you’re dead next turn” has no defense against Upheaval.

This proverb also seems to refer to something that has made fatties a risk since the dawning days of Magic – the fact that a big stomper like Force of Nature has no defense against something like Terror.

The bottom line, my young apprentice? Make sure you’re playing a lot of flies. If you simply must be the ox, make sure you’re one hard-to-answer ox! Like OBC U/G.


“A good archer is not known by his arrows but by his aim.”


Learn to play solid Magic first… Then you can start building rogue decks. This is a beautiful proverb for Magic. A good player is known not for his decks, but for his play. Wakefield was known for his rogue decks, but he sucked at the game. (And, might I add, he’s an ass.)

Don’t make the same mistake I did and play a pile of crap when you should be honing your skills to a razor’s edge. Don’t go out of your way to be flamboyant. Just be yourself and learn to play like a champion.


“The longer the explanation, the bigger the lie.”


This is for any students out there who may also be judges. There’s no need to draw a parallel here – this one has survived the passage of time remarkably well.

So that’s it. Twenty steps towards becoming a better Magic player, and a better member of the Magic community. Call them the”Daily Shot School Of Magic.” I’ll see you tomorrow.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]

* – And, of course, the sayings are not mine – appropriate ones were taken from various anthologies.