Don’t Concede Early. Play To Your Outs. Win More Magic.

Andy “Icky” Ferguson sees far too many players conceding prematurely and not playing to their outs. He shows the power of fixing those mistakes through two games won from “hopeless” positions.

Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim, illustrated by G-host Lee

I’ve done a couple of draft articles in a row, so I wanted to change it up with a more gameplay-oriented article this time. I had a lot of really tight games this last week, and wanted to do my best to illustrate some thinking behind them, hopefully helping someone out there level up their gameplay!

Don’t Concede Too Early

Conceding too early was a huge leak for me, and honestly I could write an entire article about it, but I’ll try to keep this concise. This was a late level-up for me, learning my lesson the hard way in about 2011 or so – but it’s one that I’ve really learned to respect more and more. I’m not saying don’t ever concede, but I think a lot of people would be surprised by how many games they throw away because they tap out early.

Let’s take a look at an example I have from this weekend. Screenshots are from the game’s history on 17Lands.

As we can see, we’re at five life, and we’re dead on board to the opponent if they attack with all creatures, a near-certainty. Some people may concede here; we know the last five cards in the deck, so even if the opponent doesn’t click the “Attack All” button, it’s very unlikely we can win even if they play cautiously…

…except the opponent chooses to Prayer of Binding our Meria’s Outrider before attacking all. 

By doing so, the opponent unknowingly activates our previously dead trap card, Destroy Evil. That results in us retrieving our blocker, hitting them for five, and most importantly gaining us one life from the Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim trigger, allowing us to live by a single point.

We draw a creature for the turn, cast it, and swing back for lethal.

We went from dead on the battlefield with an essentially dead hand to winning the game the very next turn. Conceding crosses my mind often, but I’ve learned to keep playing if there is some niche scenario I can think of that keeps me in the game.

Playing to Your Outs

All too often, players become too focused on not losing the game, and they forget they actually need to win at some point. Any player can figure out the best play each turn, but a true wizard always has a plan.

The full history for the below game is on 17Lands.

The opponent is presenting a lethal attack. There’s not really any sequence of cards we can draw in the deck to stem the bleeding. But we can possibly win if we draw Colossal Growth. The opponent is at seven life, so it would have to be the Tolarian Terror going Super Saiyan on a 1/1 token to present lethal.

A double block with our two smaller creatures will likely result in one less chance to draw Colossal Growth. Instead, we chump block with Ghitu Amplifier, and draw a land. The opponent presents the same attack; we chump block once more, keeping the win condition alive.

We draw a Lightning Strike. The opponent widens their battlefield, and predictably leaves a 1/1 back. 

We draw the Colossal Growth. Let the celebration begin.

Don’t concede early. Play to your outs. Win more Magic.

See you in the Arena!