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Modern Mentor – Bouncing Back

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Hey guys! It has certainly been a while, and let me tell you, I’m excited to be back writing for Legit MTG. I had to take a hiatus during the fall while I got accustomed to the life of law school, but now that I have a handle on life now, I should begin writing with more regularity again (with the exception being finals time, god finals are awful, right?).

This article could go a number of different directions, and rather than just focus on one of them, I figured I’d Hodge podge a bunch of things I wanted to talk about into one article. In today’s article, you’ll find three things: (1) how it feels to come back to a game like Magic after taking 3-4 months off, (2) my goals for next year, and (3) what I’ll be playing in Cincinnati at the Starcity Games Open this weekend.

Coming back isn’t fun or easy

While I haven’t been writing much for the past few months, I haven’t been playing that much either. In fact, I no longer own a Standard legal deck, and I only have drafted Battle for Zendikar three or four times in paper. I drafted it once online during an extremely boring class, and I 0-1’d the draft because I didn’t know what literally any of the cards actually did.

Honestly, I felt kind of like an idiot. I didn’t know what any of the constructed decks did at my FNMs my first week back, and the pile that I had compiled was so below average that it was annoying. Now some of you may be thinking, “Four months isn’t that bad. Get over yourself.” And you’re right. Four months of missing Magic isn’t that bad if you’ve been keeping up with decklists, tournament results, spoilers, and everything else that a competitive player needs to be doing to have a clue as to what’s going on. For the first time in my competitive Magic “career”, I don’t have an SCG Premium account, I’ve watched zero SCG Standard Opens over my break, and I looked at zero decklists. I don’t even think I played a Battle for Zendikar prerelease.

The other side of this is that I’m just a competitive guy in general. If you ever play Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride with me, you know that I try to min-max everything, and I generally hate losing. I wouldn’t say I’m a poor sport, but I don’t take kindly to the idea of someone else being better than me in any facet. Well, in a game like Magic, that’s already hard, and when you come back and have no idea what’s going on in any given game or have any idea what cards to play around, it’s pretty tough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten blown out by a main deck Dispel before I learned that lesson about Standard.

So all in all, coming back is not fun, but if there’s ever a game worth coming back to after a hiatus long or short, it’s Magic: The Gathering. I’m playing in my first competitive REL event in months coming up this weekend, and generally excited despite knowing that I probably won’t preform my best, but more about that later on. For now, let’s talk 2016 goals!

2016 Goals

Post-edit preface: Turns out my goals are mostly related to the first four months of the year, which is fine, but that means I’ll need to do a review session and make new goals later on this year.

Alright, goals time. I’m so bad at these, but here’s the type of thing I’m going for when I make a goal.

smrt

Basically, we want to know exactly what we’re trying to achieve, why we’re trying to achieve it, how we’re trying to achieve it, and when we’re going to achieve it by. “Specific” and “measurable” go hand-in-hand. “Get better at Magic” isn’t specific or measurable. Get better at what aspect of Magic? And how will I know when I’ve completed this goal? What aspect of my game will I be cognizant of when I decide whether or not I’ve gotten better at Magic?

For each of the goals that I’m going to outline below, I’ll list each of these elements and attempt to give definitive answers. This way you have a model for your goal setting for 2016 whether it’s in Magic or in real life.

So let’s get into it!

Write a Modern Mentor article for Legit MTG at least once a month

• Specific – I want to write one of my periodicals for this website at least monthly. Committing to any more may over commit me when I get a legal internship this summer, so I want to stick with something that I’m sure can fit into my schedule.

• Measurable – I’ll know I’ve completed this when I’ve written at least 12 articles this next year with at least one coming every month. This is trackable because if I haven’t written an article by the end of each month, I’ll know I have failed.

• Attainable – This goal is achievable because I have the time in my schedule to do this. I find time to go to the gym and take a nap every day, so I can probably find two extra hours during the course of a month to hammer out an article on the Modern format. I’ll do this by scheduling writing time in and alongside my course work.

• Relevant – Staying involved in the Magic community despite not being able to play a lot is important to me. By forcing myself to stay involved in following the Modern format, I’ll keep an aspect of my life that I enjoy and it will remind me to take a break from work every once and again.

• Timely – This is a time oriented goal, so I’ll know if I have completed it by the end of the year. Honestly, I’ll know by the end of each month if I’ve completed it successfully or not. A monthly time frame for each article will pressure me into writing semi-regularly, and it will require me to always be at least glancing at Modern results.

Play at least four Opens for the first SCG Season of 2016

• Specific – If you’ll notice, my goals so far aren’t anything about quality, they’re simply about doing. I’ll tackle that in the relevant portion below, I just wanted to mention it here. Anyways, there are eight Opens and one invitational per season on the new SCG Tour. All nine of these events are within eight hours of my home in central Ohio. Two of these are actually in Columbus. If there were ever a season where I could make a run at doing well on the SCG Tour, this is it. Right now, I have plans to attend Cincinnati this weekend, Columbus for both the Open and the Invitational, and Charlotte next weekend. All of the other events, however, are possible for me to attend.

• Measurable – This is obviously measurable, because if I haven’t been to three events before the Invitational in Columbus (that event being the fourth), I’ll know I’ve failed.

• Attainable – This is totally doable. As I mentioned above, if there’s a time to grind a circuit, it’s now.

• Relevant – Yeah so given my current number one priority being law school, staying merely engaged is important to me. Getting out to this number of events this year will be a challenge, but it will drive me to stay in the community and stay active. Attending these events will also be relevant for my other goal of writing articles. The more tournament preparation I do, and the more tournament experience I have, the better quality articles I can put out.

• Timely – The invitational is April 15. This needs to be my fourth event that I’ll be at before then. If by the 15th, if this isn’t my fourth event, I’ll have failed my goal.

Cash the Modern Opens I play in

• Specific – Alright last goal because this article is getting long in the tooth. All of the SCG Opens I play in for the first season of the Tour, I want to cash the Modern ones. I’ll be spending so much time on that format that I would like to be rewarded for the work I’ll be putting in. It would also be nice to be consistent in the season that I’m considering grinding more heavily than my four Open investment. If I can do well at these Opens, the incentive to go to more Opens increases.

• Measurable – If I don’t cash a Modern tournament, I’ll know I have failed.

• Attainable – This is the interesting one. I haven’t played much Magic in the past few months, and this weekend being Cincinnati, which is Modern, will be the largest challenge. Additionally, I’m pretty under confident in the deck I’m sleeving up this weekend, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. However, if I can make it through this week, I think the goal is very attainable as I feel pretty comfortable in Modern overall.

• Relevant – People want their hard work to pay off. I’m no different. If I’m going to be investing this much time in Modern via writing, researching, and playing, I want the work to pay off. Winning matters to me, and winning at Opens is cool beans.

• Timely – This goal will come to its conclusion by the end of the first Season of the SCG Tour, so by the end of that Invitational in Columbus in mid-April, I’ll know if I have succeeded or not.

Cincinnati

If you’ve read my article series before, you’ll know I was sort of enamored with an Esper Mentor deck that turned out to just not be as good as I had hoped. Well, with the advent of Battle for Zendikar, and being a guy that has a hard time learning a lesson, I have started working on the list again. I started here:

Mainboard Zealous Persecution was a really good card when you were ahead or your opponent played Lingering Souls, but it was really poor when you were struggling for cards, or your opponent just didn’t play x-1s. I cut that card, one of the Spell Snare, the Liliana of the Veil (just never what I wanted to be doing), and the mainboard Thoughtseize (life loss is an actual consideration against a lot of the decks) for four Serum Visions. The card draw was pretty necessary, and the one mana can trip is exactly what you want with a card like Monastery Mentor in your deck.

I also noticed that the deck was lacking serious card advantage and a way to draw cards. That’s why I threw a copy of Painful Truths in the main for the other copy of Spell Snare, and I even through an additional copy of the card in the sideboard. The card single handily has won me games, and it helps fill you up after going 1-for-1 with your opponents all game. If your Monastery Mentor manages to live through all of the action, you probably aren’t losing after you just drew three cards that mostly cost one mana.

Barring any brilliant ideas that strike me last minute, here’s the list I’m sleeving up this weekend:

Okay I’m really long in the tooth here. I’ll talk more about this deck next week with recaps and opinions next time.
Until next time

As always, you can find me on twitter with both Magic and non-Magic related thoughts @imjorman, on twitch.tv streaming random limited and constructed events, and at practically every Magic: The Gathering tournament within a few hours of Columbus, Ohio. Until next time!

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