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Common Mistakes and Misconceptions

Hey everyone! Today I wanted to talk about some common mistakes and misconceptions that I see people do and ask about very often. 

1/ If you are boarding card X in that much, shouldn’t it be main?

After sideboard, the game becomes much more than just bringing in good cards against their deck and taking out the bad ones. Most of the time you also have to anticipate what they are going to do and then trying to counter that. 

So take a deck like Temur Reclamation for example, I am boarding in Nightpack Ambusher in almost every matchup, but that doesn’t mean that it belongs to the maindeck. In game 1, it’s pretty common that most deck have a lot of removal spells and the point of playing Temur Reclamation is to make those cards effectively dead in this matchup and attack your opponent from a different angle.

After sideboard, everyone figures out that since you beat them with your Reclamation + Explosion combo, they need to fight against that, they board out their removal spells and bring in cards like Dovin’s Veto, Duress and Mystical Dispute. In addition to that, they are trying to make your life difficult with cards like Narset. Nightpack Ambusher is a perfect counter against that because they absolutely don’t expect to play against that stuff and it makes their sideboard cards not do much in the matchup. 

So just because you board something in or out a lot, it doesn’t mean that should or should not be in the deck. It just means that the sideboard games become completely different from game 1.

2/ Wouldn’t Whirlwind Denial be great against Temur Clover?

So let’s see, the idea here would be to bring in Whirlwind Denial to counter playing the adventure side of a card and all the copies generated by Lucky Clover. While that sounds good in theory, it’s absolutely the wrong approach.

Why? 

Because in this scenario, your opponent has a Lucky Clover in play and you are letting them abuse it and you are focusing on making things less worse for you after they get it in play. What you should focus on instead is not letting them have Clover in play to begin with, because that’s how they get all the advantage and it’s basically their entire game plan. 

If you let them have clover and fight them for 2 extra copies of a Petty Theft or Granted, you are destined to lose. Trying to counter Clover with Denial isn’t great either because it’s a 3 mana card and clover costs 2, so you will rarely be able to do it. 

Fight their Clover instead with something like Heliod’s Intervention or Knight of Autumn that you can replay with the help of a Teferi multiple times. Focus on what is causing the problem, not what happens afterwards. Try to go over the top of their entire strategy or maybe even figure out a way to beat them when they actually do have everything going. 

There are lots of similar examples in Standard, for example thinking that you are going to beat Monored by playing a lot of lifegain. The current Monored deck is an aggro deck with a ton of creatures, it’s not a burn deck. You are going to need cards like Glass Casket and Shatter the Sky, not Healing Salve or Stream of Life

Similarly, don’t try to fight cards like Embercleave and Elspeth Conquers Death with sorcery speed removal like Embereth Shielbreaker and Knight of Autumn respectively. You will have to wait the whole game with your Knight stuck in your hand and the only time it will finally do something will be after they have gotten value out of their ECD. That’s not a good way to fight that card. Trying to kill Embercleave this way will also mean that you will have to take a bunch of damage first, or in some situations even die before you get to play it.

One more example I can think of is using Banishing Light as an answer for Planswalkers against a deck that is also playing Teferi, Time Raveler. This will create scenarios where your opponent plays Narset, uses -2 to get a card from it. Next turn you answer it with Banishing Light, because it will otherwise stop you from drawing extra cards with your Omens and Thirsts. Keep in mind that you are already down a card in this exchange. Next turn your opponent plays Teferi, bounces your Banishing Light, Narset comes back with 5 counters and immediately gets them another card. At this point you pretty much lost the game.

3/ “Brazen Borrower is good against aggro, you can use it to bounce their one drop and slow them down!”

This is probably the most common mistake I see people make. Brazen Borrower is usually horrible against aggro for multiple reasons:

– bouncing their early drop sounds great unless you realize it actually costs you a card. It doesn’t just happen for free. Would you take a mulligan to start the game at +2 life and make your opponent tap one extra mana during one of their turns? Of course you wouldn’t because that sounds like a terrible deal, so why does everyone want to bounce their Scorch Spitter with Brazen Borrower so much? 

Borrower can only block flying creatures, so you won’t be able to use it to block later. It’s usually effectively just an overcosted Unsummon

– What are you really accomplishing by bouncing their creatures? If you do it with Teferi, Time Raveler, then at least you get a card back immediately and you have a Planeswalker in play that they usually have to attack and that’s stopping them from putting in an Embercleave at instant speed. If you bounce a creature with Borrower against Monored, you are just down a card.

Of course that Borrower can still be used sometimes to bounce Embercleave, so there are matchups where I leave 1-2 in, but it’s only in very specific situations and in general it’s the first card I board out. 

Basically, Brazen Borrower shines if you are bouncing something that your opponent has to spend more mana on than you spent on Petty Theft and you are generating tempo advantage with it. It’s great against a deck like Jeskai Fires where you are bouncing their 4- and 5-mana cards with it and they just have to keep playing them over and over because their deck is only made out of expensive cards. It’s very bad against decks like Monored with a lot of one drops and cheap cards because they will just replay the card for one or two mana and you will be down a card without really advancing your own game plan. 

4/ Playing Light Up the Stage as early as you can

Take a look at this situation – https://clips.twitch.tv/DeterminedQuaintScallionDancingBanana

My opponent opened with a Fervent Champion, then on turn 2 they attacked with it, pumped it with Rimrock Knight and then played Light Up the Stage

This is such a waste of the card. The only time when you should make this play is when you are desperately looking for a 3rd land because your hand is something like 2x Anax, Torbran and Embercleave. In this situation, it would be so much better to just play that Rimrock Knight, add more pressure to the board and save the Light Up for a later time when you either run out of gas or it actually fits into your curve regardless of what you reveal.

The biggest reason why playing it on turn 2 is bad if you don’t have to do it, is that you can just reveal two expensive cards and you won’t get any value out of it at all. Imagine revealing a Torbran and Embercleave. You just completely wasted the card because you won’t be able to play either of them next turn and then they are gone. Even just revealing the two three drops here means you effectively just cycled your card instead of getting more value out of it, which is 

So either wait until you can get the most value out of your Light Up the Stage or play it because you have no other option.

5/ Bluffing with lands in your hand

I will always remember the time when I lost a Pro Tour limited match where my opponent mulliganed to 4 on the play. I kept a good 7. I was also up a game. It should be incredibly hard to lose from that spot, but I found a way.

Despite the mull to 4, my opponent’s U/G Merfolk deck actually got a really fast draw and it took me a while to stabilize, so we ended up playing a pretty long game. Somewhere towards the end of the game when I was winning with a big flyer on a stalled board, I decided to keep my freshly drawn land #10 in my hand to bluff something because it seemed like a good idea and it didn’t look like I was going to ever need that 10th land. 

My opponent drew and played River’s Rebuke. Uh-oh. I even knew he had it because I saw it in the first game. Subsequent attack almost killed me but I could still replay all of my cards next turn and win with my flyer a turn later. 

Except that I couldn’t. I drew a land and the cards that I needed to play cost a total of 11 mana. Had I just immediately played the land I drew in the previous turn, I would have been able to play the land I drew for this turn as well, play all of my cards and win a turn later. Instead I was one mana short, couldn’t play everything and ended up dying to exactsies. It was unlikely and you could say that it was unlucky, but in reality it was just my fault.

Don’t make the same mistake and just play your lands unless you have a really good reason not to, like keeping extra lands to discard to Liliana of the Veil.

This is especially true if you have a lot of card draw spells in your deck. Imagine playing U/W control and having 7 lands in play. You draw land #8 and decide to hold it in your hand to bluff countermagic. Next turn you draw Divination, play it and you draw another land and a Dream Trawler. Great, you have exactly 9 lands right? Except that two of them are now in your hand and you can only play one.

I just made up a scenario where you are playing Divination in Standard to have a good example. Obviously with Thirst of Meaning it gets a little more complicated because sometimes that will actually be a reason to hold a land in your hand, but you get the idea of what I’m trying to illustrate here. I’m not saying it’s not sometimes correct, but you better have a very good reason to bluff with lands in your hand.

6/ Playing around cards that don’t make sense

I was watching game 2 between U/W Control and Jund Sacrifice with a very complicated board and we were discussing what could happen next and what the best play is, when someone argued that certain play would be a very bad play because the Jund player can have a Massacre Girl, which would be absolutely devastating, including killing a Dream Trawler

That could be true in game 1, but after sideboard, it makes absolutely no sense for any deck to have a Massacre Girl in their post-board configuration against U/W Control. 

Similarly, I had a game situation playing U/W Control at 1 life against Monored, where my opponent missed their 4th land drop that they desperately needed for multiple turns, having just passed their last turn with some unspent mana. Next turn they draw, play land #4 and cast Anax, which I deal with. Next turn they draw again, play their 5th land and cast Torbran. I have a counter in hand but I would die if my opponent’s last card in hand was a Fervent Champion

I spent a while thinking about what to do when I realized there is no way they can ever have it because if they had Fervent Champion, they would have just played it last turn because they had one unspent mana and it would just kill me on the spot. Since they were missing land drops, it’s pretty obvious they just drew a land, so the last card in their hand is something expensive. 

You can usually apply similar logic to a lot of game situations where you just look back a few turns and see that if your opponent had a certain card, there would have already been a ton of spots where it would have been extremely good for them to play it and they didn’t, so if you can reason what the freshly drawn card is, it is obvious that they don’t have the other card you are afraid of. 

This happens pretty often in a long game where both players run out of resources, nobody has anything and it becomes a topdeck war. Anything that can attack or get you some extra cards is great. Your opponent draws and passes with no play. You draw a counter. Next turn they draw again and play a threat. You start thinking about whether or not to use your last counter on it because if they have a Lightning Bolt, you are dead on the spot. Except that if they had a Lightning Bolt, they would have played it last turn and you would have been dead already. 

Think about what happened earlier and what game it is. If its a postboard game and you are thinking whether or not your U/W Control opponent has a Dovin’s Veto 

 

That’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading!

 

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