I’m always in a pickle when I go to a new restaurant. I have certain foods I like, but I invariably come across new options that sound intriguing. This isn’t a problem, except when I have to choose between a new flavor or a tried-and-true classic. I usually try to consider what the restaurant is known for, how likely I am to get the normal item anywhere else and if that quality will be better, and how adventurous I feel. Usually, I’ll go for the new thing. If the restaurant is known for that dish it’s usually quite good, and even if I don’t love the dish, I’ve learned something for next time.

Learning about a new Draft format is similar. Imagine you’re sitting down for your Day 2 Draft at a Limited Grand Prix early in a set’s life cycle. For some of you who attended GP Richmond, you don’t need to imagine it. You open up a build-around a rare like Anointed Procession, but there’s also a solid removal spell in Electrify, and you have no idea how good the Procession is. Take the same situation, but replace Anointed Procession with Sandwurm Convergence. What should you do in these spots where you aren’t sure how good the card is?

Don’t take the rare! You aren’t sure how good it is and you could end up derailing an entire Draft hoping that the card is actually great. In reality, Anointed Procession ranges from unplayable to pretty good in the right deck, and Sandwurm Convergence is average to unbeatable depending on the build, but these are the types of things you want to learn ahead of time.

In your practice Drafts, should you take the rare or the Electrify? Definitely the rare. You’ll learn something no matter what, and might discover a unique archetype you can lean on when you have access to a higher rarity card. This applies to build-around uncommons as well, and is even more important since those show up in Draft more often.

Seizing the opportunity is an important skill and applies to other aspects of life. My flight from GP Richmond was on Tuesday. Normally I leave Sunday evening or Monday from a GP, but the flight was cheaper enough that I decided to stay an extra day. I could use that day any number of ways, but what was most important to me was that I didn’t waste it. I looked up things to do and saw that Maymont Gardens and Mansion was a popular attraction I could go to, and as an appreciator of nature and culture this seemed right up my alley.

After a short Uber ride I ended up at the Maymont Robbins Nature Center, which I figured would be next to the mansion. Wow, oh wow, was I wrong. Here’s a map of the Maymont area and surrounding park grounds:

maymont-estate-map-2017

I then proceeded to walk north by accident through Byrd Park, farther than my eventual goal of seeing the main Maymont grounds. Some might see this as a disaster. I ended up off course, going the wrong way, and in fact, nothing had “gone right” at all so far. On the contrary, I ended up seeing a whole new world I wouldn’t have seen had I not made a mistake. There was a gorgeous lake, big ol’ Canadian Geese (too many, to the point that the park says they’re becoming a problem), and plenty of other folks just enjoying nature and a lovely day. I even saw this little guy in the park:

orange bird

This is akin to ending up with a train wreck of a Sandwurm Convergence deck. You might not have gotten very much ramp to support the card, have a mismatched plan of aggro and controlling elements, and just know this is going to be a tough Draft in the end. You’ll inevitably learn something from this experience—how to draft a better Convergence deck next time, that the card is just a trap (I don’t think this is true, but is for some rares you learn about), or about the streamlined deck that ends up crushing you. Even in failure there is victory as long as you’re looking for it.

After joyously wandering for a good 30-45 minutes I finally ended up in the actual Maymont property. The cool thing about this place was that the farm and wildlife area on the way to the mansion and gardens was part open park and zoo. There were caged off areas where injured animals could recover amid more open air environments with free roaming animals. As a Californian, I was impressed when I first stumbled upon these giant Bison.

Bison

Along the trail, school groups were also enjoying the animals. I appreciated that this place embraced education as well as a home for natural beauty. Of course, there were ordinary things too like happy cows, though these happy cows were clearly not from California. I’d show you the cows, but I’m sure you’ve seen such creatures before and if not here’s a google link to what a cow is.

I was almost to the various gardens, but not before I saw the majestic bald eagles. These birds weren’t caged—they were just hanging out and looking at me taking pictures of them. I haven’t seen very many bald eagles in my lifetime, so seeing these was akin to opening mythic rares like Glorybringer and Archfiend of Ifnir. Wait, those aren’t mythic?

bald eagle

My journey was almost over but before the mansion itself I came across the Italian and Japenese Gardens. The simple beauty matched with sophisticated architecture was stunning.

Italian gardens Japanese gardens

After strolling through the gardens I finally reached the mansion. It was really cool looking from the outside, made from sandstone in the 1880s. I wondered what was inside, until I saw a sign:

“Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday
10am-5pm”

Talk about the Monday blues.

I had looked up the hours before heading out, but the hours I saw only applied to the grounds as a whole and not the mansion tours. For a moment I felt disappointment. After that, I realized that I had still enjoyed a pretty fantastic experience just journeying to the mansion, including getting lost. What’s better is that I have something to look forward to if I ever return, and I learned from my mistake.

Embrace new experiences. Try new cards any opportunity you can, except when experimenting hurts you. Enjoy the journey. Magic is full of exciting cards and interesting choices. If you only stick to what you know you won’t grow as player, and will also miss opportunities to enjoy something new. Sure, you’ll lose more often at first, but you gain a long-term appreciation. I didn’t get to tour the mansion, but I will have the memory of that day in Richmond exploring the Maymont grounds (and beyond).

Oh you wanted to see what the mansion looked like from outside? All right.

maymont mamsion