Mental Missteps of Magic Part 2, Why do I keep losing?

Howdy all! We are back for more Mental Missteps! We kicked things off with common emotions and took an overview of them. This time we are focusing on the nemesis itself, losing, how to keep your head up even when you lose and why you just might be losing in a game of Magic.

Well first of all, Magic is a game mixed with skill, luck and matchups. There are many things you can’t affect, the usual good top deck or horrible matchup. Nevertheless any player who plays Magic for a long time will endure winning and losing streaks. Sometimes these things can last for weeks to months even. Your opponents will also improve their game, there is very little we can do about your opponents so let’s focus on what YOU can do to keep your game at the A-point.

Dealing with losing-streak

Losing sucks, that is a fact. Any gamer knows this and we always try to avoid losing if possible obviously. And then there will be those weeks/months when you just put in every effort but the results still come out wrong. For fact you will feel disappointment and frustration, but here are my tips that how you can keep your head up even when you face the losing position.

1, Take a break

The simplest and easiest route, just take a break. For example I personally have skipped few tournaments lately simply since I haven’t had that much success so keeping a few days off is pretty good way of letting go those bad feelings. You know what? Just do other stuff, sports, meet friends or take a trip. Just something not Magic related and you will get be back refreshed and ready to rock! The game will always be there waiting for you

2, Do not play on tilt

Like I said on my Part 1, Tilt has taken down so many gamers myself included. If you are tilted your head is not in the game. You don’t think critically and you make bad plays. That will only amp up the bad feel and tilt. So take a deep breath and erase those bad memories before the next match. I know it’s easy to say but very hard to actually do when your heart is pumping and you’re all pissed off and angry. Good example from me is that if my GP starts off 0-3, I will just drop and do something else. Might sound bit cold but that’s when I’m tilted, will make mistakes and I simply don’t win, so time to do something else for that day.

3, Take the losses as lessons, not as punishment

When you lose, no matter how it happened. Think about it, was there anything you could have done differently? Was it bad luck? Horrible matchup? What I like to do is think by myself about those things and then move on. “Okay I could have won, simply made a mistake”. Well there is my reason why I lost, simply made a mistake and lost. Or the other way around, “I got unlucky/the matchup was very bad”. Well then there was nothing I could have done, so I do my best to shrug it off. Making mistakes is not the mistake. Not learning from the mistake IS THE MISTAKE.

Why do I lose a game of Magic?

Losing in Magic can be a combination of many things, or just 1 thing. The most usual thing I hear (and also say myself for that matter) is “Ooh damn it got so unlucky again”. While this is true on some cases, let’s count down my top 5 reasons why you just might be losing a game of Magic.

5, Bad Luck

First and foremost of the bunch, the thing we hear the most. Now over a short sample-size, bad luck does happen. However on longer note, let’s say after hundreds or even thousands of games you still find yourself on the shorter end of the stick. It’s most likely not just bad luck, it has something to do with the other reasons.

4, Poor Fundamentals

Fundamentals can be divided into few parts. Skill, Preparation and Luck. When all of these line up, you will do great in the tournament. Newer players will obviously face the issue that they haven’t had as much practice as others. Fortunately, this can be worked on and improved.

Skill will improve the more you play and practice. More you practice, the less mistakes you make and you can take more advantage out of your opponents mistakes. More you play, more you watch some good players stream and read articles, the better your skills and knowledge of the game becomes. To put it simply, the better you are at the game, the more you will win (no brainer ain’t it?)

Preparation is the amount of time you spent training and practicing for the upcoming tournament. As a competitive grinder you want to minimize the amount of variance and luck factor in your games right? Well preparation will take you towards that route. If you have prepared better than your opponent, you have a better chance at out playing him/her. Also just knowing the played format well gives you better understanding of the tricks and interactions that can come up so you won’t get caught off-guard.

Luck has been discussed many times already, let’s sum it up in few sentences:

  • Luck does exist in Magic (or any other card-game), both good and bad.
  • There are some games where you just couldn’t win, same goes the other way around where you just crushed your opponent.
  • How much luck does Magic then contain? My answer is: Anything between 10-110% really. Sometimes the game can be very skill-intensive and super tight. Sometimes you or your opponent just mulligans to 4 and there is little that can be done after that.
  • You will win, and you will lose, that is the cruel reality.

3, You’ve become too predictable

This particular thing might be a bit “odd-ball” for some of you. But yes, being too predictable to your opponents does show and will give them a slight edge against you. I find that when I play in my LGS (Local Game Shop) I know my opponents very well. Since you’ve been playing with them for years and years. Also so many players always play the same deck over and over. Now this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. I do the same since I love Storm and that way you know the ins and outs of your deck throughout. What this opens however is that they can start to metagame against you, good example I have is from my LGS, there used to so many Trons, people got fed-up with that stuff and added loads of Damping Spheres to their sideboard. Obviously this really quieted down the Trons and also hitted me in the process.

Other stuff is body language, unfortunately many players don’t take advantage of this. It might be that shaking leg under the table or laughing when they draw a card. So I would advice to really to try to be self-aware to keep track of your opponents (and your own) body language during a game. It might not sound like a lot, but trust me it is. Maybe we will dive down on this subject more some other time.

2, The games are too tough

Well now, you go to your first GP, maybe you have played for few months and feel like you are the best player in our LGS. Well here comes round 1 and you sit across from some hall of famer pro-player and ultimately got crushed. Now don’t get discouraged but when you are taking your first steps into a larger world you will find much better players then you are. You can still beat them but more experienced player will have the edge here. Really only way from here is to just practice and practice. Just keep playing and testing, the experience and wins will come eventually!

1, Tilt

I know I know, we have already talked about tilt so many times right? But yes, Tilt is the number 1 reason you will lose in Magic.

Let’s take the worst case, you keep losing and losing. You get frustrated but still go to play and the wheel just keeps repeating eh? That is the exact point where you should just stop, take a break and clear your head. Like you know what, my head is not there, I’m not feeling it and I can’t focus. Time to take a break then. This is tilt-related, because you should take a break at that point but you keep playing even though you are not there mentally and that is what causes you to lose. I try to be self-aware enough of these situations to realize them.

Then the other way is that when you are winning you should keep playing. The old saying “Winning breeds confidence” is no joke. So when you are running hot let it run, when it’s not your day, take a break and get back when you are ready!

Well I for one had a blast writing this part of the Mentall Missteps series. Next time we will venture back into Storm-Clouds and take an updated look on my current build and some new matchups, aswell as the usual sideboard guide will be there also!

Until next time people!


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