“I’d say my coaching style is centered around fundamentals, with an emphasis on fun. And a second emphasis on … mental.” – Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer (Parks & Recreation, Season 3 Episode 1: “Rainy Day”)

The shutdown is over. My column Thinking it Through will return here at Kaijudo 24/7. You can expect new content at least biweekly. But what should you expect?

Round One Feature Match at WOW TCG Nationals 2008

Round One Feature Match at WOW TCG Nationals 2008

As the above quote from Andy suggests, this column will focus on fundamentals. My previous writings under this title have included appropriating classic Magic: the Gathering articles and strategy for the Kaijudo community. You can certainly expect more of that. A quarterback can memorize every play in his coach’s book, but he’s no good if he can’t throw a perfect spiral. Piloting a deck starts with knowing how to play the game well first. But who am I to talk about this stuff? What authority do I have in this area?

Credentials

For those that might not know me in the community already, I won the Madisonville, KY KMC. It was the first weekend of KMCs in the first season that WotC offered this new, higher level of organized play.  I had a great day that day in Kentucky, but to be fair most of my matches were won based on my expertise on playing card games. I started playing MtG in 4th grade. Since then, I’ve owned and played over 25 collectible card games, several of which included pro-level success. My notable accomplishments outside of Kaijudo include:

Day Two - 15th and Final Round of Swiss: Second Draft Pod. Brian Durkin faces off against Joe Gayda for Top 8 of Nationals 2008

Day Two – 15th and Final Round of Swiss: Second Draft Pod. Brian Durkin faces off against Joe Gayda for Top 8 of Nationals 2008

Alex Shvartsman, event TO, shaking hands with Brian Durkin after his Philly DMF win (2007)

Alex Shvartsman, event TO, shaking hands with Brian Durkin after his Philly DMF win (2007)

  • Call of Cthulhu
    • Competed in the first World Championship
    • Former #1 Ranked Player in the World
  • VS System
    • Top 8-ed and won several PCQs
    • Played in 2 Proc Circuit Invitationals (PC: Indy 2006 & PC: Los Angeles)
  • WOW TCG
    • Won DMF Dream Machine Championship Philadelphia 2007
    • Placed 9th at nationals 2008

After the WOW TCG, I took several years off from cards to focus on other things in my life, and came back to the scene with Kaijudo. Like always remembering how to ride a bike, I owe a large part of my success in Kaijudo to the fact that I haven’t forgotten core, macro-level strategies.

What is Macro-Level Strategy?

These are the tools that transcend a specific match-up or deck list and improve the player’s overall skill level. Ever notice how someone at your local card shop seems to pilot any type of deck and perform well? That’s because that guy can throw a perfect spiral. He might not know all the plays in the playbook (specific interactions within the deck itself), but he’s going to know the following:

  • When to attack shields versus attacking creatures, or whether he should attack at all
  • Why it’s more advantageous to play it out versus accepting an intentional draw
  • What to play as a resource, or whether he should play a resource
  • How to be a good teammate and a respectful opponent
  • Who commands the rapport at the table

The above list is just a quick list of some of the topics a player with good macro-level skills will possess. The name Macro-Level Strategy comes from Macroeconomics: the part of economics concerned with large-scale or general economic factors. Instead of concerning ourselves with a particular deck list (or smaller markets/businesses in microeconomics), we want to hone in on the factors that will affect the system at large.

Darkmoon Faire Philadelphia Finals: Brian Durkin vs. Erik Topham

Darkmoon Faire Philadelphia Finals: Brian Durkin vs. Erik Topham

Why Does this Matter?

Deck X might have a 90% win rate against Deck Y, but when Player A pilots Deck X that could drop to 50% because Player A is making wrong resource choices or attack decisions. Or maybe Player A usually pilots Deck X correctly; however, when battling Player B, his win percentage drops because he doesn’t notice Player B scoping out his deck while he shuffles, because Player B’s teammates scouted out Player A’s deck in the last round, or because Player B creates a rapport that he uses against Player A.

The situations where Player B gains an edge over Player A – legal or illegal – all have to do with concepts outside of actual deck choices and card inclusions. I want to show the tricks of unscrupulous players in hopes that it will protect you from them. I want to teach you how to communicate with your opponent, using proper etiquette, but still develop your advantage. I hope that I can help you improve how to mentally approach a game while still having fun learning about it.

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