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I started playing Magic again last year right after the release of Dark Ascension after a long hiatus. I decided to get more serious in trying to win, but I've hit a roadblock in my play. I go x-1 in my FNM booster drafts regularly, but also regularly lose to the top players at my store.

I also play the Swiss draft queues on MTGO, but while I do win the tournaments there sometimes, many times I feel that I am not drafting the right archetype, missing signals, or not really playing well. This also applies to my deck building and play for Constructed as well (mostly Standard).

Is there a place where I can get my deck building choices and technical game play critiqued so that I can get better?

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I usually check channelfireball articles on drafting. I read a shit load of draft picks that lsv makes, and sometimes he makes mistakes on draft picks but that's for you to figure out. –  wesdfgfgd Mar 5 '13 at 20:10

6 Answers 6

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Interesting question. I would generally say that there's not much point having your play critiqued in general - you want to be critiqued by people who are better than you. But the real pros are generally too busy winning drafts to offer commentaries on other people's (they'd be in serious demand if they weren't).

I therefore have an alternative suggestion: forget about other people discussing your play, just go to a good pro draft videos site like channelfireball.com and try to understand the choices they make (and discuss them with others in the comment section if you don't understand them).

That alone is a bit of a non-answer to your question, I guess. If you really want to create transcripts of your drafts and offer them up for others to analyse, I'd recommend the MTGSalvation Limited forum. Not that you can guarantee that people will be interested in going through your picks with a fine-toothed comb and debating them, but you stand a better chance there than in most places, I'd have thought...

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This is the internet. I'm sure there are people willing to go through his picks, if he's willing to... record every pack (which I doubt his fellow drafters would appreciate). The only reasonable way to do it would be have your phone and take pics of each pack you have, then when you get home write up a report (a rough draft is okay... oh haha! I'm not funny...) and post it there. If you hand wrote every pack out, your fellow drafters wouldn't be very pleased. –  corsiKa Mar 5 '13 at 0:44
    
There are loads of text-based drafts on Salvation, and even a few people willing to critique them. Here's the first one I dug up: forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=493463 –  thesunneversets Mar 5 '13 at 1:03

To piggyback on the answer of thesunneversets, look at how the pros play by watching their MTGO videos. You can find them on Channel Fireball and Starcitygames.

But there's a way you should watch them to get maximum benefit. At each decision point, pause the video and ask yourself what the right play is. This includes mulligan and sideboarding decisions.

Then, compare your play with what the pro does. If your play is different, try to figure out why the pro's play was better. Now, sometimes your play will be better but you better have a really good reason why.

To get more input on particular game states, take a screenshot of the game state and post it on MTG Salvation and ask them what play they would do.

If you do this type of practice a lot, you'll start thinking like a pro and then you can apply the concepts you learn into your game.

One thing though. This type of practice is draining and not particularly fun. It's much more fun to just keep playing games over and over again and hope that you're getting better.

By analyzing the pros' games, you'll be doing something out of your comfort zone. You will fail a lot and failure is not fun.

Consider the world class ice skater. She looks flawless in the Olympics. She makes difficult jumps look easy. However, if you were at her countless practices, you would see the hundreds of falls she experienced before she was able to nail those jumps perfectly. Falling down over and over is not fun.

You're going to have to have that same experience of falling down multiple times and learning from your falls before you actually become much better.

You can learn more about the process of improving skills by reading Talent is Overrated.

That book was super helpful to me for improving my game.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Regarding deck building, I would focus on technical play and just pick a tier one stock deck. Improving your technical play will lead to more wins than building a new deck.

Deck tuning is another matter. The only thing I would say about that is to know the card pool of the format and be mindful of the cards that are not pulling their weight as you play.

Once you've identified the worst cards in your deck, go through the card pool and try to find better alternatives. If you can't find any, then maybe the deck is just flawed or not good enough for the metagame. It might be time to choose another deck.

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Welcome to the site! I particularly like your point about tuning vs. building from scratch. Creating a top-tier competitive deck requires lost of attention to detail. It's much easier to learn that -- because you can more clearly see the results of your actions -- if you start with a strong foundation rather than an unpolished first draft. –  Alex P Mar 4 '13 at 18:16

If you are playing in live tournaments (such as FNM) you can use your friends/acquaintances that are better than you to help you improve.

If you finish your game first: Go over to their game and stand behind and pretend you're playing in their position. What would you do, why would you do it? Then see what they did do and try to figure out why. After the game you discuss why they played as they did.

If your friend finishes his game first. He'll come and watch your game from your point of view and you have the same discussion afterwards.

One important thing that's easy to overlook is that you also should discuss plays even if you came up with the same decision. You might have done it for different reasons.

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I think the best way, as I have found out, to get a deck critiqued is when you've just lost your competitive match, shake your opponent's hand and ask him/her how you lost your game, or how you could have won your game.

Almost all my opponents were eager to explain their paths to victory, and point out the mistakes in my gameplay choices. No one else quite knows your deck's weaknesses than the person sitting in front of you actively trying to dig for those said weaknesses.

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Either you have a close friend which will discuss things with you, or practice drafts at cockatrice (it's "illegally" free, but it's useful to increase your draft and constructed, since it cost you no money at all).

After you learn stuffs, then move back to MTGO / real life drafts.

This apply to constructed as well.

Source : personal experience.

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Cockatrice isn't illegal in any way. –  Daenyth Dec 15 at 20:19
    
It is. It's why they need to move to woogerworks –  Moses Aprico Dec 15 at 20:38
    
It's not. If you'd like I can explain in chat since it's not relevant to this question. –  Daenyth Dec 15 at 20:39
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Well, i thought it's. Thanks for your goodwill, but actually, i don't care about it's legality. It's still my favorite way to play magic. At least it "was", since i'm on a hiatus. –  Moses Aprico Dec 15 at 20:41

One tip that the brilliant Magic podcast Limited Resources advocates is noting down your mistakes as you play. Bring a pad, and every time you realise that there was a better play, note it. See if you can spot patterns, areas where you consistently play "loose" (for example, playing out cards before combat so your opponent knows you don't have a trick), even if you still win.

Obviously this means you play slower, but if you're looking to improve, the first step is spotting where you make mistakes.

The same thing applies to the draft. You don't have to note down the whole pack, but you should be noting which cards you were torn between (just the initials should do), and what cards you really should have considered in light of what you saw later when you played.

One thing I heard recommended is to look at the visual spoiler for the set, and make a judgement on every card, especially the Commons/Uncommons, which are what really matter in Draft. Then listen to someone else's set review (I'm going to recommend the LRCast again), and see how they disagree. Then play. See who was right. Do their criticisms have value? Do yours?

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