I've been playing M:tG for nearly a decade now. I understand the rules very well, I've participated in a few draft tournaments, and I've built a few decks that I'm very proud of.
Nonetheless, I seem to have hit a wall in my MtG deck-building ability. In draft tournaments I rarely finish in the top half. I see other players pulling cards that I've discounted as low-power or junk, then I'm astounded at how effective they make them. (I rarely read MtG sites, so I'm not often aware of what the "buzz" around the best cards is.) When I look at the deck listings for top tournament decks, I often can't understand how they're supposed to play or why they're so powerful. I realize that the better players are able to see interactions between cards and identify sources of power that are effectively invisible to me.
How can I get past this block? I realize that this is a broad question, but I'm wondering if there's a blog, a book, or a series of articles that can help a middling, mostly casual player up his level of play.
Details on my play style, which may help focus answers:
I'm definitely a Johnny. I strongly prefer the black/green/white side of the spectrum. I almost never play red/blue. I find that I'm naturally drawn to the following mechanics, and tend to build decks that contain lots of:
- Life gain
- Creature buffs, +1 tokens, regeneration, etc.
- Creature destruction, -1 tokens, etc.
- Mid-size creatures (neither 1/1 weenies nor 8/8 monsters)
- Enchantments of all kinds
- Non-land mana generation
Whereas I consistently underestimate the effectiveness and fall prey to decks that contain:
- Direct damage
- Creature control
- "Draw a card" spells and abilities
Even when I've tried to stretch myself and build a deck using these mechanics, what I built was much weaker than what a friend of mine built starting from the same card pool. Furthermore, I have a hard time building decks that can successfully resist a deck that's heavy in creature control or direct damage.