May 29, 2014

Magic101: Maximizing Budget


When it comes to almost everything in life - may it be doing the things we want, travelling, hobbies, eating outside or even buying groceries - everything falls under a budget. This becomes the upper bound, a limit. Without this limit, we can go bankrupt and not save anything for our future. This is not about lessons in life and economics, this is about enjoying things even on a budget. Hobbies are just one aspect in life and putting everything you've got in your hobby is, for me, pretty much plain stupid and unreasonable. Savings and investment is still the way to live life to assure ourselves of a future (+1 Win in Life's game). I will talk about Magic: the Gathering but I think the concept is applicable to other things in life.

Spending is a Privilege

People who do Magic: the Gathering, for me, can be categorized into two major divisions - collectors and players. The unique thing about Magic is that it is not only a card game, but it also has other dimensions such as a collectible. Being a collector will demand more resources than being a player since being a player will just require you to get the cards you need to win / use in your deck. But most people become collectors too as the game can be an indirect investment - these game cards are worth money in the market. However in the world of players, the sample can also be divided into Playing within the Budget and Having the Best Deck. For someone who thinks about the future, the best route to take is to play within your Budget.

Accepting Reality

To accept reality is the most important thing for me. In reality, we are always tempted to go beyond the budget. Winning tournaments, getting the prizes, honour - all of these things tempt me to go beyond, but by accepting the fact that other people simply have bigger budget than me can make me focus on exploring and properly evaluating my alternatives (example, the less expensive cards) and in comes strategy. What you may lack in budget, you make up for it in other ways.

Strategy : Consistency over Power

Having a small budget isn't really a bad thing. Since our budget will not include buying all the expensive and powerful cards, putting your mind to work to build your strategy in how to beat the best decks is something that you may want to focus on. One thing that I can think of is you can't beat power by sheer power, "Powerful" cards are powerful on their own and may not be beaten in terms of power level by your alternative ones. But you can work on consistency. Magic for example have a lot of game aspects that may provide inconsistency, for example: the number of colors that you use in your deck, the mana curve, the chance of casting your spells at the right time, drawing the cards that you need at a specific time. Powerful cards are still useless if you cannot use them anyway. So by building a deck that you can use everything that you can draw is a good way to start your strategy with.

Strategy: Do your Homework

Games are unpredictable. People are unpredictable. A person may show up and bring a deck that isn't powerful but since a person likes a certain strategy he or she may still bring it to a tournament. But Human Nature will dictate that people come in tournaments to WIN. Nobody definitely wants to lose. Thanks to the internet, knowing the decks that WIN in the rest of the world and preparing for those matchups is easier today than say, 10 years ago. People who want to win will have a greater chance to use similar decks (people don't usually copy everything, they will of course modify it a little to increase their chance of winning the local tournaments), so by studying these decks, you can find their weaknesses and know their game play making it better to strategize against them.

Strategy: Know the Best card

In Magic, sometimes, the best decks have a common denominator and sometimes it boils down to a card. For example, when you see that the Top 8 out of the 2000+ participants in a big tournament all use a certain card, beat that card. Personally, I think that the best card in the current standard is Thoughtseize (and I like this card so much). So I would like to make a budget deck that can beat Thoughtseize. Since Thoughtseize causes life loss and it can only target one card. Make a deck that doesn't rely in one card to win. And make a deck that can maximize in dealing damage fast. If half of the players in a tournament use Thoughtseize, then I might have a better chance of winning the tournament.

Let me end this article with the saying: "If you can't join them, beat them!" :) Thanks for the read! Have a great day.

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