Nov 9, 20182345 views

Massdrop MTG: Ask Me Anything

Ever wanted to have your Magic: The Gathering questions answered by professional players? Well, now's your chance. We're holding an on-going AMA with our sponsored team, Massdrop MTG, throughout the season so you can pick their brains for their knowledge, experience, tips, tricks, and advice for elevating your game. Massdrop MTG Team Members

Mark Jacobson (Team Captain) He just took 1st at Grand Prix Mexico City and has a few mind games up his sleeve. · Tag @MarkJacobson to ask him questions in the comments below. Pascal Maynard He's a Pro Tour finalist and can be a real Tarmogoyf. · Tag @PascalMaynard to ask him questions in the comments below. Tim Wu Economist by day, Team Dad by night, and has many tournament tips you should know. · Tag @TimothyWu to ask him questions in the comments below. Jon Stern A pro player, writer, and his Patronus is the Wi-Fi symbol. · Tag @JonStern to ask him questions in the comments below. Ben Weitz A Gold Pro and the co-host of a Magic: The Gathering podcast, Allied Strategies. · Tag @BenjaminWeitz to ask him questions in the comments below. Jack Kiefer The kid is still in high school but knows how to juggle being a student and a pro. · Tag @JackKiefer to ask him questions in the comments below.
Follow the players and stay tuned for more content, articles,
giveaways, and more as the season unfolds.

(Edited by moderator Duncan)
GNGJ, Tsion, and 14 others

@MarkJacobson I got out of MTG 20 years ago because it felt like it was dying off. Started back up again 2-3yrs ago with my son. Where do you see the game 5-10 years form now?
I would love to ask for any advice on where to start (what set, etc.) now, since I've been pretty out of MTG since the mid-2000's, but have been wanting to get back into it, but it has gotten REALLY crowded. In the old days, we'd get a set every 1-3 years, but now it seems that 3-4 sets are releeased every 1.5-2.5 years. Makes it kind of hard to know where to start, and what rules to play by (what sets are valid, etc) in various places. Could you advise on what's the most common sets, rule sets, etc. for a returnee? Thank you in advance for your time, Michael
Hey y'all, we've chosen a winner for the giveaway! Congrats to @The_Scheming_Skeleton! He's comin' away with the Ultimate Masters Booster Box. The giveaway portion is over, but we're keeping this AMA open all season so keep your questions coming. Thank you all!
OMG thanks so much!
No, thank you, sir.
What is the ratio of trying to experiment with new card combos and playing what has been proven by the established meta when deciding on what decks ro run?
In preparing for Pro Tours, the ratio of new card "brews" to established decks is very high, and as it gets closer and closer to the Pro Tour, there is less work on brews (unless one ends up being tournament worthy). Cost vs. benefit basically - there is a real potential benefit if you find a broken / rogue deck, but if it doesn't work out that time will be mostly wasted. If you're working on an established meta deck, even if you don't end up running it, you might learn things about facing that deck or how other folks might be building it. In the very beginning of a format, it's almost entirely wild experimentation!
How do you deal with decision anxiety in high stakes games? I sometimes have a hard time making choices in just for fun MTGO matches.
I think in the moment it's important to be confident in yourself. After it happens, even if it goes poorly, you will have learned something and you will have another chance in your next match to do better!
in your opinion, what legacy card is the most overrated?
What is your favorite 1-drop?
Birds of Paradise
How do you cope with your hobby becoming your job? After a day of practice do you still feel like playing magic with friends?
@TimothyWu As I grow and improve as a player, I’ve found that sideboarding has been the most challenging obstacle to overcome. The way I understand it, a sideboard is supposed to allow you to tailor your general strategy to something that interacts better with your particular matchup at any given moment, removing cards that are weak in the matchup in favor of more impactful or interactive ones. Is this philosophy correct? If not, can you suggest something more appropriate? Additionally, how do you identify cards that need to come out in a given matchup? I find that cards I want to bring in are fairly easy to pick (there is a reason they are in my sideboard), but I often find I’m not sure what my deck can afford to give up in exchange for these alternative tools. Sideboarding guides online will show me which to bring out and which to board in, but rarely offer specific commentary as to why or how cards are chosen to remove from the matchup. Thank you in advance for any help you can give!
I think your philosophy is correct in a general sense when thinking about constructed SBs. I'm not really good at SBing and often just go by the guides I find online, but Jon Stern wrote a really good article on the basics of SB construction that you may find useful! 
How often do you guys disagree on a cards power in limited and do you have meetings so you can have a team strategy going into drafts?
We often disagree! My prep team always has one or multiple full-team Limited meetings to discuss our thoughts on different archetypes and individual cards. I think that's common for most of the pro teams.
@JonStern What countermeasures do you have for combating both travel and game fatigue while you're at an event?
I don't always do a good job of this, but I am pretty good at functioning in less than ideal conditions. In terms of countermeasures, here are a few:
  • I find it a lot easier to fall asleep when I have my own bed
  • Though I've been told it's a placebo, I find small sleep drinks with Melatonin really help me fall asleep quickly and get a decent rest, but I only use this when I feel like I absolutely need it.
  • Limit caffeine during the tournament if you can. While it will help you stay awake and alert, it reduces your ability to think clearly through complicated situations
  • Avoid foods that will cause a sugar spike or fast food that will make you feel lousy. Something like a bag of almonds has worked well for me.
  • Try to book travel that arrives early enough for you to relax the night before the tournament
  • Settle on your deck early so you aren't stressed the night before
@MarkJacobson how do you play mind games? Give me the fundamentals
Yikes, I had something long written up and it got wiped out. The short version:
  1. Make sure that whatever mindgame you are attempting actually has the intended affect. Try to put yourself in your opponent's shoes and think of the full range of factors
  2. Don't try to bluff in a situation where you have created a forced play for your opponent. Let's say you have one ground creature and two flying creatures. Your opponent has no flying creatures, and you will have lethal in two turns if you swing with them this turn. It doesn't seem like your opponent currently has an answer to the flyers, but if they swing out with their ground creatures, you will lose. Let's say you swing with the flyers and leave back your one ground creature with all your mana up. Your opponent will lose to the flyers if they don't attempt an all-out attack, so your bluffing having interaction with all your mana is not actually accomplishing anything. Perhaps you should have left the flyers back to block.
@JackKiefer What format would you suggest for a high school student who wants to get into playing Magic: the Gathering but is on a tighter budget?
It depends what your style of play is. If you want to play more competitive mtg at your lgs than I would recommend draft or modern. Modern has a high getting into cost but decks stay relevant for a while. Edh is also a fun format if you like more casual games. I stated playing more competitively from standard tournaments at my 'gs though.
What are your thoughts on Arena having exclusive cards (e.g. Inspiring Commander from the tutorial) and the possibility of additional Arena exclusive cards in the future?
Seems weird to me, but probably not a big deal.
I've been playing casually for a long time, but I've never felt like I've had a handle on the sideboard (as it isn't really used in the casual games I play). What's a good getting started point for learning how to put a sideboard together?
Try this previous article by Jon Stern on the art of sideboard construction: 
@MarkJacobson What would you say was the hardest part about participating in your first pptq and ptq? If like to try one some time but it just seems like a daunting task.
Remember that every loss is a learning opportunity, so don't be too hard on yourself. If possible, play events in increasing intensity until you feel comfortable (ex. FNM -> local cash tournament -> PPTQ/PTQ -> GP). In general, just keep in mind you're still playing the same game no matter the stakes and all that matters is you try your best. Odds are you'll want to play in more afterwards once you get your first taste, then you'll realize it was not so daunting after all.
This is a question for anyone. What kind of mechanic do you think Orzhov would need to see major play? Do you think it's likely that we see mechanics for Orzhov strong enough to break into modern? Similarly, what kind of mechanics do you think Wizards could explore for Simic that would be viable in formats other than commander?
I haven't played since Ice Age and always have a yearning to get back in but it seems daunting with all the new sets and rules. What's your recommendation for casual play to get back in the swing of things and recapture on old player? And as an old school player, what set if you want reprinted and allowed in a "Vintage" tourney?
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Thanks Ruben! Hopefully I can grab a few new decks and booster packs and run back in to things. What's your take on MTG online as a test the water way to get back in the groove? You're so right about the crazy old card prices. Shouldn't have sold my sealed UL starter box. Hope you had a wonderful holiday.
as someone with kids, i play a lot of MTGO. it is great for playtesting.
So I’m an average player and starting to pick up the game more now that my kids are older and understand the game mechanics . What can I do to not only elevate my game but get my children (12 &14 ) ready for more then just casual play?
I'd start by reading articles related to magic. Starcity games has great articles - some free and some with a subscription. Brainburst and channel fireball also have very useful articles ranging in topics from standard to modern formats as well as deck lists. I'd probably stick to standard, build a few decks and then play with the kids. Hopefully you can participate in FNM near where you live to actually do live person to person magic in a casual competitive setting.
For the team: Ravnica Allegiances will surely cause a major shift in the current Standard when we get the other half of the guilds. Is there a wishlist or certain effects/types of cards you're hoping to see? How would you like to see the other five guilds impact the format, and what (if anything) do you feel Standard needs to stay interesting?
In the middle of an event, how do you keep up your performances and fight against physical (and mental) fatigue?
Mentioned some of these in a "tips for first big tournament" question- Nearly every round, I do the following: * Take a walk outside tournament hall. If enough time before next round, go outside for fresh air and sun * Drink water. Fill it up if it's getting low since I might want to drink during a match * Go to bathroom and wash hands well (avoid getting sick) * If hungry and enough time left, go try to get real food (i.e. a take out meal from somewhere) * If hungry and not enough time left, eat some of the snacks I've brought with me So the steps you can take beforehand are to bring a water bottle, bring a variety of snacks, and try to get enough sleep, though I usually fail at that last one due to being too excited/anxious. Headphones for meditation might also help some people.
When preparing/fine tuning a deck for a GP/Pro Tour, which famous/memorable decks for you took the most iterations to get just right?
Blue-Red Eldrazi (aka "draft chaff") for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch! I regret playing Infect instead... JC Tao and Andrew Brown both made top 8 with it, and JC won the whole thing!
@MarkJacobson @PascalMaynard I have read articles speaking of the possibility of moving top 8s or pro tour featured matches to the MTG Arena client to combat perceived cheating. Though the issue is not rampant, what is your take on the idea? Do you see a bright future for MTG Arena, and what do you feel it's pro's and cons are for the health of the MTG community, (if any) in its current state?
@MarkJacobson @JonStern @PascalMaynard White has been deemed the "sideboard color" of Modern. It's hard to say what new cards could escalate white to a primary deck color, but which white cards/archetypes have not quite hit the mark in becoming viable? I can only think of Soul Sisters as an archetype and lingering souls as solid white card for modern...
My pals Allen Wu and Jacob Nagro really like Martyr-Proc in Modern! Jacob just played it at GP Atlanta to an 11-4 finish. Something like this- Tricky to play with, but apparently deceivingly powerful despite it looking, in my opinion, pretty mopey on paper.
To anyone who would like to answer. How do you determine if it's better to play the best deck in the format or the deck you have the most experience with? How often do you end up playing the comfortable choice vs the meta pick? Does this happen in limited formats too? Thanks
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I always want to be comfortable with the deck I'm playing, but that mostly just requires spending more time with certain decks. I would almost never audible to a deck I have no experience with, but playing an off-style deck is perfectly fine if I have time to practice. I would also say that playing the "best deck" is often risky at the Pro Tour as people will come prepared to face it. It's rare that a single deck can dominate despite having a huge target on its back.
Thanks for the reply.
What was your favorite set of all time, and also least favorite?
My favorite is not close Time Spiral, least favorite Theros.
@JackKiefer I work at an after school program with some highschool kids who also play MTG. What do you recommend to aspiring young players who potentially want a career with MTG? Sorry that question might be confusing.
I would recommend starting playing in local tournaments such as pptqs or ptqs. Also mtgo and mtgarena are good tools for playing competetivly.
@BenjaminWeitz will you be discussing the Ultimate Masters set on your podcast?
I play EDH mostly, with the Ultimate Masters set, will WOTC and rules committee be re-evaluating the banned list? @MarkJacobson
Not sure! My gut says no
Do you feel the cost of some cards reduce the tournament apeal to players?
I'm not sure how much it reduces the appeal of tournaments, but I do think cost is a huge barrier to entry for new players, especially in a rotating format like Standard where the cards are really expensive early on but then fade to almost nothing in a relatively short time.