I cast Arixmethes, the Slumbering Isle after I played my land for the turn, a Forest. It’s my turn two and I’ve already got a Sol Ring and an Island. Sounds pretty awesome, right? It gets better! I untap on turn three and play my land, another Island. I tap Arixmethes for green/blue to cast a Utopia Sprawl enchanting my forest. With my floating blue mana and the green I got from my forest, I cast Snap. I target my opponent’s only (potential) blocker. Snap resolves and I untap Arixmethes and my enchanted forest. Thus far, I’ve netted a blue mana from my Utopia Sprawl. With said blue mana, I Brainstorm. I know, sorcery speed Brainstorm on turn three is probably bad but just keep reading. I dig three down and find a Cloud of Faeries and a Berserk. I keep both. I tap Arixmethes again to cast the faeries. I tap my forest in response so I can untap both again when Cloud of Faeries resolves. Now, I have a green and a blue in my mana pool. I empty my pool and cast a Blighted Agent. Really, just a random creature in my hand. Count the spells suckers! Sprawl, Snap, Brainstorm, Cloud of Faeries, Blighted Agent. Looks like Arixmethes doesn’t have any more slumber counters on him. I Cast Berserk targeting Arix. Beat wholesale ass for lethal commander damage! Eff you Jesse!
I get it. Pretty Magical Christmas Land. But, this short story highlights a few things that I’ve been thinking about lately. In fact, the game of Magic, and how we as individual players execute in-game strategies has got me thinking quite a bit.
You see, everyone always talks about their in-game plan. If you’re an aggro deck, on a grass-roots level, your plan goes something like this – cast creatures as soon as possible. Start attacking. Control, like this – find some way to gain card advantage. Maybe cast a sweeper to deal with that aggro player’s creatures. Set them back all that mana they have already spent. I think we all have a pretty good idea of what our own, ideal, in-game plan looks like for a given deck or strategy. As players of this game, we understand what success looks like and how to achieve it. What that really means is, we have an end goal – winning the game – and we play towards that with the most effective strategy at that time. Essentially, we plan on our decisions panning out in our favor. Dare I be so bold to say, we even assume that we will be successful in our attempts to carry out our plan or strategy. We have to assume we'll be successful. If we didn't, why else would we do anything if we just thought we'd fail ALL THE TIME?
In my Arixmethes story, I saw a means to an end. Cast my five spells all in one turn and crash in for lethal commander damage. With a little bit of forethought, I decided it was worth the risk to go for broke. After all, what was the worst that could happen. It was only turn three. There would have been plenty of time to rebuild or catch back up had my plan gone sour.
You’re probably thinking, ‘get to the point, Ryan’. So here it is. Plan for success! Everywhere you can. All too often we stifle ourselves because we think we’ll fail. We avoid the ideal. We make concessions. We do the opposite of what we really want because we expect to fail. Because we’re scared to fail even. Instead, what if we asked ourselves, ‘what happens if I’m successful’? Or, ‘What if everything goes according to plan’? That’s what we do in Magic. We make our opponent have an answer. We make our opponent play around us. We do what we plan to do because that’s what’s best for us! We crash in for twenty-four! On turn four! That's how we win.
In Magic, we go for it. How many times have you swung in without knowing exactly what was going to happen? Probably a ton of times when it was potentially game-winning. Of course, there’s technical decision making involved that allows you to make the best possible choices. You know, everything else in your life isn't really that different, You can make calculated decisions based on your relationships, your career, your life. You can! It sounds kinda funky, but start making Magic decisions! Imagine all the great opportunities that would unfold in front of you if you approached everything from a place of assumed-success, like you already do in Magic.
That being said, here's a few things to keep in mind that have worked well for me:
- Focus on being kind when making decisions that effect a relationship or the people around you. Kindness is (usually) king.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. That's a great way to make a plan that may involve others. Also, if it makes other people feel good, you've probably already won.
- For your career, be confident and vocal with what your plans for success are!
- Work on developing an idea of where you want your current position to take you. With that info in hand, you'll be able to gauge if you're on the right track to achieving your goal.
- Remember, they gave you that job we're talking about because you interviewed well. You have a great personality (I know this because you're a member of CCONation) and because you were qualified.
Make up your own examples to put your own spin on what I’m saying. The point is, instead of backing down or avoiding challenges, ask yourself, what do you get if you’re successful. We ask ourselves that all the time when we play Magic. We make plans based on that mind set. We're successful a lot of the time as a result. We know how to do it. Lets transfer some of it over into our real life.
Think of it this way; that person in Accounting might say yes to a dinner date. Go ahead, ask what they’re doing next Friday. Or maybe you’d feel pretty good after twenty minutes of exercise this afternoon. Energized instead of exhausted. Especially after a long day at work. Those sound like a couple small steps to start you down that path of planning for success.
And what’s the worst that could happen. You get turned down for that date. You’re tired after being on the treadmill (or whatever) and sleep better that evening. At least you were exhilarated. At least you were doing something healthy. At least you lived. Just like my Arixmethes story. I had a ton of fun that game. I was engaged and excited. Sure, I could have gotten blown out as soon as Arix became a creature. Instead of focusing too much mental energy on that though, I asked myself, ‘What do I get if I’m successful?’ The result was my plan coming to fruition, crushing my opponent’s dreams. Awesome. And, big deal if it didn’t work out. I’d just have to make a new game plan. I’d rebuild over the remainder of the game. It was only turn three, after all. I guess I’d just swing for the fences again on turn seven if I had to!