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MTG: Common Improvements #2 Sam Costello discusses Card Advantage and Sideboarding


o, hopefully you all had a good time at your local FNM (Friday Night Magic), and you’re all starting to see some improvement in your play skill. This time around, I’d like to talk about two important aspects to tournament Magic; card advantage and sideboards (including tips on how to build them, and how to use them). The first (fairly abstract) aspect I’d like to talk about is “Card Advantage”. What is card advantage? Put in simple terms, if you spend one card to get rid of (or “answer”) two or more of my cards, you’ve gained card advantage. Let’s put it another way. If you and I play a game against each other, but during each draw step, you draw two cards instead of one, who is more likely to win that game? Well, you of course! You’ll have more options. You’ll have more cards that answer my cards, you’ll be able to play ahead better, and you’ll be able to draw out of bad situations like too many – or too few - lands much easier than me. You’ll also find your most powerful cards more often than I do. These are all good things. So, we’ve established that card advantage is a good thing. Now,

how do we generate it in a real game? Well, first of all, we can play card-draw cards, like Divination and Inspiration. These cards are all natural “+1s” (they give you two cards, but make you spend one, 2-1=1, hence, “+1”). Second, we can play cards that look symmetrical, but create game states where they aren’t. Consider Day of Judgement. It destroys all creatures, right? But what if I have five creatures, and you have none? Your Day of Judgement answers five of my cards, but you only spent one card, so your Day of Judgement is actually a +4 in this situation (since 5-1=4).

Card advantage is not some magical bar that will win you the game when it’s full.”

Third, you can use your creatures to generate card advantage. If your 3/3 creature kills my 2/2 creature, that’s technically card advantage, and you didn’t even have to spend any cards to generate it, since you still have your creature! Essen-

Sam Costello I live in Northern Ireland, playing a children’s card game and taking it far too seriously. When I’m not playing Magic, I’m thinking about playing Magic, reading about Magic or playing some sort of RPG or video game. I could stand to be a lot better at this game. I have no right telling people how to get better, and yet here I am!

tially, any time one of your cards removes two or more of my cards, or any time one of your cards gives you two or more cards, you’re generating card advantage. Also, certain creatures, like Strangleroot Geist are natural card advantage.

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The Gazebo - Issue #3  

The Gazebo is a free, quarterly e-zine dedicated to gaming in the UK and Ireland.

The Gazebo - Issue #3  

The Gazebo is a free, quarterly e-zine dedicated to gaming in the UK and Ireland.