This is a very short introduction to a very complex and much-talked about concept, there’s no way I could convey everything about card advantage in 1,000 words. The point here is simply to introduce you to the concept in a basic way, and for you to start thinking about it during games. There are two important things you should remember about card advantage. First, card advantage does not win the game on its own. You can draw as many cards as you like, but if all your cards do is draw more cards, you can’t win. You need to be doing something productive with your advantage eventually. Card advantage is not some magical bar that will win you the game when it’s full. Secondly, card advantage is not the only kind of advantage in the game, and sometimes, it’s okay to build a deck that can’t generate any card advantage outside of combat (because, remember, creatures can generate card advantage!), because you can generate huge advantage in other places.
You might have noticed at your local FNM that, during each round, you actually played three games of Magic. And, you may also have noticed that, after your first (and possibly second game, some players would switch cards from their decks for cards from a smaller pile. This pile is called the Sideboard, and it’s a very important part of deck building in tournaments. After the first and second game in a match, you are able to exchange cards from your deck with cards from your sideboard on a one for one basis. This allows you to adjust your deck slightly, and you should take full advantage of it, especially if you have a weaker matchup
against a certain deck. Now, sideboards can be tricky to build properly. It’s not just about throwing hate cards together, it’s about understanding how their deck wins, and being able to attack that angle more effectively after boarding. It’s also about understanding how they will sideboard, and trying to minimise the impact their new cards will have against your deck.
it’s about understanding how their deck wins, and being able to attack that angle more effectively after boarding.”
This ties back into my last article, where I advised you to learn the broad archetypes, but in this instance, you actually need to have a much firmer grasp of specific decks and archetypes in the format, so that you can understand how they win and how you can beat them. One good trick to remember when trying to build a strong sideboard is to find cards which can fill multiple roles in multiple matchups. A card like Tormod’s Crypt might be a good card against Zombies, or a graveyard based strategy, and Smelt is a great card against artefacts, but Rakdos Charm combines both of those effects (exiling a graveyard and destroying an artefact) into the same card. This allows you to save space and that’s very important; if you try to run 3 Crypt, and
3 Smelt, you’ve just used 6 out of 15 slots, but you could also just run 3 Rakdos Charm. In addition, Rakdos Charm is much better against graveyard based decks that also contain powerful artefacts! Of course, sometimes you’ll just want a card that’s really powerful against one deck. That’s okay too, but make sure that your sideboard can, in general, cover a wide range of situations and has multiple answers. Also, when you’re building your sideboard, start thinking about which cards you want in against which decks, and what cards you’ll take out of your main deck. Building a good sideboard can be tough, but it’s an important skill to learn, since at least half your games will be sideboard games! These concepts are more advanced than last time, and many pros have written a ton on both subjects. Try not to worry about getting them right 100% of the time, and instead just start applying them to your games.
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