I’m back with another paper tips article. Today I’m going to cover the remaining tips from my series of Twitter posts.
SHARPIE THE PERFECT FIT RATHER THAN THE CARD
There are times I want to make a note or alteration to my card, but don’t want to ruin the secondary market value. Most of my decks use Perfect Fits because I have a mix of old and new cards that require different levels of protection. Might as well take a permanent marker to the perfect fit and have some fun.
I did this for my Jegantha companion in Grixis Death’s Shadow because it was fun and only cost me a couple cents. Seven kills so far!
OFFER EVEN OR ODD TO SEE WHO PLAYS FIRST
As you can see from the amount of activity on this tweet there were a lot of opinions. Die roll discourse is a very emotional subject as I learned.
Players begin to feel unsure about the second die being introduced to the mix. The most common example is two d-6. You cannot roll a 1, but you can roll a 12. Seven is also the most common result.
Things can be confusing so I’ll break down rolling two die:
1.) Roll a single d6: 50/50 chance of odd/even.
2.) Roll a second d6: 50/50 chance of odd/even; add the result to the first d6.
Since the second die has a 50/50 chance of either keeping the result the same or changing it, the game is still fair. If you think about all but one of the dice adding up to a number and the final die has a 50/50 chance of changing the result then you can conclude any number of dice can be used fairly. The only stipulation is the highest number on each die is even otherwise there is one more odd value.
The functional purpose of adding extra dice is to make it harder to manipulate the result. Have you ever done a high roll where it feels like the opponent just dropped a big die on the table and barely rolls only to find a high number? You have no recourse when this happens.
Odd/even requires one dice roll instead of high roll which is at least two. Since most people use two d6 there are a good amount of ties on seven. Some people like the camaraderie with the ties which is fine; I’m more straight to the point.
Since it’s not intuitive that odd/even with more than one die is a fair way to assign the play I can glean some information about my opponent in larger events if they are unaware. A good amount of competitive players have adopted odd/even because of its efficiency. If you don’t know this then you are less likely to be a tournament grinder. Nothing wrong with that, but it could have some small effect on how I play the match.
This is a small edge gained on an already efficient way to determine who goes first. It’s one of many context clues I can use to make an educated guess about what my opponent is playing.
An example: I played against a Grixis Shadow opponent at a 1K earlier this year. Articles at that time were suggesting GDS to cut Engineered Explosives in favor of more Kolaghan’s Command in the sideboard. My context clues suggested my opponent was closely following the metagame and I needed to make a judgment call to board in Pithing Needle as a Hammertime pilot. I kept Needle in the board and my opponent didn’t have the EE I wanted to name and he actually played the exact 75 cards I put him on.
I hope die roll discourse goes away soon because tournament software possesses the technology to determine who chooses to go first.
INVEST IN A BOOGIE BOARD FOR PAPER PLAY
Boogie Boards or any other similar products have been very helpful. I’ve had one for about three years and paper Magic is much simpler. It’s wasteful to use paper and you can be more liberal taking notes about the game.
If you’re playing an event with match slips you can use a pen instead of a stylus as long as the ink isn’t exposed. This makes it easier to sign slips at the end of a round.
This is a small hack to save time on the round clock. It can take a good amount of time before your deck is properly shuffled after a game. You can gain an additional thirty seconds when on the draw to spend more time randomizing your deck.
Once the player going first announces they will keep or mulligan it then shifts to the opponent to make a decision. After my opponent chooses to mulligan I may take a little more time shuffling because I’ll be waiting anyway.
HOLD KNOWN CARDS UPSIDE DOWN IN YOUR HAND
Typically when the opponent sees a card of yours that is private information they will write it down. After a couple turns it can be a burden to remember what the opponent knows. Instead of wasting valuable mental energy you can simply draw your known cards upside-down.
Mishra’s Bauble is the common card in Modern where this applies, but I also add companions to my hand upside-down because I forget the opponent knows about it. After I’m hit by a hand disruption spell like Thoughtseize I turn my entire hand upside-down.
Sometimes I play mismatching cards so it’s not enough to remember the card name. You can be giving up an edge by playing a different version of a card the opponent saw. Sometimes I have foreign cards mixed with English or different artwork because there are so many different versions of cards.
I prefer to announce my triggers and phase movements as a statement and provide my opponent time to respond when relevant. This does require some judgment as to what is defined as a relevant time to slow down.
Listening to everything as a question can be draining and tedious. It should also be noted that not every action you take can be reacted to by the opponent. When you play a land it does not use the stack. Once the land is played the active player once again has priority unless there’s a landfall effect that is triggered.
The game slows down when you ask:
The untap phase has very little interaction. Once you’re in the untap phase all of the active player’s permanents will untap unless otherwise specified. Cards like Vedalken Shackles have the option to not untap, but this is not a trigger. These effects do not use the stack and they cannot be responded to.
When the untap phase is asked as a question the only real information gained is if you can go to your turn. If you think the opponent will have an effect at the end of turn you can ask:
This will move the game along to the beginning of the next turn in a more concise way.
If you are merely stating “untap, upkeep, draw” to keep things clear that’s alright. We all have varying levels of tournament experience and whatever helps you stay organized is acceptable.
It’s ok to go to your upkeep and take a brief pause. If the opponent forgets they have an effect that’s on them. The important thing is to give the opponent ample time to take actions before the game progresses and backing up gives them more information. If the judge is called because you went too fast it will be likely ruled to back up the game.
If I have a Vendilion Clique or Surgical Extraction in hand you can bet I’m going to preemptively announce I have an effect in your draw step. Another note regarding the draw step is the first thing that occurs in the draw step is the active player draws a card. It does not use the stack.
The clock can be an issue so it’s important to save time when possible.
YOU DON’T NEED TO USE DICE FOR ALL RANDOM INTERACTIONS
When you shuffle your hand face down and lay the cards on the table for an opponent to choose for Hymn to Tourach that is random. At some point over the years tournament players began to use dice to decide which cards to pick. To make matters worse there are usually a different amount of cards in hand and numbers on the die so you need to introduce extra rules to the randomization.
I played a tournament earlier this year where my opponent insisted on this while we only had a couple minutes left in the round. It ate nearly the entire time we had left to play the match.
Paper Magic has its quirks, but that’s what keeps me coming back. I hope you enjoyed this series.