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Everyone's heard "practice makes perfect." Most people, I'd guess, have heard the corollary/counterpoint, "Practice does not make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect," a quote Google wants to attribute to Vince Lombardi, though I think I might've across it in college when studying Aristotle. Regardless, the point is that merely putting in hours can potentially just reinforce bad habits, or at the very least, that it's likely not the most efficient or effective way to improve.
I'll often talk to someone about their preparation or people they've worked with, and they'll complain that people they test with don't know how to test. Usually they'll add something like, "They just want to play brews against each other."
As a brewer myself, I certainly get this. I often just want to play the deck I'm working on, and I don't really care what I play it against: "I just want to see how the deck plays out." This isn't wrong; I'll often just be trying to figure out if a new deck I've build is fundamentally functional, so I don't really care what I play it against. Sometimes, I'll want to play two of my decks against each other to more quickly test the basic functionality of each of them and just learn about more different cards, especially when testing with a new set.
If your time is any more limited than mine, you should definitely avoid this. Honestly, I should avoid it too. Too often I'll put way too much work into a deck before playing it against an established good deck and realizing that it's nowhere near competitive. There really is a reason people talk about establishing a gauntlet and testing against those decks.
Okay, look, I know, "test against established decks" is about as new and insightful as "try to play against opponents who are better than you." There's more to this, but we need to cover the fundamentals.
Whenever I test with a new group, there are a lot of basic practices we need to go over: "How are we mulliganing?" "Should I play like I know your exact list?" "Are we sideboarding?" These questions need to be raised every time because there isn't a best answer to any of them.
If you don't use the same mulligan rules you would in a tournament, an inconsistent deck might overperform if you just throw unworkable hands back until you have a good one. At the same time, you don't really learn much from playing a five-card hand against a seven-card hand. My default is generally to go to six without a scry rather than five with a scry for the second mulligan, and probably six again after that, but if it happened a lot, I'd definitely look to change something in the deck that needed to mulligan that much.
"Should I play like I know your exact list?" is a really tricky one. It's really dangerous to tell someone to play in any way besides trying to do everything they can to win the game, because it opens the door for, "Well, I think most people would attack with everything here, but I know you're playing four copies Settle the Wreckage, so I wouldn't, but I'll play like I don't know and attack with everything." In reality, most opponents would be able to figure out that attacking into 2WW isn't a great idea regardless of whether they knew your list.
It's probably best to avoid turning Magic into a roleplaying game and to instead focus on trying to win. Maybe if you're 100% certain you'd keep a hand against an unknown opponent, but not against your opponent's deck, you could keep instead of mulliganing to simulate an average opponent drawing that hand, but then you're still not testing for scouting or them otherwise knowing what you're playing, which might happen in a tournament.
The counterargument is that when I play a new deck that people haven't seen before, or substantially modify an existing deck in a way that tries to exploit a specific assumption my opponents will have, I expect to get something out of that, and if I only test against people who know what I'm doing and play accordingly, I have no way to knowing how valuable my deception will be.
Honestly, this is why I like to do a lot of my testing on Magic Online. I get to play against real people who presumably know their deck reasonably and are trying their best to beat me with all of the information available to them, but only have the information I can expect my opponents in a tournament to have. A lot of pros complain that the level of competition isn't high enough, but I find that even if my opponent plays badly, I still learn what kind of mistakes people are capable of making against me, which I think is important to know, especially for spots where I'm losing but can potentially play to an out if my opponent makes a mistake. I want to know what kind of mistake I'm most likely to be able to play for.
Sideboarding in playtesting is a real sticking point. Everyone agrees that testing sideboards is extremely important. They can massively swing a matchup, and one of the most useful things you can learn about a matchup is how to sideboard and which cards you'll need access to. The problem is that the sideboard is usually the most flexible part of a deck, so you often won't know exactly what you'll ultimately have in it for most of the testing process. It also runs even more strongly into the information issue: should your opponent sideboard and play as if they know about your transformative sideboard plan? Ideally not, but again, how much roleplaying is it safe to do? What if most opponents would know that it's possible and hedge against it? How much should you hedge?
Notice that I'm raising more questions than I'm answering. That's the point.