The most kismet thing occurred to me right before focusing on writing this article. For days now I've been trying to get out of Platinum and onto Diamond on the best-of-one ladder on Magic Arena, but fate had different plans for me. Finally, after days of struggling, I found myself two wins away from Diamond, and boy did I want to shine bright. I told myself I'd make Diamond, and then write my article! Still, after 21 games I found myself moving up only one space. That's right, after two-and-a-half hours I barely made any headway on a goal that's eluded me for almost a week.
I give up. Okay, not really, but I do love me some melodrama!
You may ask yourself, "Why not just play Traditional Ranked if you're struggling so much?" That's a wonderful question! If my goal was to simply make Mythic, I would be playing Traditional Magic on Arena, but the actual goal is to win $250,000 at the end of the month at the Mythic Invitational at PAX East. The event only has 64 players in it, making this the highest-expected-value event Magic's ever had! To put that into perspective, if I won this tournament, I would almost exactly double the money I've won playing at MagicFests for the last decade. This is serious business!
The problem right now is that the format of choice revolves around best-of-one Magic, which is something I'm having a tough time with. Most of my peers have already found themselves in Mythic, while I'm still stuck in Platinum. Now, some of that might have to do with my incessant need to try a million different brews, which all have failed, but it could also mean I need to put more work in as well.
Best-of-one Standard is a much different beast from the Magic I'm normally used to playing. I've already written about this previously, though, so we don't really need to get into it (that article if you missed it). All that's important now is learning as much about best-of-one as possible, and part of that is understanding I won't be able to win as much as I'm used to.
That's a tough pill to swallow and I know many out there think it's one I shouldn't even need to take. I disagree. Magic is all about the variance and trying to mitigate it. We've all gravitated towards this game because it isn't chess. Obviously we don't want a game that's just flipping coins, but at the same time, metagames often lead us down that path. Formats get solved and the best of the best are all that's left. In those scenarios, I would assume I'd win more in Traditional than in best-of-one, but the fact still remains that Magic would be worse off if the best player always won.
The system isn't to blame for my frustrations right now. I'm the one who needs to change, at least for this event. Winning the same percentage of the time isn't going to be found in best-of-one. I need to understand that what I'm trying to accomplish isn't the same as it was six months ago. The Mythic Invitational has the possibility to change how the world sees Magic. More eyes will be on this tournament than any other event in the history of the game and the use of sideboards just doesn't seem like it's going to interest anyone new. Obviously I'd love if this event catered to my skill sets, but it's just selfish of me to even think that. After all, I was invited to this event. The Mythic Invitational was designed to show the world Arena.
But enough talk about that – let's actually discuss how to approach best-of-one! Clearly I've painted myself as a novice best-of-one player, but like I said earlier, I believe a lot of that has to do with my unwillingness to play the format's "best decks." I've slightly ignored them in my pursuit to find other strategies that might be able to compete with the best decks. What are the best decks, you might ask? Well, I consider these the best decks.