Tolarian Tutor: Role Assessment – Are you offense or defense in your games of Magic: The Gathering?

Tolarian Tutor: Role Assessment – Are you offense or defense in your games of Magic: The Gathering?


in every game of magic there’s always one player who’s trying to end the game and one player who’s trying to keep the game from ending in other words a player who’s on the offense and a player who’s on the defense two of the hardest questions you’ll have to answer as a magic player are what role am i playing in this game right now and when do I know to switch roles that’s right we’re taking a look at role assessment in today’s episode of tellurian tutor and diving deep into whether you’re trying to outrace your opponent or hold them off until you can get the wind back in your sails we’ll cover a couple of previous topics in the context of role assessment examine what it means to be on offense versus defense and go over some common mistakes we’re not noobs anymore but we’re not yet at the pro tour this video is for people who already play at Friday night magic but want to improve and get better this is for intermediates and this is tellurian tutor [Music] first of all we cannot move forward without acknowledging mike flores –is seminal article whose the beatdown published almost ten years ago on the dojo you can find it now on star city games it’s definitely a must read if you want to improve at playing magic and i’ll link it down below for you to review consider it your first take home assignment from me now one of the things we’ve repeated time and again is what does your deck want to do or what is your game plan you need to know how your deck wants to win the game and that’ll help give you an idea of what role you’ll be playing a good deal of the time if you’re an aggro deck you’ll want to put pressure on your opponent as early as possible on turn 1 or turn 2 so you usually be on the offense if you’re a control or combo deck you’ll want to hold your opponent off as much as possible dealing the final blow with big valuable finishers or with your game winning combination therefore you’ll want to be on the defense for most of the game a more flexible deck archetype like mid-range or tempo will need to be more aware and responsive towards what’s going on with the board state this is where understanding whether being on offense or defense is incredibly important of course it’s easy to pilot your deck when you’re in a position to play it out without much resistance but knowing when to switch to one role or the other and getting a feel for when the tide of the game is turning will make the difference between winning sometimes and winning consistently let’s start by defining the main differences between the two roles in a game offense and defense if you’re on the offense you’re trying your best to end the game quickly and decisively in your favor this usually means you’re attacking with creatures or dealing direct damage to your opponent using spells pressuring them to make bad trades and reducing the amount of time they have to draw an answer to your onslaught as we mentioned before our agro decks are a classic archetype that immediately starts on the offensive and stays on the offense for as long as possible it’s small cheaper creatures and spells mean that it has the advantage in the early game and will want to kill the opponent quickly usually by turn five or six with mid-range decks on the offensive playing on curve is important but prioritizing board presence and removing obstacles becomes key and making sure you can push forward towards the win remember playing offense comes down to two main principles if you can win the game it’s good to do so stay focused stay conservative and try not to do anything fancy end the game as quickly as possible don’t let your spells and creatures become out valued by your opponents especially as the game drags on and try to remove anything that can stop you from finishing them if you’re on defense you’re trying to keep the game from ending as long as possible until you can play the most powerful cards in your deck control decks manage this by using large toughness creatures counter spells and bounce spells in order to stall out the game combo decks are similar using sweepers and removal in order to finally reach their win condition playing defense also comes down to two main principles stall out the game until you can pivot into the offensive knowing what your decks win condition is will be vital in understanding this turning point have a plan to win the game even if you’re stalling out the game have a strategy in mind to execute once you know it’s time to pivot so that you don’t whiff on finishing your opponent with that let’s get to the real question of this session how to pivot from one role to another turning the corner or pivoting is one of the hardest things to do successfully in magic not only do you need to understand what role you’re playing in the first place but you also need to pick up on when to pivot and how to see the game through from that position let’s go through some examples and cover some of the broader themes to watch for in order to play your role well let’s take a look at a couple of examples where threat assessment and understanding your meta can help determine whether you play on off or defense and then do it well example one you’re in a modern event and you’re playing a Jun’s deck versus in fact you’re on the play so on your turn you drop a vertical which at the end of your opponent’s turn you plan to crack for an overgrown tomb during their turn your opponent drops a forest and plays AG listener elf and passes the turn to you on your turn turn to you play a black cleave cliffs and you’ve got the option of either casting scavenging use or terminate which of these cards should you cast should you prioritize board presence or eliminate the glisten err elf the answer lies in understanding how your deck is going to win but also how your opponent’s deck works as well jund wants to win over time by getting increasingly powerful cards on the board like tarmogoyf and using direct damage spells like lightning bolt infects main strategy is to inflict infect damage using small creatures with evasion listener elf may be small but there are ways of making it unblockable like using slip through space and pumping it up using spells like rancor or might have hold crosa based off this we can see that infect is on the offense here trying to inflict poison damage with small attacking creatures as the slower deck here jund is on the defensive until it can get its big threats online while scavenging is places a blocker on the board it needs time and mana to get bigger and become more of a threat in this case choosing to terminate that glisten err elf is the correct play though this example doesn’t show you racing towards the finish it demonstrates another important concept to keep in mind when you’re on the defense keeping the board at parity you’re acting defensively here in order to get a bigger payoff down the road and pushing your opponent back in terms of their board presence example 2 so this time you’re playing against jund you’ve got three targets on the board you could possibly eliminate using your removal spell your opponent has a scavenging use tarmogoyf and dark confidant which one do you kill let’s take a look at each option scavenging use is a great target if you’re playing a graveyard intensive strategy like dredge a cart like the dreaded SCU’s will be the biggest obstacle to your win condition in this situation depending on whether you have removal or something you can delve for you could use this opportunity to flip from defense to offense or just hold off for now tarmogoyf is the right target for your spell if you’re trying to outrace your opponent and it’s large enough to win that contest for example if you’re both at 10 and tarmogoyf is the largest creature on the board it absolutely makes sense to kill it over the other options while scavenging is and are confident are also powerful cards in their own right they are less likely to kill you than a big boy at this point you’ve made the decision to play on offense dark confidence is the best target for you if you want to draw out the game let’s say you’re playing a control or combo deck so you’re stalling out and definitely don’t want your opponent to get that extra card advantage getting Bob out of the way here is the way to make sure your opponent plays more fairly than they otherwise would in all of these options the answer is always the same get rid of the card that will make it hardest for you to win the game knowing what your deck wants to do will help make that decision much easier for you so always assess the board with this in mind and tie that into the role you’re playing now let’s talk about pivoting or switching roles sometimes you start offense but then need to pivot to defense the general rule of thumb when switching roles is to assess whether or not you’re far enough ahead or your opponent is far enough behind that you can start to race your opponent to the finish if you feel like you can you should pivot from defense to offense now that we have an idea of how to assess the board and potential threats we can start looking at other examples to figure out when to switch from offense to defense and vice versa all while keeping our decks winning strategy in mind example let’s assume you’re playing blue-black control against a white wienies human deck and after managing to head off some initial aggro attacks your life is down to 10 and your opponent is still at 20 on the board your opponent controls athaliah guard of three bin’ and you control torrential Ural question if you start attacking with your torrential gear Hulk can you out race your opponent if they constantly attack with Alia as well the answer is yes even though your opponent is at full life your gear Hulk can deal 5 damage per turn whereas thalya can only impart 2 damage therefore you can absolutely get your opponent to zero before they’re able to win given these facts it’s absolutely the right call here to switch into offense another thing to remember when evaluating whether to switch from one role to another is to identify what is prompting you to make that switch you’ll need to then ask yourself if you’re able to deal with this or just keep doing what you’re doing already now that we’ve covered the major tenants of role assessment let’s go through some common mistakes that players tend to make when trying to master this you may recognize some of these tactics from earlier sessions but they’re worth repeating in the context of this more advanced concept mistake number one countering the wrong thing we’ve talked about this before when discussing how to play control but when you’re trying to play defensively against an aggro or mid-range deck that’s on the offense you need to be selective about what you counter so what do we allow our opponent to do again you want to deny your opponent anything that would deny you from turning the corner and pivoting into offense yourself so this would mean countering anything that either gives them a significant advantage or gives you a significant disadvantage for example if you’re playing standard or limited don’t counter their death Gorge scavenger save it for when GALT ax or tez amok finally emerge mistake number 2 thinking two linearly often times it’s easy to get caught up in either staying on offense or defense without realizing that there are times when you don’t just want to keep attacking or turtling up for example if you’re attacking with a bunch of creatures say six 1/1 goblins and your opponent is at 18 and has one blocker it might be worth taking a turn off to cast a sorcery speed piece of removal to get that blocker out of the by doing this you’re clearing the path to more damage when it’s your turn to attack especially if you cast trumpet blast after blockers are declared mistake number three playing into a sweeper if you’re playing on offense against a control or combo deck there is always a chance you’ll end up getting wiped out by a sweeper spell like settle the wreckage or anger of the gods as we’ve mentioned before in our aggro lessons it’s important to ask yourself a couple of questions before you rush into making your attacks remember how the sweeper works if it’s a settle the wreckage then perhaps don’t attack with all of your creatures at once if it’s an anger of the gods then keep in mind which creatures might survive the damage and which ones won’t with that in mind is the sweeper castable if it is then how much will it hurt you to play into it if you definitely think the sweeper is coming then play out your hand and you’re bored just enough to make casting the spell barely good enough for your opponent stay conservative and keep some backup creatures in your hand just in case that way you won’t be left completely helpless when the board gets wiped thanks again for watching another session of tellurian tutor today we covered role assessment and its various nuances including identifying your game plan playing offense playing defense turning the corner and pivoting and common mistakes this is tellurian tutor I’m the professor a professional consultant is my own tutor emma handy michelle rap as our script supervisor and remember it’s not about winning individual games of magic it’s about getting better win or lose and so ends another episode of tellurian tutor and if you would like to see this show continue that I need to hear from you what lessons would you like myself M a handy and Michelle wrap to cover in our future episodes let us know in those comments below and remember we have got lots of lessons at this point check out the tellurian tutor playlist so that you know you haven’t missed a single episode [Music] [Music]