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My best advice for Nationals

June 7, 2011

This year Nationals-season has already started and all around the globe people are duking it out in order to crown a national champion. For myself and my fellow Swedes, it’s our turn in two weeks. And I’m quite stoked for that weekend, hoping that I can match up my performance from last year.

For those out there who are practicing for Nationals, I want to give you an advice. And no, it’s nothing about deck technology or some pick order list. I’m offering a much broader piece of advice:

Focus your testing on Limited.

I recommend you to spend at least twice the amount on NMS Booster Drafts compared to Standard, if not even more. The reason for that is the edge you can build up by grinding Standard can almost be put aside compared to the edge you can get in the Limited portion.

The current Standard format has been out for several weeks now and several major events have been played with New Phyrexia Standard. And New Phyrexia has been out on MTGO for over a week now to boot. That means that a vast majority of the new tricks is out of the bag already. With a quite high percentage of certainty you can expect to find none to only minor tweaks by testing on your own. I’m not saying thoses tweaks and overall experience of the format you get by testing doesn’t matter. I’m saying you could be spending your constrained time better. One doesn’t have infinite time to spend testing after all.

If you are having your Nationals around a week or two after M11 is released, that changes things a bit. Now there is a bit more incitements to give Standard more time but nevertheless. Due to how quickly information and technology travels these days, the Magic community as a whole quickly defines new formats (as relatively small as Standard is) and discover most of the hidden gems within a week or two of a sets release. So when it all comes around, giving Limited the most of your time is correct if you want to succeed.

And I’m stressing this again, I’m not saying trying to be innovative and turning every stone there is in Standard isn’t bad. My point is how you should prioritize your playtesting sessions in order to get the most out of your time.

Hope that the message came through and I wish you all the best of luck at Nationals this year!

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