When do you blame your deck and when do you blame yourself?

I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to play better and do better as a Magic player. It has not yielded any fruit. I do not know if I am just playing bad decks or if I am just that bad of a player. I have lived at the 3-2 win ratio for almost 2yrs now and I very tired of it.

I have taken the advice given and I have studied the meta-game. I have played net decks and original decks and I am very frustrated. I was at some point not that long ago able to win local tournaments and now I am never able to win just make a top 8 or worse.

I am just playing bad decks or am I just a bad player?

I played a Jeskai StoneBlade deck yesterday and all of my games were close but none turned out in my favor. I can usually pinpoint a play mistake or a turning point but most of these games just came down to top deck.

Is that what Vintage is now?

I was looking forward to SCG Con now I do not know if I even want to go anymore.

last edited by moorebrother1

I blame both pretty much constantly. I'm a vintage player. When I trip on the patio I blame my deck, "Stupid deck! I can't believe that patio came up crooked. What a crappy draw that was! This whole place is nothing but bricks!"

@moorebrother1 said in When do you blame your deck and when do you blame yourself?:

most of these games just came down to top deck

Then its the deck. If you are playing flawlessly or near flawless and still losing, then the only place for improvement is the deck.

If you are playing on MTGO, I'd advise to go back and watch the replays. You can gain a lot of insight there as to whether its really the case that you couldn't have done anything differently.

It's an interesting question that has a lot of facets to it. Generally speaking, you should try to make the most objectively correct decision, and if the results don't work out you just have to be okay with that because in the long run you'll come out ahead. Focusing too much on the results is an easy trap to fall into, and one you want to avoid at all costs. In Vintage especially, these decision points extend out well beyond the tournament itself because deck choice and sideboard selection are so important.

In your case, perhaps the decks that you have been playing have not been particularly well-suited to the metagame at the events you have played in? Or perhaps because you have been switching up decks you have not been playing optimally or have not had the time to really fine tune a list for your metagame? Perhaps you are putting too much pressure on yourself to put up the results that you think you should?

I do not think that Vintage is a top deck battle at the moment, it seems more balanced now than any other time in recent memory. Just my thoughts, no criticisms intended. Hopefully that helps at least a little!

There are layers to the responsibility that we all have for the games that we play, and lose. To name some of the prominent ones:

  1. Was the deck I chose the best deck I could have played at a high level today?
  2. Was the maindeck optimized for the field I projected?
  3. Did I call the field correctly?
  4. Was my sideboard optimized?
  5. Did I keep hands I shouldn't have kept?
  6. Did I play lines that had a lower percentage chance of winning?
  7. Was I successful at bluffing my opponents, and leading them down paths more likely to lead to my victory?
  8. Did I give information away with my reactions in playing?
  9. Did I test appropriately for the event?

Each of these points could be expounded on at length, but I'm a bit crushed for time at the moment, so I'll just let them sit as is.

Finally, when you test, do you test with players who are better than you are? Do you know what specifically you're looking for when you play? You need to realize what turns the match (sometimes it's blatantly obvious, sometimes it's not), and then see how you can change that.

Regardless, good luck. Being a better player is difficult, and it takes time. We were all terrible at one point, and it took many of us years to truly get better. I'm currently playing mediocre Magic in Dominaria drafts, so I feel your pain, as I keep reminding myself to RTFC.

Ah, but if it's your deck's fault, then it is your fault.

@brass-man Blaming your deck is saying I did not see cards to get me there. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. My point is that if it really comes to down who draws a certain card first is that me or my deck.

I drew 3 lands in a row in a deck that ran 16 lands and I had ready filtered and played cantrips. Is that me picking the wrong cards or did I shuffle poorly? I need to understand or just stop playing.

@moorebrother1 It's just variance. Sometimes you can play perfectly and have the perfect deck and still draw three lands in a row when you needed to draw any spell, it's just part of Magic.

Yeah, maybe the way to think about this is whether to blame the pilot or blame the builder? Maybe that gets us somewhere?

Hmm isn't a 60% win rate pretty good?

@moorebrother1 said in When do you blame your deck and when do you blame yourself?:

I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to play better and do better as a Magic player

well, that's part of it. you might be too focused on results and playing better to accurately diagnose losses.

first of all, stop entering tournaments with the expectation of winning or top 8ing. that expectation is probably driving you nuts.

once your emotions are less in play, you can start breaking down games and figuring out why you won or lost a particular game.

one mini-game I play with myself inside of a game of magic is to think about which cards would be the best possible topdecks at that given moment. this also helps me with card selection when playing cantrips. if you find yourself frequently in situations where you're digging for a 4-outer or worse in a losing board state, then consider playing a different deck.

one last thing, you're playing stoneblade which is one of the most "fair" decks out there. your card quality is pretty flat and your cards tend to be more reactive. that means you have to play very solid to maximize each card since you can't rely as much on a broken card to bail you out.


"Bad" players assume they play perfectly because they lack the capacity to identify their misplays. From there, it follows that they will blame either the deck or variance for their mistakes. I would say the best players have a much more balanced view, assigning "fault" between the player, the deck, and variance to partial amounts while looking at what they can change to maximize their win percentage.

@chubbyrain When I played at Eternal Weekend last year I had one of my opponents show me her sideboard choices and then she went play by play to ask me what she should have done differently.

I did that round 1 and round 2. And, both of my opponents could not point to an error. I acknowledge your point, but there is something called bad luck.

We all spend a ton of money to "enjoy" this hobby. When is it not enjoyable I have to take a step back and re-evaluate. And, that is exactly what I am doing here.

You do realize that 3-2 is 60% an a great win rate right? Pro Win %

The best players in the entire world are around a 65% win rate are the GP+ level. Losing around half the matches of Magic you play is completely normal. If you don't like that then I don't think Magic is the game for you. The first thing you have to accept as a Magic player trying to improve is that you will lose ALOT and you will continue to lose ALOT until you are Owen Turtenwald where you will still lose ALOT

@moorebrother1 I agree, the primary reason to play magic should be for fun. If you are not having fun, you really should step back and re-evaluate.

That said, I don't think the approach of "asking your opponent to tell you what you did wrong" is very effective. Your opponent doesn't have perfect knowledge of every decision you made. They don't know what your other options were. They may not know how to pilot your deck. Or they may not be willing to tell you because they don't want you to beat yourself up about it after a loss.

This is especially true when it comes to Xerox, in which many of the decisions are made in hidden zones (hand, library, etc), and many games go long. Do you remember every scry decision over the course of a game? Every spell you could have countered, but chose not too, and which countermagic you could have used? Because your opponent is not privy to this information.

For the record, I didn't want to make this post about you. I know you were the OP, but the headline seemed to be asking for a general account, and many people were weighing in with their own perspectives and approaches. If you meant this post as a way to make up your mind about the Vintage format, that's fine, but I don't really have anything to contribute.

@IamActuallyLvL1 Most Vintage is not really played at a GP+ level. Joe Brennan mentioned that he has a 80% win percentage in his events. Joe is a great player, but such a win rate should be unattainable over the long run in a more competitive setting. As you said, pros tend to plateau at 65%.

asking your opponent what you did wrong is great when you're testing with a testing partner. after a match for stakes, you're unlikely to get good feedback unless you ask a question related to their deck (what do I do against card X from your deck).

@moorebrother1 Bad luck only exists if the goal is winning. If the goal is to do everything that you can to cause winning to happen... no more luck, good or bad... only choice-making, good and in my case, amusingly bad.

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