Review my game

March 13, 2011

‘Outside the game’ isn’t the ‘outside the game’ mechanic in Magic: The Gathering. I mean ‘outside playing the game itself’.

Personally, I spend much more time outside the game than sitting down to play it. Reviewing is one of the things I do often.

The game does not start when you start a match with a dice roll, nor it ends when you leave your seat after a match. There are other elements that affect the result of a match.

My weiqi teacher said (many times),

“The fastest way to improve is to review your own game.”

Most people learn fast from reviewing, but not everyone is self-critical enough. By definition, review is done after the match. And it is always hard to review after a match that you didn’t win. Often, I just curse in my mind after I just lost a match that I feel I don’t deserve to lose and I start to direct the reason to having bad draw etc. It is normal. However it hinders improvement.

Grubby (an e-sports athletic) recently replied to one fan’s problem regarding rage and the capacity to improve (Source: his blog),

A natural reflex is to lay blame on extraneous factors. In doing so, we diminish our own responsibility in the defeats we have suffered. By reducing our own accountability, it eases off the pressure, anxiety and frustration we feel. This is an inherent defensive mechanism of all human beings and I believe everyone possesses a measure of the inclination to deny our own role in our losses. Some harbor this quality in small and relatively harmless amounts, while others have too much of it. Blaming other factors for our defeats has at least got the following effects:

  1. Anger – because we have no direct control over balance / lame / cheesing. Blaming these things will help you feel less responsible for losing…
  2. You reduce your capacity to improve. By not taking full responsibility for 100% of your performance, you throw away an equal amount of opportunity to learn from your mistakes. There is after all nothing to do about imbalanced opponents, except to go on in the same way and hope someone makes a change for you.

The way I work it out is to stop thinking about it immediately after a defeat. It is because I will be less objective. However, often people will talk to me about my mistakes right after the match, and I subconsciously deny every negative claim about me. As I get used to it, I just nod and listen to what they say, but I don’t evaluate it on the spot. I just spend my time to recover mentally and prepare for the next round if I’m still in the tournament.

Usually, I will think about it when I am on my way home, but more of what happened and less why. The actual evaluation happens when I’m home. I generally follow the below mind map.

(Click HERE for enlarged image)

Understanding whether the defeat is within my control is the first consideration, since it is stubborn to drill on an unavoidable defeat unnecessarily.

Like what Grubby mentioned, there are balance issues that aren’t within players’ control. In YuGiOh, this usually means wait for next restriction list (next patch). Therefore, before that happens, all I can do is develop new strategies or just change deck. Acceptance changes things.

Making the same mistake is unacceptable (maybe I’m being too harsh).

Generally, there is always a specific move that leads to a defeat. This can be due to misjudgment whereby I assume certain things inaccurately. It also can be due to the lack of knowledge whereby I play against a deck that I’m unfamiliar with. It is difficult to make the best decision when there are too many uncertainties. This can be solved by doing more research. Most of the time, it is simply careless mistake or mistake under pressure, and it is obvious there are better moves when I look at it again.

When I can’t find a specific move that leads to my defeat (unlikely), I could have overlooked something. Having a second opinion is a logical option.

It isn’t rare for me to spot my mistake during the duel itself. Recover from it mentally asap is crucial. It is hard to perfect every match, and usually the player who makes least mistakes wins.

Review wins games.


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