18, Dec, 23

Combat Magic Burnout with These Tips!

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Too much of a good thing can exist. Whether it’s deck building, new releases, or attending events, it’s possible to reach your limit and experience “Too Much Magic.”

A simple solution, often recommended, is to stop playing. That is missing the issue for many long time players. In effect, what you were finding fun about the game and hobby is no longer generating that same spark. That is the true source of burnout. How can you re-ignite your MTG passion and keep it burning at the optimal level?

Overwhelming Product Churn

The Magic release schedule has increased rapidly in the past few years. If you are a long-time player, it can be incredibly overwhelming to “keep up.” There is a seemingly unending tidal wave of physical product coming out. At the same time, new keywords, card types, the meta-game and everything else.

“Not all product is for everyone;” it’s a little disingenuous, though. Magic players are not islands unto themselves. You are playing with other players. Even if you do not acquire new cards, others do. New cards will show up at your table regularly. You can only restrict your own cards. Furthermore, when new sets get released, the prevailing tendency is to try out the latest stuff. How do you turn the deluge into a more manageable drip?

There are multiple options. If wallet fatigue is your primary concern, then on release weeks you can always ask to borrow a new deck. If anything, this may reinforce your decision not to buy into a new set.

Alternatively, see if you can interest anyone in a game using a different format. Everyone wants to try out their shiny new deck and there is nothing wrong with that! But they may also want to test out their pauper Commander deck or their pre-EDH deck. This is one of the ways that having multiple format options decreases burnout, more on that later.

The 32 Deck Challenge

The Ur-Dragon

How many Commander decks can you make? Truly there is no limit, but functionally speaking, how much of a different experience can a deck generate? Furthermore there are only so many good cards for any particular color and strategy, so there can be significant card overlap between decks. With a deliberate choice to de-optimize and an overall build goal to experience unique strategies, the 32 deck challenge is a good way to set a goal for practical Commander deck construction.

Why 32? Because it is the exact number of different color identities in Commander. While it’s not impossible to build many different completely colorless decks, at the same time, the potential to share many of the same cards is very high. Therefore, building one colorless Commander deck probably gives you the most bang for your buck when it comes to interesting build decisions, strategies and game play. That second version or third version will tend to be less interesting all else equal.

Instead of jamming Swords to Plowshares into every deck that has white, you can reward yourself for playing Dispatch in either a tap themed deck or artifact heavy versionm for example. Part of combating builders burnout is by looking at a deck with a fresh set of parameters rather than saying “Well I’m playing white so first I must add Swords.” Running a stack of staple cards in every deck that would appear on the EDHREC top 100 is certainly a recipe for strong and functional decks. But at the same time running the same cards over and over again is bland and can eat away at your enjoyment of the format.

Already done 32? Rinse and Repeat

For those that have played for a long, long time even the novelty of 32 distinct decks may have worn thin. When you feel like you’ve done it all, what other options are there?

First, the remix. The Ur-Dragon as a commander is a different experience than Morophon, the Boundless for a commander even with near similar decks. You can really add significantly more sub-themes with Morophon in charge.

Alright, but say you’ve already been there. Well, what about adding in more layers of complexity like Rukarumel, Biologist and Slivers? Going from a Dragon deck to a Dragon, Changeling, Sliver deck is going to change things up in multiple ways.

Another example is keeping the deck but altering the relative value of themes and sub-themes within. I have an Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice deck where every card has the word “deathtouch” printed on it. Soon enough, though, additional themes spontaneously occurred. Now, to enter the deck, new cards must also be gold bordered because the name of the deck is “The Midas Deathtouch.” It’s casual but it’s fun to see it evolve even without changing all that much. While the original intention was deathtouch creatures with high synergy, it naturally evolved into a much more relaxed version of the original by valuing a gold border, with deathtouch, over everything else.

The simplest changes can oftentimes yield the most rewarding effect. Far too often a deck starts out as an exercise in “doing the thing” but then the initial idea becomes bogged down or overloaded or morphs into something else, and that is when playing stops being rewarding. Rewinding a deck to the original state can be an effective way to recapture the original feeling a deck provided.

Shirk all Responsibility

At times, a hobby can turn into a chore. Feeling like you have to attend an event rather than want to is burnout. Hanging out, playing casually, trading and competing are all things that should be providing you with potential enjoyment. If you can identify which area is no longer generating a good experience, then see if eliminating that aspect of Magic makes everything else that much better. Maybe it’s something outside of actually playing the game, for example, you are always bombarded with trade requests or judge rulings or deck advice the moment you walk into your LGS. Sometimes the right move is to simply say “no.” Extra interaction can be draining. Ultimately you want to have a valuable experience and need to have a little self-interest to maintain your own enjoyment.

Change it up

Have you checked out Standard lately? Modern? Gone to a competitive event? Drafted? Engaging in something completely different has multiple benefits. First, it offers a fresh point of view. From both a deck building and game play perspective, everything changes when going from a 60 card one versus one format to a 100 card multi-player format or vice versa. Playing a different kind of Magic can reinforce why you like your current preferred format or demonstrate how an old format now seems more appealing.

In any case, it provides valuable insight into what motivates your play and enjoyment of Magic and that can change over time. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing. At the same time there is always room for Magic if you maintain a good enough balance of what keeps the game interesting. Sometimes you need to focus your efforts to maintain your interest. Other times you need to sit back, relax, tap lands and cast spells and nothing more. It’s all about maintaining a perfect curve.

Read More: Most Valuable MTG Preconstructed Decks!

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