The Magic Player Mindset Series: Understanding Your Short-Term Goals
28 Jun 2019

I’ve played Magic The Gathering since I was 12 years old, starting with nothing more than homebrews and taking it to local tournaments. Back then, I wasn’t as competitive as I was now. I was playing for fun.

After my brief stint of playing at GP Taipei recently, I’ve come to several realizations about the way I approach this game.

Goal-Setting 101: How To Get From Point A to Z

Part of my background as a life coach is creating goal-setting programs for my clients.

Utilizing the same methodologies that I’ve learned from my coaching program; I’ve created this series with the goal of helping new players develop a strong and positive mindset for the game.

And no, I am not talking about how to be competitive. That’s another topic reserved for next week.

When it comes to goal setting, it goes beyond going from one point to another. Goal setting, when done right, can actually help you improve not only your game but also your entire mindset, and I’ll show you how to do just that.

Establishing your Short-Term Goals

Within the MTG context, your short-term goals should help you set up for your medium-term and long-term goals.

For the duration of this article, let’s use my Gruul Midrange deck as an example.

Your short-term goals are those that you want to accomplish between the first three turns.

Let’s say that I draw out the perfect hand. 2 lands, 1 Llanowar Elves, 1 Paradise Druid, and either a Gruul Spellbreaker, Skarrgan Hellkite, or Nullhide Ferox.

Just by visualizing what I need to achieve by turn 3, I am able to come up with a strategy on the first turn long before I even play drop my first land.

To get into the mindset of creating your short-term goals, here are some guide questions:

  1. What is it that I want to achieve by turn 3?
  2. What do I need to do to prevent my opponent from reaching his or her short-term goals?
  3. What do I need to do in case my plan doesn’t work?

Creating your Contingencies

80% of the time, you’re never going to have the play that you’re thinking of, and much like life, you have to find your way around it.

Even if they remove your Llanowar Elves or Paradise Druid, you still have a shot at achieving what you want when you draw out your lands.

Asking the third guide question “What do I need to do in case my plan doesn’t work?” helps you identify not only your possible solutions but also helping you come up with preventive measures.

What if I am up against Mono-Red Aggro, or Mono Blue Tmpo? Both of these decks can hamper me towards achieving what I want.

Cards like Shock, Essence Capture, and even Wizard’s Retort can put a dent on my plans or at least provide answers to what I am about to drop.

If they remove my Llanowar Elves but I draw a land on the second and third turn, I can still drop my Nullhide Ferox.

And to me, that’s not really a bad thing because I now have a 6/6 creature in play that’s difficult to answer.

In the case of me dropping that Ferox against a Mono-Red, I’ve pretty much put the game in my favor.

Your contingencies have to be enough to disrupt your opponent’s short-term goals and their contingencies.

Try asking yourself these guide questions to create your back up plan:

  1. What can I do to work around these changes?
  2. Is there an alternative way for me to still get to where I want to go?
  3. Do I have any possible solution in my hand or in my deck that can help me get to where I want?

In closing, your short-term goals may be temporary but they will provide you with the stepping stones that you need to reach your medium-term and long-term goals.

You can watch how I applied these goal-setting methodologies in my most recent stream:

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