You and your opponents agree to playing a more casual game of EDH. The problem is that you each have different ideas of what that means. You and one of your opponents both decide to take a one hand land; it’s casual after all, who really cares. Turn four rolls around and the third player combos off, winning the game. Wait, what?
Step 1: Relax.
Magic is just a game. You do not have to win every single game you play. Sometimes you just get curb stomped for what feels like no reason. Whether it be the example above, or three players are all ganging up on you, it happens. Just let it slide this time, everyone makes mistakes. Maybe they didn’t intend to gang up on you, maybe they all just benefited from swinging at you. Give them the benefit of the doubt, just assume that it was a fluke. Evaluate the board: what did they all stand to gain from attacking you? Play a second round, maybe you just lost. Don’t blame other players for an occasional loss, everyone wants to win. Don’t forget that. EDH isn’t a game for you to just win, it’s a game to play and have all players have a chance at winning. Does it happen again in the second round? If the opponents make it clear that they get no benefit from swinging at you, and are just doing it because they want to swing at you, I’d suggest finding a different group to play with. They either don’t like you, your play style, or your deck. It happens, sometimes play groups just have some sour grapes you need to avoid.
“But Kyle, you didn’t address the situation you started the article with!”
Yeah, I did that on purpose. With everything I’ve mentioned so far, what do you think the issue was? The answer is actually nothing I’ve said so far. The deck he played was the only one he owned. The player who started with one land and I both had the same idea of casual: casual means playing a powered down deck to string out the game and kill time. The third player only owned one deck; it was casual to him because he hadn’t streamlined it yet. It was a combination of a good hand, no responses from me and the other player, and seeing a combo that he hadn’t found before that let him steal the game. Spoiler alert: shit happens.
Step 2: Leave that game at the table
I’m going to say this as bluntly as possible: don’t ever bring feelings from a past game into the current one. That’s about as impolite as it comes. Now this is a bit more extreme of an example, but picture things from the opposite perspective. Imagine you’re at prerelease, round 3, and your opponent throws their box down on the table. They give a stern “hello” and toss the dice for play. How do you respond to that? You don’t, you just play and hope they calm down. Two outcomes are possible. One, you lose. They might cheer up a little, but you can tell that it didn’t really change how they feel about the previous game. Two, you win or the game ends in a draw. Now that person has lost two rounds in a row. If they weren’t angry before, they definitely are now. Will you remember that game as a highlight of the night? Of course not, you couldn’t interact with your opponent, you couldn’t have fun, you couldn’t enjoy Magic together. I’ll be honest, one of my favorite memories is when my opponent and I sang a piece of a song together. We were both tired, we weren’t in the right mind set, but we had fun! That’s the important part of Magic, is enjoying the game. When your games are done, you need to leave your emotions at the table and move to the next match. Magic is just a game, there’s no need to get angry at other people for the outcome.
Step 3: Cool off if you need it
If something happened that really pissed you off, chill out. Don’t think that just because I’m writing this it means I don’t get mad at Magic, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Sometimes I do get angry with the games; when I get teamed up on or someone rubs me the wrong way, I can get pissy. But I’ve learned how to deal with those emotions. I go talk to the person running the register for a bit, tell them what happened, drink a soda, or maybe open a back. I get my mind off the game, and I’ll play another round, fresh. I understand that this doesn’t always work for everyone, so find something that does work for you. I’ll be honest, sometimes even doing everything I’ve mentioned doesn’t work. At that point, I take a break from playing. Sit out for twenty minutes or so; fume until you feel stupid for being mad. There’s no reason to ruin someone else’s day just because you’ve had a bad one.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you keep your cool after games. I didn’t really talk about how to act during a game when you get salty, but that’s because usually when someone gets salty, they don’t want to be told they’re salty, or they’re too salty to realize they’re salty. It’s really hard to act proactively when you’re getting mad, so I’d rather people focus on the reactive side of things. I’d rather everyone try to fix things afterwards and succeed than try to fix things during and fail. One final note on getting salty during a game: if you feel you went a little to far, apologize. Toughen up, get over your embarrassment, and apologize.
Now, what do you do when someone else gets salty? The quick answer is nothing. Don’t tell them they’re getting mad, because that will just make things worse. Have you ever been told to calm down when you get angry? People tend to act defensively when they’re upset because they feel as though their emotions are justified, so when someone says to calm down, it’s almost like being told that the way you’re feeling is wrong. As true as that can be sometimes, just let people cool off on their own accord. If they need to step away for a bit, let them. If they need to vent, let them. Just like the guidelines above, don’t get mad too.
I recently had a match where someone scooped and stormed off because they hand peeked and saw a card they didn’t like (to this day I don’t know what it was), and we were all a little surprised by this. No one else saw reason for him to do that, and I joked about it, but looking back now I understand why he did it. If his emotions were getting the best of him, he did the right thing by leaving. That’s the kind of self-control that keeps things from getting out of hands. He felt as if he needed to remove himself from the situation to keep things from escalating, and it takes a big person to do that.
If anything, I hope you can come away from reading this with a little more insight into how you react to things that happen in the game. Now that these steps have been pointed out, I hope that you can see yourself getting mad when you’re playing a game; knowing when it happens is the first step to becoming a better player. Remember, letting your emotions control your game play is the easiest way to make mistakes and lose. If winning is what is important to you, keep a level head. If you don’t mind losing and it’s players that get the best of you, then try to avoid them, or learn how to tune out the things you don’t like.