Time to play a different game.
I was sitting here, thinking about what to write, when it occurred to me that we should perhaps mention something that might be of help to some of the newer players: - Timing.
Something often left out when teaching or learning magic is not how to play a card, but rather, when to play one. For instance playing instants in your own turn is just plain stupid in most cases, I've lost count how often I've seen people Shock, Brainstorm or Vine Dryad needlessly during their turn.
Anyway here are some reasons to play Instants during your opponents turn -
Often playing a card like Vine Dryad as an instant blocker can rattle players into making mistakes and over committing resources swinging a game back in your favour, it could also mean they lay the Forest you need to landwalk over. Cards like Shock and Giant Growth are expected but a well-timed one can still create problems for even the best players.
Some cards, like counterspell*, often need to be cast in an opponents turn and lend themselves much more towards this. As do Shock and Giant Growth in certain situations, Shock the Birds of Paradise before the Armadillo Clock Resolves, Giant Growth the Birds in response to a Shock etc.
Sometimes people know what your planning, or at least think they do, and holding back that Shock or Giant Growth can delay them attacking, and again influence the outcome of a game. The same for Counterspell, remember if something's not going to kill you and you have other ways of dealing with it, let it be! 90% of the time a River Boa will cause a Blue player to tap out, using up valuable resources, when all the green player wanted to do was play the Blastoderm in his hand.
Will casting it now or in an opponents turn be more helpful? As above making the opponent think you have something else in mind can sometimes stall the game for a few more turns, or allow you to get through one more spell. Also forcing cards from the opponent's hand, or by playing a mistake (common plan I use), can thereby unsettle the opponent who is/are now unsure as to what you can achieve.
Bearing in mind these points you can see why Brainstorming in your turn is not so clever, or could be a sneaky way of forcing your opponent into thinking your getting desperate. Remember the same could be said for abilities, what's the point in searching for rebels in your turn, when you can do it at the end of theirs. Some things are common sense, like Porting land during the draw phase, but you could also Port at the end of their turn and again in yours to tap down an additional land, allowing you to perhaps play something that you wouldn't normally be able to. This perhaps is where the Strategic aspect of the game comes into it, knowing when to mislead and when to remove obstacles.
The great thing about writing this article is that people, who regularly play me, will now find themselves wondering if I'm bluffing or really having trouble the next time we play. And that could be the advantage I need, or maybe notů
We do now, what must be done now.
*This brings up another
interesting point, I've seen games thrown away as a result of people showing
their hands when playing Counterspell heavy decks, just by tapping out in
their own turn! Of course I have also seen them win games by using this as
a tactic forcing you to play a card, allowing them to use the new free cards
(Thwart, Foil and Misdirect) to shift the balance of the game. As a general
rule, unless you have a reason to, don't tap out. Remember even if you don't
have a counterspell you'd be astonished at the amount of times a bluff can
make the difference.