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The Misconception of the Misplay

I recently returned to The Elder Scrolls: Legends after taking a 6-month break. I spent a lot of time learning the cards in the new set, studying nerfs that happened in my absence, and refamiliarizing myself with proper ordering and finding winning lines for winning decks. As a general practice, I also stop playing and watch the videos of any streamer that I play against during this time, so I can get a view of the game from the other side of the board. I find it incredibly beneficial to study the games where I can see how my opponent played, and what they were holding in their hands. Through studying this game, I discovered something that cost them many games against me, the misconception of the misplay.

Before we discuss the misconception, let us first discuss the term of “misplay.” A misplay is taking a sub-optimal line of play, playing out of order, or not properly evaluating the largest threat. Capitalizing on the misplays of others is a key ability to success in not just TESL, but other games as well. If you can take advantage of something your opponent did incorrectly, it will raise your win rate, right? Of course! Unless…it wasn’t really a misplay.

A lot of people know what a misplay is, they also are apt at dealing with an opponent’s misplay and taking advantage, but there is an extra step that goes with punishing a misplay that most players miss out on: evaluating the misplay.

The misconception of the misplay falls in the fallacy that your opponent made a misplay. The result is a loss of information. Information is another vital tool in a good players book. Information can come from many sources, like knowing your opponent is holding a curse because Murkwater Shaman triggered, and they played a curse from the middle of their hand. Logically, we know the curse generated by the Murkwater Shaman, is still in their hand. If they had played the curse that had just been generated, we wouldn’t be aware that the other curse still sits in their grip. This information can be just as vital for you as a player to make the proper play, as it is for to take advantage of your opponent making a sub-optimal play.

brotherhoodslayerThe first example was while I was playing Midrange Assassin against Control Mage. I had the ring of magicka and had gotten lucky enough to turn 2 a Thieves Guild Recruit and drew a Supreme Atromancer that now only cost 7 magicka. I made a developed a decent board and used the ring to drop the Atromancer on turn 6. My opponent does not Ice Storm. He uses some spot removal, kills the atromancer, and passes. Before I go face, I trade off a Brotherhood Slayer that had been damaged down to a 3/1 to obtain a completed contract. I know my opponent doesn’t have Ice Storm, or they would have played it on the previous turn. I also know they have a full grip of cards in their hand, and my board probably won’t survive much longer. I have another Supreme Atromancer in my hand, and with the completed contract, I can drop it in two turns. My opponent deals with the rest of my board, without Ice Storm, I drop the next Supreme Atromancer and win the game.

Upon review of the game from their stream, I notice the opponent call my trade of my own Brotherhood Slayer, as bad. In his mind, its one less thing he has to remove, and 3 damage that had been saved from hitting him in the face. He’s confident he can stabilize. He just made a misconception of the misplay. As soon as I trade the Brotherhood Slayer off, the first thing that the opponent should think is, why? I’ve developed a board, I’ve been pushing damage to face. I’ve established a huge swingy (albeit lucky) board. I’ve watched him destroy a good chunk of that board, and rather than sending everything to his face in a last-ditch effort, I grab a completed contract. My opponent writes off the play as I’m bad, and he has a shot to win, because I didn’t know what to do with my cards.

The information shows a different story though. Midrange Assassin runs 4 9 drop creatures…3 Supreme Atromancers and a Tazkad. Even if the information doesn’t show either I’m trying to rush out another Atromancer or Tazkad, you have to be aware that one of the two is coming. Conversely, Midrange Assassin runs Ancano in the 8 drop slot, and you could also assume Ancano was being ramped out. As strong as my hand was, I feel confident that I was going to win the game regardless, but making the right read and play is still correct, even if you do not win the game from it.unstoppablerage

In the next example, I’m playing with a meme Rage Warrior list against another memey life gain token Spellsword deck. I’ve seen the deck play out several times on multiple streams, so I have previous knowledge of what the deck is trying to do. It wants to spit out a ton of small tokens, trade them off and gain large amounts of life. It has virtually no threat density, and wants to grind the game out. As the game goes on, I don’t find any Unstoppable Rages. A large breakthrough creature + Unstoppable Rage is my win condition. I shift gears, and knowing that I’m under no threat of duress, I start chipping away at his health. He plays a Necromancer’s Amulet (while already having Imperial Might on the board) and I play Shadowfen Priest on the amulet. The streamer’s chat chants misplay because life gain is a much lower threat than the “infinite” value generated from the Imperial Might. Normally, they would be right. They don’t know I’m an Unstoppable Rage deck, because I’ve been going face. They are making a judgement call off bad information. A few turns later, I still haven’t found Unstoppable Rage, and another Amulet comes out. I Soul Tear for my Shadowfen and kill that one as well. The streamer is on to my game, but the chat is not.

Continuing to be a weird game, I find Unstoppable Rage over halfway through the deck, but I’m out of breakthrough creatures. I change gears again. I can still find 1 of 2 other Unstoppable Rages and with a Soul Tear can still breakthrough for the win, but the streamer has a third amulet and a Night Mother, neither of which I can answer, and a wide board to boot. I drop an Archein Venomtongue and Unstoppable Rage to increase my max magicka by 4. This play allows me to a.) Pop Hist Groves, b.) have magicka to try to Soul Tear + Night Shadow + Unstoppable Rage, and c.) makes it more difficult for my opponent to gain Night Mother value. Though admittedly the game isn’t looking good for me, I’ve found my outs to win before I die to Night Mother.

The chat is surprised to see me “waste” an Unstoppable Rage on a creature that doesn’t outright win me the game. A few turns later, I find a Hist Grove and win. I could have lost this game, if the streamer had been more aggressive to my face and ended the game far earlier.

With all of that said, not everything is a brilliant play, and some of the plays I made were out of desperation. But there was information to gain from them, that was being dismissed by a large amount of people instead of being taken advantage of. Instead of calling a play bad, I challenge you all to ask yourself “when is this play good?”

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About harrison5371 (2 Articles)
My name is Chris Harrison and I'm a lifelong card enthusiast. I started playing MTG as a kid and continue to play to this day. I also enjoy Poker, Hearthstone, and as of recently, TESL! This love for card games has even influenced my career, as I am a blackjack dealer in a casino in the Mid-West.

4 Comments on The Misconception of the Misplay

  1. Great article. It really explains how some weird moves can be either good or bad depending on the matchup.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this has been a blast. I love to mindgame my opponents to think that i am playing something else than i actually am. I sometimes i even purposely put a few cards that do not line exactly with my deck strategy, but can mislead the opponent into playing other strategy.

    Thank you for covering what i fel is the most important part of the game, gathering information about your opponent and using it right.

    Decks do not win or lose games, players do. 😀

    Like

  3. Sean Wegmann // September 1, 2017 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    Excellent article. A lot of hasty, arrogant, over-confident players could really do themselves a favor by reading this and asking themselves your closing question (in addition to getting a life because they suck and I hate them).

    …Got a little carried away there. Sorry. Anyway, thanks for the read.

    Like

  4. jamesdelvechio // September 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm // Reply

    this is a good read and i will definitely send many people this way to read as well. good stuff man!

    Like

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