Gaby Spartz streams Magic: The Gathering on Twitch by night and by day she’s the co-founder and VP of Content at Dose, the Chicago-based media company behind Dose.com and OMGFacts.com. Gaby lives in the windy city of Chicago.
Khans of Tarkir
The constant push to learn and improve is a major draw for Gaby. Similar to how she took an entrepreneurial plunge with Dose, Gaby knows Magic’s learning curve is incredibly steep.
She likes the fact that no one ever stops learning Magic and that there’s something to take away from every match played.
When Gaby started drafting it was difficult for her to understand what her deck was trying to do. By picking up cards here and there her deck had no cohesion or game plan.
Not being able to tell the difference between defensive and offensive cards was a hurdle she had to overcome. Listening to podcasts and getting input from better players helped Gaby understand the nuances of her own deck and come up with a strategy for the games she played.
A crucial component to Gaby’s Magic progression was sticking to linear decks when first getting into a format.
Having a deck with a game plan that’s repetitive and the same from game to game helped her hone specific skills and familiarize herself with the deck. This made it easier for her to think about her deck outside of matches without the pressure of having to make decisions in the moment.
She thought about her deck in relation to others in order to construct a better sideboard. By writing down her sideboard plan and going over it with more advanced players she was able to Top 8 her second PTQ while still being a fairly new player.
Winning the Standard Super League is a moment that sticks out for Gaby.
She went in simply trying to not place last. She understood that the other players had more experience than her, so she wanted to overcompensate by picking an unconventional deck to play.
She chose a high variance deck (Goblins with Obelisk of Urd) and was able to go undefeated through the group stage which got her a bye into the playoffs.
Moment 1: For a while Gaby couldn’t draft to save her life. She found herself trying to draft decks that didn’t make sense, and ended up losing so much that she felt incredibly demoralized. When playing stopped being fun for her she ended up taking a break from Limited.
Moment 2: While playing a team sealed event Gaby beat her male opponent, who after the match expressed that he couldn’t believe he had lost to a girl.
Her opponent couldn’t seem to grasp that she had beat him because she had played better, prepared better, and exercised her Magic skill set more precisely.
Having skill attributed to gender is something that Gaby is working hard to fade from the competitive Magic scene, and will allow all who love the game to be evenly recognized for their accomplishments.
Playing Constructed helps you see not only what your deck is trying to do, but what it’s trying to do in relation to your opponent’s deck.
Understanding your sideboard is critical for this. A player needs to be able to figure out how to thwart their opponent’s plan to take control of the game, or see that there’s nothing they can do against their opponent’s card and act accordingly.
Focusing too much on the results of a match is a pitfall Gaby finds a lot of players in. If a player makes 5 mistakes in a game and wins they have a tendency to overlook what went wrong.
There are other times when a player might play perfectly, but still lose. Dwelling excessively on these results can stagnate progression.
Gaby believes if you’re not trying to learn from your wins and losses then you’re not going to be happy in Magic. Finding take-aways from both your wins, and losses, is how to improve as a player. Managing losses by not beating yourself up over them is crucial for this.
Remember, you shouldn’t let one match loss beat you twice.
Playing with better players is something Gaby can't emphasize enough.
When you play with better players it can blow your mind to see how they play and understand why they make the decisions they do. More advanced players can help walk you through all the possible scenarios and outcomes for any given situation you may encounter while playing.
If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.
Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.
I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.
(Here's a 1.5 minute tutorial on how to leave a review if you don't already know. THANK YOU!)