Eric Freytag is the founder and CEO of PucaTrade.com. He’s been playing Magic since 1994, has 14 commander decks, and spends most of his MtG time brewing in Vintage, Legacy, and Modern.
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Battle for Zendikar
Crucible of Worlds
Eric believes Magic is the best game in the world thanks to its perfect blend of strategy, technique, deck building, and creativity. The community Magic has fostered is incredible, and he thinks this is because the game has so many facets and ways to play. Magic’s social scene and sitting down with friends to play the game in person is one of the most important aspects of the game for Eric.
Deck building was a hurdle Eric had to overcome in his early days playing magic. Evaluating cards and making cuts causes a ripple effect through the rest of the 75 cards, and it took practice building lots of decks for him to understand that. Eric spent time identifying each card he liked, and then found cards relevant to his deck’s concept that were good to draw at any stage of the game. Looking for cards that stack is important for him, since you don’t want two of the same card if one of them will be useless if both are drawn.
Eric maintains a detailed spreadsheet of his cards where he organizes them based on their role and type. Next comes making columns for cards that pair well with each other and what type of situations they do well in. At some point making cuts becomes necessary, and you will have to get rid of some pet cards if they aren’t good in most situations. Be honest with yourself about if a card is going to synergize well with the deck concept you are working towards. Getting too attached to cards at this stage in a brew is something Eric finds dangerous. He looks at each card to see how many others it can combo well with, and loves when he finds ways for cards to come together and turn a disability in a match into an ability.
Most of Eric’s personal growth in magic came from managing tilt. While he doesn’t feel incredibly competitive, he is emotionally invested in all his time spent trying to master the game with skill and creativity. If the deck he brewed doesn’t perform well, or he doesn’t pilot it right, he can definitely be thrown off balance. The feeling of personal failure is common to a lot of players when they play poorly. Eric sees managing tilt as not only an aspect of growing as a Magic player, but as improving as person. The best time Eric has had playing Magic is when he is having fun, even if he is not performing at his best.
Eric believes you can start right now, reading this sentence. Take a moment to acknowledge that at some point in the future you are going to mess up. You are going to fail at some aspect of Magic. Period. You might fail because of luck, because of bad drops, or because you played the wrong card. It happens to everyone, even the pros. You can mentally prepare for that moment now, and accept that the cards won’t be in your favor and that you’re going to make a mistake.
Eric finds tilt to be a major issue players face, and it’s an issue the player can directly control. A player can manage their reactions to what happens in a match. When players get dragged down by something that went wrong in the game they often stop paying attention. By controlling your reactions and staying engaged in the game your chances of pulling through to the end go up, even if it’s just a small amount.
Eric found that Magic actually helped him with other activities. While he was a video editor he felt the same sense of creativity he got from building a Magic deck. Skills like knowing what cards to cut from his deck helped him take out unnecessary shots from the videos he was editing. Understanding his deck concepts worked in a similar way, letting Eric grasp what the overall vibe and aesthetic of his videos should be.
Eric created PucaTrade based on how his playgroup traded cards and interacted with one another. The way they traded was personal and focused on giving rather than nickel and diming each other to death. This helped him realize that lots of players get trapped in their own way of playing Magic, where they don’t see the full spectrum of people who love the game. There are around 50-100 ways to play Magic, and Eric believes uniting that community through cards is one of the greatest things in the world.
First and foremost, never damage or destroy a card to determine if it is fake. The best and easiest test to determine if you have a fake is to shine a LED flashlight through the back of the card. About 40% of the light should shine through the card. 95% of fake cards fail this test and will block all of the light. PucaTrade has a guide with steps you can follow if you feel you don’t have an authentic card, and if you still are questioning your trade you can mail it to PucaTrade and they will test it for you!
Playing with other people’s decks is something Eric doesn’t see enough players doing. When you play with someone’s deck that has been meticulously crafted and thought about for hours on end, you get to look through a window into their mind. Seeing what cards they value and prioritize gives you an incredible glimpse into how they play Magic.
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