Win Conditions

PUBLISHED ON 2018-05-05

This might get a bit rambily, but unavoidable I think. I didn’t play Magic The Gathering until well into adulthood. I was taught by two very experienced players (one of them is now a MTG Judge). For the uninitiated, a short and probably slightly inaccurate description of MTG is: a completitive card game where you build decks and battle them against each other.

Building decks is great fun for people of a certain mindset. You get to create this 60 card world with interactions with itself that are complimentary. When starting to play, the decks I built were technically legal decks, but they lacked multiple win conditions. There are a handful of ways to win a MTG game, make your opponent life to go zero, make the poison counters reach ten, make them use up all their cards, judge ruling and various special win conditions written on certain cards.

Good players build decks that have one or more win conditions but also have tools to deal with other decks that counter them, and generally focus on getting the cards out they need in a timely manner. Anyway, back to when I started building decks, I had some creatures I really wanted to play, but no real plan to get them on the out to use them. So this conversation would happen often.

Hey, look at my cool deck.

Yeah, that is cool but how do you win?

Well, I get this creature out.

How do you that creature out?

Umm, I get 9 mana (a resource in magic) and cast him

OK, so how many mana do you have in your deck?


So it will take you 30 turns to get that creature out?

I guess.

Currently most games are won by turn 4.


In the current standard game, you have no win condition.


This was repeated more than a few times, but was very valuable. Win conditions aren’t pie in the sky by definition, they have to be stuff that can actually be accomplished. They also aren’t huge things, they are small things often. But the value of having them can be profound.

If you are in an argument with your partner(s), take a moment to stop and consider your win condition. What would make this argument end positively and be considered a win. Are you trying to get something out of it that is absurd like my win condition above, do you lack a win condition and realize that you are just having a bad day and taking it out on someone? Are you reacting to something you shouldn’t because it has zero positive upside for you? If you find yourself in an argument with no win condition for you and you didn’t want to get into it… you probably got drawn in by someone who has a win condition – walk away.

This equally applies to work, when you are taking an action, do you have a known win condition? This might sound a lot like a goal, and the old advice of write down you goals still stands, but this is a microcosm of that. Most things you do should have a win condition – not everything, but most. When you are doing something without a win condition, you are probably should be doing something else (or taking a well earned break), it is action without purpose.

Now, this is tough until it becomes habit, and I am still learning. But it is extremely valuable to me when I apply it.

… Work In Progress (WIP) …

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