Getting better at games

You can’t improve indefinitely by playing, at a certain point you’re going to hit a limit where playing more isn’t going to improve you as a player any further. This article is written with KeyForge in mind, but really, it applies to any game, or actually, anything at all you’re trying to get better at.

Also of note, it is completely fine if you don’t want to improve, and are happy just enjoying the game at the level you’re at.

The threshold

Playing the game over and over again does improve my gameplay, but only up to a certain threshold. When I started out, that threshold was nowhere to be seen, but as time went by I found that threshold and began learning from other sources. Listening to BDQ podcast and reading articles helped me move that threshold further up. Then I had to play and practice what I learned to reach the threshold again.

Every time I pick up a new deck, I need to make my way to that threshold, by playing. Every time a new set comes out, I need to get to that threshold again, by playing. Playing is a great way to get to the threshold (and is fun!) but in order to move the threshold, you must do more than just play.

Tactics vs Strategy

When playing the game, I’m mostly focused on tactics. I’m looking at the board state, looking at my hand and trying to figure out the best course of action. Often times a course of action is very clear, and as such, I don’t put much thought in my long term game plan. Thinking tactically is generally easier for me, as there are less parameters involved.

Usually what happens through repeated play is situations will arise where you would go “If only I did X the previous turn, I could do Z now”. And then the next time the same situation comes around and you do X, and then a turn later you can do Z. This is how you improve by playing.

Thinking strategically however bypasses the need to experience the failure to accomplish X in time to do Z, by realizing you want to do X before actually encountering Z. This is also particularly important for things that are less obvious when Z comes around. For example, a low Æmber bonus deck might need to reap more often than a deck with high Æmber bonus. But it is not immediately obvious at a later stage of the game that you could have won if you reaped a couple of times when you could.

During a tournament I think strategically a lot more than I do when practicing a deck or just playing for fun (cause it is fun, and you should definitely just relax and enjoy a game from time to time). Thinking strategically takes a lot more effort and is tiring. It takes a lot more investment to think strategically, and for me to be invested I need the right atmosphere; Tournaments.

Thinking about KeyForge

If you spend time thinking about the game, whether it is with the help of external resources like this one, or simply on your commute to work, you will find you will realize things you did not before. How does lack of board clears impact your play? How do you handle big combos? Can you forfeit a key when playing a deck with low Æmber control, or should you postpone that forge as much as possible? Is this deck dependent or a general KeyForge concept?

Those questions are fairly abstract, and often the answer is… Depends. But thinking about it is going to make you more capable of quick effortless strategic thinking during a game.

Thinking about KeyForge can also come from talking to friends. Just tell them about the cool stuff you did, they will tell you about theirs. Maybe you’ll come up with cool combos. Maybe you’ll figure something interesting out.

Ask your opponent some questions. Why did you do X? Would you be able to stop me if I did Y? Did you catch any misplays on my part? Just remember, if you won, make sure to ask your opponent if they are up to discussing the game before asking questions.

Writing about KeyForge will definitely get your brain going. Analyze a deck in text, or write about a concept. It’ll force you to think things through. If you’d like to publish it, I accept guest authors as long as I can edit the text to match the quality of writing and flow, I will not alter your ideas, but I might ask to add an editors note if I have some thoughts on the subject.

Contact and afterword

In closing. Play to reach the threshold, think to move the threshold. Good luck!

I’m still running a double elimination bracket low sas tournament on Thursdays. So join the discord and find the #timeshapers channel to join in on the fun.

As always, you can follow me on twitter for updates. And join us at the Sanctumonius discord server if you’d like to chat with me, or join an awesome community of KeyForge players. 

We’ve also started the Timeshapers Podcast, so find it on your favourite platform, and if it isn’t there, please leave a comment so we can get it on there.

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