Today has been a whirlwind in Hearthstone. I managed to make a new Mage deck of a weird Miracle/Freeze variety. It has Yogg-Saron, Alexstrasza, and Malygos. It’s a fun deck. Which is to say its a kinda bad deck. It’s fun, but it basically stalls and waits for a miracle. More accurately, the deck is a 20 minute long coin flip. I still can’t choose a good laddering deck for the season because none of them have felt right yet. So I have enlisted the aid of a friend who plays Hearthstone and have been watching him play some. In turn, he’s watching me. We’re talking about decks and strategies and talking about what we’ve seen, what we thinks works, some debates about card power, and meta shifts.
Gaming in a vacuum can be difficult. Hearthstone parallels poker in a lot of ways, but two come to mind. One, is the remembering bad beats. We play hundreds of hands, we win, we lose, hooray poker! But those against-all-odds, the 2-draw for the flush, the ones that make us mad, those are the ones we remember. Which brings me to point two: tilting. This is when losing changes the thinking process; our anger makes us brash and kinda dumb. These two things feed into each other. Losing, anger, poor plays, more anger, more losing: it’s brutal. One of the things I teach in my classes is self-fulfilling prophecies. Basically we get inside our own heads so much that is becomes our reality. The simple solution is to get another brain in the mix. By including another person, we can expand our horizons and gain new perspectives on the ruts we can get ourselves into. At the local brick-and-mortar game shop I go to, I know of a few groups of people who play on Magic: The Gathering teams. They provide everyone on the team with the best cards, field players in events where they are most likely to succeed, and give advice to one another before matches. It’s a wonderful system.
So with at least one other person, your possibilities open up immensely. Suddenly, you have two lifetimes of experience able to think through problems, instead of the measly one that each of us normally get (this is what also makes the internet so great; millions of lifetimes of information at our fingertips). Maybe they see a play that you do not. Maybe they have a better idea for how to play your hand, or are thinking a few steps ahead of your current situation. Maybe they agree with your play and BOOM now you are a genius because someone else thinks you are smart. As long as we are willing to take criticism in that moment (and truth be told, it will not be all the time), we have the potential to use all this new information or validation to potentially play even better than we would have by ourselves.
Of course this is an ideal situation, not every person is going to make you a master at your current game. But it really put my playing in perspective. As mediocre as I’ve been doing in Hearthstone recently (VERY mediocre), I was reminded that I’m still learning and testing. And every bit of information I receive about that process is a step forward, even if it means not making the same mistakes twice. It’s good to get out of your own head every once in a while. And just as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.