Serj stared down the young Urchin as he stood across the bay. Serj was desperate, his health was waning and he had just one simple counter left in his satchel. The Urchin waved his hands as wildly and dramatically as possible as a gigantic serpent thrashed from the now frothing waters. Serj reached into his pouch and pulled the counter orb free, the serpent frizzled into nothingness. As Serj stood confident he would survive a few moments more, a white hot lightning strike struck him down from the skies. He fell, forward at first, then back on his heels and finally to his back in the wet sands.
“Gotcha” the Urchin gloated.
Welcome to the Planeswalker’s Apprentice. Today we will go over two very important steps during the turn, your Main Steps.
Why are your Main Steps important? Well, the majority of your spells are played during these two steps, including creatures, enchantments, sorcery spells as well as lands. But what you do in these simple steps becomes complicated because of the step between them, the Combat Step.
The First Main Step is one of the most misplayed steps in the game by new players. In this step you are allowed to play virtually any card from your hand. But should you? Let’s have a look at some basic examples…
Example 1: Revealing too much information.
Serj is dueling the Urchin. It’s his first Main Step with a 2/2 Runeclaw Bear already in play. The Urchin has a 1/2 Heliod’s Pilgrim enchanted with Dragon Mantle, which allows him to pump it’s offense but he only has one available mana to do so. Serj draws a castable Garruk’s Packleader. If Serj casts it during his first Main Step then attacks with the Bear, the Urchin will likely take the damage and prepare next turn for the larger threat. If Serj waits to cast the pack leader, not only does he bluff a combat effecting instant with his untapped lands when he attacks with the Bear, the Urchin is tempted to trade the Pilgrim to kill the Bear, unknowing of the even stronger threat lurking in Serj’s hand. Serj’s best play here is to wait till second Main Step to cast the Packleader.
Example 2: Forcing a players hand.
The Mindbreaker training Serj who has one card in hand. The Mindbreaker has a 3/3 in play and Serj has just his 2/2 Runeclaw Bears. This turn he has drawn a discard spell. Concerned about his potential attacker’s safety and the unknown card in his opponent’s hand, the Mindbender casts the discard spell during his first Main Step and forces Serj to cast Titanic Growth on his Bear before the Attack Step. The Mindbender has exposed Serj’s ploy and chooses not to attack until next turn.
Example 3: Baiting spells from your opponent’s hand.
Serj and the Urchin are at it again. The Urchin is fairly certain that Serj has some form of counterspell in hand. Serj has a potentially game ending Lighting Strike and a Floodtide Serpent. The Urchin casts the Serpent in his first Main Step to bait the Cancel from Serj’s hand. The Urchin then wins the game by casting a Lightning Strike at the now defenseless Serj.
As you can see, the First Main Step should be used more for combat preparation and Second Main Step for preparing for your opponent’s upcoming turn. By following this simple mindset, you will give up less information too early, prepare the field for your creatures and clear the way for potentiality lethal damage. Swing last my friends!
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