From last to first, how a change in mindset changed my game.

I fell into Destiny by accident, a friend and I had started developing quite the board game collection and one day my friend was trawling through the Fantasy Flight Games YouTube channel when he stumbled upon a video outlining a new trading card game, one that allowed us to pit characters from our favourite movie series against each other in strategic dice duels. We were sold, we had starters ordered online but couldn’t wait for them to arrive, a short trip to a local game store and we had a fresh box of Awakenings in our hand. Straight home and we started to build from what we had, a Jango here and a Han there. It was total kitchen table play, we even thought we could use focus sides to blank our opponents dice!

The weeks went by, starters arrived and decks were “perfected”, we heard about a tournament happening at a local store, we’d never been to a tournament before but we were enthusiastic and our decks were looking fantastic. That day I turned up with eRey1, Padme, Rebel Trooper a confused mill/damage hybrid deck, it had been doing well at home but it got slaughtered that day 0-4. But I had a blast, it was great fun seeing decks like Poe Rey and Jango Veers operate and see what the game could be.

As the weeks progressed, I learnt about the DB and net decking, I started to choose decks that had performed well, slotted in the cards I could and filled out the 30 with whatever else I thought would work. I still wasn’t getting results, I didn’t get it, I was using the best decks, I started telling myself I was unlucky, the rolls weren’t with me, if I had rolled that special or that base melee side I’d have won! I made excuse after excuse, I was greedy with my re-rolls always looking for max damage and there was no rhyme or reason to my deck building choices and I kept expecting my results to change, without me changing a thing.

One day things did change, it was a quiet night at our local game store, only 3 of us turned up. One of those was our very own, Blake (Bouncewithout), he sat down with me and started to question my decisions, he wanted the rationale for why I was about to play a card and often I couldn’t give one, well not a better reason than “that dice showed damage and I had removal…” I wasn’t thinking through my game.

Blake sat down with me, he started to explain using your life as a resource, how to play with tempo (If you haven’t read his tempo article yet, give it a read here), the phases of the game. He recommended that I check out the content The Hyperloops were putting out and check out their discord. I got home that night, joined their discord and just started to consume everything I could find, the results were almost immediate.

I began thinking about my game, I could tell you why I was making a decision (even if it wasn’t quite the right decisions yet). I knew why I was putting cards in my deck, I knew their purpose and I could tell if they were working for me or if something else would work better in its place. I began to take lists that were doing well and tweak them for my needs and for the local meta, I started to develop my own playstyle that I could identify my strengths and weaknesses.

My results instantly began to improve, I placed second in a large local tournament, I was regularly going 3-1 on weekly nights. Parts of my game still needed improving (Ask Desmond about “the double pass”), but I started to identify these gaps and worked on how to fix them, I began regularly testing with Blake and soon was headed to the Australian Nationals. This was my first large tournament to test for, here I learnt about how to identify a meta, how to defeat that meta and the value of reps with everything, not just the deck I wanted to play.

At the end of the day my results at Nationals weren’t quite where I wanted them but I kept pushing on, I kept learning and was suddenly in regional test season, I set myself a goal for our two regionals, I was winning one of them and then I was going to go to Worlds in October. I made the deal with my partner and got to testing.

In our first regional, Blake and I faced off in the final round of swiss, it was a win and in. Blake knew about the goal and maybe he went a bit easy on me (given his nationals result meant he already had a ticket and flights), I qualified for the top cut, then made it to the Top 4, where I lost out to a really strong player, Paul (Steret), some really simple misplays cost me in these games, but I identified them and got to work on the next regional.

As a community we decided to run this regional as a trilogy event which left us with the Legacies block to play with, I identified a deck that was working for me, I knew where the deck had match up issues but I learnt game plans for those weaknesses and I came through swiss comfortably and soon found myself in a Top 4 game again, game 1 went fine, then the mistakes started creeping in again, I spotted the mistakes as they were happening. I took a breath, composed myself and made sure I’d comfortable get through game 3. I did it, I was through to the final and it started happening again, I got through the first game, struggled in the second and it was down to a third, between games, Blake reminded me to switch on, again, I stopped, took a breath and regained composure, and I managed to get there, I’d achieved my goal. I’d taken myself from a last place finish in a regional the year before to a win this year.

I was off to Worlds… The goal posts had to shift, a new goal had been set and now as we ramp up into our hardcore Worlds testing season I’m still reminding myself to take that breath, think about my game and act with reason. As I look back on my experience with the game I can see how far I’ve come yet how far I still have to go. I’ve got things I need to fix in my game before Worlds but I know what they are and have a plan to fix them. Bring on Worlds I say and I’m looking forward to playing you all there!

Before I leave you, I thought I’d leave you with a few of my experiences in this adventure:

  1. Think about your actions and have reasoning for everything you are doing, if you can’t explain the move you are about to make, it’s probably the wrong move.
  2. Consume lots of content (We’ve got lots of great content here on DDU.Network so I’d recommend starting here but there are plenty of other content creators to check out too)
  3. Understand what role each card in your deck has, if a certain card isn’t working for you reach out to the content creator/deck designer that included and ask how it’s going for them, how they generally play it etc but at the end of the day don’t be afraid to cut a card if it isn’t working for you, no matter what the articles say, trust your play testing, if the card isn’t working for you, cut it and test something else, if it works better go with that.
  4. Go over your games afterwards, even if you win it doesn’t mean you didn’t make mistakes or even that the deck is good enough to take to a big tourney, go over everything and keep track of what works and what doesn’t so you can adjust later on.
  5. Talk to other players, talk to your opponent, try to learn why they did something or what they would have done in your shoes. Try running the game back and make a different decision, see what changes when you make different choices.
  6. Don’t just test the deck you want to play, but test what you expect to face, even getting a few reps with a deck you will face will give you invaluable information to guide your game, when you know what your opponent is likely to do you can get a leg up on them.
  7. Finally and this is the big one, take a breath before making a decision. This is one I’m still learning to do, but before any decision in your games take that extra second or two to think through your action, justify it to yourself, check the board state and make sure you haven’t missed anything, then take the action knowing you’ve thought it through and can back it up afterwards. Don’t let your opponent force you to rush, taking an extra few seconds to settle and think is not slow play, just explain that you are thinking and take those vital seconds before you make a move that could make or break your game.

I hope you found this article helpful and it can help you elevate your own personal game just like I did. I hope to see lots of you at Worlds, I’m looking forward to it immensely and am excited to begin the grind with only a few weeks remaining.

Also please don’t forget, DDU.Network is an open community, if you have something you want to share, write about or just chat about then email it through to articles@ddu.network and we will work with you to get it published on our site.

We also have a fledgling discord server that we’d love it if you’d join, especially if you are in the Asia Pacific region, we are going to be revealing an exciting league night for you all shortly so check the discord for more updates.

That’s all from me, until next time.

Aaron