When You're Hot ... and They're Not

Random – Sometimes you have those days where everything just seems to go your way. Sometimes you get lucky and that happens during a game night. Last night that happened to me.

Every week I have a group of 3-8 guys over to play games. Sometimes we play board games, sometimes tabletop games but most of the time we wind up playing Magic the Gathering: Commander. (During the week it's faster to get a few games in of Magic than it is to play a single tabletop game.)

Lots of real-life stuff (new babies, new houses, etc) meant we had a rather lite turnout last night, so I played a game of 1-on-1 Commander while we waited. The game was pretty crazy as it seemed like I was able to draw an answer to anything my opponent played. I was excited as it's been a long time since my Xiahou Dunn deck hit on all cylinders.

We wrapped up shortly after our last player arrived and jumped into a second game. Again I had an amazing draw: 2 swamp, Hex Mage, Dark Depths which meant on turn three I was swinging with a 20/20. An inopportune Innocent Blood lost me my fancy token, but I drew into Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood followed by Exsanguinate. Just plain crazy as I comboed off on the seventh turn.

At this point I switched up decks, pulling out my Mimeoplasm deck I figured this would be a bit slower. Also at this point we pulled out the community Planechase deck. Wouldn't you know it I had another amazing draw all the land I needed (including Urborg) and a mana doubler. I was riding high, right up until a Planar Phenomenon forced us to shuffled our permanents into the library and reveal that many cards. Turns out my flips were amazing and the other guys were not so much. The game ground on for a while with me building steam and my opponents struggling to build up a resistance. A creepy doll/pariah combo kept me from doing much to one opponent until I drew into some extort creatures and a Jace. End result third win for the evening.

So is there a point to this story, other than gloating about some wins? Well yes, yes there is. You see when you have a night like this where everything goes right you feel really great. That is until you notice that the rest of the table seems to be frustrated as they are not having a good night and your good luck is running the table. Suddenly your shining moment looses it luster.

The question is when this happens what do you do? You can continue to just roll with it and enjoy your luck. Or, do you tone down your game to give everybody else a chance? (You know not make plays you could, maybe "just be a little short" for range, "forget" about an ability, etc.) Even better what do you do if this happens when you're trying to teach a game, is it really the burned hand learns best?

I've been on both sides of the field on this one and can attest to the pure misery that comes from an opponent being on fire during a game while you struggle to get a measly spark from your side of the field. I can also attest to the pure joy you feel when everything is going right. Does it matter are those "rare" instances of extreme luck or bad luck just part of playing games? Or is should you do your best to keep a game "competitive"?

I would feel patronized if I knew they were purposely letting things slip to give me a chance (or is this really just rightious idignation and I wouldn't really care or even know?). That said I'm a hypocrite because I commonly do the same thing during demos or while teaching a game. Sometimes I'll even do it if my opponent seems really bummed or has had a really bad string of luck at the tables. Is that wrong? 

What do you think? Please post comments below.