4 Sideboarding Fundamentals Every Player Should Know
Sideboarding is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and when we scoop up our cards after that first game, it’s so easy to fall into the mindset of “what answers do I have to the cards my opponent just played against me?”
As we often hear, you sideboard for the game you are about to play, NOT the game you just played.
But figuring that out can feel overwhelming at times. Especially if you’re new to a deck or playing a matchup you’re unfamiliar with. And it takes a TON of practice to get it right. So below are a few tips to help you sideboard like a pro.
#1: Know your opponent’s sideboard. At an FNM or weekly tournament, you won’t have access to this information, so you need to do research ahead of time to get an idea of what opposing sideboards look like and how they might attack your deck post-board.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you review each individual card in a sideboard list and try to determine why it’s included in the 75.
#2: Know your biggest threats in the maindeck and the sideboard. Great magic players sideboard according to how they believe their opponents are going to sideboard.
Always keep in mind what cards your opponents are going to bring in to answer the cards you bring in.
For example, let’s say you’re on Grixis Dragons and you’re playing against Esper Control. Your opponent is likely going to bring in extra copies of Essence Scatter and possibly some quantity of Negate to make sure that your biggest threats and any extra planeswalkers you’ve boarded in don’t land on the battlefield.
Additionally, you want to remove cards from your maindeck that answer the cards that they are potentially taking out.
This time let’s say that your opponent is RB Aggro, it’s game 2 and you’re on the play – you may want to remove some quantity of Fatal Push, since they typically remove Heart of Kiran and shave on two drops in this situation. There’s nothing worse than having a dead card in your hand.
Fatal Push is only half as effective when they board out their most effective two-drops
#3: Attack the engine. You need to know the primary strategy of your opponent’s deck and attack the cards that fuel the strategy. For example, the KCI Combo deck relies on graveyard recursion and Krark-Clan Ironworks to combo off. One option is to bring in cards like Rest in Peace to keep the graveyard empty, or to bring in cards like Eidolon of Rhetoric and Stony Silence to lock them out from combo-ing off.
Make sure your sideboard is made up of 15 flexible cards that are specifically geared towards stopping key post-board strategies that you may face.
#4: Ask how your opponent sideboarded. I always try to do this, win or loss. Excluding competitive events, I always lay my sideboard cards face up after the match, which often encourages my opponent to do the same. Make note of your opponent’s sideboard strategy and review it in the future.
Sideboarding truly is an art that takes time to master. Start improving at this essential skill and put these tips to work at your next event.
What does sideboarding look like for you? Tell us all about it by replying to this email or by posting on the MTG Pro Tutor Facebook page.
Thanks for reading.
– Jeff Sheerin, MTG Pro Tutor Scribe
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