Let me set up the scenario for you: I’m playing a mono red dragon deck, my opponent (Shawn), Izzet. The score is currently 15-4 in my favor. Shawn has been the victim of mana screw for the first few turns so I was able to beat him down for the first half of the game, although for the last couple of turns he has started to get some momentum going. Too little too late. My hand consists of the following: 1x Kilnmouth Dragon, 1x Furyborn Hellkite, 2x Hellkite Tyrants and finally, 1x Moonveil Dragon. On the board, I have Guttersnipe (2/2 with the ability to do 2 damage to your opponent whenever you cast an instant or a sorcery), and a Quicksilver Amulet (an artifact that let’s you put any creature from your hand onto the battlefield for 4 colorless). My opponent has a couple of small creatures in play but nothing with flying. In short, whatever creature I play will most likely end the game. However, as the title would suggest, things didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted. With a smug grin, and a d*ck-ish level of self-satisfaction, I drop the Kilnmouth Dragon, (5/5 Flying, Amplify 3: When this card comes into play put 3 +1/+1 counters on it for every dragon you reveal in your hand, it can also tap to do damage equal to it’s power to target opponent or creature),onto the board. I then spread my hand on the table like I’m revealing a royal flush, which I guess in this case it was. My Dragon is now a 17/17 flier and my opponent has no blockers, so unless he is incredibly lucky and draws removal, this game is a wrap. I pass my turn fully expecting Shawn to draw a card and then scoop. He draws, then much to my chagrin, he plays Traitorous Instinct, taking control of the Kilnmouth Dragon, giving it haste and +2/+0 and swings in for 19 damage. I stare across the table, trying to process what the hell happened…I had an 11 point lead…11 friggin’ points…what happened? Well, let’s discuss it..
Okay, so what was my first mistake? That would obviously be playing a huge creature when it wasn’t necessary. Shawn was down to his last gasp at only 4 life, there was no need to drop a creature that big when I knew he had no blockers, AND to boot, one that was larger than my life total. I gambled that he wouldn’t have an answer for it, and I lost that bet. I could have easily played any of the other dragons in my hand, which, when he took control of it, wouldn’t have instantly squashed me. I could have played 2 of the other dragons in my hand the next turn, and most likely have ended the game in the next turn or so. Ok, so other than being a bit on the cocky side, what was my other mistake? Well, that would be not playing defensively. I was playing an Izzet deck..red and blue..that means removal, counters and creature-swipin’. In my opinion, blue has the most options when it comes to turning a game around in a second. Even though I knew his deck was focused on control, I didn’t play like I was aware of this fact. So what’s the big lesson here? Well you can draw your own meaning from this article, but the lesson I learned was this : when you have a size-able lead, you still have to find that balance of going for the kill, so to speak, and not letting your guard down. Always prepare for the worst case scenario and don’t over-commit to a play, leaving yourself wide open. As neat as it is to drop a 17/17, it’s not so neat when that 17/17 suddenly turns into your opponent’s 19/19 and folds you up like a cheap chair.