I’m an elementary school teacher and I teach capoeira on the weekends. Thinking about learning and growth is both near and dear to my heart and perpetually on my mind. On this episode of The Misplay we literally went back to school for Act Two. I would be willing to bet that anyone who gets into Eternal and sticks with it, wants to improve at something in the game. We often talk about improving in abstract ad nauseum, but not the concrete things we can do to improve. I’m going to recap and expand on our discussion from the show with a goal-oriented system to improve at playing Eternal.
A framework that often gets used in education is called S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym outlining the qualities to look for in a goal that help ensure that a goal will have a meaningful impact on your learning. Goals following this criteria should be: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and have a timeline. Each aspect builds towards the goal being a stronger tool for learning and holding yourself accountable to your goal. Below is a short description of what to look for in Eternal and an example of how to take a skill and build a goal that can effectively inform your practice.
SMART – Specific
A specific goal outlines one targetable skill that your practice will revolve around. The key here is one. Choosing one skill or aspect forces you to think critically about what you are going to be practicing. It also is easier to measure the skill since different skills will be measured in different ways.
I want my mulligan decisions to be stronger than just checking to make sure I have all of my influence
Goal: During redraws I will plan out my first three turns of the game before deciding if I will redraw.
SMART – Measurable
Goals need to be measurable. I will tell you here this is the hardest part. Setting a goal up to be measurable is not too bad. The harder part (and the less fun part) is actually measuring the goal while you work on it. This is the biggest challenge in holding yourself accountable. If you don’t measure your progress you won’t know if you’re improving or if you need to change your approach. Come up with a checklist, make a table, write a short note after the game, do something to actually measure your progress. Create an incentive for yourself and reward your hard work.
It’s not mandatory to write it down and have stacks of game notes pile up on your dining room table. You could write out a table for your plan and give yourself feedback on the quality of your decision. If a checklist is all you need while you’re in game that’s fine too. Even a Post-It on your computer or table could suffice. The main point is to decide what and how you are going to measure your goal so you know you are on track.
SMART – Attainable
The goal should be attainable. I want to qualify for Worlds is a great goal but in the realm of attainable it’s pretty low probability. It’s also a goal that doesn’t give you very much agency. Planning out my first three turns during redraws is not a very glamorous goal. It does come with the upside of being attainable and you are in 100% control of whether or not you are successful at this goal. Shooting for worlds is awesome but not a roadmap to improvement all by itself. Attainable does not mean easy. Goals can challenge you to think about Eternal in ways you haven’t before or in more depth than before. Attainable goals give you the agency to succeed or fail with as few outside factors as possible affecting your results.
SMART – Relevant
You want your goals to be relevant to your development as player, builder, tuner etc. Make sure your goal aligns with the skill you want to target. If you want to get better at building decks with a good curve, then the example goal of planning your early turns during redraws doesn’t make sense.
SMART – Timeline
Giving yourself a deadline or window of time to practice the skill helps with holding yourself accountable for your progress. Set a timeline for how long you’ll practice the goal and attainable result that you are aiming for during this time. A time frame is not a termination point but a definition of how long you are planning on working on the skill. Be realistic, honest, and compassionate about your results and outcomes. People develop habits and learn at different rates. Choose a time frame that will work for you and give it your best effort.
Everyone learns and studies differently. The strategy outlined here is just one entry point on a journey to learning and getting better at playing Eternal. Learning is not a one size fits all process. You could distill this process with Nahid’s permission (of course) down to a simpler set of steps if tables, journaling, and data collection are not your thing. For me, setting and achieving my goals boils down to these three things: identify what you want to improve, find and create ways to work specifically on that skill, and get feedback so you can adjust and continue to grow. Meeting one or two small goals at a time will hopefully lead to achieving greater heights going forward. Good luck and I’m rooting for you to accomplish your goals one S.M.A.R.T. step at a time.