Weighing the Meta for Beginner Players

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This article explores the concept of meta in competitive gaming for beginner players, providing an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages to help them make informed decisions. It gives tips on how to best use the meta to your advantage.

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The meta is an important part of any game, where playing at your best means understanding how far the game has come, and what the current best tactics require. Mastering the meta means having a high-level understanding of every aspect of a game, making it a natural end goal for anyone taking their experience seriously. It can also act as a double-edged sword, however, as newer players chase concepts they're not fully equipped to understand. From this perspective, players must understand that mastery of the meta is a broader goal but is just one part of a well-rounded approach to play.


What is Meant by Meta?

The term metagame refers to the idea of a game outside of the game. While this can seem confusing, it can be thought of as ideas and tactics that reflect an understanding beyond just the surface level. Understanding a base game like poker can mean looking at the cards. Understanding the metagame can mean looking at the players, their tells, their relationships, and their moods. Unlike the base game, the meta can be ever-changing alongside new discoveries, though this isn’t always true.

In blackjack, the meta can be mostly static. Here, the metagame includes understanding moves like those listed in a blackjack strategy chartlink outside website. In this example, the best decisions can be calculated statistically and relayed for players facing games with 4,6, or 8 decks. Internalizing these charts means going above the simple best-guess nature of normal play, though as a game of chance, these tactics can still never guarantee success.

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The Meta Trap

Whether looking at blackjack, poker, MTG, or any other game, going full in with the meta as a new player can be a poor decision. In some games, the meta is extremely complicated, and jumping straight into one without an in-depth understanding of the systems surrounding it is akin to running before you can walk. A complicated combo might be effective when pulled off, but if you don't fully understand when to use it, the meta information is wasted.

In CCG games this issue is exacerbated by what can be a high cost of admission. Even basic starter kitslink outside website in MTG can be expensive, and the best cards in the current meta aren’t likely to be cheaper ones. Jumping in with both feet, spending a lot of money, and then failing when you don’t comprehend a game’s full context can also kill the most important element: fun.

Winning can be great, and it’s generally a goal we all keep in mind. Winning at the cost of everything else, however, can be stressful and exhausting. Unless you're a professional, playing your own tactics and even getting silly with your gameplay can be much more rewarding than trying to min-maxlink outside website. Nothing beats the feeling of outplaying someone on your own terms, where victories achieved by mimicking the meta can feel stale by comparison.

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The metagame is a key factor to remember no matter what you play, but beginners need to know that it's just a part of a total equation. It's not just the destination we should enjoy in gaming, it's the journey we take as we develop. Be yourself, have fun, think outside the box, and who knows, you might come up with something that shakes up the existing metagame along the way.