A Magical Win

One of the non-digital games I enjoy quite a bit is a card game called Magic the Gathering. The 10 Things Every Game Needs checklist I use is actually from one of the designers for that game, Mark Rosewater.

I don’t get to play that often simply because it takes a lot of time. One match usually lasts 30 min to an hour and you typically play 3-4 matches in a given sitting. If you are doing any sort of deck building, add 30 min to an hour to that. Basically you are looking at a 4-5 hour investment if you are playing any sort of organized event, at minimum. There are bigger events such as Grand Prixs that take multiple 8-10 hour days.

Yesterday I went undefeated in a prerelease event for their most recent set, Rivals of Ixalan. I have never been undefeated outside of a couple home games with some friends and it felt really good.

Prerelease events are typically a format called Sealed, where you get 6 sealed booster packs and use those to construct the deck you will be playing with. I like formats like this for 2 reasons. First, I do not play often so I don’t collect cards to build a deck with to bring and use. Second, having the sealed pools introduces an extra skill to the game and introduces extra randomness to the game.

Extra skill and extra randomness is weird because extra skill means that the more skillful person is likely to win, but extra randomness means that the lower skill person has a little higher chance.

The extra skill comes in deck building with a limited set of cards in a limited time frame. Being able to make a playable deck is not super hard, but making a competitive playable deck is. Not only that, but you often have 2 or more decks that could be made that look roughly the same as far as how good they will perform.

The extra randomness comes from having a random set of cards. The different abilities on the cards mean that you could end up with very few that do powerful things or you could have a set rich with power. If a good player gets a weak set, they are often going to lose some games to players that aren’t as good but have a strong set.

However if you look at the top players at events around the world, when they play these formats with higher randomness they still end up coming out on top pretty consistently. This tells me that the extra randomness does not balance out the skill, which is good.

If you want any sort of competitive game, make sure that any randomness that you have does not overpower skill overtime.

Keep getting wiser, stronger, and better.

I Want to Be a Better Developer