On Differing Interests for Casual Magic - Request for Help!

Discussion in 'General CPA Stuff' started by Psarketos, Feb 25, 2018.

  1. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    I owe Oversoul an apology for unintentionally derailing his Stone Rain thread. A concept / issue I have been grappling with for a while is how to bridge divergent interests, expectations, and points of view when it comes to playing casual Magic so as to involve everyone and maintain the interest of everyone.

    My first request for help is to ask if anyone has heard or seen a formalized name or conception for this problem, the diverging spectrum of interests and perspectives different individuals bring to a single game. I have not found anything formal yet, though I do have a few relevant threads to help me give a description of the problem.

    The first is a gaming blog entry entitled the Normality Problem. The second is a description by a DnD 5e DM of a play group that could be one of mine, and may sound familiar to anyone who has played a tabletop RPG with friends regularly.

    Tournament Magic has no issue with player expectations, because competition and adherence to both game and tournament rules are the defining standards. If you come to a tournament expecting something other than adherence to rules and competition, then you likely have to bring it with you because there are no other expectations. Games like Chess have a small enough design space that even people of different ages and cultures can sit down to a game and have a mutual understanding of what generally to expect, such that this problem does not generally occur.

    Another game I love, Ultimate Frisbee, has had for a long time the same problem that casual Magic, whether between unfamiliar people in person or in an unregulated setting like MtGO, has - what is the proper balance between, fun, casual relaxed companionship, and competitiveness? What parts of the game, while legal in a technical sense, violate the spirit of mutual understanding between this particular, local group of people?

    I mentioned to Oversoul that I suspect, and hope, that Magic: Arena moves to solve this in some ways as MtGO has never attempted. One of those ways may mimic Hearthstone, in creating a player or players teaming together vs AI, as League of Legends does. If your interest is exploring mechanics, teaching new players, simply practicing basic coordination skills, then bots in LoL is a fantastic addition. If you are a hardcore competitor in LoL, you probably wonder why bots are even offered (let the scrubs learn real play by losing! is the kind of internet speak you will hear from some corners, which does contain a kernel of truth - losing is often an excellent, if frustrating, learning tool).

    Beyond Wizards releasing things like Battlebots and potentially Arena, what other tools, ideas, concepts can help casual Magic generally meet and bridge the interests of those interested in winning and technical skill with those interested in the self-expression and artistry angles, as well as keeping interested those who have only a little time every week or month to devote to thinking about Magic and those for whom it is a more regular hobby?

    What are great ideas for creating a framework for self-regulation in casual game settings, Magic included? I suspect this community has some wisdom and insight to share, and anything you have will help my persistently restless mind on these topics. Thank you in advance!
    turgy22 likes this.
  2. turgy22 Nothing Special

    The biggest discrepancy between "casual" and "competitive" that bothers me is usually just the quality of cards between one deck and another. I like playing well-balanced matches more than winning or losing, and that requires all decks involved to maintain a certain power level to ensure that everyone has a good chance to win. This obviously works in tournament play, because the expectation across the board is that each player is trying to hit the ceiling of deck power and everyone can agree that anything goes within the confines of the format. The drop off to "casual" is usually about accessibility to the most powerful cards and, when playing a match casually, I think there's a certain expectation that the players involved are no longer trying to hit that ceiling, but instead are trying to explore a lot of the design space underneath it, where they can still compete, but play a style that's more open and provides more possibilities than just win at all costs. Problems come up because almost everyone has a different idea of what range within that design space they're trying to fill. Some people are closer to the top and some are much closer to the bottom.

    I've seen it go both ways. I rarely play MTGO anymore because most of my cards are from older sets that are now part of Modern or Legacy. When I go into a casual match, the other casual decks in those formats are significantly better than anything I can offer. So I can either spend lots of money to keep up with the more friendly formats (such as Standard) or I can participate in non-competitive matches every time I play. Back when I used to keep up with the newer sets, I sometimes had matches go the other way, where people would quit on me for playing land destruction or affinity. I never thought my decks were particularly powerful, but other people saw them and felt they didn't meet their idea of being casual.

    I think, ideally, if you want to play and have fun in a casual environment, you just need to get together a play group of like-minded people who all grow in the game together and understand the power level expectation within the group. If someone tries to put something together that's overpowered, you all bitch about it or if someone isn't keeping up, you can intentionally nerf your down decks or play different formats that make the playing field more fair. And if someone is trying to hit that ultra-competitive high ceiling, they can move on to a more competitive group or at least understand that it's more fun for the group to play with some less powerful cards.

    For the past few years, my preference has been for limited formats. This is another way to put all players on pretty even footing and doesn't require me to put in the time or effort of making friends so I can have a dedicated playgroup.
    Psarketos likes this.
  3. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    Limited formats is a good idea that I have heard elsewhere, Draft and Sealed. I had no idea until I looked just now that the 4 of rule does not apply in Limited! Thanks Turgy, I think you laid out the problem and a few possible solutions succinctly.
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Not at all. I touched on it in one of the first "Memories" threads I started, but the main reason I started them was because I changed jobs and found that my then-new job was leaving me with some awkward "wait in the office for a bit" moments. I was checking in a lot at the CPA, but the downtime wasn't so extreme that I thought I'd be able to get articles out of it. So I came up with something that I knew I could ramble on about a lot. I was hoping for discussion, but if it was all just me talking to myself, I was prepared for that.

    I've thought about this, but I don't have a real solution. There have been times when I was worried that I was the problem, but I've since come to the conclusion that the problem is multifaceted and maybe inherent in the system. Not saying it can't be addressed at all, just that it's probably more along the lines of management and mitigation than of a clear, perfect answer.

    Nothing comes to mind. Good question. I'll have to check out that blog sometime.

    You'd think so! And if you limit the question to, "We're going to follow the rules as laid out in that there document" then yeah, your summary would seem to cover it. But if my own tournament experience is any indication, people have different expectations in tournaments all the time. In particular, in the last tournament that I attended, which was a few years ago, I showed up with the expectation that, this being a weekly Legacy tournament at an LGS with nothing special going on, I could play my cards, watch my opponents play their cards, and generally relax and try to win. My opponents seem to expect that we were going into some mode of psychological warfare, regularly trying to engage in cute tricks and distractions to try to throw me off and lull me into making mistakes, they called the judge on me over seemingly nothing or they'd fake out that they were going to call the judge or that there was some rules issue, but then it'd become clear that it was all some strange manipulation tactic. If I sound bitter, I don't really even blame them, but there was a difference in expectations.

    It seems like a similar problem, but what I've noticed in athletic activities is that those discrepancies tend to get resolved pretty quickly in most settings. Maybe I mostly have martial arts in mind, but I think it applies to other sports too. Someone is too aggressive for the type of practice or is going too hard on a partner and we'd tend to step in and shut that problem down.

    If they could get an online Magic simulation that had the overall level of quality and reliability that Hearthstone does, it'd be a step in the right direction. Magic has a lot of nuances and issues that Hearthstone doesn't. I remain cautiously optimistic.

    One scenario that immediately jumps to mind is an old game we ran here. I've brought it up before and I feel a bit bad about bringing it up too much because I don't want it to be like I'm taking shots at someone who is no longer posting here (incidentally, someone I admired). I felt then, as I do now, that the "problem" wasn't really my fault in this game. In contrast, by the way, I think part of what eventually went wrong in the Tribal games really was my fault.

    -Here's the thread for the game.
    -And here's the discussion thread it spawned.

    You can peruse those threads if you want. The short version is that we decided to do a three-person casual multiplayer game with Vintage rules. I modified one of my existing decks and decided to use an actual physical Magic deck for this game (I'd ordinarily relied on the Apprentice software for forum games). I forget if there was any discussion on not using the Power 9, a concept that came up in some of those forum games back then. But I understood that it was Vintage rules and didn't really expect my scrubby budget deck to win. I'd kinda resolved to myself that I wasn't going to be disappointed if I got blown out by some unpowered Vintage-legal deck: cutting out the Power 9 and only the Power 9 leaves room for some pretty broken stuff. And at first, I was seeing developments that I thought were consistent with that possibility. But after a few turns of nothing really happening, I hardcast Yawgmoth's Bargain and used it to go off with Donate + Illusions of Grandeur as the kill. Istanbul conceded in response to Donate, which meant I didn't even need to find a second copy of Illusions to kill Spiderman (rather generous of him, in retrospect). Anyway, clearly we had very different expectation there, in that I had no expectation that my deck would be seen as a problem, while Istanbul was adamant that my deck wasn't acceptable for casual games. Setting aside the argument between the two of us, it's pretty clear that we had different expectations going into that game.
    Psarketos likes this.
  5. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    My first impression of that game was, "If this was a year later, Spiderman could have Commandeered that Duress and stolen the Cabal Therapy on turn 1. That would have been sweet." My second thought was, my go to deck of that era was Legacy oriented and designed to consistently go off by turn 5...and steal everyone elses deck in the process. I was the fun spoiler, turns out :)

    It is fascinating that the thread you reference has an even older thread referenced in a "let us not discuss it again" way! Good to know this is a problem that is in no way new to this decade of Magic. Oversoul, even though I would not have liked the discard component, I would have felt that your deck was definitely casual with that set of events at the time, fwiw. My casual decks today would feel overtuned in relation to that (Yawgmoth's Bargain alone...it was casual of you to leave it in play for your opponents a turn. To say the least - I would have trouble being that generous / casual myself, to be entirely honest).
    turgy22 likes this.
  6. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I think you guys nailed the core aspect of the problem, which is "expectations". "Casual" just denotes such a wide breadth of ideas and experiences, so condensing those ideas into a common groundwork/framework is needed. That way, everyone going in has a (hopefully) common starting denominator of what to expect.
    Psarketos likes this.
  7. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I do love me some Commandeer, but that trade would ultimately be a 3-for-2. Even so, he'd get to see my hand and I wouldn't get to see his. But it'd depend on what the Commandeer player was trying to protect. Could totally be the right play in some situations.

    We started that game around the time I started going to college, I think. But anyway, I was rather limited in what cards I had to work with. Not that I'd have brought my strongest Legacy build that I possibly could to the table if money weren't a factor. But I'm sure that part of what had me build that particular deck was just that I had the components for it. Anyway, when I got defensive in the discussion thread there, I know that what I had in mind was a deck I'd been playing a lot at some point several months before that game. It was a Krark-Clan Ironworks deck from the old Mirrodin Block Constructed tournament format. I think I had some sort of reasoning that if a deck built from only three sets in the whole card pool was a faster combo deck than the one I built, then the one I built wasn't egregious. Not really solid reasoning, in retrospect. But that still goes back to expectations either way. If that's the mental standard I have set for combo deck speed, it might not be what my opponents expect.

    I know, right?

    Same here. I guess I didn't think of it so much at the time, but I guess I was/am overly fond of the Donate + Illusions combo. It became infamous because of some quirks of an old Extended format, but my own use of it was practically running parallel to that. I picked up the combo just because it was super-affordable at the time (I think that by 2001 or so I already owned a playset of Illusions and I hadn't opened any copies of Donate, but it was not expensive back then) and fit with the blue/black decks I liked so much. I learned certain subtle aspects of gameplay dealing with the combo and used it extensively in multiplayer games. Players in local casual playgroups came to associate the Donate + Illusions combo with me, because they'd all played against me when I was using it, and many of them encountered it for the first time through one of my decks. I named my favorite deck "Here, Hold This" and had a cheeky performance I'd do if the opponent was a close friend where I'd make a big show of "relinquishing" control of Illusions of Grandeur. From my perspective, my deck in that game had a personal touch and was more casual than a Tendrils of Agony deck, which I could have built.

    But on the other side of the coin, Donate + Illusions was more broadly known for its performance in Extended tournaments. It was already relegated to obsolescence in tournaments by the time we played that game, but it hadn't been that long. The combo was the focal point of the "Trix" deck, which had been controversial and had overstayed its welcome by surviving multiple rounds of bannings, even after cards were banned explicitly to weaken it. I don't know if Isty was one of the players who had suffered through that tournament environment, but perhaps he was. I can see how it'd be frustrating to dig up bitter old tournament experiences by going into a casual game and having the cards you hated, but haven't seen in a couple of years, crop up again. I suspect that Isty and I just weren't going to see eye-to-eye on that one. Brings to mind the quandary of a more academic argument that took place between Ransac and Al0ysiusHWWW when we were nominating cards for the Casual Card Hall of Fame (thread is somewhere around here).

    For background: Al0ysiusHWWW had taken a bit of a break from Magic and came back between Lorwyn and Morningtide. For his return, he was focusing exclusively on casual play, pretty much eschewing all trappings of tournaments entirely. I think he bought a box of Morningtide. I remember at one point we did a draft at his house. Anyway, his favorite card from the set was Mutavault. So when it came time to nominate casual cards from Morningtide, he picked Mutavault. Ransac, who had been playing much more extensively and had played in both sanctioned tournament and casual settings, objected to Mutavault on the grounds of its tournament ubiquity. Something like "How can such a tournament staple be the casual representative of the set?"

    I had my own opinions on the card, the set, and the Hall of Fame. But I tried to see both sides of that particular argument. I think it's a bit of a quandary. If we say that one side is right, it's tantamount to telling a casual player, "Tournament players get to dictate to you what is and is not casual." If we say that the other side is right, it's like saying, "Your experience and knowledge decrease the value of your opinion here." So it's a lose-lose situation.
    Psarketos likes this.
  8. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    A lot of us were introduced to the game by essentially being thrown into it and allowed to explore. We weren't learning under the guidance of experienced players, so we learned the rules as we went. Our first decks didn't make much sense and might have been "the cards I own" or "the red cards I own." And then we'd start to learn basic strategy and get something of a foundation to build on. Our collections would get a little bit bigger and our decks would get more refined. And at some point, we hit this period of time where everything felt so gloriously open. Our decks were better than they'd ever been, but we knew of cards we'd seen that we wanted to obtain to make those decks even better. Maybe we were looking to complete a playset of some rare that would really make our favorite deck stronger, or maybe we had just succeeded in completing that playset. Along the way, we were discovering interesting cards we'd never seen before, but we were accumulating enough experience to have our own preferences, our own tastes, our own favorite cards, to personalize our decks, to dream up new decks with cards we'd seen but that no one else was even using. There was some time period after we sort of got our bearings but before we became experts, where there was just this profound joy and excitement over all the cool stuff in this game. For some, it might have happened almost right away. For others, it might have taken a while to learn enough for this to sink in. But at some point, we got that perfect combination of a sense of wonder mixed with a solid confidence in one's own abilities.

    Tournament gameplay isn't about that feeling. Tournament gameplay is more technical, more solved. And I think the "casual" identity that played a part in motivating this website is largely an attempt to chase after that feeling, to get back what was lost. But, as with everything else in life, you can't really go back. And for some people, that's a bitter pill. It doesn't have to be! I think too many players are stuck between embracing the sophisticated, refined world of competitive tournament play and a desperate attempt to go back to that sweet spot of playing in a developed, but less certain environment like the one that brought them joy when they were learning enough to have skills at the game but before it became all about tournament intricacies. If they take the first choice, they probably burn out and leave the game. It's not that all tournaments inherently burn people out, just that if you're already pining for a more idyllic form of Magic, doubling down on Standard is going to come into conflict with your passion. Some take the third choice: become a booster drafter. It's still competitive, but it has that smaller cardpool and that uncertain nature to it, so it is a kind of supplement for idyllic "casual" gameplay.

    I find it a bit frustrating, but when I see what others are doing, it seems like everyone who has stuck around in Magic has picked one of those paths. Behind Door #1 you can forsake your "casual" past and become a real tournament player. Behind Door #2 you can delve into attempts at casual Magic formats and battle the differing expectations that players with different interesting and backgrounds bring to the table. Behind Door #3 you get an experience that, with some constraints, provides inherent balance and diversity. But there is a fourth option! You can build something better. You can take the best of both worlds, using that knowledge and experience to truly explore the vast field that the game offers. Play in one of the many, many variants already established. Or make your own. People are already doing it all the time. It's not a secret. It's just, for some reason, not mainstream enough for people to talk about. Like I said, I'm cautiously optimistic about MTG Arena, but the product that I really think is the shining beacon of hope right now is the Annex line.
    Psarketos likes this.
  9. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    He would have been protecting Lost Auramancers and Dust of Moments, with the intention of finding Omniscience and using Foresee to dig to Enter the Infinite to cast his library. The Spin into Myth and Snapback he ditched to Commandeer would have been dead cards against you anyway, which he would have known due to spider sense.

    Alternate histories are fun.
    Oversoul likes this.
  10. turgy22 Nothing Special

    I got to keep posting in this thread. Someone likes almost every response! I need more likes!
    I can say that Oversoul is definitely the problem with tribal games. I'm just kidding about that, by the way... well, mostly. I learned after playing a few constructed games on here with Oversoul that he and I do not share the same expectations of what a casual deck is. I think we went through a few iterations of narrowing the rules in tribal games or commander or perhaps some other formats and every time, he quickly found the optimal deck to destroy his opponents as fast as possible. I absolutely do not fault him for that; his deckbuilding skills and general knowledge of the game just exceed mine... fairly significantly. It felt like playing a pickup basketball game with a former professional (not that I've done this - when it comes to sports, everyone seems like a former or current professional compared to me): no matter how much you try to even the playing field, there's just a skill gap that can't be overcome with more rules and restrictions.

    Which brings me to another idea I had that I wanted to mention earlier, but forgot. Another good way to create a "framework for self-regulation" in a casual setting would be by sharing decks. If I have two decks that I think are casual and you have two decks that you think are casual, but my decks and your decks aren't really at the same level, why don't we play a game using both of my decks (you get first choice) and then play a game using both of your decks (I get first choice). Then no one can complain about the decks being unfair and if one is perceived as having an edge, it goes to the player who didn't put the thought into its construction. Depending on how many decks you have, you could very easily apply this to a much larger group of players, too.
  11. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    That is "I cut you choose" as a format agnostic Magic solution! It is genius, and I love it! We have enough deck builders in our group that this should not be a problem to implement, and I wish I had thought of this (or asked and had the idea handed to me) years ago. Thanks Turgy!
  12. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Likes for the like god!

    I did a full recap at some point, but I really do blame myself for most of it. There was a bit of a misunderstanding when I tried to propose switching the format from using Vintage as a template to using Legacy as a template. I did a poor job of explaining myself there and it seemed that I came across as being like "Let's make more changes and make deckbuilding more of a chore for you" while the message I took away from it was "We no build Legacy decks. Go away with Legacy. We like Vintage. We build Vintage decks." Also, I liked how the guy who motivated us to bring back the Tribal games and to allow goblins disappeared and we never learned what his tribe even was, but then I made a moot point out of it by killing everyone with goblins.

    Perhaps in part because of some of the threads here, I've tried to pay close attention to what people seem to think casual decks look like, and really all I came away with was confusion. I don't know what my expectations are anymore, but I sure do think people have lots of different ones.

    Hm, I don't think I have the real deck-brewer's sophistication to break this one, but I actually think Psarketos might be able to pull it off. The trick is to design your two decks such that they are about evenly matched, with optimal play patterns that are not intuitively obvious, but familiar to you. If you're tricky enough, then your opponent must be very clever to overcome your advantage in the matchup between your decks, which means the overall matchup is weighted toward you...
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  13. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    I don't fault Oversoul for "breaking" Tribal as well (well, mostly), but since we're talking expectations, mine for Tribal was that it's supposed to be a "creature war" type of thing where you summon your army and do battle. So getting a win through other means, while is certainly "legal" in the whole Magic framework, just seems to go outside of what the format Tribal was specifically meant for.
  14. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I think you brought that up before at some point. I forget what I said. I do think that's a valid consideration. Calling something "Tribal Wars" seems like it would lead people to the expectation that the format is about the tribes. And we even tried the "Lowlander" deckbuilding restriction to try to make the format more about the tribes, which I thought was a good idea (also it turns out that goblins have enough depth to go bonkers on their own, as I apparently decided to demonstrate empirically even though I should have already been aware of it). But before all that, there was some concern, I forget which people exactly, about "infinite combo decks masquerading as tribal decks." I was never really satisfied with the "gentleman's agreement" to avoid infinite combos, in large part because it was awkward, but I have to admit that it's probably the best stopgap anyone came up with and that it is a problem when casual multiplayer games devolve into everyone trying to infinite combo each other to death (hello, Commander format).

    While I'd stipulate up front that my Constructs deck and my Goblins deck were problems in that they didn't really line up with what people expected games would look like, I do think that all of my decks relied heavily on the creatures in my tribe. My walls deck, my clerics deck, my wizards deck, and my crabs deck weren't really built to win by specifically attacking with the creatures in my tribe, which might be a contributing factor in your perception that not using tribes to "summon your army and do battle" was a problem. Obviously walls can't attack. As for the others, my clerics deck was built around infinite life, my wizards deck was built around ping damage (but Mind Over Matter is super cheesy and I used it), and my crabs deck was based around creature stealing/swapping (it didn't work anyway, but I maintain that it's hilarious to give other people crabs and take their big monsters, and totally within the spirit of the format). Not knowing what every single person was playing, but knowing what won our tribal games because I made a recap post at one point, I can go through the games line-by-line...

    Game 1: Won by creature combat (Spiderman, Cats)
    Game 2 Won by infinite combo (Oversoul, Clerics)
    Game 3: Won by creature combat (Spiderman, Bringers)
    Game 4: Won by creature combat (Spiderman, Spiders) [Heh. How appropriate.]
    Game 5: Won by creature activated abilities (Mythosx, Wizards)
    Highlander Special: Won by infinite combo (Darthferret, Clerics) [At least my infinite combo win with clerics was actually used clerics in the combo and wasn't just an Enduring Renewal loop with non-tribal cards!]
    Game 6: Won by infinite combo (Mooseman, Illusions) [An astute and honorable player saw the infinite combo coming and attempted to thwart it, but was beset by elephants for his trouble.]
    Game 7: Won by creature combat (Mooseman, Gargoyles)
    Game 8: Won by creature combat (Mooseman, Faeries)
    Game 9: Won by creature combat (Spiderman, Kithkin) [That the puny kithkin defeated the mighty griffins in the end is just wrong, frankly, but I blame myself. :p]
    Game 10: Won by creature combat (BigBlue, Avatars)
    Game 11: Won by creature combat (Oversoul, Wurms)
    Game 12: Won by creature combat (Oversoul, Angels)
    Game 13: Won by creature activated abilities (Oversoul, Spirits) [Technically I was going to win by creature combat, but only because I used Tradewind Rider activations to bounce all of Mooseman's lands, locking him down.]
    Game 14: Won by creature activated abilities (Oversoul, Constructs) [My deck was stupidly broken, but it really did attack with constructs. The final blow was dealt by Triskelion activations.]
    Game 15: Won by creature combat (Oversoul, Goblins) [Like the previous game, I was attacking with my tribe, but I was just doing it with so much power so early on that opponents were overwhelmed by it.]

    I don't think that's such a bad track record for the premise of summoning one's army and doing battle, except that infinite combos were an issue up until we all agreed not to use them anymore.

    On the other hand, perhaps part of the perception that there was a difference in expectations was that some people brought decks primarily based around the premise of just summoning creatures and using them, while others (not necessarily the same person every game, though) were fueling their armies with some powerful engines (Recurring Nightmare, Sneak Attack, Land Tax, Survival of the Fittest, Skullclamp, Enduring Renewal, Day of the Dragons, Smokestack, Vedalken Archmage, probably some other cards that I'm forgetting). Not sure how to qualify that, how much it counts, or whatever. But I could see how games feel lopsided when you're just sitting their dropping creatures and building up a board while someone else is outclassing you by building an engine, drawing lots of cards, cheating creatures into play, etc.
    Psarketos likes this.
  15. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure I did when way back when when we were talking about restrictions and what Tribal Wars should be. I'm not sure merely saying the results of each game and how is enough; I think a further analysis of those games would be what other people brought, the perceived intention of such decks (if possible - most are long gone but some might be immediately evident that they weren't meant to win by creatures), and how the games went in that whether people recognized the perceived threat of decks and took them intentionally (early) or were just lucky.

    And Kithkin and Spiders are awesome :D
  16. Psarketos Metacompositional Theoretician

    A few years ago, a friend asked me to bring a "goblin tribal" deck to play. I built something with Krark-clan Ironworks, Myr Retreiver, Altar of the Brood, Fabricate, and Thirst for Knowledge that milled every opponent as early as turn 4 - because the Krark-clan is a goblin tribe.

    Oversoul and I are the problem with casual Magic, turns out :)
  17. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    Well, no, you just have differing ideas from others... milling is valid. I like mana denial/control which would probably fare poorly in tournaments (at least, the cards I would use) but I like disrupting other people's plans (this is "constructed" play, not a specific format like Tribal). That might not go well with someone who like putting out big creatures and slamming someone. Everyone has their own ideas.
  18. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Definitely. I can speak pretty well for my own intent, I think and also for some other cases beyond that, but a lot of this stuff didn't end up getting documented. And I'm not really even sure how much intent matters. When I played dragons, my intent was that I'd try to take over with big creatures, direct damage, and steal life from everyone with Kokusho + Recurring Nightmare. But my Kokusho ate Night Soil, I didn't draw enough direct damage, and the dragons that I did stick were too slow to outrace Mooseman's pro-red gargoyles. So I had a rather vicious deck based around cheating big creatures into play and using Recurring Nightmare to loop their triggered abilities, but the result based on what others did and on what I drew was that I played a pretty fair game of Magic without much brokenness and I died to creatures that I couldn't block. When I played goblins, my intent was to sort of swing for the fences with aggro, attacking people left and right but not spending time on defenses. I wanted to make a big splash, introduce some chaos to the game, and hopefully kill someone. But I really did think that I'd lose my board to a Wrath of God or similar effect (board wipes had shown up in previous games) or that I'd paint a target on myself with my explosive deck. But the result was that my fast deck rolled over the whole table. It's not obvious, but going by my intent, I was more focused on cheesy stuff in the dragons game and more focused on ordinary creature combat stuff in the goblins game. The actual gameplay didn't really mirror that. Not saying intent doesn't matter at all, but I don't know how big of a part of the picture it really is.

    And of course, as you say, there's luck. When I played soldiers in the third game, I had a pretty fast aggro-combo deck combining Veteran Explorer, token generators, and Skullclamp to dig through my whole deck, make huge numbers of dudes, and hopefully win through sheer numerical advantage. Overgrowth to make Earthcraft go infinite was a kind of backup I thought of because I noticed that my soldiers might be too small. In retrospect I should have gone with Coat of Arms or something and tried to live without the mana ramp from Earthcraft. Anyway, Skullclamp was pretty broken and I knew it, but the Veteran Explorer tech was my own experiment that I think was my own independent experimental idea (this was before the Nic Fit tournament archetype was a thing—I happened on Veteran Explorer doing a search on Apprentice for the soldier creature type). My deck was really quite fast and if it'd won that game, infinite loop or no, I'd have won two in a row there with explosive combo decks and I'd have felt like I needed to cut it out much earlier on in the series than ended up being the case. That stupid soldiers deck in the third game was really one of the meanest decks I built, but it just happened to only draw forests and no plains early on, so I couldn't play my white cards until everyone else had built up a board. Eventually, I suppose my intent became clear in that game eventually, but luck meant that one of the more broken decks I built made less impact than some of the other, more innocuous ones I'd later play.

    Boo! Down with kithkin and spiders. Griffins and chimeras are better! :p
  19. Spiderman CPA Man in Tights, Dopey Administrative Assistant

    No no, not so much about how to play your own deck, but what the intentions of the other players were during the game. Like "oh man, he has Dragons so I gotta take him out no matter what" or "Whoa, he just put out Recurring Nightmare and is going to do some recursion thing, so I gotta take him out no matter what" or "Oversoul is playing, I gotta take him out no matter what" :D
    turgy22 likes this.
  20. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Oh! Yeah, that's another factor. Multiplayer games get all nuanced like that. On a kinda related note, Tribal Game 13 was one of my favorite games I can remember playing in, and not specifically because I won in the end. There was just so much stuff going on. Mooseman and I trying to outdo each other with utility creatures and then scrambling to deal with Turgy's indestructible treefolk, everyone pretty much counting you out but you throwing damage around and disrupting us, Pernicious Deed resetting the board, Mooseman's allies going crazy with their abilities, Tradewind Rider bouncing Mooseman's land just in time to stop Plague Wind. I don't know what the expectations were exactly, but I thought that one was a really cool experience...

    And then I followed it up with a freaking Workshop artifact deck. I know, I know. :oops:
    Psarketos likes this.

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