Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
29 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Disillusionment from Magic (and other TCGs) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Garcian Smith
United States
Northridge
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
No, it's not the money. No it's not the randomness of the packs. It's really the structure of gameplay.

I brought it up on the MTG forums, but it wasn't discussed into great detail. My issue with Magic is really the system itself.

Magic on paper sounds great: a portable game that plays fast, never plays the same twice, is available in many formats, is relatively balanced, always has a set on the corner and can play with many players. But there is something about one advantage... customizing that is what I want to expand upon.

In many other games like chess, there is an element of adaptability. If your opponent is harassing you with a queen, you can on your turn get units to guard and strengthen the defenses of that spot.

However, a game like MTG does not give you that sort of control. We all know it's a card game. So even if you throw a few cards here to help counter a problem, you are at the mercy of the draw. You don't get a sense of control that other games give you.

So if we can't rely on a few cards in a deck, what we want to do is get something we CAN rely on. And to do this, we make the cards on our deck follow a single, controlled strategy. By doing this, our draws don't become as dependent on chance and hope and the results become more predictable. Pretty soon, the deck we use fits a mold or a decktype.

Our decktype is consistent, which is a strength... and a weakness. Because our deck works in a certain way, it will triumph over a more general deck that has multiple roots, but lacks a strong push in any direction. However, having a focused strength, means you have a focused weakness. This is where the metagame comes in.

A popular type of deck will be prone to a counter deck. Counters can come in all flavors. In Magic, there are five colors that represent the different types of ideals. If a popular deck uses red, another deck can throw in cards that offer protection to red. This is the most basic form of counter-decking.

You hear people say that their next deck is going to focus on such and such strategy. But to become specialized or predictable, makes them vulnerable.

So my point here is that the random structure of MTG and other card games really doesn't give control to the player when faced with specific situations. To get control, one can modify a deck to become singular in strategy. While this makes the deck more consistent, it becomes more vulnerable to a specific counter deck. It's just a never ending cycle of deck changing that irks me, when I can play many other games and adapt to a situation at hand.

It's like in chess, when an enemy queen is poking at you from a side, you have to hope you roll a 20 to make a move to defend that spot. It's a game that rewards specialization with consistency, yet punishes flexibility with randomness.

A final example I will leave you with: In a real-time computer strategy game such as Starcraft, as a game progresses players will make decisions and counter-decisions. One thing that is emphasized to the players is to adapt. If one type of military unit is made, the other player simply has to know its weakness and capitalize upon it. Should the previous owner continue with the same type, they will lose. The name of the game is adapting.

In MTG, doing the same exact thing will reward you with consistency and efficiency as well as synergy. However, that leaves you strategically inflexible. If you try to be flexible, you are punished with random draws that will only give a chance at the strategy you are trying to go for.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kelsey Rinella
United States
Rochester
New York
flag msg tools
I am proud to have opposed those who describe all who oppose them as "Tender Flowers" and "Special Snowflakes".
badge
Check out Stately Play for news and reviews of games worth thinking about.
Avatar
mbmb
Interesting insight! There are some very moderate limits created by the wishes in casual play and sideboards in competitive play, but I think you're basically right.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree completely. The meaningful decision making in a CCG is done before the game starts, during deck building. That's why I don't play them any more. It got to a point where it felt like playing paper, rock, scissors. I'd secretly pick my "paper" deck and my opponent would secretly pick his "rock" deck which would give me a 90% chance of winning... how fun.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Garcian Smith
United States
Northridge
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I apologize if the previous post was so long... I guess I just have some thoughts and spill them onto the paper. Well, I had another thought as I was eating my noodles a few minutes ago.

In a computer strategy game like Starcraft, you can take one race and do many things such as quickly rushing unit production, expanding economy or upgrading to higher technology units. You have rock, paper and scissor available here. The key here is that you have all the options available.

The equivalent of this strategic diversity in a TCG would be to cram every single strategy into one deck. But when both games are played, Starcraft works, and a TCG with every strategy in one deck simply will not work because it would require extremely lucky draws (not to mention it would be a pain in the ass to shuffle). You can throw in rock, paper and scissors into your deck, but you don't get to choose what comes out, so you remove scissor and paper, which then forces rock to come out.

But if we make a TCG into a computer strategy game, instead of there being races in the computer game, it would be one strategy. So in Starcraft, it wouldn't be Zerg you choose as, but Rush Strategy, Economy Strategy, etc.

TCGs are an environment of luck and to mitigate this, players will specialize. However, doing so removes the elements of strategy and adapting. So when you play a specialized TCG, you aren't necessarily using strategy within the game, you are simply acting out a "rock", "scissor" or "paper", or an already determined strategy - a choice made before the game even began, at deckbuilding.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Teacher Fletcher
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Randomness of draw is a factor of ANY card game. It's in no way specific to Magic or CCGs.

As for decks falling into prototypes, this is probably why my favorite way to play was to use one of those free programs that let you play online with every card and generate five sealed boosters, generate a deck from that and play with a friend.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Garcian Smith
United States
Northridge
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
It is, but I think it's even more apparent in MTG, a game based on strategy. If you look at something like Poker, everyone has the same chances coming from a shared deck. In the realm of MTG, you are able to and want to cut this randomness down by customizing your deck into a specific strategy. My issue is that it reduces strategic decisions since your deck is already a predetermined strategy and you are just playing it out. And while you could load your deck with multiple strategies, you fall back into the randomness debate and strategies just not coming out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Teacher Fletcher
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
How much time did you spend playing M:tG? Part of deck-building is including cards to deal with your opponents' threats. Wrath of God to wipe out his creatures, Stifle to take care of his Black Lotus, etc. Any balanced deck must have cards to counter your opponents strategy.

In fact, one of the famous tournament decks was called "Toolbox": it was designed to be able to deal with every conceivable threat your opponent could throw at you, enchantments or artifacts or creatures or whatever, plus a great many tutor-type spells to search through your deck for the specific "tool" you needed.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Garcian Smith
United States
Northridge
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, if you have to know I've been playing since Kamigawa and have participated in several tournaments. Again, the problem I have is that the randomness forces players to specialize in specific strategies, which binds the players to just those strategies. Whereas in a computer strategy game, all the strategies are at your disposal. It makes MTG and other TCGs strategically lacking because being diverse would make your deck inconsistent.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is why some people have suggested Magic would be better with an alternate land system, where any card could be played as a mana source of its color, like a basic land. This would allow for flexibility in deck-building as it allows an outlet for cards that aren't really necessary - don't really need that Wrath of God this game? Turn it into a plains. Etc., etc. This would also allow more multi-color decks. As it stands, it seems like you can have really only have two colors at most in your deck, with maybe a splash of something else, if you want to be competitive.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
(The Artist formerly known as) Arnest R
Germany
Munich
Bavaria
flag msg tools
badge
Keep calm and carry on...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hmmm, how about designing a game in which you'd be building the deck as you play ? OK, that would never work, sigh...

Seriously, why not see if you can come up with a draft variant going in that direction, i.e. draft as you play ? I've given it some thought as it is, but nothing conclusive yet.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Jimenez
United States
San Francisco
California
flag msg tools
Pardon the expression/simile/oversimplification but coming from playing mostly board games and after several hundreds of USD into TCGs recently - they basically seem like "Dominion on crack" - except the deckbuilding part done up front.

I should have put it together a long time ago - not that I regret the spending. My gaming partner likes Dominion. Only recently have I figured out that she also likes World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Yesterday we spent at least 4 hours tuning a simple Mage vs Hunter deck beating each other up - started with 33 cards and moved up to regulation 60 (with sideboard). What a blast that was! I suppose what the OP considers irksome, we're finding it fun - as long as we keep it within our definition of "fun" and not "work".

For whatever reason, these "card games" click with her - Dominion, Jambo, Ticket to Ride, et al on the board game end, to CCG and likes such as Maelstrom, WoW TCG/CMG (having experienced the lore in the various Blizzard video games over the years lends familiarity with the cards), and I'm even going to try to sneak in some Hecatomb (for the Arkham Horror theme) and ChiZo RISING (some cute and cuddly animals to balance the aforementioned destruction of the world).

Regarding "luck of the draw" (and WoW specifically), over time and if we get into some competition, we'll experience what you mentioned regarding deck types, consistency, and efficiency. At least it seems there's going to be some variability in play - not just "let's kick each other in the groin until someone passes out" duels, but more variables to deal with in group play (multiple decks vs others) and team play (versus a "raid deck"). Sealed events are fun too - opening some random packs and trying to make work with what you got.

I think as long as we don't go overboard in trying to be competitive and keeping it as casual fun, that this could be an entertaining diversion.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marshall Miller
United States
Malden
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
The Warren is a roleplaying game about intelligent rabbits trying to make the best of a world filled with hazards, predators and, worst of all, other rabbits.
badge
Marshall is a Boston-based researcher and game designer.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Revelade wrote:

In a computer strategy game like Starcraft, you can take one race and do many things such as quickly rushing unit production, expanding economy or upgrading to higher technology units. You have rock, paper and scissor available here. The key here is that you have all the options available.

The equivalent of this strategic diversity in a TCG would be to cram every single strategy into one deck.


So, perhaps what you need is a format wherein you make multiple decks (strategies) and then during play you can decide which deck to draw from. It could work.... maybe.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Speare
United States
Bedford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
tee hee, that tickles!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is definitely a ton of strategy that has to happen before the game starts...but there are a lot of decisions (some tactical, some strategic) that happen during the game. Obviously some games will be all but pre-determined (playing against a deck yours is designed to beat), but when things get close, or you get a bad draw, player skill makes a huge difference.

That said, I got out of Magic because of the cost and the lack of casual play. To keep up with local tournament level Magic takes a lot of time and money -- given a choice of Magic or "all board games", I chose board games.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ken Roth
United States
Illinois
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
In all honesty, I re-read your post several times and still don't quite understand what the problem is.

Everything you seem to declare as part of the problem is what makes Magic a great game, including the randomness. There's a reason people write long, involved articles about various aspects of deck-building and deck theory and even articles merely to define other terms. The game simply is that deep.

But as important as deck building is, the way you win is by playing better with what you draw, both card-wise and opponent-wise. Not making critial play errors is still important. As an example, Brian Davis tanked so bad in Pro Tour Chicago in the finals (1999) that the running joke is that 'Davis was the first to go 5-0 in the finals and lose' (he actually lost 3-2).

But sometimes 'bad beats' occur and you simply lose to the luck of the draw. That's why it isn't Chess, where no one start down a pawn, tho Fischer might have tried it...

While someone might make a flash in Magic winning an event through almost the sheer application of good luck, the people who keep coming back to the top tables are those who both play good decks and don't make too many errors (another topic on which there are many, many articles written). That's why the same names show up at the top of events...

As for people creating 'such and such' a deck that is focused, that is both a strength and weakness. David Price is quoted as saying 'while there are wrong answers, there are no wrong threats'. Any threat that can kill you is a threat that has to be answered. Stupid Red Burn was designed to kill as fast as possible and was a very powerful deck. It had a foil, but a deck designed to beat it with too much design space opened itself to other threats that weren't red. And so on. Specialization CAN be a road to victory.

There is so much more to say on the subject (and has been said by many of the great thinkers of Magic) from the days of Usenet and the Dojo to the modern sites like StarCity and others, heck even published books. Of course it's up to each individual person how much they really want to get this deep into a game. I know the theories, but I prefer to play constructed only for fun (I'm a draft kinda guy). It might simply not end up being your cut of tea, but it is what it is..;-)
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ricatoni
United States
Chula Vista
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with most of what has been said by the OP and BGG members, but I have a hard time reaching the conclusion that this would cause my own disillusionment with the game.

The limiting factor in terms of card draw affects both players. However, both players have had the chance and choice to construct their own decks around this factor. So being limited to the draw is no more or less constricting than pulling tiles in Alhambra, drawing cards and rolling dice in Settlers of Catan, or just rolling dice in Last Night on Earth! It would seem that it all depends on how one would want to practice choice around their limitations in a game.

As far as conflict goes, Sun Tzu once stated that if you are strong in the front you will be weak in the rear. If you are strong in the rear, you will be weak on the sides, And if you are strong all over you will be weak all over. This is what shapes deck construction.

Whether it is in Historic Simulations, or in MTG choices have to be made on deck construction and what you bring to the table. I have played against opponents and lost miserably, all the while realizing that one card type in my deck would have neutralized them completely. In tournament play that would be considered a sideboard. That is why I play. To create and evaluate decks based on strengths, card interactions, weaknesses, and just pure old fun. It is important to realize your strengths as well as your weaknesses in game play...whether one is playing a planeswalker in Magic, or a French General in Waterloo.

My disillusionment with MTG has more to do with marketing and sales rather than the mechanics of the basic game itself. My friend and gaming partner calls it "cardboard crack", my own journey has me falling in and out of it because some of the new features the most recent being the introduction of Planeswalkers as actual cards. Regardless. It is a gem of a game, and I try to keep it balanced with other games I also enjoy.

Your concerns are valid, but they can also be raised when dealing with non-CCGs as well. Some other card games I have found unique and interesting is the now out of print RAGE from White Wolf, and ILLUMINATI from SJG.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Van Zandt
United States
South Ogden
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
badge
PlayTMG.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
IF you WERE at the level that your only real decisions were deck-building and felt you were never making a decision in-game (that it was all automatic choices), then you would be on par with the top-end tournament players, and would be playing several times a year in tournaments for thousands of dollars... at which point i doubt you would be making a thread like this.

also, as some of the other people have mentioned money being an obstacle... if you play well enough, you never buy packs... you only pay tournament entry fees. you win or can trade for anything you need. And "well enough" is a very low bar, because there are a lot of bad bad players. and bad traders.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
the scrub
Canada
Mississauga
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Two words:

Mana screw.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Randy Gee
United States
Detroit
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Or mana clog.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Booker Hooker
United States
Tennessee
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting thread.

Brian, I'm curious if you've ever played any of the miniatures games where everything is more or less revealed at the beginning of the game. WoW minis is an example that comes to mind. There is still a constructive element (party building, deck building, sideboard), but you have everything at your disposal at the beginning of the game so you're not dependant on the draw.

There is still deck (or party in this case) specialization that goes on, but I see it as being very different. There is a lot less luck.

Personally, I think the deck (or party) building mechanic is what makes collectible games like WoW, MKD, or Magic so much fun.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
truekid wrote:
IF you WERE at the level that your only real decisions were deck-building and felt you were never making a decision in-game (that it was all automatic choices), then you would be on par with the top-end tournament players, and would be playing several times a year in tournaments for thousands of dollars... at which point i doubt you would be making a thread like this.

also, as some of the other people have mentioned money being an obstacle... if you play well enough, you never buy packs... you only pay tournament entry fees. you win or can trade for anything you need. And "well enough" is a very low bar, because there are a lot of bad bad players. and bad traders.


Even if winning was 60% deck choice and 40% in-game decisions I'd still find it unsatisfying.

It's nice that you agree that the game devolves into paper, rock, scissors at the highest level of play.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Van Zandt
United States
South Ogden
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
badge
PlayTMG.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
nope, you're misinterpretting.

i think you're confusing "uncertainty" with "decision making". what you perceive as an automated choice, was that way based on your prior experience with the game. your level of uncertainty is lower when, for instance, you feel you know the optimal way to block without much thinking. but you didn't start out this way. everyone starts out there first few games of magic impaling their creatures on their opponents' in bad situations, and then, through experience, figures out there are possible better options. the same could be said of any choice. They are still making a CHOICE, they just have less UNCERTAINTY about it. at the lower levels (attacking and blocking is often just math, for example) it feels automated at that point.

but MOST players don't even get some of the simple stuff past the level of uncertainty. moreover, the bigger pitfall is assuming something is automatic... and being wrong. because it's hard to un-teach yourself to evaluate circumstances differently.

if you make the top 32 of a pro-tour, then yes, the majority of players will be making decisions based on their prior knowledge of the game. lots of those decisions will feel automated to them. to GET THERE though, that's the challenge. that superior decision making ability is what wins someone out against all the players who don't have that level of experience with the game (or that level of comprehension). over the long run, the in-game decision making is the deciding factor in one's performance. This becomes even more apparent in limited formats (sealed deck/drafts).

You can make a good deck choice for one tournament (whether through preparation or luck), but good play is what can transform a sub-optimal deck choice into prizes anyway. and on top of that, deck-building choices are valid decisions too. you make them (or should, at least) with foreknowledge of the field's tendencies, and thus they are not made in a vacuum- it's like lisa knowing that bart will always throw rock (well, maybe a bit fuzzier than that)... you're making an informed decision.

and i know enough to know that i still often make the wrong decisions, and thus i work to improve that.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bwian, just
United States
Longmont
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
scrub wrote:
Two words:

Mana screw.

Another reason for switching to a "all cards are lands" model. As WotC tested with Duel Masters, actually. Honestly, I'm surprised (and disappointed) that they decided to go with a four-level rarity system before they fixed this particular hole. I guess there's just too much tradition at stake, or something. zombie
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Taylor Liss
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just a thought - what if there were a TCG where you had multiple decks to play from?

Scenario: Each player has 3 decks that have three different focuses. You can play from any deck you choose and it kind of acts as a separate player. If someone starts to play a combo that is killing your current deck, you can switch to another deck to counter it. I feel a system like this would bring an element of greater adaptability to the game - knowing which deck is right for which situation. Just a brainstorm.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Follow me for wargames!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Personally, designing and developing a build--whether it's a deck of cards or a miniatures army--is what keeps me in a collectible game.

Over time, I like trying various strategies when I'm playing a particluar collectible. One, it allows me to find the style of play that best suits me. Two, it enables me to better understand other play strategies, so that I can find ways to counter them in future games. Once I find the style of play I prefer, I then try to streamline and fine tune it until it plays optimally to my specific preferences.

Once a certain design is demonstrated to be dominant for a particular game, rather than net-decking and playing like a robot, I try to tinker and experiment to find a successful counter-strategy. Building a better mouse trap, as it were.

I still own significant collections of several long-defunct TCGs, because I still enjoy deck building for those systems. Even if finding opponents is increasingly difficult for most. While I agree that, in many games, deck matchups will mostly decide which player will most likely win, the true measure of a player's talent is his/her ability to adapt and innovate based on experience and the local game environment.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Vantries
United States
Woodbury
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmb
Yuengling12oz wrote:
Or mana clog.

Two words: Mana sink. (Somewhere to spend your extra mana e.g. 'Oracle of Nectars')
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.