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Subject: Magic the Gathering and Dominion - which is a deck-building game? rss

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John Watts
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My first attempt at initiating a new Forum thread:

Is it me or is the seemingly pointless debate over whether both of these two excellent games can be described as a deck-building game becoming more and more polarised?

Dominion is the 'new' breed of Deck / Pool Building game on the block.

Magic: The Gathering is the old.

In my humble opinion they are BOTH deck-building games but it appears that there is a school of thought which wants to deny MtG that title (in an attempt to be amusing about this I have nick-named them the 'Dominion Thought Police' - well it amused me anyway).

Here is a suggestion for a new game mechanic tag which hopefully the BGG admins could adopt:

Dominion: deck manipulation (as well as deck-building, hand management, etc)

MtG: duelling card game (as well as deck-building, hand management etc)

This acknowledges the deck-building attributes of both games but qualifies each to make a clearer distinction between the two genres (please feel free to suggest alternative tags - deck modification was an alternative to deck manipulation).

I'm all for the cult of the new and recognise that terms evolve but I feel that MtG cannot be described without referring to it as a deck-building game.

Serious as well as downright silly comments are encouraged here.



PS to Admins: If this is the wrong place to post, please it move to a more appropriate area.
PPS Anyone want to buy hundreds of rares and uncommons from the late 20th century?
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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Games with a deck building before the game are categorized here on BGG as "Customizable Games".

I´d say "deck building" as a game mechanic is only ture for games like Dominion, because the gameplay of MtG has nothing to do with deck building.
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Ian Klinck
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Dominion is a deck-building game.

Magic is a game that requires you to build a deck before playing.
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Bryan Lane
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Gotta echo the sentiment of the above posts.

The whole point of Dominion is building your deck. When the game starts, that's all you do - build your deck. You build until the game is over. It's the game-defining mechanic.

In MTG, deck building is NOT the point. It's a prerequisite. Once the game starts, there's no more deck alterations going on (except exiling, I suppose, but that's not the whole point of MTG, and if anything that's deck destroying, not deck building). The actual building of the deck is not part of gameplay.
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Didn't take long for the DTP to show up, did it?
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The setup of a game is still part of the game. This fact is highlighted in the cases where players make choices during game setup. Is building your deck in Magic any different from setting up the starting positions of your pieces in Stratego? It is part of the game.
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iklinck wrote:
Dominion is a deck-building game.

Magic is a game that requires you to build a deck before playing.

Why isn't that deck-building part of the game?

E.g., The other player says, "I'm using a red deck," and you say back, "I'm using a blue deck"; then you design your decks accordingly. Why then is building a deck not a preliminary stage of the game?
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Brian M
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Quote:
n my humble opinion they are BOTH deck-building games but it appears that there is a school of thought which wants to deny MtG that title...


Since MtG existed for well over a decade without being called a deck building game before Dominion came along, I'd say its pretty obvious MtG doesn't want the title

'Customizable' or 'Collectible' is what has been used to describe games like MtG.

It does sometimes get confusing when you want to talk about it; I used to say "I hate deckbuilding", but what I should be saying is "I hate deck customizing" or something like that, because I hate it with CCG type games, but love it with Dominion type games. This gets very complicated to talk about!
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John Watts
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
n my humble opinion they are BOTH deck-building games but it appears that there is a school of thought which wants to deny MtG that title...


Since MtG existed for well over a decade without being called a deck building game before Dominion came along, I'd say its pretty obvious MtG doesn't want the title

'Customizable' or 'Collectible' is what has been used to describe games like MtG.


I like the idea that MtG has an opinion. However, if it has opinions it should have feelings too, so why doesn't it take pity and refund all the money i spent on it?

(I also disagree with you since, again, i think MtG has always been described as both a CCG AND a deck-building game - at least in polite company....)
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Brian M
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Quote:
...i think MtG has always been described as both a CCG AND a deck-building game...

Possibly. I know I personally played MtG from beta through Weatherlight or so and never heard the term "Deck building game" until Dominion came out.
 
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As one who loves CCGs, and hates DBGs, I greatly appreciate folks maintaining the distinction. Of course they have something in common, but the experience is night-and-day.
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Martin Larouche
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If i purchased a game with following text on the cover:
"A deckbuilding game of..."
And got handed a Magic clone in terms of gameplay... i'd want a refund.

"Deckbuilding" is a term that is now used to describe a very specific type of game that have nothing to do with CCGs.

When you speak of deckbuilding, most BGGers instantly think Dominion, Thunderstone, RuneAge and Ascension.
When you speak of collectible card games, most BGGers instantly think of Magic, Vampire, NetRunner and the like.

They are really two different kind of games and talking about both under the same category is causing problems in communication.

Never mind the fact that i think in over 15+ years, i never even heard of anyone talking about Magic as a "deckbuilding" game, at least not with that exact term. To the best of my knowledge, Magic being called a deckbuilding game only happened AFTER Dominion coined the term.
"Building a deck" and "deckbuilding" are two different things. One is an action, the other is a game mechanic. The two being so similar is causing all the confusion...

me thinks...
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Paul DeStefano
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How's this:

Magic is STRATEGIC deckbuilding.

Dominion is TACTICAL deckbuilding.
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whac3 wrote:
iklinck wrote:
Dominion is a deck-building game.

Magic is a game that requires you to build a deck before playing.

Why isn't that deck-building part of the game?

I think because they are referring to playing the game and not setting up the game. And I agree with this distinction.

You have to set up every game in order to play it. In Magic, you can build a deck and never play the game. In Dominion, you can choose all the cards that will be in the game and never play the game.

As far as I know (and I may be wrong) all(?) the games in the DB on BGG list mechanics as in-game mechanics. This is useful so you'll know what you'll be doing during the game so you can avoid or embrace it; ie. worker placement, area majority, roll and move, etc.

Also in the case of Magic there has been a class already defined in CCGs to inform players on what they can expect from the play of the game, which will (potentially, but not always) include a deckbuilding setup.
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Ryan Wheeler wrote:
As far as I know (and I may be wrong) all(?) the games in the DB on BGG list mechanics as in-game mechanics.

Counterpoint: Partnerships.
 
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StormKnight wrote:
Since MtG existed for well over a decade without being called a deck building game before Dominion came along, I'd say its pretty obvious MtG doesn't want the title


Not sure where you get this idea from. Many of us who played MtG back in 1994 called it a deckbuilding game. Perhaps that perception has changed over the years, but back then, we knew that deckbuilding was as much a part of the game as the actual cardplay itself.
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Brook Gentlestream
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I agree that Magic is not "a deck-building game", but the OP is right in that some mention of deck-building, deck customization, or deck constuction should be referred to in the Mechanics section of the Magic entry.

I think I would like the term "deck construction" to refer to games where you must make your deck prior to play. Isn't that more suitable than "card drafting", which also strikes me as something belonging in Dominion but not Magic.

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The Unbeliever wrote:
The setup of a game is still part of the game. This fact is highlighted in the cases where players make choices during game setup. Is building your deck in Magic any different from setting up the starting positions of your pieces in Stratego? It is part of the game.


I know of no one who spend months figuring out a "cool" or "optimal" Stratego army layout, then use that layout of years afterward. When I rarely do play, I first pull out a deck that was "tournament legal" in 1995, and has never been tournament quality.

whac3 wrote:
Why isn't that deck-building part of the game?

E.g., The other player says, "I'm using a red deck," and you say back, "I'm using a blue deck"; then you design your decks accordingly. Why then is building a deck not a preliminary stage of the game?


I haven't (yet) played Dominion, but with M:tG the card interaction, and availability of cards (even at introduction) were 3 times the number of cards in a "normal sized" deck.

"I'm using a red deck" -> you just lost, assuming you're not lying I'm pulling out my deck of red hosers. Single color decks do have issues. Either way you're telegraphing your strategy. In draft tournaments, you don't know which cards the person next to you chose, and even then you draft more cards than you'll actually use in that deck that day.

And it is a "preliminary stage", but not part of the "set-up" or "play" of the game.

 
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E Decker wrote:
Ryan Wheeler wrote:
As far as I know (and I may be wrong) all(?) the games in the DB on BGG list mechanics as in-game mechanics.

Counterpoint: Partnerships.

I may be misunderstanding, but are you saying that partnerships are excluded as an in-game 'mechanic'?

I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean because, of course, your partner does not go away as soon as game play begins (unless they're a big jerk).

I'm sorry, can you please clarify?
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Ryan Wheeler wrote:
E Decker wrote:
Ryan Wheeler wrote:
As far as I know (and I may be wrong) all(?) the games in the DB on BGG list mechanics as in-game mechanics.

Counterpoint: Partnerships.

I may be misunderstanding, but are you saying that partnerships are excluded as an in-game 'mechanic'?

I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean because, of course, your partner does not go away as soon as game play begins (unless they're a big jerk).

I'm sorry, can you please clarify?


Modular Game Board might be a better example.
Actually, a "Customizable Deck Setup" might be a close cousin to the Modular Game Board mechanic.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
Counterpoint: Partnerships.

You don't have a partner in the game in a partnership game?
 
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Ryan Wheeler wrote:
E Decker wrote:
Ryan Wheeler wrote:
As far as I know (and I may be wrong) all(?) the games in the DB on BGG list mechanics as in-game mechanics.

Counterpoint: Partnerships.

I may be misunderstanding, but are you saying that partnerships are excluded as an in-game 'mechanic'?

I'm pretty sure that's not what you mean because, of course, your partner does not go away as soon as game play begins (unless they're a big jerk).

I'm sorry, can you please clarify?


I beleive the mechanic "partnership" is yet another can-'o-worms...

It refers to such a large number of things it only leaves a vague impression of what a "partnership" game actually is.
 
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One could actually look at the definition of the mechanism as defined in the entry and that might have some insight into why Dominion is Deck / Pool Building and M:tG is not:

Deck / Pool Building is a mechanism in which players start the game with a pre-determined set of cards / player pieces and add and change those pieces over the course of the game. Many deck-building games provide the players with a currency that they use to "buy" new items that are integrated into the deck or pool. These acquire resources generally expand the capabilities of the player and allow the player to build an "engine" to drive their future plays.
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John Watts
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For those who can't remember the 90's WotC published a book called 'The Official Deckbuilders' Guide' for MtG, so I think the use of the phrase in the early days is pretty clear (unless Deckbuilders' must have a hyphen?).

Another official publication refers to 'deck-building strategies' on the back cover (with a hyphen this time).

As I originally stated, both undeniably have deck-building mechanics but because they differ a further qualifying expression might be worth adding (here on BGG).
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Martin Larouche
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JPWatts wrote:
For those who can't remember the 90's WotC published a book called 'The Official Deckbuilders' Guide' for MtG, so I think the use of the phrase in the early days is pretty clear (unless Deckbuilders' must have a hyphen?).

Another official publication refers to 'deck-building strategies' on the back cover (with a hyphen this time).

As I originally stated, both undeniably have deck-building mechanics but because they differ a further qualifying expression might be worth adding (here on BGG).


I don't beleive anyone is disputting the fact that there is a form of deckbuilding in MtG. It's a single word that now has two meanings and it's problematic.

But to classify it as a deckbuilding game is causing confusion beyond belief and not just on BGG, but on the market as a whole. Dominion, Thunderstone and company are sold as "deckbuilding" games. Magic the Gathering is not... it's sold as a customizable card game (CCG).

To "now" talk about Magic as a deck-building game does a diservice to both CCGs and DBGs as both will be described incorrectly in the same conversation.
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