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 Post subject: Theorycrafting for a better social interaction
AgePosted: 2019-Nov-01 11:30 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Dec-03 3:16 am
Age: Elder Dragon
First a definition: Theorycraft
(or theorycrafting) is the mathematical analysis of game mechanics, usually in video games, to discover optimal strategies and tactics. Theorycraft often involves analyzing hidden systems or underlying game code in order to glean information that is not apparent during normal gameplay. The term has been said to come from Starcraft players as a portmanteau of "game theory" and "StarCraft". Theorycraft is similar to analyses performed in sports or other games, such as baseball's sabermetrics.

Theorycraft is prominent in multiplayer games, where players attempt to gain competitive advantage by analyzing game systems. As a result, theorycraft can lower barriers between players and game designers. Game designers must consider that players will have a comprehensive understanding of game systems; and players can influence design by exploiting game systems and discovering dominant or unintended strategies.

The way players theorycraft varies from game to game, but often games under the same genres (e.g. collectable card games, MMORPG’s, turn-based strategy) will have similar theorycrafting methods. Communities develop standardized ways to communicate their findings, including use of specialized tools to measure and record game data, and terminology and simulations to represent certain data. Theorycrafts proven potent usually find inclusion in the metagame. Knowledge from theorycrafts are often communicated through blogs, community forums, or game guides


Okay so now that we have that out of the way, how do you approach building to maximize the "fun" factor in an unknown meta? I will admit sometimes that is like 3rd or 4th priority when I deck build. I usually build with the commander in mind and try to do the most powerful things I can reasonably afford while sticking to whatever theme the commander suggests.

Do you use the 75% theory by Jason Alt? Do you just review after the fact to make sure you avoid some of the boogymen of the format? Hit me up with how you theorize the reactions from your future friends at an unknown LGS.

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The usual answer is "the social contract", but I guess that is not what you are looking for. Try house rules.


With perfect mana, reasonable removal, disruption, and card advantage, we're back to pitchforks and torches. And it's about to get worse for those who do not enjoy the game as Richard Garfield intended, playing as few win conditions as possible and prompting concession after all hopes (and spells) are lost. - Shaheen Soorani


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 Post subject: Re: Theorycrafting for a better social interaction
AgePosted: 2019-Nov-02 12:07 am 

Joined: 2015-Jan-14 2:58 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
I’d need to spend some time and thought to answer this well, but at first pass:

1) Theme: a fun deck should be mechanically cohesive, and opponents should be able to see how most cards fit into the deck.

2) Appropriate Power: A deck for an unknown meta should be strong enough to threaten good decks, but not so strong as to blow out weak ones. In general, combo and Stax/MLD should be avoided.

3) Interaction: Fun decks shouldn’t play solitaire. They need to interact with their opponents board state, either through interactive spells or through their theme.

Probably my best deck for going in blind right now is my Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca deck (which it appears I should post). It has strong theme around Kumena’s abilities - a mix of +1/+1 counters, draw, and Unblockability/Islandwalk. It starts quickly and can hang in the midgame, though drawn out games can be punishing to it. It also has a strong package of interaction, both through removal/bounce/counters and intrinsic to the theme cards.

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 Post subject: Re: Theorycrafting for a better social interaction
AgePosted: 2019-Nov-02 12:28 am 
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Joined: 2008-Feb-29 5:57 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Duvall, WA
generally (heh, pun intended) i tend to make sure every card in the deck shares a major word in the text box with my general, even if power level suffers. In a Kraj deck, for example, i would make sure i used New Horizons or map the wastes instead of Kodama's reach and cultivate. I do this with all my decks regardless of target audience, and it tends to keep power level fair, and i get to use cards that normally collect dust in a box.


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 Post subject: Re: Theorycrafting for a better social interaction
AgePosted: 2019-Nov-03 1:35 pm 
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Joined: 2010-Dec-10 12:16 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Inkeyes22 wrote:
Do you use the 75% theory by Jason Alt?


I'm not sure what this is.

Inkeyes22 wrote:
Okay so now that we have that out of the way, how do you approach building to maximize the "fun" factor in an unknown meta?


Well, since I only build for unknown meta-games (MTGO, and no playgroup for paper) this equates to just how I build in general.

I start by pulling the cards that I am considering, both "good stuff" and theme selections. When I have a theme-based selection to fill a slot, I select that over the "good stuff" option. In fact, I generally will only use a high-powered/overplayed selection if it is very on-theme (e.g. Palinchron is in my Illusion tribal deck, but not in any other blue deck despite/because of the propensity to generate infinite mana). I also make a determined effort to find/use cards that I don't see other people using. Some of those have become "pet cards" that are in multiple decks (e.g. Phyrexian Splicer, as it enables good combat tricks, as well as decent political interaction).

Of course, because I build so many tribal decks, that inherently avoids most over-played creatures (e.g. I have no green decks with Seedborn Muse as I don't currently have a spirit deck with G).

After I have my basic list, I goldfish the deck a few times, making changes by swapping to/from the maybe board. I then re-balance my manabase ( I use an excel file so I can calculate how many cards have any given color in the casting cost or text box, use that to calculate a percentage of the non-land deck card count. Then I try to match my colored mana sources to the percentages of cards using that color mana) and test again. Make any changes, if necessary. Finally, I retain the final list with maybe-board, and start using the finalized deck. If I get feedback that the theme is weak or if I see performance is not what I desire, I go back and make changes as needed.

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Hazezon Tamar - Manland theme
Seshiro the Anointed - Snake Tribal
Jedit Ojanen of Efrava - Cat and Warrior Dual Tribal
Doran, the Seige Tower - Wall Tribal
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 Post subject: Re: Theorycrafting for a better social interaction
AgePosted: 2019-Nov-06 4:38 pm 
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Joined: 2012-Nov-27 4:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Midgard
I've been somewhat locked into only unknown metas besides people I've been teaching Magic for quite some time now, so I feel compelled to outline something of an answer.

While I'm not an expert deckbuilder (laughably amateur, probably), I think there's something to be said for directing decks towards creating interaction as a means to generate fun. Creating opportunities for people to respond and putting in stuff to respond to your opponents makes you and the people you play with feel involved in the game. For instance, too much removal can stifle good gameplay flow; too few removal can allow good gameplay flow to end prematurely; just the 'right' amount, though, is a contributor to a healthy meta (nobody wins too early, no game takes too long). Having an aggro focus or an aggro backup to a deck's strategy also helps a lot in this regard, since combat naturally requires some amount of interaction (most of mine do).

When people feel more included in what's going on, they naturally invest more of themselves into the experience, which more often than not feels more fun. That being said, including proper amounts of removal in a deck is just basic deck building, so...I don't know how useful this really is.

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