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× Talk about collectible card here.

Cameron Kunzelman on Magic: Arena vs. Magic the card game

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05 Apr 2019 14:08 #295050 by Gary Sax
I think that this is an interesting piece, well worth reading for folks around here who are more into Magic than me:

waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/59x77b/a...uns-from-its-history

"To put it another way: would I love Magic as much as I do now if I had found it through Magic Arena originally? I don’t think so, and that all has to do with the changes that have been made to the game in order to bring it further in-line with other games like Hearthstone."

Echoing a lot of discussions we're having at the moment on this site imho.

I think Cameron in general is an excellent read on most things, so go check out his back catalogue on other games and columns on Waypoint and Kotaku.
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05 Apr 2019 14:21 #295054 by Jexik
My desktop is an old iMac, so I haven't touched Arena. It'd be right up my alley, to the point that it'd probably be disruptive to my life. Sideboards are very interesting though, when I've watched some Legacy videos from the dude who won that Arena event, Andrea Mengucci.

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06 Apr 2019 06:41 #295073 by Erik Twice
I dislike the bit on Magic being hard to play or complex. I know it's a stock rethorical device but I think labelling a game as easy as Magic as difficult or overly complex is a disservice to both the game and the people who may want to play it. I can't help but notice the overlap between the "elitists gatekeepers" who insist that Magic is too hard for women and the unintentional gatekeepers who agree Magic is overly complex and may not be for the diverse audiences of today.

--

Anyways, I think one thing that must kept in mind is that Magic is not designed to maximize strategic play. They are desig cards that say, more or less, "answer me or I win" because people like winning even if they don't deserve it. I mean, people love Planeswalkers even though they lead to bad games and Rosewater claims that mana screw is good for the game because it lets people win, after all. The high level of randomness in Magic and how you can win regardless of your opponent does is part of its appeal. I can tell you, if Magic were like Legend of the 5 Rings and good players lost 16 games in a row against a top player, it wouldn't be as much of a successful game.

With that in mind, sacrificing quality of play so people can jump in 5 minute matches makes perfect sense. It's harsh but I believe we, as players and human beings, will take the path that seems to require less effort even if it's worse or doesn't make sense in the long run.

What I believe they are going to do is try and design the game to make best-of-one more balanced. They'll try to nerf combo and make it more interactive. They are going to make the game more creature-based and make creatures more disruptive. And, you know what? These are all good things. Decks like Dredge, that have a 80%+ win ratio on the first game and drop to like 30% when are a flaw in the game.
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06 Apr 2019 20:53 #295101 by Colorcrayons
I'm sorry Erik, but I must disagree with the assertion that magic is a game that doesn't have a high difficulty threshold.

You can obviously play a basic game by learning the turn sequence using nothing more than sorceries and attacking with creatures, and have a very enjoyable experience.

But, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is a learning curve involved in playing the game. Especially if you wish to play it well.

You just don't put an Eye of the Storm in to play against a noob and expect them to have the same chance of winning as the person who knows and understands the relationship and language between thousands of cards and how to play them within the correct timing of a turn. Not to mention the tight tempos in building a streamlined deck that reduces chance as much as possible, without simply saying "4x of everything, and 22 lands".

I do not believe I am making myself out to be an unintentional gatekeeper by making that statement. The official rules are like a legal technical manual, and the pages are in the hundreds.

But I will agree that the learning curve is significantly different in other ccgs. Especially L5R. The nuances of L5R are pretty alien concepts in comparison.

I don't think the author of that article is gatekeeping in anyway either. Just explaining that there are some hurdles to pass through before the playing field is even. And even then, the person who wins is more often than not, the player with the better understanding of the game and it's sometimes labyrinthine rules.
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07 Apr 2019 06:05 #295104 by Erik Twice
There is some learning to do, but I don't think that makes the game difficult or "a beast" that most people can't play. Because they do play. It's the most popular boardgame. Millions play it and they are mostly kids, not experienced gamers. Kids also play a lot of games like it, the other two

I mean, the rules are extremely simple. You play a land, you tap as many lands as the card you want to play says and it happens. There's a bit of combat, which is very easy, and the difference between a couple types of cards. None of this is difficult. I truly believe anyone can understand that. I can't imagine a situation where someone wants to learn MtG and I can't teach it to them. Sure, there are comprehensive rules but they are no more neccesary to read than the Scrabble dictionary.

I also don't think a new player having fewer opportunities to beat a pro makes it less accessible. Magic is also one of the games where everyone can beat a pro player regularly. Top players have a 65% against the field at best.

I really think gaming has a problem with this. People can have successful careers, study medicine, read novels and knit, but the moment they approach gaming we no longer consider them capable. We patronize them and suggest Ticket to Ride. Meanwhile, millions are playing Minecraft, League of Legends, Fortnite and other games that aren't as simple as they seem at first glance. Heck, people are playing Warhammer 40.000 which is more complex than many hobby wargames.

I really think that, in our quest to be nice and inclusive to different gamers, we are often patronising. And I think characterizing games as being incredibly complex and difficult when they are not is part of it.
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07 Apr 2019 08:48 #295105 by engelstein

Colorcrayons wrote: I'm sorry Erik, but I must disagree with the assertion that magic is a game that doesn't have a high difficulty threshold.

You can obviously play a basic game by learning the turn sequence using nothing more than sorceries and attacking with creatures, and have a very enjoyable experience.

But, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is a learning curve involved in playing the game. Especially if you wish to play it well.


There's a big difference between how easy something is to learn to play, and how easy it is to learn to play well.

I actually use that ratio as my definition of "elegance" (how long it takes to master / how long it takes to learn). Go is a great example of that - I can teach you the rules in a minute, but it takes decades to master.

MtG is similar - although longer to learn, and, I would argue, probably faster than Go to master.

ASL has low elegance - learning the rules takes a long time, and just understanding the rules puts you a long way on the road to mastery.

I think MtG players do a disservice to their hobby if they emphasize how long it takes to master the game by saying it's "high difficulty" vs how easy it is to play a basic, and enjoyable, game.
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