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Author Topic: Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other  (Read 91839 times)
Smmenen
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« on: July 16, 2007, 04:05:10 pm »

The blog format is a little thought grenade, quick and dirty, that grabs your attention with the smell and billowing smoke.   A blog is the spasmed phlegm of an idea spat onto the pavement in full, hideous public view.   It isnít art, it isnít beauty; itís a practical outlet for mental sediment/residue.   Itís a repository for small nuggets of ideas that arenít article worthy, but worth bringing to community view nonetheless.  This blog is going to be like one of those drawers where you store trinket-type junk that you think youíll get around to cleaning out some day, but never do.   Letís see how it goes.

=====================================================================================================

In the near term, a lot of this blog is going to be spent on my random musings on GAT as I pilot the archetype through the next six months, specifically, my internal dialogue about what to run, silly things Iíve done, or debates about what to sb and how to pilot my way through various matchups.   Most of my musings here will be blurbs on a little idea or debate with myself.   

But the item that I want to open with is an article I ran across on espn.com

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=betweenthenumbers/billybeane/060405

This chapter was linked to an article that I recently read.   The short of it is this: There is this manager called Billy Beane who came up with this method for getting teams to the playoffs.   The only problem was that his formula for winning in the regular season failed miserably in the post-season.  Why?   It turns out that the factors that go into winning the post-season are different in some critical respects.    Does that sound familiar?

I wrote an article on SCG based upon the same premise called ďFinding the Flores Deck.Ē   I specifically used the Cardinals as an example in that article but noted that I think the analogy has limits if not serious flaws (at least I admitted that in the forums to the article).   My contention in the article was that Mana Drain decks are in many respects less useful candidates for getting into a top 8, but the favorite to win a tournament once there.   I looked through some tournament data and cited lots of examples how Mana Drain decks snuck in as the final seed and then ended up winning the tournament.   I think it was a statement less about how Mana Drain decks were better than everything else than on how the more powerful, but more linear archtypes often did certain things very well in the swiss that got them to the top 8, but were ultimately less flexible and more vulnerable to specific hate and the best players. 

I think what it comes down to is variables.   Magic decks and magic metagames are complex systems.  So is baseball.  You have numerous variables at play: the pitching from starting, relief, to closing; the batting, fielding, and other variables like managerial acumen and speed, among other variables.   In the regular season, dominating batting is super important, just as raw power is in a magic swiss.  But once in the top 8/ playoffs, everyone is good.   You face the best players and the best teams.   Other things begin to matter more than didnít matter before.  Things like defense and the lack of fielding errors becomes huge.   Similarly, well-played hate becomes decisive in vintage top 8s.   Mana Drain decks are much harder to hate out than linear decks like Ichorid, and to a lesser degree combo and workshops.   

Some sports have less variables.   Basketball, it seems to me, is such a sport.  Itís not that there isnít a lot of strategic and tactical variability in basketball.  There is.  Itís just that there are less *independent* variables at play.   The teamís pitching ERA is completely unrelated to the teams batting average (at least, to the extent that spending money on acquiring one doesnít hurt the teamís ability to spend on the other).    In basketball, the height variable correlates to defense plays as well as offensive plays, etc.   

Itís an interesting theoretical question to think about, and Iím sure as I put more thought into it as the subject comes up in the future, Iíll have more to say.   

« Last Edit: July 16, 2007, 09:29:01 pm by Smmenen » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 04:57:35 pm »

Ugh.  Now that I've started this up, I feel like I've let the floodgates open for random thoughts.

Man. 

 I saw the new Quirion Dryads yesterday from Tenth edition.   Someone at RIW was playing with them in their GAT deck.

WOW.   

The art is SO gorgeous on those Dryads.

I can't help but wonder if the testing/planning for 10th didn't get the people in R&D thinking about Vintage and perhaps that help prompt, in some small way, the unrestriction of Gush.

I can see it now:

Mike Turian goes to take a leak in the men's room.   Zvi is standing in front of urinal taking a whiz. 

Pee-talk ensues:

Mike: "So, how do you like testing 10th?"

Zvi: "The best part is that we don't have to use test cards since everything is reprinted."

Mike: "Yeah, tell me about it.  Using test cards sucks.   I envy magic players who don't know how good they have it." 

Zvi: "Man, I really love Quirion Dryad."

Mike: "Yeah, that card used to be broken in Vintage."

Zvi: "Why don't you unrestrict Gush - I heard Chapin said it could be done."

Mike: "Hmmm..... I'll bring it up at the next meeting!"


That little day-dream got me thinking: It's sort of sad that apparently Randy Buehler doesn't work on magic anymore.   He was the one guy in R&D that knew the most about Vintage.   He also loved playing in those seattle power tournaments.    Sad.  But  he's been promoted up.    That's life I guess. 

Speaking of R&D.   Maro announced that the next block will actually be TWO blocks.   

I think the significance of that for Vintage is huge.   Generally, the vintage summer season is the busiest season, but now its going to get even more dynamic because a new set will come out about this time next year.    I mean, Coldsnap was pretty sweet last year (giving us Jotun Grunt, among others).   A new set that is full of new mechanics could really change the summer dynamic, even if Vintage gets 1-5 playable cards.   


« Last Edit: July 16, 2007, 06:30:56 pm by Smmenen » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2007, 05:21:05 pm »

Soooooooooooo.... there is a Waterbury this weekend.   

Swweeeeet.

Everyone who is able to make it is going to have an awesome time.   

If only it were easier for me to attend.  Going to a Waterbury is, for me, a tremendous difficulty.   

1) They are never announced early enough for me to get cheap flights.    Flying since 9/11/01 has been a pain the tookus.  Before 9/11/01, you could just jump on a plane and fly anywhere cheaply and fast.   You rarely had customer service problems and airlines were the most efficient way to travel.

Since 2001, flying has gotten much more difficult.   You have to arrive earlier to get through security.   You can't even take cologne, let alone a bottled water.  All liquids have to be able to fit into a small, little baggie.   Since people were afraid to fly after 9/11, the airlines took a huge hit.  I'm not sure if they've recovered by now, but whereas once flying was a booming business, since there has been a ton of restructuring and bankruptcies.   Airlines have basically given up on customer service.   And to get a decent price you have to book like 6-12 months in advance. 

2) Even if I could get a decent flight to the Waterbury, I'd have to rent a car or have a ride for the other 30 miles to the tournament.    I went to a Waterbury in January of 2004 and I flew into the airport, rented a car, and drove a nightmarish 40 minutes in ice and snow to the hotel.   There is no airport conveniently located near the tournament site. 

3) Driving is just unbearable.   I'll do a drive for 6-8 hours to Chicago or Roanoke, but driving to Waterbury or Stratford, Conn. is a hellish journey of over 9 hours each way.   It's not that I can't do it, it's the effect on my body afterward.   It takes me days to recover.  My sleep and eating schedules get out of whack and it makes me much less productive when I get back to work. 

I've been to two Waterburies. 

I played in January 2004 and January 2005. 

January, 2004 was an insane experience because I was pretty much there by myself.   I booked a flight, got a hotel room, and spent alot of time on the phone with teammate Kevin Cron.

It was also exciting because I was playing Death Long.   Mere weeks before, LED and Burning Wish had been restricted.   I spent quite a bit of time tuning a Death Wish Long list and hoping to take people by surprise.   

Round One, I remember a big crowd of players gathering around to see what I was playing.   I killed my Oshawa Stompy opponent on turn one in both games.   

I played 3 green decks in the first five rounds.   My round two was pwning Andy Probasco (who I'd never met before).  After going 4-0, I played future teammate Jacob Orlove.   I had a turn one win in one of the games and in another he took me out pretty quickly.   In the final game of the match, I made a critical misplay (it was something dumb like playing Hurkyl's Recall into a Chalice for 2).   I was later able to build up a Ritual, Cabal Ritual, play LED tapped into Root Maze, Yawg Will, response sac LED (since LED can sac even if tapped), and I was just short of being able to win.  If I hadn't have made the silly mistake earlier on, I would have had the game.   EDIT: I found Jacob's report here: http://www.type-one.net/rep?f=040117jor.txt  He has a pretty detailed description of the games.  Evidently, I played a Rit into a Chalice for 1 that kept me from winning.   Great match. 

I win that game, I draw into top 8.

So, at 4-1, I play Rich Shay.   Mind you, I had never met/heart of Rich Shay before.  He explains that he likes my articles and enjoys my posts, etc.   I was pretty demoralized from my losses to Jacob and I keep AWFUL hands.   Rich Mindslavers me in the first game pretty hard.  Game 2 wasn't much different except that I think I mistimed a Jar that gave him the win.   This might have been the first time Rich plays Control Slaver.

I'm out of contention.  I don't remember if I played the final round or just dropped to watch at this point.   

What I DO remember, however, is that I very much enjoyed watching the Top 8 play out.   I took close notes and I think I did a matchup report for the mana drain on the finals match.   

What I vividly remember was that regardless of what went into the top 8, the few aggro-control decks there just ran over everything else.   Scott Limoges and this guy I can picture but can't remember his name played in the finals.   It was GroAtog versus EBA.   Mind you, Scott was playing with 1 Gush, since it was restricted.   

The lasting impression I came away with was that Aggro-Control was the best deck to play at Waterburies, for a variety of reasons.   It has flexible role options that help you optimize in any given match.   A large part of the metagame was aggro decks.   GAT has larger men than Oshawa Stompy and isn't hurt by the mana denial of cards like Null Rod.    Secondly, a large part of the metagame was Drain Control.   GAT has much of the same disruption, but the element of a cheap dryad it can protect.   At this time, there was very little, if any, Stax in the Waterbury (as usual) and many of the control decks were REAL control decks, not control -combo.   At this time, Control Slaver wasn't the turn 3 combo deck that it is today.  As a consequence, aggro-control was a great foil.   There was no real danger that the "control" decks were combo out, so GAT didn't really have to do anything but stay alive until it won, trading Forces and Mana Drains one-for-one.   

My second Waterbury was January 2005.   I was hot of 2 consecutive SCG top 8s and a top 8 at the Vintage Champs at Gencon.   In early November, I was tinkering around with Tendrils and came up with Meandeck Tendrils.   My whole team spent the next two months testing it and we had like 12 players playing it.   In testing, I annihilated everything.  It was a huge debacle, perhaps the biggest flop we ever attempted.     Although the deck was a huge tournament flop, the team distributed with pretty much a normal distribution.   Out of 202 players, we had 3 players in the top 32 (with Justin Walters making top 4).  I placed 32 I think. 
I also learned some important lessons about magic, that I still carry with me today. 

One thing that I do believe about Waterburies is this: if you choose to play GAT, you are going in with not only the best deck, but the weight of historical experience behind you.   Whereas there are intangible factors that make Meandeck Tendrils a terrible tournament deck, there are intangible factors that make GAT a great tournament deck.  Those factors are amplified in a Waterbury.   

To my knowledge, GAT has only top 8ed in the Gush-restriction era at the Waterbury.  What's more, it's WON Waterbury's in that era and top8ed more than that.   Josh Meckes and Scott Limoges both won Waterburies with 1 Gush GAT.   Scott did in Jan. 2004 and I think Josh did in Jan. 2006.   In any case, that's pretty powerful testament to how good of a deck choice GAT in that tournament.   Imagine how good it will be with 4 Gush.   

I think alot of players tend to outthink themselves.  To not play GAT, you'd have to really outthink yourself. The reality is that alot of people who play in SCGs, the Vintage Champs, and Waterbury's don't read the mana drain often, if at all.   They don't read SCG.   They just pick a deck and play it.    Alot of smart players want to play a GAT "foil."   The reality is that you're likely to do worse with a GAT foil than you are with GAT.   Why?   GAT foils probably aren't as good as GAT at beating everything else.    And the GAT mirror is worth mastering so you win it anyway.  It's better to learn the GAT mirror and get good at that than to play a foil that maybe never plays against GAT and struggle against random dude.   From what I see, despite the fact that Gush is unrestricted, really very few people proportionally are switching to GAT.   It's surprising.   It seems like basically the best players are playing GAT.   The people who played Gifts have switched to GAT.   The talented ten percent or whatever.   Instead of GAT being this mass appeal deck, it's become the new Gifts - where the best players play it and the rest continue playing whatever they feel like playing.   That fact hurts the GAT "Foil" theory.   Let's see if more than 20% of the Waterbury is GAT.  I'm willing to bet that it will actually be somewhere between 11-18%, and I wouldn't be shocked if only 12% play GAT.   It would be a disappointment, because I think GAT is one of those decks that can reward weaker players, but not surprising based upon what I've seen and what I know and intuit of magic masses.   But the best players who don't play GAT are also going to be disappointed.  They will have constructed this nice GAT foil and ultimately and ironically lose to GAT somewhere along the ladder of GAT beatings.    They may take down one, two or even three GAT players, but eventually some GAT player or some other unexpected matchup will take them down through some subtle error they make or just luck.   

My prediction: GAT will put 3 players in the top 8.  And I expect a GAT finals.    I don't think there will be more than 4 GAT players in the top 8, simply because its improbable based upon the fact that there won't be enough GAT in the metagame to feed a top 8 with more than 4.   

The next tournament will be harder for GAT, I expect.   There will be more hate and people will have a better understanding of the GAT mirror.   It's there that I might expect a non-GAT deck to win it all.   Perhaps.   

Let you think I'm talking out of my butt, I tied for first in Dave Feinstein's Waterbury prediction contest for the last waterbury:
http://www.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=31566.30
And that's despite having only played in two of them and not being from that area/knowing the metagame very well.   

Anyway, I envy you that will be playing but remind you to have a good time above all.  Enjoy 2003 Part II. 



« Last Edit: July 17, 2007, 05:32:42 pm by Smmenen » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2007, 09:47:48 pm »

In the whole history of airlines, from their inception till now, they have never been profitable. 9/11 made them even less so, and it was an excuse for poor revenue even though the airlines were being killed by their management. But that's tangential. What I wanted to bring to your attention is that Skybus has a lot of cheap fares and their central hub is Columbus. You can get $20 tickets to Richmond, VA or other cities that they fly to if you're able to book it enough in advance. But again, it's things being announced in advance enough : \
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2007, 07:27:19 pm »

Incredibly, Wizards nominated me for the 2007 Magic Invitational.     They nominated me to represent this community.   It is a tremendous honor to have been asked, and I couldn't be prouder of this community.    We represent some of the most talented players in the game, but we are also among the most mature.

Wizards made a big mistake in nominating 10 different people.  Their vote is splitting Hard.   Evan Erwin is currently the vote leader, but barely.   I'm nipping at his tails along with Gerard.   

You can decide this.    VOTE ETERNAL!

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=903223

It only takes a couple of minutes.   Register and vote!   Exercise your vote and we can WIN THIS!

But every single vote counts.   With vote counts under 1600 split ten ways, the winner will only win this by less than 50 votes.   

Not only will this community (and the Source) have a say in the card I submit, but my report will be posted on THESE Forums FIRST (if Wizards lets me!).   

You all rock.   

Stephen Menendian
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2007, 10:58:43 pm »

How can you tell who is the leader?
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2007, 11:03:54 pm »

How can you tell who is the leader?

Stephen Menendian is a goddam ninja pirate with so many insane plays--he can do anything...except resolve Brainstorm Smile
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2007, 07:10:43 pm »

I'm super excited to go to Europe. 

Wizards has invited me to Pro Tour Valencia!   Extended is SO MUCH Fun right now!   Right now, Tarmogoyf aggro control sounds pretty good.

The Invitational should be sweet.    I'm betting now that they might do Lorywn Two-Headed Giant Draft, which would be SUPER Cool.    I'll have to go to both days of the pre-release! Smile

I'd really like to see Maro come up with wacky formats, like crazy Duplicate Sealed draft using Alpha!    We'll see what's in store....

More soon...

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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2007, 12:50:37 pm »

I donít know if any of you have ever listened to Top8 podcasts (top8magic.com), but they are painful for me to listen to.    Steve Sadin is a nice guy, but Mike Flores is just obnoxious to hear speak.   Beyond his tone of voice and style of speaking (which is jarring to me), Flores is o-bssessed with the personality cult of certain players, particularly American players he knows well.   Multiple times a podcast he comes up with lists of ďwho is best?Ē etc.   And then he makes overbroad statements repeatedly.  Itís obvious that Sadin and BDM are uncomfortable around it, but defer anyway.   Itís pretty offputting.

Although well-crafted, Wizards produces ads like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBmBOdH8EDw

I mean, does selling the fantasy aspect of magic really the best way to sell magic?  More importantly, is selling the adolescent angle really the best way to sell magic?  I definitely think not.

One of the most incredible and unexpected benefits of the enormous popularity of MODO is the accessibility of magic.   Anyone can now play against an opponent at any hour of the day.  Busy adults can play a few games of Standard to unwind after the kids are in bed.

I would love for Wizards to produce an ad targeted to young to middle aged adults could be incredibly effective.  Showing a fun game where you can be creative and that is strategically deep is quite a lure.  Show young adults traveling the globe or playing magic after the kids are in bed and I think youíd get a lot of interest.   Iím not sure why that is such a novel idea. 
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 04:48:40 pm by Smmenen » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2007, 04:31:59 pm »

Flores' name-dropping is one of the biggest reasons I don't even try to read his stuff.
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2007, 05:25:03 pm »

I listen to Top8Magic.  The namedropping is kind of painful, but I think there is definitely some valuable stuff there.
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2007, 09:12:26 pm »

Flores is just obnoxious, both to read and to listen to, but I like B.D.M. for his unvarnished and hilarious enthusiasm.  If Magic could spend time getting good ads, they'd just explode market-wise; any mention of the uber-dork element of Magic (which is undeniably the majority) should be verboten in such advertising.
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2007, 11:00:02 am »

I disagree, I think Magic is already well-defined and it will be difficult to increase market share.  What I find interesting about Wizards is that they force their retailers to do the majority of advertising for them (tournaments) and get people in the door.

My favorite part of Top8Magic is the guest stars: generally when they talk to Zvi and Finkel.  They had Knutson on there once.  I'm also interested by the new thoughts on formats, like when Flores was talking about building new decks for existing formats, or the way he approaches a matchup or a metagame.
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« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2007, 03:00:46 pm »

I disagree, I think Magic is already well-defined and it will be difficult to increase market share.  What I find interesting about Wizards is that they force their retailers to do the majority of advertising for them (tournaments) and get people in the door.

 

Being well-defined already doesnít mean that you canít have new definitions.  Old words acquire new meanings all the time.   Sometimes the new meanings, even in the face of well-defined previous meanings, become the predominant meaning.

Magic is thematically well defined as about goblins, wizards, dragons, and general fantasy.  But to other people (us), it is well defined as a deeply strategic card game.   When the former elements are emphasized, it is often sold as a adolescent diversion, instead of a rigorous competitive mental sport that it actually is at its highest level.    While Wizards has done a good job showing off the Pro Tour, they havenít done a good job selling the game as a hobby for adults.

Thatís what Iím strongly criticizing.  Having an ad. with a 32 year old male deep in thought traveling the globe winning thousands of dollars I think could sell a totally different audience than putting ads in comic books geared toward adolescents, or tv ads where a goblin rings a doorbell and throws a kid against a table.   

What Iím saying is that Magic isnít sold well as it could be. 

Think about this:

1) We know that magic isnít a fad, as we once thought.   Magic is more popular than ever and its an old game now.

2) There was once a thought that magic players tend to play for a few years, quit and move on.  We now know that this is false.   Most magic players have been playing for a very long time.   Many, many magic players who quit come back to the game.   

3) Magic Online changed everything.   Magic is a game, unlike others, that requires an opponent, not simpy a computer.   That means that you canít really play by yourself.   Magic Online gives everyone from the most remote parts of the world at any time of day an opponent.   A busy parent with a long workweek can unwind playing cards late at night.   A PTQer can practice limited on a Monday night without having to travel the local card store.   Etc.   

This all suggests that Magic is growing and evolving in ways that I believe Magicís marketing does not account for.   

The average age of the magic player will rise and has been steadily rising over time.   I would not at all be surprised if 10 years from now the average magic player was 25 or older.   

Magic needs to be marketed to recognize this fact and attract more people from that bracket.   The greatest barrier to playing magic, aside from rules knowledge, no longer exists thanks to MTGO. 



My favorite part of Top8Magic is the guest stars: generally when they talk to Zvi and Finkel.  They had Knutson on there once.  I'm also interested by the new thoughts on formats, like when Flores was talking about building new decks for existing formats, or the way he approaches a matchup or a metagame.

Listening to Top 8 magic reminds me of the worst that Magic players exhude, despite Sadin and BDMís attempt to clean it up.

Iíve heard criticism of Evan Erwinís Magic Show before, but his show is miles better than the Top8 Magic podcasts, not even just for production quality (in which it is 100000000 times better), but also in attitude, approachability, etc.   

Top8 Magic disgusts me as a portal for learning about American magic.   
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« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2007, 03:30:01 pm »

I think wizards needs to promote the game to younger players.  I know a lot of us picked it up in middle school when everyone else we knew was picking it up too just as the fad was blowing up.  As we age wizards still needs to attract that demographic.  The fact that we keep playing should tend to make the average age rise, but there should be some kind of equilibrium point and I'm not sure we're really trending towards that right now.
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« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2007, 03:40:26 pm »

I think wizards needs to promote the game to younger players.  I know a lot of us picked it up in middle school when everyone else we knew was picking it up too just as the fad was blowing up.  As we age wizards still needs to attract that demographic.  The fact that we keep playing should tend to make the average age rise, but there should be some kind of equilibrium point and I'm not sure we're really trending towards that right now.

But Wizards *does* promote the game to younger players.   Itís not a question of it they should or not; they already do do.   

My point is that they also need to advertise Magic for older players.   Which they do not.   

100% of Magicís ads are geared toward people under 20.   That is a huge mistake, imo, for reasons I've already listed at length above.
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2007, 04:09:46 pm »

To be fair here, copying the Nintendo marketing strategy of 'sell sell sell to the wee ones and the older ones will come anyway when they realize how awesome we are' isn't exactly a bad thing, especially because with the younger ones you don't have to compete against stuff like World of Warcraft and other soul sucking games.
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« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2007, 06:39:41 pm »

I don't listen to Top8Magic. What, specifically, disgusts you about them?
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« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2007, 10:08:43 pm »

I donít know if any of you have ever listened to Top8 podcasts (top8magic.com), but they are painful for me to listen to.    Steve Sadin is a nice guy, but Mike Flores is just obnoxious to hear speak.   Beyond his tone of voice and style of speaking (which is jarring to me), Flores is o-bssessed with the personality cult of certain players, particularly American players he knows well.   Multiple times a podcast he comes up with lists of ďwho is best?Ē etc.   And then he makes overbroad statements repeatedly.  Itís obvious that Sadin and BDM are uncomfortable around it, but defer anyway.   Itís pretty offputting.


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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2007, 10:47:59 pm »

Mike Flores is okay until he randomly just says something totally wrong. BDM is fine and Sadin is always good to hear. Whenever Zvi is on, I have to turn it way down because the sound of harpy's screeching is more pleasant. Though, if you can get past the voice, Zvi says some cool stuff. To be fair, I've heard Flores say some some stuff that's off-base, but usually Sadin or BDM corrects him.

Example (paraphrased):

Flores: "Stephen Menedian doesn't have a chance for the invitational."

Sadin: "I think he's got a good chance."

Flores: "No way."

Sadin: "He has a very big following in the Eternal community."

Flores, dripping with sarcasm: "Nnnnnneat."
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« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2007, 03:08:29 pm »

Matt Cavotta has articulated something that should be key to discussion of marketing Magic---the game is heavily about the traditional fantasy setting, and far fewer people would be interested in it when stripped of the flavor. Many things are deeply strategic and can yield far higher travel and monetary benefits than Magic for the same kind of lifestyle-altering learning curve (e.g., poker, professional investing). By pitching it as a challenging intellectual exercise, the game would sound inherently dorky, not to mention having all the appeal of a homework assignment while potentially intimidating people who don't want to look like dummies while playing such a complicated game.

The error in your suggestion is in projecting the kind of ad that would appeal to you as one that must have some large audience in the general public. By playing this game for so long at such a strategic level, we are all rare exceptions, besides the million other ways we are demographically different from the public. Gaming as a whole may be expanding into the mainstream, but it is primarily through videogames, which keep their rules in the background, while even Magic Online requires you to know how the cards work. Most people still don't want to learn ultra-complicated things for their recreational time.

Before anyone will be dragged into the game's abundant strategic depth, they must first become willing to learn the basic rules---and even Core Set-level rules issues are far more complicated than a typical board game. To justify that effort, the advertising tries to make the game sound fun and cool, using images of youthful players because youth is connected to being "hip" or "in", at least in America. Adults looking for a new, cerebral hobby are not only rare, they are also largely self-guiding; they can find Magic without a TV commercial via its prominence in the world of gaming. Adolescents, on the other hand, are unguided, numerous, and more likely to pick up a new hobby which can grow into the Magic lifestyle of permanent customer.

This is the fundamental reason why there will never be a TV commercial featuring Steve M. contemplating his Brainstorm. Smile
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« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2007, 07:17:53 pm »

You guys have ruined my blog :p

I hardly know where to begin...

Matt Cavotta has articulated something that should be key to discussion of marketing Magic---the game is heavily about the traditional fantasy setting, and far fewer people would be interested in it when stripped of the flavor.

Oh really?

Let me ask you something.

Do you think people are more interested in THIS

o

OR  THIS



 I see absolutely no reason why Magic can't be more marketed as a game where you can win big money, and equally importantly, travel around the world. 

If Beer, an acrid tasting drink that makes you fat and causes cancer, can be marketed using hot women I see no reason why magic, a game about fantasy cards, can't also be marketed using things people like. 

It's not simply that the PT gives out a huge payload.  That's a big lure.  I think the equally big lure is the fact that if you win a PTQ you get FREE travel.    And the level system is just absurd.   You get money just for showing up in some cases.   

Imagine an ad that shows a guy putting his kid to bed, logging on, playing some magic, slinging spells with an ogre or something, and then cuts to him flying into Paris to play on the Pro Tour. 

The flavor of Magic can be sold as a way of selling the game as fun, but that doesn't mean that the game can't be sold on many other traits.    Because it can.   

And selling the JSS thing is not what I'm talking about :p


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« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2007, 10:19:41 pm »

The main reason for the game to have flavor is that it makes everything MUCH easier to remember. Seriously, our brains are hard-wired to think in terms of narrative, so giving stuff names and categories and pictures lets us process a much larger volume of information that we otherwise could. The game would be unplayable if cards all had numbers for names, as in Cavotta's example, but his "story" there was awful, and the whole purpose of the piece was to preach to the choir and establish his audience. Go re-read it. I can't actually attack his arguments, because he didn't make any--the piece is full of insults and slanted/loaded language. If you want to summarize what you think he's saying, go ahead, because I just don't see it.

Oh, and if you want to talk about "inherently dorky" I'm pretty sure that pitching your game as Dungeons and Dragons with cards is going to do that a whole lot more than pitching it as poker with long-term strategy.

Now, a few cards have genuinely cool flavor, but for most, it's just a placeholder. The flavor serves the mechanics, not the other way around. And that's a good thing.
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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2007, 12:03:44 pm »

The specifics of Cavotta's article are beside the general point that flavor is a major reason why we all play Magic as opposed to some other game (for which I linked to his article, since he has done so much to showcase the Creative section of R&D). Flavor serves mechanics, yes, and function supersedes flavor most of the time when the two are in conflict during design. But this is marketing, so we're looking for things to be colorful and attention-grabbing, rather than requiring insight.

Steve's ridiculous example of fantasy-genre imagery aside, my point is that on the spectrum of selling points from "kiddie thrills"/adventure/fantasy to mature/mentally challenging, the former is a better ad choice for a broad audience. Fortunately, since we are not WotC's Brand team, we don't have to come to a consensus on this issue. I'll take my (rapidly lengthening) thoughts on Magic marketing to my own thread so Steve can get back to telling us about how cool the Invitational and PT will be. Very Happy
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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2007, 05:55:46 pm »

Think about this another way.  Say you wanted to get your friends to start playing golf.  Do you point to the millions of dollars on the pro tour?  Or do you point out how you can have fun with friends on a weekend.  Maybe even play at a tournament--not a PGA tournament--but a local tournament.  Maybe they could get good enough to go to the PGA.  You can even win an invite through a PTQ--for the US Open.  Now golf is so big it doesn't need to advertise itself, but I think that would be the best way for it to advertise.  I think this would be the best way for magic to advertise--focus on the fun you can have with friends.
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« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2007, 09:42:12 pm »

So......

This is a non-vintage topic, but I've been testing the Auction decks for the Invitational... and wow that format is alot of fun to learn.  Completely worthless outside of the Invitational, yeah, but so cool.   

I'd love to write about the auction decks, how I see them, how I value them, particular matchups, strategies, but it seems like every bit of information matters so much here.    The auction process is simply deck economics: trying to win through arbitrage.   

And after all, I'm the Vintage player.  I represent you all.   Every single match I win is in a way a victory for us.   If I were to write an article, it could only help the enemy Smile

As for the Bring Your Own Standard section.   Any suggestions or help is greatly appreciated.    PM me if you get a chance.   I know we can break it Smile
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« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2007, 11:00:51 pm »

You could write the article now and then just hang on to it until after the Invitational.  You could even write a pre-analysis article and post-analysis article to see if your perspectives changed after competing.
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« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2007, 11:15:43 pm »

I went ahead and moved all of the BYOS discussion to the Adept Lounge. Please feel free to PM Steve about this or any other invitational format, but posts about it should be in the non-public forums. Thanks for your cooperation.
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« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2007, 02:43:44 pm »



Itís now starting to sink inÖ. I leave on Weds for Europe.

First up, PT Valencia.  Thanks to much help from teammates and friends here, Iíve got a deck Iím playing.  I havenít been able to test this format much at all, what with work, life, and learning four dang formats for the InvitationalÖ

Then Iím planning to travel a bit around Spain and then Germany. 

Then, the Invitational!   Iím solid on BYOS (THANK YOU THANK YOU mana drainers!), Iím about halfway through cracking the auction, Iíve done as much with Cube as I can, and Iím spending most of my time Winston drafting Lorywn.

Iím looking forward to seeing what you guys submitted for the design submission.   Selecting one card out of the five the committee sends my way will be very challenging.

This weekend I have to turn to logistical things.   If there are any Europeans reading this, I have a few questionsÖ like:

* Since my laptop wonít plug in Europe, what sort of adapters should I buy and where can I get them?

ē   Will I be able to use my credit card everywhere in Europe?  Will there be surcharges or hidden fees?

ē   How much cash should I exchange into euros?

* How much clothing should I pack for my 10 day journey?   

Etc.
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« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2007, 02:56:25 pm »


As it turns out, I'll be Spain (Madrid) next week as well.

Quote
ē   Will I be able to use my credit card everywhere in Europe?  Will there be surcharges or hidden fees?

For fees, you should ask your bank yourself.  They have the VA tax, but you can reclaim that upon departing for certain items.

Quote
ē   How much cash should I exchange into euros?

I got 100e for cabs from the metro, parking, etc when I first arrive.  If you don't have as much set up for your arrival, you may want more.  Keep a tight grip on your wallet Wink

Have a great time.  Kick some ass!
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