Saturday, September 17, 2011

Planeswalker Points and a Note on Social Engineering

          Our current state of the union for gaming is extremely good. We're getting to the point where many gaming platforms once reserved for the hardcore basement dweller are being molded into something more palatable for the average person.
          A great example to dicuss is the new change for Magic: The Gathering's rating system. After having an ELO type of system in place for over a decade, the tournament side, and I'm sure the marketing side, of Magic has realized that discouraging anyone to play their game less is a bad idea. With the new system, no matter how or what you play that is sanctioned, shuffling up and playing Magic is more rewarding on a game for game basis than ever before.
          With all this positive momentum, there has to be a bit of a backlash. There are already lots of neigh-sayers out there along with rules lawyers that are trying to break this system. I have to say that after looking at some of the points standings, you'll be hard pressed to grind it out without having a significant winning record at large tournaments. There's also the notion that a system that takes no direct account of a player's skill is bad. I can't confirm this yet, but I'm assuming that players will be paired by their respective point totals that pertain to the type of play being held at the event (FNM, Competitive, or Pro). This in itself is accounting for player skill. Also, the quality of your opponents and play groups has direct correlation to an your performance against the field. If you always play weak opponents, you're doing yourself a disservice. I guarantee you won't play to your full potential because you don't have to.
         On a personal note, I know I very much enjoy destroying bad players with good decks with home brew  decks made by just the cards available to me from drafts and a little trading. A couple years ago I was trouncing kids with a Bant control deck I threw together, and they were playing stuff like Wickerbark Elder, Doran, and KoR decks. Cards are tools. If you don't know how to best use them, and if you never play people who challenge you, you will never improve.
          My favorite aspect of the new system is that it rewards real competitors; people out there playing their heart and souls out every week. One of the things I'll throw out there is that players who sling on an almost daily basis have two things going for them. There's repetition, which in any competitive environment is important. There's also exposure to the otherwise unknown. Magic is a fickle beast, and there will always be amazing interactions that will slip through the cracks. By playing more often with a large group of people, you have an opportunity to observe these eventualities and therefore be more prepared than your other competitors.
        All of this discussion is really getting around to the heart of this new system's intentions. It gives very tangible incentive to playing more often and at bigger events. This is a win-win situation for all involved. More players means more profit, both for vendors and players looking to trade. There is also profit in the experience of playing to your highest potential. I'll give you a scenario to explain:
          Johnny goes to a Grand Prix. He's never been to a pro level event, so he gets paired pretty low. He destroys people to start out, going 5-0. He then starts playing the big boys. Gabrielle Nassif is there, and Johnny is paired with him after an amazing winning run. Gab toasts the kid without even breaking a sweat, and Johnny has no idea what happened. What happened is that Johnny broke in to the realm of the professional level players. These are guys that have their names all over top deck lists, play with the best, read the best, and understand the most from signals given by you. Johnny can take the beat and learn from it, hopefully inspired to do even better down the road. Pros will still be pros, and players who play a ton have a better opportunity to get the experience needed to kill it at the higher levels. What's not to love?


  1. so how much does this translate to android?

    1. Android? This post is about the Magic: The Gathering Planeswalker Points Program. I'm sure you can view the website through your android phone.

    2. I was meaning netrunner :-) that is the new magic game that everyone is talking about.

    3. I'll be sure to check it out! I know I've seen a few guys playing it at Comic Book World, my local store.