Understanding Vintage Metagame Data

@diophan please don't get Gush restricted.

@DeaTh-ShiNoBi @diophan I give more weight to Dailies (collectively) compared to your usual monthly Vintage event. As far as unique players go, I think this is only somewhat helpful. Many paper Top 8s have the same players represented and I would certainly not dismiss the finishes of Brian Kelly or Montolio because of the frequency of their success.

Why do I think Dailies are superior? The metagame is much more dynamic with a higher concentration of tier 1 decks. Paper metagames change much more slowly, people play their pet decks, and this really isn't that useful in "solving" the format or determining the "best deck".

@ChubbyRain on the other hand, many many more players play paper. And what wins changes there just as fluidly as online. Plus if we want to talk about weighting... why the heck is this decision being based on what people are playing anyway? It should be based on what is winning and nothing else. If everyone in vintage wants to play Ghazban Ogres is DCI going to restrict them? (the second part seems possible, actually) Just manage the format if something wins too much and there isn't a good way to fight it, otherwise butt out DCI.

But this whole discussion is verging on the self defeating anyway. There isn't any need to weight small amounts of data, when the decision isn't even being made based on all the data that's available. Take it all collectively and make the best decision. More data is better data. This is all stuff everyone already knows. This is high school stuff. The DCI should playtest the format and take all the data collectively, and anything else is a half-assed half-measure. That's just all there is. It's hard to respect decisions like this as good, when they aren't trying very hard to make them good.

last edited by Topical_Island

@Topical_Island More data is not better data... That's why meta-analyses attempt to qualify and rate the value of data, looking for bias and confounding factors. The DCI does not have even close to the resources necessary to playtest all formats...It might be half-assed but at least it's practical. What I would certainly like is a much more in depth explanation for their Vintage decisions. They dedicated much more space to a much less controversial ban of Eye of Ugin in Modern.

@ChubbyRain Yes. Metadata. I am familiar...I mean, I'm not going to get lost in a side debate about the validity of a truism. I think we pretty much agree here, and anyone who thinks that the DCI did a good job here and went out of there way to get robust data for this decision... I would just restate that as being their own opinion and rest my case. I don't think that's what you're saying...

As to the resources... to do a better job making this decision the DCI would have to marshaled up the resources to write a scraper program aimed at any of a number of websites already aggregating the very data they need, or even easier, to play a single game of vintage. Can that really be true? Even as I type it I find myself saying... woah woah, pump the breaks Bill... internet rant guy.

If that is true, its just negligence. (which isn't actually the name of a magic card, though it seems like it should be... 2WW, enchantment. Pay 1W and some attention: do you frigging job.) I just can't believe that this is the governing body for our format.

@Topical_Island said:

to play a single game of vintage

There are people who self identify as Vintage players working within Wizards of the Coast. There are also people play testing Vintage by playing Vintage who are adept and whom the DCI is paying attention to.

@Topical_Island said:

Yes. Metadata. I am familiar...I mean, I'm not going to get lost in a side debate about the validity of a truism. I think we pretty much agree here, and anyone who thinks that the DCI did a good job here and went out of there way to get robust data for this decision... I would just restate that as being their own opinion and rest my case. I don't think that's what you're saying...

One of the main topics of discussion here has been the role of Online and Paper results. You mention taking the data collectively, but how you interpret that data is an essential component that you seem to be glossing over.

As to the resources... to do a better job making this decision the DCI would have to marshaled up the resources to write a scraper program aimed at any of a number of websites already aggregating the very data they need, or even easier, to play a single game of vintage. Can that really be true? Even as I type it I find myself saying... woah woah, pump the breaks Bill... internet rant guy.

A) I think you are vastly overestimating the competency of WotC given the abomination that is Magic Online.
B) I think you are vastly underestimating the difficulty of creating a virtual Vintage metagame.
C) They have a much more cost effective system of letting the players play the game....Heck, we even pay them to do that.

@ChubbyRain said:

.

Yeah. I felt bad after I wrote that. I got myself worked up into an emotional response there. I don't think that WotC is incompetent at all. I love the game and think that the cards from a design standpoint have been great. The thing that gets me grumpy is the impression I get that vintage is just enough of a DCI afterthought that a good effort to understand the format isn't really getting made (for whatever reason... be it resources or whatever. To be clear, I do not think these are stupid people. I just think it isn't a priority at all.) Yet not enough of an afterthought to be left alone.

But that was probably too far in those post. I really don't want to be the rant guy. I guess I'll just calmly re-ask... do they have a scraper? That could be pretty easily done. Most third year CS students can do this. An intern could do this. And shouldn't there just be more thought given to the system of restrictions itself. (I wrote a diatribe on this already under the Community section) Honestly, I play a lot online and in paper. But I've never played a game on MTGO because I don't trust the decision making process enough to get that committed directly. I say that with complete calm. I think the folks at WotC are awesome. I play a lot of Chess and Go and Poker... but I think Vintage MTG is far more interesting as a game than all those. But I don't believe that WotC has shown enough care and interest in the format, for me to buy their version of it. That's where I guess I have to leave it. Other people who love MTGO, keep making vids. I love them, and thank you. I just think this process could be a lot a lot better if these very intelligent people were trying. And data and metadata are great, if somebody wanted to do a big data masters thesis on this I would actually read the entire thing. I promise you. But the solution for my concerns isn't numeric; its systemic.

Sorry again for the burnout before.

last edited by Topical_Island

@Topical_Island said: Honestly, I play a lot online and in paper. But I've never played a game on MTGO because I don't trust the decision making process enough to get that committed directly. I say that with complete calm. I think the folks at WotC are awesome.

Can you explain what you mean here? Do you mean that you don't trust your capacity to make decisions on MTGO? Because of the platform/software or because of the mechanics of the game of Magic?

I play a lot of Chess and Go and Poker... but I think Vintage MTG is far more interesting as a game than all those. But I don't believe that WotC has shown enough care and interest in the format, for me to buy their version of it. That's where I guess I have to leave it. Other people who love MTGO, keep making vids. I love them, and thank you. I just think this process could be a lot a lot better if these very intelligent people were trying.

This is very interesting to me.

I played Chess before I played Magic, and played Go heavily in college and graduate school, but haven't played much since because of lack of good real life opponents.

I started playing Magic in late 1993, but was a serious chess player before that point. I think coming to Magic from Chess or with a Chess mindset actually brings a very different mindset. Is that what you are speaking about?

One of the things that I dislike most about Magic, and dislike less about Magic Online, is the pressure to make decisions quickly. This causes Magic players to get into a pattern where they rely far more on pattern recognition and intuition than carefully thought out plays. This makes the game much less interesting than it would be if people were far more deliberate. Is that what you are speaking about?

I believe this tendency contributes to an almost ADD mindset in Magic that is truly unfortunately. With more deliberate play, I believe games would be far more interesting and intelligent. Regular Magic is basically the equivalent of speed chess. Even commentators rarely take time to analyze lines of play methodically. I would prefer online matches of magic with bigger clocks as the default. Unfortunately, since Magic player's brains are now used to the faster clock management and mindset, magic players become quickly bored if decisions aren't made fast. That leads to worse in game play than if players were far more deliberate. I would like to see Magic played more like Chess, where moves are made no faster than one play per minute, as opposed to that being the ceiling.

last edited by Smmenen

@Smmenen said:

@Topical_Island said: Honestly, I play a lot online and in paper. But I've never played a game on MTGO because I don't trust the decision making process enough to get that committed directly. I say that with complete calm. I think the folks at WotC are awesome.

Can you explain what you mean here? Do you mean that you don't trust your capacity to make decisions on MTGO? Because of the platform/software or because of the mechanics of the game of Magic?

Pretty sure he means he doesn't trust the MTGO management enough to invest a thousand or so dollars into the program. I can't really blame him.

@Smmenen Normally I really hate getting off on tangents. I really try hard to stay "on thread" as it were. But to hell with that this time, you want to talk games? I am so there! Lets do this!

Firstly, what I meant to express was that I don't actually believe that the folks at the DCI/WotC are in fact, dunderheads. I think the game design is incredible. And that in terms of complexity, I'd place magic alongside the very best games that humans have devised. (My tactic in trying to express that was to literally place it alongside those best, and most cache-worthy games I could think of in the first four seconds after I began trying. I include Go in that list because I personally think it's the best game of its kind, even though I doubt many people have played it.) I include MtG, because the ecosystemic pressures give it a dynamism that is unparalleled in the others. (The idea that one deck can beat another because of the existence of a third, is a pretty amazing example of causality) I'm a teacher, and I actually use both MtG in class, because, logic. And language. So that's what I was going for anyway.

In terms of MTGO, I just don't want to pay WotC money that directly. I'm happy to provide some downstream value to their product when I buy my wife a retail set of Mentors for her birthday, but yeah, @ChubbyRain was right on. I just don't want to get that financially entangled when I don't at all feel that the format - THE format, that I've always played and pretty much the only one I have any interest in playing (the occasional temptation to go slumming it in legacy aside). It kinda feels like those Hasbros making the decisions are thinking, "hey, we could squeeze a little money outta that format without too much work on our part... so why not? This is a business right?" For me, it's not a business. It's a game, a chance to improve my mind and get at some of the underlying logos of competition. If they want to try to "run it like a business" which I find is usually just a palatable euphemism for, squeeze money in the short run without much care-taking or long term investment going on... (I'm from the state where they ran Flint Water like a business... saved money in the short run too. Now I gotta schlep my ass over there with cases of Poland Spring) if MtgO wants to do it that way, that is completely within their rights. They get to choose their own business strategy. But running it like a business isn't very good for business, in my case at least. That could easily just be paranoia on my part, but that's where I'm at.

SO! Games! They are great!... I love GO, and am really pretty terrible at it. I don't think I'll ever make Shodan, which is kinda a bitter pill. But man what a great game. It has so many wide ranging and applicable principles. I'm even worse at Chess, since I'm much better at creating than calculating. My most serious games were all sports growing up. (I'm a girls Volleyball coach now.) And there are so many principles (I want to say logoi here, but I kinda think that would lose the larger audience) that I've bumped into playing either Go or MtG, that when followed, are both completely tangible in a statistical and rational sense, but feel mystical in the heat of competition when there isn't time to think, but when followed with courage seem to put one on the happy side of randomness again and again. Games are really beautiful.

As for MtG, now that I'm married to a fellow game junky. I play other folks much less than I used to, because I literally play two or three matches a night, of whatever match-up we want to try. Which is incredible good fortune. If people ever want things honestly play-tested, we really do just crank games like fiends. And we both despise losing, so we always play both sides of each match-up.

I hear what you're saying about the ADD nature of some plays and players. I think that's present at least to some extent in all games they, as a real wood pusher on the chess board, I'll fess to that. But I do think that magic maybe attracts more than it's average number of people who aren't hardened in a lot of forms of competition? Maybe? That's purely speculative. I'll say it this way. The culture of each game is different, and that magic has maybe an above average number of players who are bad at the skill of losing. As a population, I think losing is done very poorly by our players in fact. I'd hypothesize that because the game is beautiful, it's art is beautiful and the stories and mythology taps into that symbology we collectively find compelling, players get drawn in who have never competed anywhere else in a dedicated way, and now find themselves in a competitive environment. (Which is great, the more the merrier) The feature I notice the most, among young players, isn't speed of play, (Though now that you mention it...) it's that they lose badly. In general, a lot of conclusions get created around protecting the against the sting of fault. People do cursory postmortems, and just abdicate choice generally. That's how I was when I was young. (Still am sometimes... We are all guilty of this to some extent. Or to answer your earlier question. Of course I don't trust myself to make decisions on MTGO, but that has everything to do with epistemology than user interface.) I got a lot better at losing over the years. Practice makes perfect.

That's also why I put Poker up there with other games. During college and the Poker craze I paid my rent playing online, and the experience of losing a month's rent in a day, and then having to get up the next morning and get back at it like a job... well, that certainly changes how you feel when you Oath for your last creature with 15 cards in your library. Live or die, it doesn't matter. The only thing is the best choice, and nothing else. People in MtG, in general, play too fast and talk about luck too much. When it's pretty clear that being superstitious is about the most unlucky thing a person can do. (NO people, I don't run a Memory's Journey. Cause seriously, you lose somewhere between 0-4% more games with it in... at least in my build.)

Loved the discussion about Thing in the Ice on your podcast too... Think it will replace Restoration Angel in those kind of decks?

last edited by Topical_Island
  • 20
    Posts
  • 10300
    Views