@AmbivalentDuck But we agree that nobody beats the odds over time right? I mean, if someone is beating the odds we know that it's just too small a sample size for us. Sucking out on someone and skill are not at all the same thing... right?

@Topical_Island "Kai Budde doesn't lose on Sundays." Some people have beaten the odds for extended periods of time.

@AmbivalentDuck But I mean... are you really saying that luck is a thing? That it's out there in the universe? If Kai had to topdeck a Lotus to win right now, and he had thirty cards left, and it was Sunday... you wouldn't bet that he really has a more than 1/30 chance... right?

It seems to me the conversation has degenerated into splitting hairs and nit-picking. We're really off track when the conversation simply boils down to, "I define this event with this word because I don't believe that word you use is appropriate." It doesn't matter. Does luck exist? That's a red herring question.

There are 40 cards left in my deck. I NEED to draw a mox saphhire to generate UU(1 from academy, 1 from the mox) so I have enough mana to execute game plan X. I draw it. Was that luck that at the exact time on the exact turn I needed it I drew it or was it skill that I knew to include it and build myself in-game to a situation where its beneficial?

To be honest, its both. This gets back to what I was alluding to in my first response and what Smmemen was talking about. Whether you label it luck or skill is irrelevant. Call it blurble for all I care. You built the deck. You put the cards in 1 deck to have certain interactions that help you win. You built the game state to the point where one of those interactions could happen. It takes skill in both deck building and game play to accomplish that (the degree of skill is debatable). But considering in that situation you had a 1:40 chance of getting the only card left in your deck that could seal the deal - yes there was a bit of luck, blurble, whatever involved there, too (unless of course you cast vamp tutor before your draw. But we don't need to dissect that situation and what part of it is luck vs skill do we? hah). Luck is just the end of result of random factors. Good luck is when those random factors end result is in your favor. Bad luck is when those random factors are not in your favor.

But lets look at the skill vs luck thing a little more. You know you need UU on your turn to win. You have a 1;40 chance of succeeding (black lotus was drawn earlier). You have no cards in hand so its pure luck of the draw with a 1:40 chance of success.
You have sensei's diving top on the table. Do you draw then then top for 3 or do you top for 3 and then draw? That is a skill decision that increases your odds of success (I'm not going to sit and calculate at this point the exact odds because they aren't relevant). Either way the odds increase in your favor. There is a skill to deck building when including this card and there is a skill to game play on when to use it. So skill exists outside of this situation that affects the outcome. There is also a random variance of which you have no (or very little control) over. That end result is luck. Whether you believe luck is an active force (a mystical or real phenomenon that affects the outcome) or reactive results (the event happens with no outside influence the final result is what it is) 'luck' as a word is as good as any to describe the situation of drawing the card to see if you got what you needed or not. Furthering defining it as good or bad is just nice clarification. And both exist in the game of magic. Both influence the outcome of games. And in any 1 game, any 1 play decision, any 1 draw - luck and skill have varying degrees of influence.

@Prospector In my opinion luck is a huge factor of the game, but there are ways to minimize how much luck is needed, the main way is card filtering and card draw, but even so luck is ever present, sometimes you draw a pocket of lands, sometimes you get all the wrong answers, it happens, so to answer your question, you can never eliminate luck, but it can be reduced, but only slightly, but again this statement, and the topic in general, is peoples opinions.


I'm going to leave that here and slowly back away.

@AmbivalentDuck Dude... awesome! That is a great post. Wow. Metaphysics for the win! I want to mail you a foil copy of the Tao Te Ching autographed by Lao Tzu or something... (Unfortunately my I only have one copy and I keep it in the little library beside my toilet... which, if you've read it, is exactly where the Great Master would have one keep it...)

last edited by Topical_Island

@Khahan I agree that to some extent this is a semantic discussion, but I think that's kinda the nature of the beast here.

For me, I don't agree that what we call it... or rather, how we conceptualize it in our deeper belief system... is irrelevant at all. How we conceive of things in language absolutely has tangible effects on our behavior, on the pattern of our thoughts. So again, I'm saying that worse players (more specifically, players who don't play quite as sharply, talk much more about... and waste much more time thinking about... luck. Which as I've said, at least for myself, I believe in like I believe the Orphic Mysteries... not at all. But its a cool idea... Sweet cosmological Princeton websites aside.)

@Brass-Man Completely agree with this post.

Several times I've had opponents snark about how lucky I was with topdecks, Mana Crypt flips, etc... and as you say silence is the best response.

I think there is benefit to comments like, "it worked out for you this game, but in general I think it is a mistake to make play X against my deck; past opponents have had more luck doing Y," but I'd only make such remarks to opponents I know and trust to take them constructively.

@Brass-Man, I'm not so sure this is true. I mean, nobody ever has made a new archetype before, you filthy netdecker. 😉

In all seriousness, luck is the most important factor of those you should never focus on too much. Change what you can control, not what you can't, and ignore anybody prone to focusing on variance.

@evouga good callout - if my opponent seems like a nice guy, and he seems like he's in a good mood, I'm usually pretty happy to chat after the match - particularly if they're a new player. If the player is obviously very new and the match was a blowout, I'll sometimes offer to look through their deck and see if anything stands out that they could change.

In the case where an opponent is obviously upset though, talking about the match can usually only make things worse.

@matori Thanks for posting, I like the chart showing luck and skill as different dimensions with different games on different points - as Smmenen says I've framed this in the wrong way.

Luck? No such non sense. Its about skill and probability.
Deck building skill
Role assessment
Probability of drawing certain card(s) based on number of said card(s) in one's deck. Etc.

My two cents anyway. Cant sleep 😞

@Ten-Ten said:

Luck? No such non sense. Its about skill and probability.
Probability of drawing certain card(s) based on number of said card(s) in one's deck. Etc.

But again, isn't luck just the end result of drawing those cards - good luck=got the cards I need when I need them. Bad luck=didn't get it?

But if you're a good enough player, you're just too good for luck to matter and you just always have it , that's how @Brass-Man does it!

@Khahan nope. Still probability.
Also: http://www.mathsisfun.com/data/probability-events-independent.html

I keep in mind probability whenever building a deck. Especially since my decks aren't powered, the consequences are magnified against powered decks as the probabilities are constantly changing as the game progresses. That's not luck, positive nor negative.

I like this topic. There was one in the archived manadrain, cant quite remember the title though.

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