This is the companion discussion topic for this article.
Thank you for this article, it’s always nice to see how things are perceived at the other side of the ocean.
Switching Formats and 50+3
The only true negative I see is the issue of obtaining older cards, especially for players like me who don’t keep a large collection on hand. What do you think?
Most of the complaints I saw regarding switching formats, either on 6P or Cancer City, is that playtesting two different formats for the same tournament was too much. After playing at the Supernova Blast 3, I agree with that - As skillless as some call the current format is, it still needs a big amount of time to prepare for a given format. Doubling that work, with half of your work being potentially worthless if you don’t get in day2 tops, isn’t a strong incentive.
Regarding Jason’s proposed time/round distributions, how many of those rounds would be on the first day?
- 50 minutes, 14 rounds (9 rounds Swiss, 5 rounds top 32)
- 60 minutes, 12 rounds (7/8 rounds Swiss, 5/4 rounds top 32)
- 75 minutes, 9 rounds (6 rounds Swiss, 3 rounds top 32)
- 30 minutes, 15 rounds (9 rounds Swiss, 6 rounds top 32)
I don’t know if that makes sense for 30-minute rounds. I know you have to factor in time between rounds and I’m unsure how long that would be.
Anyway, if the options were presented that way, I think people would have filled out the survey differently. The question asked doesn’t make a ton of sense:
“Rank the following formats for the SWISS PORTION of the Regional Championship from your favorite to your least favorite…”
Swiss currently isn’t really 14 rounds. It’s 9 rounds. Most people don’t make top 32. I doubt many people would want to travel and play only a half-dozen 75-minute rounds. I don’t even know if those are enough rounds to have a reasonable cutoff to top 32. (If you don’t win 5 games you probably miss. And then top 8 will be crowded at the cutoff mark too.)
I might be reading into this wrong though as the question is lacking detail.
Thank you for the article. It seems like there’s a lot of improvement to be made in the tournament structure.
I would also be very interested to see what participants wrote in at the end of the survey for additional comments.
You asked for opinions on a number of issues.
As a means of offering mine, I’ll share some of my general impressions about the game:
There is a sense in which the Regionals format has significantly more rounds than are necessary. In a pure game sense, a tournament of 400 entrants needs no more than 9 rounds to identify a group of participants worthy of an eight-person top cut. In my M:TG experience, a tournament with Swiss rounds had the number of rounds played as equal to the number of rounds required to arrive upon one undefeated person. From there, they top cut to 8, and then play single elimination to a winner. So, for a tournament like Philadelphia Regionals (348 Masters), 9 rounds of Swiss would be played. The breakdown of winners per round would be as follows
348 > 174 > 87 > 44 > 22 > 11 > 6 > 3 > 2 > 1
It’s worth noting: there would be no lunch breaks and the tournament would be settled at around midnight with a 9am start time (depending on the quality of the TO).
The reason this structure is possible: M:TG is played at an entirely different game pace. Draw cards (ie: Supporters) are rare, and search cards are even rarer. Thus: Ties are exceedingly rare in a Bo3 format. Three games can easily be played in one hour. And when you get steamrolled (or you are the steamroller!): you have time to leave the campus for food! The reasons for this are numerous, and I am sure they have been posted elsewhere by others, but one reason I want to highlight here: M:TG has a feel about it where the texture of the game state can make the decision to scoop early quite clear.
Everything about Pokemon is different. The game mechanics are different, the time requirement to complete a game is different, and the ability to discern your optimal scoop time is obfuscated by the way the game is played.
Jason Klaczynski is objectively correct: If Pokemon is going to be played in a best of three format, 75+3 is the required time limit. I don’t think this is a matter of opinion. If Pokemon is going to be compared to another game system fairly, then all aspects of the systems must be compared. One of my biggest adjustments when transitioning to Pokemon was how long it takes to actually play a game, and how long my concentration is required for optimal play.
Which leads me to my next point: I don’t believe Pokemon is played optimally at the highest levels right now. And I finally figured this out at my first League Challenge this year. Going into this event, I had playtested extensively on PTCGO. And as such, I became reliant upon the application’s ability to expedite game mechanics that suck up time in a live event. I was playing the LC at my PTCGO pace (and was making optimal plays), but didn’t have time to complete my matches! So once I bombed at Philly Regionals, I had plenty of time to scout the top tables. My main point of interest: how are these players finishing their matches on time? I watched very carefully and concluded: the vast majority are sacrificing the time necessary for the “optimal play” in favor of expediency. There was very little contemplation from the tables I saw. Whereas I might deliberate on my Computer Search selection to analyze the implications of every possible choice, these cats just picked a card and ran with it. And it must be said clearly here: since the top players are all making the same concession in order to play at the required pace, the top players – the most skillful players – are adapting to the tournament environment imposed upon them, and are thriving. They are very likely training in this absurd 50+3 environment.
I firmly believe M:TG would never be as successful as it is if it were to function this way in a tournament setting. If you told the M:TG community they had 35 minutes to complete a tournament match Bo3, there would be mass rebellion. For Pokemon, the road home is so clear to me for a tournament like Regionals:
75+3 match length
9 Rounds of Swiss (played on Saturday)
Top Cut to 8 (played on Sunday)
Finally (AND VERY IMPORTANTLY): Compelling side events on both Sat & Sun of Regionals. In my M:TG career, I had no problem traveling multiple hours to a 350 person event, losing first round, and dropping from the event. Why? There were compelling sanctioned side events the entire rest of the day! Everyone in the room knew you couldn’t make Top Cut if you lost first round. It really wasn’t a problem though because you could work on your game in sanctioned side events (limited and constructed formats). If I lost first round, I typically dominated two sanctioned booster drafts and had a great day. It really was a lot of fun.
Oh - one last thing: Expanded for day 2. Honestly - this is really ridiculous. Magic would NEVER do this. It would be its own format for an entire segment of the season.
All that being said: I am currently testing on playing as fast as I possibly can - in two different formats simultaneously - because I am guessing that absolutely nothing will change.
It’s sad really. I always felt that WOTC listened to its players and responded to how pissed off we were.
I’m an ardent defender of the current time structure. Last year, I played 54 matches of Pokemon with two unintentional draws all year. 75+3 is completely unnecessary, people are simply unwilling to adapt and play faster. As a result, players are being punished for it. Either people stomach draws, or they need to better consider how they’re using their time.
When I play, my mind is always working. During my opponent’s turn, I decide what I need to do on my turn in order to get closer to winning the game. I decide what outs I need to play to, and what I’m going to search for with certain cards. I don’t usually take a break to think while playing my turns unless I get new cards in my hand. I love this time structure because it rewards quality play and thinking ahead (scoop early, scoop often).
Well @DylanLefavour, we will have to respectfully disagree. I am guessing I cannot persuade you to move from your position. Many reasons have been put forth for each side and we have both read them all. Allow me to give some additional reasons why 75+3 is objectively superior - reasons you likely have not heard elsewhere. I ask you to read them with an open mind - one that is not filtered through your seasoned experience with the game.
First: I find it mind boggling from a “game growth” point of view that I must train my Junior and Senior children how to “scoop early, scoop often.” You may be pleased to know that tonight, before reading your reply, I trained my daughter to concede a match when both her Garbodors were prized. I was playing a Bronzong variant and she was playing Seismitoad/Garbodor. When she Ultra Balled for a Garbodor, and realized she had none, she wanted to play on. I had to train her to concede. She is astute enough to recognize that all she has to do is Lysandre a Bronzong and she has a 33.3% chance to draw a Garbodor to essentially win her the game. Dylan, you MUST recognize that from a game-growth point of view, it is disastrous for me to train my child to concede, especially when my daughter is correct! But, because of the time constraints of tournament matches, I must try to explain to an 11 year old that the odds of hitting that Garbodor are in her disfavor such that she must concede and hope for a great game 2. This is simply NOT GOOD FOR THE GROWTH OF THE GAME. I cannot say strongly enough: TRAINING JUNIORS AND SENIORS TO CONCEDE MATCHES IS NOT HEALTHY FOR GAME GROWTH. But I can assure you I will continue to do it until the time format changes.
Second: Dylan, lets say that she were able to hit that Garbodor and come back from a horrible prizing and win. And let’s say that she only wins 3.3 out of 10 of those matches. And lets say that I train her to concede all ten. Do you realize that the tournament structure has robbed my daughter of one of the things that makes Pokemon a better game than Magic? When transitioning from MTG to Pokemon, I was seriously pissed the first few times that I lost matches where I was ahead from the beginning - and had masterful position throughout. One of the great things about Pokemon is that a great player with a great deck can come back from the precipice of disaster to victory. 50+3 robs us of those games. And that is a shame.
Finally: 50+3 does not, despite your anecdotal track record of success, provide a tournament environment where ties are very rare. I firmly believe that a tournament environment where ties are commonplace is a disaster for the game. Why? It doesn’t promote WINNING! Dylan, do you realize that I have had training sessions with my children on stalling? How to recognize it? How to avoid it? AND HOW TO DO IT THEMSELVES TO WIN A MATCH? I think it is a serious problem that I must train 9 & 11 year olds how to stall for match victory. But I can assure you that I will absolutely train them to continue stalling for victory because that is what the rules of the game promote.
And all of this (and much MUCH more) would be avoided with 75+3.
That’s an interesting perspective. I think it’s hard to have an objectively correct opinion about this in any case. I think it’s entirely possible for players to avoid ties, but maybe I’m also underestimating the relative competence of other players. Tasks that are easy for me aren’t always easy or possible for others. That’s especially apparent when looking at younger players, like you said.
I think playing to the clock is a necessary skill in Pokemon, should it be however, is a matter of opinion we’d disagree on–though I see your point. I’m not sure what you mean by what makes Pokemon a better game than Magic.
I do think ties don’t have to be as common as they are. Assuming players don’t want to tie, I think many ties can be avoided by playing quickly in any game (be it game 1 or game 3) that a player wishes to win. I do see your point here though. The majority of people, and and even greater majority of juniors and seniors aren’t as organized or efficient in their thinking as the top masters players are.
As far as concessions go, I get where you’re coming from. Personally, I see a match as a puzzle. If conceding gets me closer to winning, I don’t see what I lose by doing so. Of course, not everyone thinks that way. Some people just like playing Pokemon. You’re definitely right, this doesn’t very well promote “game growth”. I think I disagree just because what direction I want to see the game is just different than what you or maybe most people want to see. You seem to think it’s sad that manipulating the pace of play to put the odds in your favor is something that the rules promote, but I think dealing with factors like these is a fascinatingly aspect of that game that is often ignored.
You’re definitely not wrong about game growth though.