Tuesday, August 02, 2016

WotC's Solution to Intentional Draws and Concessions

Back in March we discussed the problem of intentional draws and concessions in Magic: the Gathering. Today, Wizards of the Coast unveiled their solution for professional Magic tournaments. It's pretty hardcore.

Click to enlarge

The Top 8 is turned into a single-elimination gauntlet, where higher seeds get to skip matches and start closer to the end.  T5-T8 need to win 4 matches, T3-T4 need to win 3 matches, and T1-T2 only need to win 2 matches.

Now, you want to get as high a seed as possible in the Swiss portion of the event as it greatly impacts your chance of winning.  It certainly aims directly at intentional draws and concessions.

In retrospect, I'm kind of amused at how timid my suggestion was. I suggested giving the higher seeds a single game in-hand, and thought that might be excessive. WotC blew right past my limits.

There are some other interesting administrative factors in this setup. The same number of matches are played [1], but there are four rounds instead of three. However a maximum of two games per round are played. Thus if you broadcasting the event, you only need to cover two games, rather than four in the first round of the traditional style. Similarly, it also means that you only need 2 judge teams to cover the finals, making it more likely that nothing will be missed rules-wise.

All in all, I'm impressed that Wizards is trying something this radical. We'll have to see how well it works in practice.

1. Technically, this mathematically obvious. 8 players, single-elimination, thus 7 players have to lose a match, no matter how you arrange the rounds. It's a old elementary school math puzzle. Given X players, how many matches do you have play to determine a winner? The answer is always X - 1.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Stat Templates for Leveling Dungeons

In Patch 7.0 Blizzard introduced stat templates for PvP. In B\battlegrounds now, you don't get stats from your gear. Instead your gear stats are overridden by a stat template. All characters of a given specialization share the same template. Your gear level does increase the amount of stats given by the template, but by a much lower amount than in PvE.

These stat templates apply to low-level PvP. I've been leveling a rogue without heirlooms and dabbling in some PvP. In my mind, these stat templates are amazing. Low level PvP is actually fun again. You don't get one-shot by characters decked out in heirloom gear. In my mind, whatever the impact at max level, the stat templates have rejuvenated low level PvP.

Then I did a low level dungeon. It was pretty terrible. The other characters were decked in heirlooms, so they just zerged the entire thing. Bosses died in less than 30 seconds. There was no skill or strategy, or any sense of group play.

The problem is that leveling dungeons need to be balanced such that a group of new players in quest gear can complete them. But if one or more heirloom characters are present, that balance goes out the window.

I think stat templates for leveling dungeons would be a great idea. Everyone would be reduced down to an even playing field. Dungeons would be a proper group experience once more. I rather doubt anyone will sheep anything, but maybe it could happen.

Heirlooms are fine for solo-play. They can be overpowered in the world. But when playing with others, I think it's more important to provide a fun, balanced, and reasonably challenging experience. Heirlooms will still give the character more XP and a high ilevel, but at least with stat templates the disparity and zerg would be greatly diminished.