11/30/2009 MM: "Designing for Spike"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Yay, Spike week!

I am guessing this article will cover the following point.

Just because a card is powerful, doesn't mean that Spike likes it. He might play it if he's not a scrub, but he won't necessarily enjoy playing it. To design for Spike (well, in particular the nuts and bolts Spike who plays Constructed) you have to make cards and formats that reward skill and deeper strategy rather than both players going on autopilot and the game coming down to luck.

This thread should probably be deleted since the Maro II article is linking to the same thread for the Maro I article.

EDIT: deleted

Boooo! Timmies > Spikes.

And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.


The purpose of the game, as far as EVERY demographic is concerned, is to have fun. That's the purpose of games. We simply see different aspects of the game as the means of getting the most fun out of it.


The purpose of a game is NOT to win. It is, ultimately, to have fun. Spike enjoys a challenge. Sure, Spike likes winning, but ultimately, Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.


I think a lot of people go wrong here, and I think its a very important distinction. We have fun via the challenge (and winning, though losing and still being challenged is actually still fun for the vast majority of spikes - when we win and feel like we should have lost, it is often a hollow feeling for us).


Thing is, the challenge isn't the only part of the game which matters for us. A game must be challenging to really grab our interest, but if it is dressed up in things which we do not enjoy, it doesn't matter if the game is challenging because we have to be having fun. You go over this later in the article, but I think this is why you often see a lot of spikes complain if they don't see combo or control decks around - a lot of spikes are predisposed towards playing those sorts of decks.
Of course, as we all know, the people who constantly say that the sky is falling are wrong, but that's the driving force behind it. They also tend to be weaker players who don't see the decks. 

The card, at first blush, looks like a goofy Lhurgoyf tweak. (To be fair, it is a goofy Lhurgoyf tweak.) Sure, it can grow quickly if the right number of different card types are in all graveyards, but how hard is that to accomplish? That uncertainty hid the value of the card for a month or two when the set was released. By the way, I should point out that while R&D knew this card was good it ended up proving to be even better than R&D initially thought.


The good spikes knew it was good right off the bat and really, where I was, everyone seemed to know it was great right off the bat as absolutely no one would part with the card. 


Tarmogoyf was a very poorly developed (undercosted by at least a mana) card, though. I would have used something more like Dark Confidant, which in my eyes is one of the definitive Spike cards. Fact or Fiction and Gifts Ungiven are other really Spikish cards.



And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.


The purpose of the game, as far as EVERY demographic is concerned, is to have fun. That's the purpose of games. We simply see different aspects of the game as the means of getting the most fun out of it.


The purpose of a game is NOT to win. It is, ultimately, to have fun. Spike enjoys a challenge. Sure, Spike likes winning, but ultimately, Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.






I think with "the point of the game" MaRo does not mean the purpose of a game. You are right the purpose is to have fun.
But what I think he means is, that the game(-designer) wants you to try and win. When you are playing a game, your aim should always be to win, every thing else would make the game unfun, at least for you opponent.
If the game you are playing to win is good, the fun should come by itself.
if you couldn't win, the game would be pointless. players who don't try to win are considerered irritating and wrong, even by most timmies and johnnies. all cards are designed to ultimately lead to winning (getting some advantage over the other player). the point of the game, as decided by the designers of the game, is to win the game.


And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.




This is actually opinion.

The issue at hand is not what you think the point of the game is.  The issue is what Spike thinks it is.  And to Spike, the reason to play a game is to win, and to demonstrate mastery over the challenges the game presents.  If a game is well-desiged, mastery helps improve your chances of winning, and winning demonstrates that mastery.

There's been a lot of work in gaming about what constitutes "fun" and why we enjoy some games and not others.  (For a good example, see www.theoryoffun.com.)  One theory is that games present a series of interesting problems for players to solve.  As long as they can solve the problems with just the right amount of effort it's fun.  Make it too difficult or get them stuck on the same problem for too long and it's no longer fun.  Even Timmys and Johnnys will eventually get bored with the game if it wasn't for the constantly changing set of cards.  Spikes are simply more goal-oriented about advancement: they want to finish this level so they can enjoy the next level, finish this game so they can enjoy the next game, and so on.  It doesn't mean they also don't need to have fun playing.  They just have more fun in the destination, than in the journey or in how they're going to get there.


And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.



This is actually opinion.

The issue at hand is not what you think the point of the game is.  The issue is what Spike thinks it is.  And to Spike, the reason to play a game is to win, and to demonstrate mastery over the challenges the game presents.  If a game is well-desiged, mastery helps improve your chances of winning, and winning demonstrates that mastery.



I think with "the point of the game" MaRo does not mean the purpose of a game. You are right the purpose is to have fun.
But what I think he means is, that the game(-designer) wants you to try and win. When you are playing a game, your aim should always be to win, every thing else would make the game unfun, at least for you opponent.
If the game you are playing to win is good, the fun should come by itself.



I see many valid points on all sides here. I agree with Titanium_Dragon that winning without fun is a meaningless win. If Spike did not find Magic: The Gathering fun, he would play poker or Yu-Gi-Oh or some other challenging game instead. I agree with Sir_Bruce that winning is the point of the game to Spike. And I agree with Guest1093830283 that there is a difference between the point of the game and the purpose of the game.

Mark Rosewater hid that statement about winning behind a click-to-see because he knew that non-Spikes would not understand it and would be try to explain it away. The only reason I, a social-gamer Timmy, understand it is because I play Limited Tournaments in Spike mode. Anything less than 100% trying to win would be unfair to my fellow tournament players.

There could be many points in playing a game. Some games I play to learn the game: I don't expect to win as a newbie against experienced players. Some games I play to teach the game to new players, and I give advice that reduces my chance of winning. Some games I play to keep my hands busy as I converse with my fellow players. But the purest way to play a game is to play to win.

In my lunchtime Magic group, we often play three-player games so that no-one has to sit out when an odd number of players show up. And it gets really irritating when a player decides that he has some goal besides winning, such as revenge against the player who destroyed his dragon. It skews the game, and makes it into another game that is not as fun. Playing to win is good sportsmanship.

Sir_Bruce reminds us that Mark Rosewater declares that Spike plays to prove him- or herself against the challenge of winning. This means that the challenge is a key part of winning. Whenever I win a non-tournament game against my opponent almost entirely because he suffered mana screw, I shuffle up my deck and say, "Okay, let's try for a real game now. That was just a statistical fluke. It doesn't count." (I am less mercifully to color screw in a Shards of Alara game, in which gambling with the minimum number of fixers to handle a three-color mana supply is part of the game.)

As with everything else Maro has written about the three psychographics, I've appreciated this article a lot, because it helped me understand aspects of my own personality as a player and even in general. I am mainly a Spike, so this piece was particularly interesting for me.

This time, the important thing about myself I understood came from this paragraph:
Here's another way to think about Spike. Spike plays Magic because he enjoys the mental test of it. He likes being able to demonstrate what he is capable of. In many ways, Spike's greatest opponent is himself as he likes to set a bar that will be a challenge to meet. Be aware that not every Spike is trying to win every game he plays. Yes, that's a popular goal for Spike but it is only a means to an end. Spike wants to prove that he is capable of achieving the goals he sets for himself. To him, the challenge is what makes the game fun.

In addition to playing in tournaments, I also play casual multiplayer, and care a lot less about winning there and a lot more about the fairness of the game and the right for everyone to have fun. I used to think of it as my Timmy side; while that's partly true, I realize now that there is also a lot of Spike in that view of things. The goal I set for myself in that context, my actual challenge, is to build good but fair decks that keep the game fun for everyone, and while playing, to make sure everyone has a chance to do its thing (while also reasonably trying to win, of course).  I try not to play too slow, even if I end up not making the best moves because of that, so I don't have to make others wait in boredom. More than once, I distrupted an other player's plan because he or she was going to too harshly destroy an other player's game. My goal is achieved when everyone had a good game. When someone leaves frustrated, especially because of me, even if I won, I feel like I failed.


And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.


The purpose of the game, as far as EVERY demographic is concerned, is to have fun. That's the purpose of games. We simply see different aspects of the game as the means of getting the most fun out of it.
I believe the problem here is one of terminology and interpretation of concepts. I think MaRo perhaps shouldn't have used the word point, or purpose, but the word goal. Your goal, your objective inside a given game usually is to win.

Of course, the word goal can be used for the same concepts as the word point, but I think the connotation of the word is at least a little more appropriate for the concept MaRo was trying to expose. He means "winning is your normal objective during a match", not "winning is why you play the game". As long we understand it that way, I don't think he's wrong, and I believe he's actually making a valid and important point.


Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A
This was a good article, and as one of the Spikiest magic players out there, I enjoyed it.

Oh and to respond to earlier posts, I don't play to have fun. I play to win baby. I love the skill intensive games in Magic, and in turn that creates the fun for me in this game. You want kiddie fun? Go train your Pikachu.

Now design me some cards like Fact or Fiction and counterspells and make me happy Mark.

to quote the great Herm Edwards:
"You PLAY, to WIN, the GAME."
I lost The Game.

And so have you.
In addition to playing in tournaments, I also play casual multiplayer, and care a lot less about winning there and a lot more about the fairness of the game and the right for everyone to have fun. I used to think of it as my Timmy side; while that's partly true, I realize now that there is also a lot of Spike in that view of things. The goal I set for myself in that context, my actual challenge, is to build good but fair decks that keep the game fun for everyone, and while playing, to make sure everyone has a chance to do its thing (while also reasonably trying to win, of course).  I try not to play too slow, even if I end up not making the best moves because of that, so I don't have to make others wait in boredom. More than once, I distrupted an other player's plan because he or she was going to too harshly destroy an other player's game. My goal is achieved when everyone had a good game. When someone leaves frustrated, especially because of me, even if I won, I feel like I failed.



i think that's mostly social gamer timmy. setting a goal isn't inherently spike; each psychographic sets a goal. johnny's goal is self expression, usually through the completion of a combo. spike's goal is to be good, to improve, to learn, and ultimately to win through doing those things. i believe those are as important as winning to spike. timmy's goal is "fun", for himself or for everyone. this is unfortunately vague, but it's not timmy week so i'll refrain from going into great detail. suffice it to say that i would say timmy's idea of fun is dramatic game states, in contrast to spike's often incremental path to victory, or johnny's quiet preparation for his combo.

anyway, if you aren't playing to improve your play in some way i don't think you're playing from a spike motivation. i think you are partially correct that building your deck to be "fair" can be a spike challenge, because it requires a strong understanding of the game. but it's evenly split between spike and timmy if it's spike at all. pure spike wouldn't build a weaker deck or play at a level less than the best of his ability. timmy/spike, especially social gamer timmy/spike, absolutely would. and i think it's timmy/spike who lets the new player take back mistakes or tells them the correct play even though it weakens their position in the game. it's a timmy thing to encourage fun, but it's a uniquely timmy/spike thing to encourage a new player to improve at the game. ultimately, behaving this way all the time would result in more worthy opponents, closer and more challenging games, and the chance to improve more than would be possible against weaker opponents. and it also would result in more players having fun together.

i think timmy/spike is more common than many people think.
Why is kicker an "additive choice," which lets you "opt into a more powerful version of the spell later in the game, usually because the player has access to mana" but evoke is a "alternate choice?" Whats the difference between Shriekmaw and Agonizing Demise (besides that the bigger effects are different) besides the way the costs are templated?

I understand how cycling, or reinforce are examples of this, but shriekmaw doesn't seem like one. I guess the leaves play evoke abilities are "alternate choices," maybe it should be a picture of reveilark or something instead of shriekmaw.
Evoke in it's "When creature enters the battlefield.. " form, then it is just a an alternate way of creating Kicker (with creature rules interactions to deal with instead of tokens created).   But Evoke in it's "When the creature leaves the battlefield..." form is another thing entirely.  By evoking, you are "guaranteeing" the leaves play effect, something that you probably couldn't do if you did not Evoke.  Therefore it is a choice rather then an additive effect.
Evoke in it's "When creature enters the battlefield.. " form, then it is just a an alternate way of creating Kicker (with creature rules interactions to deal with instead of tokens created).   But Evoke in it's "When the creature leaves the battlefield..." form is another thing entirely.  By evoking, you are "guaranteeing" the leaves play effect, something that you probably couldn't do if you did not Evoke.  Therefore it is a choice rather then an additive effect.


So this picture probably shouldn't be the alternate choice picture.
mm67_mechanics2.jpg
This is an interesting view into what Maro thinks of Spike.  To be honest, I belong to the camp that says "Spike is strictly about development".    I'm going to give my reaction to the three kinds of cards R&D makes for Spike.

1.  R&D makes cards that Spike likes to argue about.  In reality, if a card has a similar function to another card, Spike will automatically argue about which card is best suited toward that task.

2.  R&D designs for Spike by making cards with choices involved.  I would argue that implicit in any card is the choice of whether or not to play with it.  Spike knows the environment, and should know what kinds of things will impact the game.  Note: I like it when R&D makes these cards.  I just disagree that you're specifically designing for Spike when you make them.
3.  R&D designs for Spike by making engine cards (or cards that give you incremental advantages). I totally agree with that, given that the engine is cheap enough and has enough of an impact on the game.

The thing is, I acribe to the idea that any card can be a "Spike" card, given the right environment and deck.  Even lifegain can be utterly broken (although I have yet to see R&D try to do that).

I agree with Maro in that Spike likes a mental challenge, but I disagree that said challenge is realized in individual cards.  Spike really cares more about environments and metagames, and Spike won't like the environment if it's too unbalanced or unfair (because it isn't challenging).  This is why I believe that development has the bigger role than design when it comes to appeasing Spike.  I would think that development should have a big say when it comes to power level.  "Card X is too powerful" or "we need a way to better neutralize strategy Y".

I guess I learned today that "designing for Spike" == "making a balanced game".  However, I tend to feel like R&D is "designing for Spike" when they push the envelope with power cards (like Baneslayer Angel).

(although certain Johnnies are willing to tap into it to power their reindeer games)



Did anyone else laugh at this?

Agree with the previous post about a diverse metagame being one of the primary appeals for Spike.

One of the main differences between Spike and other profiles is that Spike enjoys the strategic aspect of the game to the point that he is willing to play cards that both Jonnhy or Timmy may find boring or even unfun as long as they balance the archetypes and offer some unique scenarios. Timmy wouldn't bother to include Thoughtseize in his deck and would play another creature instead while Jonnhy would probably keep another engine in his. A Spike realizes and understands that cards like that are necessary (without having to be the only ones) to have a good competitive game and he embraces them. This aspect of Spike is missing in the article (suspiciously, some may say).
If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited
Actually as a Johnny player I have used Thoughtseize a lot. There's a bit of overlap there. I could even see Timmy using that card in some circumstances (probably not the more social versions).

They might bring up the understanding of "unfun" cards in the development article.
I believe the problem here is one of terminology and interpretation of concepts. I think MaRo perhaps shouldn't have used the word point, or purpose, but the word goal. Your goal, your objective inside a given game usually is to win.


Of course, the word goal can be used for the same concepts as the word point, but I think the connotation of the word is at least a little more appropriate for the concept MaRo was trying to expose. He means "winning is your normal objective during a match", not "winning is why you play the game". As long we understand it that way, I don't think he's wrong, and I believe he's actually making a valid and important point.





^ Something like this.


They are both right, the statements.  "The purpose is to Win" "The point is to have fun."  Once the two are given proper explanation.


Assuming you are playing to 'compete', you have set yourself the goal/point/purpose to Win in the following sense:  Your decisions now, at deckbuild time, take as given that the pass/fail norm, and the sole pass/fail norm, which shall measure you at play-time, is that of whether you Win.

That is Playing to Win.  This is what means you (a) will use whatever means are available to you within the rules to win, and (b) will study your opponent's actions if you lose, for they prove a superior strategy to yours, and in so doing, better yourself.  You may then return to the game and try to beat what beat you, everybody is making everoyne else better players, we all 'learn by doing' , yadda yadda Sirlin magic, it's touching.  (I really do find it moving and beautiful in a deep way, but now is not the time for that musing!)



However, this too relies on a backdrop of another norm.. the thing which is important to Spikes.  Yes, vacuously and uninformatively, the purpose is to have fun.  No, Spike's goal is to prove something.  He wants to feel accomplishment.  He wants to achieve.  He wants to stake his pride on something, and defend it.

Playing to Win cannot exist without this (it is what provides the motivation for Winning), and for those who Play to Win, this backdrop, of pride, cannot mean anything unless you take up that goal - of Winning.

But I think what's valuable to note is that there is room, for Spikes, who do not Play to Win.
I think I am an example.  Which is convenient.  Although in a way it might confuse the following discussion; we'll see.

A Spike wants to prove something.  One thing he can prove in a game of Magic is that he can win without doing everything it takes.  To prove he can win his way.
I'll take an example that is disjoint from myself:  A player who, for reasons of his Pride, will not seize a win through miscommunication.  He wants to prove he can 'win without making ambiguity in anyone's head'.  To still have secrets, and deceive, but not to win by making someone second-guess what he has to say truthfully or not.  This is someone who will report the behaviour of cards to the best of his ability, and if queried about anything to which he is allowed to give a non-answer (and wishes for strategic reasons to do so), will say "Who knows."

(I really have no problem winning through miscommunication.  It is my preferred mode of winning.  I like finding ways to win games without even playing them.  ;D)

In the general case, Spike will put his pride on something, he will say 'I want to be this person'.  And then it is up to him to prove he can be that way.  The game offers the scenario of the challenge.  The obstacle.  The opponent is there to win, which he achieves (right there in the rules) by making you lose.  Spike wants to persevere while protecting the other thing he identifies with himself, proudly.  If he is proud of winning without a lucksack topdeck, or of using Islands, or of never tapping Islands, or of whatever, then - yes, first, he will have to be stronger than someone who is just Playing to Win if he is going to protect his pride -  .. - and yes, unless he acknowledges that he is doing it for pride, and he is not Playing to Win, then he has fallen to Scrubdom - he will play in that way, and try to prove he can win still.


To design for Spikes generally, then... is to make possible (or seemingly possible), for all the sorts of goals (things on which players may stake their pride) players actually* have, ways of maintaining those goals and also getting the win.  And all the interesting 'skilltester' designs in the middle.



*It is of course important that they be 'actual', not possible, for one wants to market to actual players.  It's just cumbersome since the phrase "sorts of goals that are possible" would have read much easier; it would have been technically incorrect and misinformative.
I suppose another way to put it is for a Spike, the fun is inherent in the choice of game. If a Spike JUST wanted to win... well, hey, go play 52 Pickup, you'll win every time! Or flip a coin! No, they want to do it in a way that allows the demonstration of skill, technique, and knowledge which is certainly Magic.

Rather, a Spike at their best is doing something like the old concept of good sportsmanship. You'll go out there, you'll do everything you can within the letter of the rules to win. However, a Spike isn't going to make up the fake rules you see on, say, MTG Online matches - "no blue! no discard! no LD!". A Spike's answer to that is "Figure out a good countermeasure and play that." A Johnny doesn't want you to disrupt his precious combo, a Timmy hates it when you counterspell all his big booms (or kill him before he can get out the ten lands he needs).

Spike at their worst is, I dunno. Mike Long? Stepping outside the game to actual cheating and mind tricks because winning at all costs (perhaps because you're seeking the prize) is more important than winning the game as a game.

The point: it isn't SOLELY about winning, because there's much easier ways to come by it if it's just the thrill of pwning the noobz. It's about challenging yourself, pushing limits, kicking reason to the curb and exceeding the impossible sort of things.
This is an interesting view into what Maro thinks of Spike.  To be honest, I belong to the camp that says "Spike is strictly about development".    I'm going to give my reaction to the three kinds of cards R&D makes for Spike.

1.  R&D makes cards that Spike likes to argue about.  In reality, if a card has a similar function to another card, Spike will automatically argue about which card is best suited toward that task.

2.  R&D designs for Spike by making cards with choices involved.  I would argue that implicit in any card is the choice of whether or not to play with it.  Spike knows the environment, and should know what kinds of things will impact the game.  Note: I like it when R&D makes these cards.  I just disagree that you're specifically designing for Spike when you make them.
3.  R&D designs for Spike by making engine cards (or cards that give you incremental advantages). I totally agree with that, given that the engine is cheap enough and has enough of an impact on the game.

The thing is, I acribe to the idea that any card can be a "Spike" card, given the right environment and deck.  Even lifegain can be utterly broken (although I have yet to see R&D try to do that).

I agree with Maro in that Spike likes a mental challenge, but I disagree that said challenge is realized in individual cards.  Spike really cares more about environments and metagames, and Spike won't like the environment if it's too unbalanced or unfair (because it isn't challenging).  This is why I believe that development has the bigger role than design when it comes to appeasing Spike.  I would think that development should have a big say when it comes to power level.  "Card X is too powerful" or "we need a way to better neutralize strategy Y".

I guess I learned today that "designing for Spike" == "making a balanced game".  However, I tend to feel like R&D is "designing for Spike" when they push the envelope with power cards (like Baneslayer Angel).



You still forget the FUN!

Yes, Spike will play the most powerful cards, whether they're lifegain, counterspells or aggro, but that doesn't automatically imply he's having fun. Spike wants to play the cards he likes (the cards designed for him) but he is forced to play the cards that are powerful. Hopefully for him, those two coincide.

Take cards like Arc Slogger and Necropotence. (I found it disappointing that Fact or Fiction is again the only one named under the The Play's the Thing part) Spike loves them because he knows that life total and library count are resources that can be messed with. Next to that, the cards offer tough choices, when and how much to use the ability?


If you make a bunch of Timmy cards the most powerful cards in a set then yes, Spike will play them. But he is not having the fun he ultimately wants out of magic.
(As said before, it's not just winning in a vacuum. Winning a coin flip is not satisfying for a Spike)
In addition to playing in tournaments, I also play casual multiplayer, and care a lot less about winning there and a lot more about the fairness of the game and the right for everyone to have fun. I used to think of it as my Timmy side; while that's partly true, I realize now that there is also a lot of Spike in that view of things. The goal I set for myself in that context, my actual challenge, is to build good but fair decks that keep the game fun for everyone, and while playing, to make sure everyone has a chance to do its thing (while also reasonably trying to win, of course).  I try not to play too slow, even if I end up not making the best moves because of that, so I don't have to make others wait in boredom. More than once, I distrupted an other player's plan because he or she was going to too harshly destroy an other player's game. My goal is achieved when everyone had a good game. When someone leaves frustrated, especially because of me, even if I won, I feel like I failed.



i think that's mostly social gamer timmy. setting a goal isn't inherently spike; each psychographic sets a goal. johnny's goal is self expression, usually through the completion of a combo. spike's goal is to be good, to improve, to learn, and ultimately to win through doing those things. i believe those are as important as winning to spike. timmy's goal is "fun", for himself or for everyone. this is unfortunately vague, but it's not timmy week so i'll refrain from going into great detail. suffice it to say that i would say timmy's idea of fun is dramatic game states, in contrast to spike's often incremental path to victory, or johnny's quiet preparation for his combo.

anyway, if you aren't playing to improve your play in some way i don't think you're playing from a spike motivation. i think you are partially correct that building your deck to be "fair" can be a spike challenge, because it requires a strong understanding of the game. but it's evenly split between spike and timmy if it's spike at all. pure spike wouldn't build a weaker deck or play at a level less than the best of his ability. timmy/spike, especially social gamer timmy/spike, absolutely would. and i think it's timmy/spike who lets the new player take back mistakes or tells them the correct play even though it weakens their position in the game. it's a timmy thing to encourage fun, but it's a uniquely timmy/spike thing to encourage a new player to improve at the game. ultimately, behaving this way all the time would result in more worthy opponents, closer and more challenging games, and the chance to improve more than would be possible against weaker opponents. and it also would result in more players having fun together.

i think timmy/spike is more common than many people think.



Yes a combination indeed. I know the feeling. It is the Timmy that sets the Spike goals.
I've found myself in a casual multiplayer game where my Survival Nightmare deck was too strong for the table. Thus, I secretly set the goal for myself to win without playing/using the 2 signature cards.

It was the Timmy in me that wanted everyone to have fun, who set the goals of that game.
It was the Spike in me that actually played the game, carefully making my plays, maximizing every ounce of additional value I could get out my remaining 52 cards. A pure spike wouldn't play at a level less that the best, as you said, but he could definitely play with a weaker deck.

(offtopic: this is also something I see in many of the Ravnica guilds, where the goal comes from 1 of the colors, and the actual working method comes from the other color)
In the general case, Spike will put his pride on something, he will say 'I want to be this person'.  And then it is up to him to prove he can be that way.  The game offers the scenario of the challenge.  The obstacle.  The opponent is there to win, which he achieves (right there in the rules) by making you lose.  Spike wants to persevere while protecting the other thing he identifies with himself, proudly.  If he is proud of winning without a lucksack topdeck, or of using Islands, or of never tapping Islands, or of whatever, then - yes, first, he will have to be stronger than someone who is just Playing to Win if he is going to protect his pride -  .. - and yes, unless he acknowledges that he is doing it for pride, and he is not Playing to Win, then he has fallen to Scrubdom - he will play in that way, and try to prove he can win still.



Certain limits (such as limits on cards used) would not denote them as a scrub in the Sirlin sense of the word. MtG is very different from SF, given that we don't get all the options immediately and need to spend to get more cards.

A real example that could be synonymous with Sirlin's example of choosing to never throw would be choosing to never do anything with damage on the stack (before M10).

As is, I think you can limit your card choice to a certain pool, forcing yourself to give your opponents a chance, then still make the best possible deck within that pool and play the best you can. You're still playing to Win.

Thing is, with a game that inherently contains so many different pre-constructed formats, the idea that you're playing a 'made up game' and 'self-enforcing unnecessary rules' isn't as a clear-cut case as it is with a game that contains everything within the box and contains no official variants.


And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.


The purpose of the game, as far as EVERY demographic is concerned, is to have fun. That's the purpose of games. We simply see different aspects of the game as the means of getting the most fun out of it.


The purpose of a game is NOT to win. It is, ultimately, to have fun. Spike enjoys a challenge. Sure, Spike likes winning, but ultimately, Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.





You weren't supposed to read that section if you are a Johnny or a Timmy .  Now the secret is out.

Seriously, though, you have this wrong.  Spike does want to win.  Winning indicates self-worth and value as a person and as a player.  That's emotionally satisfying, but it can be very different than fun.  It's about the accomplishment of having completed a journey, even if you didn't enjoy the trip.  It's about keeping score.

Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.


Again, not correct.  If Spikes felt this way, pro players wouldn't be happy to receive byes in PT events, since that was an "unearned" win in that round.  That is demonstrably not the case.

Is the feeling of accomplishment a little less if you become World Champion because your opponent got mana screwed?  Yes, it's not quite as satisfying -- but it would be MUCH LESS satisfying to not be World Champ at all.  (Note:  I'm not referencing the most recent championships, this is just an example.)

Once, I was complaining that I didn't deserve to win a particular match, and someone in the room said:
W = W


Meaning:  no matter how you won, you won, and that's what matters to Spike.  My complaint was as a non-Spike, but the response I got was pure Spike.
"Manipulate Is Enough"


How many times MaRo will make this pun??  (By my count, three more times would be sufficient...)


And what's the point of a game? What are you supposed to do by the very nature of a game's design? Win.


This is actually wrong.


The purpose of the game, as far as EVERY demographic is concerned, is to have fun. That's the purpose of games. We simply see different aspects of the game as the means of getting the most fun out of it.


The purpose of a game is NOT to win. It is, ultimately, to have fun. Spike enjoys a challenge. Sure, Spike likes winning, but ultimately, Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.





You weren't supposed to read that section if you are a Johnny or a Timmy .  Now the secret is out.

Seriously, though, you have this wrong.  Spike does want to win.  Winning indicates self-worth and value as a person and as a player.  That's emotionally satisfying, but it can be very different than fun.  It's about the accomplishment of having completed a journey, even if you didn't enjoy the trip.  It's about keeping score.

Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.


Again, not correct.  If Spikes felt this way, pro players wouldn't be happy to receive byes in PT events, since that was an "unearned" win in that round.  That is demonstrably not the case.

Is the feeling of accomplishment a little less if you become World Champion because your opponent got mana screwed?  Yes, it's not quite as satisfying -- but it would be MUCH LESS satisfying to not be World Champ at all.  (Note:  I'm not referencing the most recent championships, this is just an example.)

Once, I was complaining that I didn't deserve to win a particular match, and someone in the room said:
W = W


Meaning:  no matter how you won, you won, and that's what matters to Spike.  My complaint was as a non-Spike, but the response I got was pure Spike.


You are merely observing the outside effect of money considerations, not inherent Spike philosophy.  Playing Magic is expensive and overall -EV or poverty level for like all but maybe a handful of pros.    Spikes like winning in tournaments because winning means more money, which allows them to play more.  Spikes like byes in tournaments because it gives them a better chance at making money, which allows them to play more.  Spikes like the recognition that comes with winning tournaments, because it allows them to make money by writing articles, hooking up with good playtesting groups, etc., which..... say it with me, now.... ALLOWS THEM TO PLAY MORE.

Let's say MTGO still ran casual drafts (ate packs and tix but paid out nothing in prizes).  Would Spikes enjoy free byes in such tournaments?  I would submit that they would not, because it doesn't accomplish anything, neither materially nor in terms of Spike's idea of fun (optimal play).
Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.


Again, not correct.  If Spikes felt this way, pro players wouldn't be happy to receive byes in PT events, since that was an "unearned" win in that round.  That is demonstrably not the case.

Is the feeling of accomplishment a little less if you become World Champion because your opponent got mana screwed?  Yes, it's not quite as satisfying -- but it would be MUCH LESS satisfying to not be World Champ at all.  (Note:  I'm not referencing the most recent championships, this is just an example.)



A tournament is NOT within the game's magic circle (winning or losing has real-life consequences), so that doesn't count. In that case it is the person that is satisfied, not the spike component. It is very much about earning the victory.
to quote the great Herm Edwards:
"You PLAY, to WIN, the GAME."


Exactly
The end is always nigh.
to quote the great Herm Edwards:
"You PLAY, to WIN, the GAME."


Exactly



Playoffs!?  Practice!?  They are who we thought they were!!
Spike doesn't see victory as worthwhile if they didn't have to earn it.


Again, not correct.  If Spikes felt this way, pro players wouldn't be happy to receive byes in PT events, since that was an "unearned" win in that round.  That is demonstrably not the case.

Is the feeling of accomplishment a little less if you become World Champion because your opponent got mana screwed?  Yes, it's not quite as satisfying -- but it would be MUCH LESS satisfying to not be World Champ at all.  (Note:  I'm not referencing the most recent championships, this is just an example.)



A tournament is NOT within the game's magic circle (winning or losing has real-life consequences), so that doesn't count. In that case it is the person that is satisfied, not the spike component. It is very much about earning the victory.




I would love to play an entire Pro Tour where every opponent was mana screwed every game.  Manascrew games are very real games for the spikes who understand Magic.  The best players in the world get mana screwed less because they build better mana bases and mulligan better.  The games you win because the opponent got mana screwed are victories.  Sometimes there was nothing they could have done.  Sometimes it was avoidable mana screw.  Who cares, I won!
This is an interesting view into what Maro thinks of Spike. To be honest, I belong to the camp that says "Spike is strictly about development". I'm going to give my reaction to the three kinds of cards R&D makes for Spike.

1. R&D makes cards that Spike likes to argue about. In reality, if a card has a similar function to another card, Spike will automatically argue about which card is best suited toward that task.

2. R&D designs for Spike by making cards with choices involved. I would argue that implicit in any card is the choice of whether or not to play with it. Spike knows the environment, and should know what kinds of things will impact the game. Note: I like it when R&D makes these cards. I just disagree that you're specifically designing for Spike when you make them.
3. R&D designs for Spike by making engine cards (or cards that give you incremental advantages). I totally agree with that, given that the engine is cheap enough and has enough of an impact on the game.

The thing is, I acribe to the idea that any card can be a "Spike" card, given the right environment and deck. Even lifegain can be utterly broken (although I have yet to see R&D try to do that).

I agree with Maro in that Spike likes a mental challenge, but I disagree that said challenge is realized in individual cards. Spike really cares more about environments and metagames, and Spike won't like the environment if it's too unbalanced or unfair (because it isn't challenging). This is why I believe that development has the bigger role than design when it comes to appeasing Spike. I would think that development should have a big say when it comes to power level. "Card X is too powerful" or "we need a way to better neutralize strategy Y".

I guess I learned today that "designing for Spike" == "making a balanced game". However, I tend to feel like R&D is "designing for Spike" when they push the envelope with power cards (like Baneslayer Angel).



You still forget the FUN!

Yes, Spike will play the most powerful cards, whether they're lifegain, counterspells or aggro, but that doesn't automatically imply he's having fun. Spike wants to play the cards he likes (the cards designed for him) but he is forced to play the cards that are powerful. Hopefully for him, those two coincide.

Take cards like Arc Slogger and Necropotence. (I found it disappointing that Fact or Fiction is again the only one named under the The Play's the Thing part) Spike loves them because he knows that life total and library count are resources that can be messed with. Next to that, the cards offer tough choices, when and how much to use the ability?


If you make a bunch of Timmy cards the most powerful cards in a set then yes, Spike will play them. But he is not having the fun he ultimately wants out of magic.
(As said before, it's not just winning in a vacuum. Winning a coin flip is not satisfying for a Spike)



Let me put some context into my post.  Back when MaRo was doing the Great Designer Search, he asked the essay question "Which player should you design the majority of your cards for - Timmy, Johnny, or Spike?"  I answered Timmy, thinking that Spike would just cherry pick the best cards.  I didn't understand what MaRo meant when he said that you design the majority for Spike.  However, after reading this article, I now understand why he said that.

Maybe it's because I spend my time designing cards for Spike without really knowing it.  I like to make modular design cards, I like resource manipulation cards, and I like to give players choice in how they want to play the game.  I also like cards with ACTIVATED ABILITIES (are you listening, Maro?) as opposed to those with triggered abilities.  I find it interesting that Maro looks at it as "designing for Spike", because I don't consider these things to be "designing for Spike", I just consider them to be "good design".

I remember a post saying that Magic is about deckbuilding.  My philosophy as a designer is that the deck determines what game you are playing, and my job is to make a variety of viable, distinct decks with distinct strategies.  The more variety, the more people you enable to have fun, and the more time is spent exploring all your options.  If any player isn't having fun with deck X, he or she will try deck Y.  If deck Y isn't viable, it isn't going to be fun.

People started off complaining about Zendikar because of the homogeneouty of it.  Players who like traditional control are turned off by such an aggressive format.  However, we are learning what the "control" cards are in ZEN and it's turning out to be OK, even for them.  The thing is, I don't attribute this "balance" in ZEN to design, as design focused mainly on aggressive strategies.  Development played a role in ZEN, otherwise everything would be all about Landfall.

I would love to play an entire Pro Tour where every opponent was mana screwed every game.  Manascrew games are very real games for the spikes who understand Magic.  The best players in the world get mana screwed less because they build better mana bases and mulligan better.  The games you win because the opponent got mana screwed are victories.  Sometimes there was nothing they could have done.  Sometimes it was avoidable mana screw.  Who cares, I won!



Indeed, the World Championships were won/lost this year thanks to mana screw.

I would love to play an entire Pro Tour where every opponent was mana screwed every game.  Manascrew games are very real games for the spikes who understand Magic.  The best players in the world get mana screwed less because they build better mana bases and mulligan better.  The games you win because the opponent got mana screwed are victories.  Sometimes there was nothing they could have done.  Sometimes it was avoidable mana screw.  Who cares, I won!



Indeed, the World Championships were won/lost this year thanks to mana screw.



Does playing against Magical Christmas Land count as mana screw?

I would love to play an entire Pro Tour where every opponent was mana screwed every game.  Manascrew games are very real games for the spikes who understand Magic.  The best players in the world get mana screwed less because they build better mana bases and mulligan better.  The games you win because the opponent got mana screwed are victories.  Sometimes there was nothing they could have done.  Sometimes it was avoidable mana screw.  Who cares, I won!



Indeed, the World Championships were won/lost this year thanks to mana screw.



Does playing against Magical Christmas Land count as mana screw?



If that's a joke I don't get it.

EDIT:  If it isn't a joke, I still don't get it.

Let me put some context into my post.  Back when MaRo was doing the Great Designer Search, he asked the essay question "Which player should you design the majority of your cards for - Timmy, Johnny, or Spike?"  I answered Timmy, thinking that Spike would just cherry pick the best cards.  I didn't understand what MaRo meant when he said that you design the majority for Spike.  However, after reading this article, I now understand why he said that.

Maybe it's because I spend my time designing cards for Spike without really knowing it.  I like to make modular design cards, I like resource manipulation cards, and I like to give players choice in how they want to play the game.  I also like cards with ACTIVATED ABILITIES (are you listening, Maro?) as opposed to those with triggered abilities.  I find it interesting that Maro looks at it as "designing for Spike", because I don't consider these things to be "designing for Spike", I just consider them to be "good design".

I remember a post saying that Magic is about deckbuilding.  My philosophy as a designer is that the deck determines what game you are playing, and my job is to make a variety of viable, distinct decks with distinct strategies.  The more variety, the more people you enable to have fun, and the more time is spent exploring all your options.  If any player isn't having fun with deck X, he or she will try deck Y.  If deck Y isn't viable, it isn't going to be fun.

People started off complaining about Zendikar because of the homogeneouty of it.  Players who like traditional control are turned off by such an aggressive format.  However, we are learning what the "control" cards are in ZEN and it's turning out to be OK, even for them.  The thing is, I don't attribute this "balance" in ZEN to design, as design focused mainly on aggressive strategies.  Development played a role in ZEN, otherwise everything would be all about Landfall.



Ah yes I understand now =)
Pretty funny, I never realized it, but maybe a lot of players see the Spike cards as the 'default' cards and thus not consciously think of them as Spike.

However,

The entire point of the T/J/S profiles is that there is no proper answer for what is good design. The things you call good design might not be what a Timmy is looking for, and thus might not be good timmy design, but just good spike design
I would love to play an entire Pro Tour where every opponent was mana screwed every game.  Manascrew games are very real games for the spikes who understand Magic.  The best players in the world get mana screwed less because they build better mana bases and mulligan better.  The games you win because the opponent got mana screwed are victories.  Sometimes there was nothing they could have done.  Sometimes it was avoidable mana screw.  Who cares, I won!



Yes, mana screw in a game is indeed part of the magic circle, and manipulating your chances (manipulating how much you get 'randomly' screwed or flooded) is very spike.
I was just referring to byes, prize money, etc.

But to answer your last question: Spike cares. Sure I would be happy if I won the world championship coinflipping (players play a game of magic to determine who chooses to toss/call first, then play a best of 3. Oh, and top 8 pursedrafts coins) and take home the grand prize, but the spike within would have 0 satisfaction. Spike came to prove he is the best, but the randomness of coinflipping proves nothing. Winning proved nothing

I would love to play an entire Pro Tour where every opponent was mana screwed every game.  Manascrew games are very real games for the spikes who understand Magic.  The best players in the world get mana screwed less because they build better mana bases and mulligan better.  The games you win because the opponent got mana screwed are victories.  Sometimes there was nothing they could have done.  Sometimes it was avoidable mana screw.  Who cares, I won!



Indeed, the World Championships were won/lost this year thanks to mana screw.



Does playing against Magical Christmas Land count as mana screw?



If that's a joke I don't get it.

EDIT:  If it isn't a joke, I still don't get it.


Although I haven't seen a list, I've heard that Magical Christmas Land is a recently introduced Standard mana denial deck that uses Spreading Seas to screw with people's colors.

Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A
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