Tournaments and Mana Screw

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A lot has probably been said about the issue of mana screwing in the online game, but I feel there's a need to continue discussing this issue as it affects players' experiences in a very negative way. While I do acknowledge that not getting lands/mana in any given game is a possibility, I have observed since getting an account this past January that it seems to happen far more online than it does irl. I've been playing Magic: the Gathering since before Rise of Eldrazi came out last year, and during that time I've seen a somewhat disappointing lack of awareness from WotC when it comes to the experiences players go through playing the game that they have to sink lots of money into. Mana screwing online is one example of this.

Today, I played at an Heirloom event. I came with a deck that had 26 lands in it. The overall deck size was 60. Quite often, I observed that my opening hands had 2 or less land in them and through playtesting throughout the week, I felt confident I would continue to draw lands. However, when it came time to play the tournament, this did not happen. I did, of course, mulligan when I could. However, there reaches a point where you can only mulligan so much and if the program does not want to give you lands, then you can't just keep doing the mulligan in the hopes that you'll get one. In the 7 games I played at the tournament today, I was mana screwed three times. To me, this seems a somewhat disproportionate ratio.

I have also observed that decks with 20 or less lands in them get the mana screw quite a bit- and this would describe the majority of Legacy decks out there. Again, the ratio isn't what you would expect. I played a game where a player had 20 lands in their deck (33.3% probability) and drew 19 cards while getting only one land. This was a Brain Freeze/Mind's Desire deck. That's 5% of the cards this player drew being lands.

Nor are these incidents entirely isolated. In any given tournament I go to, whether it's sealed or constructed, I know that the elephant is lurking in the closet, ready to break loose. I don't know if this is an issue that can be easily solved or even if anything is running improperly. Perhaps the online client was designed this way and the designers weren't aware of how much problems it could cause.  I can only tell you how it impacts my decision-making choices as to whether I choose to invest money in playing at online events.

As of right now, I can see little point in paying to play at online tournaments. I enjoy playing magic, and I would like to continue playing it, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to lay down some money and then have yet another mana screw show up and make me feel as though there's nothing I can do whatsoever. In this case, I'm not losing because I'm playing poorly or because my opponent has a better deck than me. Instead, I'm losing simply because the program has decided that I simply am not going to win.

It is a depressing situation to me because it does not seem to mirror the experiences I have had playing with paper cards. I am in charge of making sure my deck is sufficiently randomized and I know how best to make sure the deck gives me the lands that I need. Everything is directly in my control and if I do get mana screwed, which can happen, then I only have myself to blame. On the other hand, when it happens online in far greater proportions than I'm used to, then I wonder whether the program is to blame. I mean, do I put 27 or 28 land in my deck? Do I mulligan until my hand is full of land and nothing else? At what point can I come to trust that the program is not going to cost me a match? As long as this is the case, there's really no point in investing money to play at tournaments or to buy packs through the online client. I begin to wonder whether or not playing magic online is even something I should be doing in the first place.
This is going to get merged with the shuffler thread (or just locked as a duplicate of said thread) as soon as the mods notice it, but I'll give you the quick gist of what the situation is.  The shuffler online has been shown to be properly random, and given a large enough sample size (thousands and thousands of games played daily), some players (sometimes disproportionately) will experience outliers of shuffling probability like what you've described.  Frankly, if you don't experience this when you play with physical (paper) cards, you're not shuffling thoroughly enough.  We *all* get mana screwed sometimes, and some of those instances are bound to be in competition, presuming we play in tournaments.  All you can do is build the best deck you can, mulligan when you should, and let the chips fall where they may.
Mountain bikes are for slow people, and geckos are far better pets than cats & dogs! :D Officially licensed user of the term "GrammarChaos" (Thanks Tempesteye!) MPDC Season 3 Champion
If you can tell any difference whatsoever between the results of the MTGO shuffler, and the results you get from shuffling cards in real life, then you are cheating when you play Magic in real life. The rules state you must randomize your cards, not stack them and then perform a slight mixing.

MTGO shuffles by putting the cards into random order. Its shuffling algorithm has been mathematically proven, and is the same one that has been used and trusted by programmers for decades, making it one of the most recognised and established algorithms in all of computer science. By this I mean that it has been proven that it produces every possible order of cards with equal probability, never biasing any particular configuration. There is no need to fix anything, nothing is broken.

Your theories are simply a manifestation of confirmation bias.
In what way can you randomize your cards irl that doesn't involve shuffling? I put them into six piles then shuffle them together one at a time. I also offer my deck to my opponent so they can shuffle or cut it if they like. I am not sure what can be done on this front to ensure randomization, and I don't agree that a player is cheating if they follow these or similar steps. Decks of paper cards are not programs and there's only so much you can do. I believe cheating would have to fall under willful and conscious deck manipulation.

I do not disagree that the shuffler is random, but I find that there are plenty of times when I don't get more than 2 or 3 land out of however many turns. There are also plenty of times when I get lots of land- even too much. The negative experiences do stick out to me more simply because it doesn't happen that much irl. The last time I got mana screwed in an irl game was in February, and I play about once a week or so. I suspect that I get mana screwed more in online games because there's a larger sample size to draw from, but at the same time, I still do not feel very motivated to invest money- bias or not.

It is a depressing situation to me because it does not seem to mirror the experiences I have had playing with paper cards. I am in charge of making sure my deck is sufficiently randomized and I know how best to make sure the deck gives me the lands that I need. Everything is directly in my control and if I do get mana screwed, which can happen, then I only have myself to blame.



See this sounds like cheating.  Either its sufficiently randomized, or its stacked to give you the lands you need.  You can't have it both ways.
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
As long as this thread stays on whether mana screw is a bad property for a game to have or how to shuffle dead-tree Magic properly, it will stay open. If anyone tries to steer it into MTGO having a poor shuffler (the OP certainly isn't), it will be considered thread disruption.

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Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
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"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
On topic: you need at least seven riffle shuffles to properly randomize a deck. Overhand shuffling takes more, and pile shuffling doesn't work well and generally doesn't count as randomizing at all because it is too easy to stack your deck by using particular patterns.

Magic and Magic Online Volunteer Community Lead. On Strike

I'm trying to make my official VCL posts in purple.

You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


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Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
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"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
In what way can you randomize your cards irl that doesn't involve shuffling? I put them into six piles then shuffle them together one at a time. I also offer my deck to my opponent so they can shuffle or cut it if they like. I am not sure what can be done on this front to ensure randomization, and I don't agree that a player is cheating if they follow these or similar steps. Decks of paper cards are not programs and there's only so much you can do. I believe cheating would have to fall under willful and conscious deck manipulation.



No one is suggesting that you not shuffle - it is necessary to shuffle in order to randomize your deck.  The question is whether your shuffling technique is appropriate, and whether you're shuffling enough times using that technique.

How many times do you shuffle them after they're combined?  Do you just pile shuffle?  Pile shuffling alone has been documented NOT to provide sufficient randomization.  If you're afraid of shuffling like you would a deck of playing cards because of wear on the cards, get over it and just shuffle.  Sleeve up the cards and the chances of damaging them are minimized.

Also, ShardFenix is correct - it's either sufficiently randomized *or* it's predictably, helpfully distributed.  It can't be both, at least not all the time. 
Mountain bikes are for slow people, and geckos are far better pets than cats & dogs! :D Officially licensed user of the term "GrammarChaos" (Thanks Tempesteye!) MPDC Season 3 Champion
As long as this thread stays on whether mana screw is a bad property for a game to have or how to shuffle dead-tree Magic properly, it will stay open. If anyone tries to steer it into MTGO having a poor shuffler (the OP certainly isn't), it will be considered thread disruption.

Apologies bubba, my previous post was in the process of being written at the same time as your warning to the thread - if it's considered to be off topic, please delete it as you see fit.
Mountain bikes are for slow people, and geckos are far better pets than cats & dogs! :D Officially licensed user of the term "GrammarChaos" (Thanks Tempesteye!) MPDC Season 3 Champion
Apologies bubba, my previous post was in the process of being written at the same time as your warning to the thread - if it's considered to be off topic, please delete it as you see fit.


Nope, your post is about how to shuffle dead trees, well within the bounds of the thread.

Your *first* post, however, is an excellent example of why we don't want people discussing existing or future VCL decisions in the thread If you think something needs a VCL action, there is a thread here to make a request. Then just let me handle it.

Magic and Magic Online Volunteer Community Lead. On Strike

I'm trying to make my official VCL posts in purple.

You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


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Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
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"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
I think the thread makes a good point about how in paper magic, if you get a clump of 6+ land cards, you have no one to blame but yourself, but in online magic, the shuffler is responsible. When I first started playing magic, I often had runs of over 6 lands or spells in a row. But that was because I would often pick up all of my cards at the end of the previous game and put them either on the top or bottom of my deck. This meant that even before I started shuffling for the next game, I had a large clump of lands, and a large clump of non-lands, which shuffling 6 or 7 times did not break up. After I realized this was happening, I started putting the cards I played with back into my deck one at a time, at random places, which immediately dropped the number of large land and non-land clumps considerably. So by improving my shuffling technique, I was able to reduce the number of large clumps. Later I learned about pile shuffling, which helped even more.

But when you play online, the only thing that will influence the order in which the shuffler picks the cards, is the order they are sequenced internally. And since the internals are not known to the average player, they can't use that knowledge to clump or declump the cards.

Just today I drafted what looked to be an unbeatable deck, and lost the first two games in a row due to drawing 11 lands and 5 spells in the first 16 cards. In a 17 land, 23 spell deck, the chances of this occuring are more than 20,000 to 1 against. Not only that, but the number of lands in the starting hands were 3 and 5, which means both were in the range of hands that people traditionally keep in limited formats. So in both scenarios, I played a deck with the correct number of lands, and drew the correct number of lands in my starting hand, but got hosed because I had a total of 5 spells to play over the course of the entire game and it simply wasn't enough spells.
I think the thread makes a good point about how in paper magic, if you get a clump of 6+ land cards, you have no one to blame but yourself, but in online magic, the shuffler is responsible. When I first started playing magic, I often had runs of over 6 lands or spells in a row. But that was because I would often pick up all of my cards at the end of the previous game and put them either on the top or bottom of my deck. This meant that even before I started shuffling for the next game, I had a large clump of lands, and a large clump of non-lands, which shuffling 6 or 7 times did not break up. After I realized this was happening, I started putting the cards I played with back into my deck one at a time, at random places, which immediately dropped the number of large land and non-land clumps considerably. So by improving my shuffling technique, I was able to reduce the number of large clumps. Later I learned about pile shuffling, which helped even more.

But when you play online, the only thing that will influence the order in which the shuffler picks the cards, is the order they are sequenced internally. And since the internals are not known to the average player, they can't use that knowledge to clump or declump the cards.

Just today I drafted what looked to be an unbeatable deck, and lost the first two games in a row due to drawing 11 lands and 5 spells in the first 16 cards. In a 17 land, 23 spell deck, the chances of this occuring are more than 20,000 to 1 against. Not only that, but the number of lands in the starting hands were 3 and 5, which means both were in the range of hands that people traditionally keep in limited formats. So in both scenarios, I played a deck with the correct number of lands, and drew the correct number of lands in my starting hand, but got hosed because I had a total of 5 spells to play over the course of the entire game and it simply wasn't enough spells.


1) You fail at understanding randomness
2) I *just* gave a warning not to use this thread to discuss the MTGO shuffler

Magic and Magic Online Volunteer Community Lead. On Strike

I'm trying to make my official VCL posts in purple.

You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


Show
Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
Quotables

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"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
If you shuffle in paper and think you can "blame yourself" for getting 6 lands in a row, then this implies you think you are meant to have some degree of control of how your cards get shuffled. If you are doing this, then you are outright CHEATING. The rules state that the result of your shuffles must be completely random, that is, you have to shuffle until there's absolutely no trace of your original "stacking" that could possibly be left in the order of the cards.

Also: it's ridiculous that we can discuss paper shuffling, but are forbidden from comparing that to the online implementation. Highlighting the differences between these is the entire point of the discussion!
Not much more needs be said here, but what the heck, it's what I do.

Mana screw is part of the game.  If you're used to never getting mana screwed with paper cards, it's because you're not sufficiently randomizing your deck.  End of story on that.

If you don't want to play Magic Online tournaments because of mana screw, I'm not going to try to talk you out of it.  Mana screw is not fun when it happens.  Losing a round because of it is always frustrating.  If it's so frustrating that you can't enjoy tournaments because of the looming possibility of losing to it, then you're probably right - tournament Magic is not for you.  But don't delude yourself into thinking this is a problem with Magic Online.
If you shuffle in paper and think you can "blame yourself" for getting 6 lands in a row, then this implies you think you are meant to have some degree of control of how your cards get shuffled. If you are doing this, then you are outright CHEATING. The rules state that the result of your shuffles must be completely random, that is, you have to shuffle until there's absolutely no trace of your original "stacking" that could possibly be left in the order of the cards.

Also: it's ridiculous that we can discuss paper shuffling, but are forbidden from comparing that to the online implementation. Highlighting the differences between these is the entire point of the discussion!



The illustration is how through bad paper magic shuffling, you can saddle yourself with more mana/non-mana clumps than you would expect through random chance. Taking all the cards that were used in the previous game and putting them back into the same spot in the deck led to a number of clumps, because putting them back in that fashion created a run of mana and non-mana cards. The other piece of that is that if the online shuffler has any errors of that nature, the players cannot correct them. For example, a simple numerical rounding error can cause an RNG to skew the range of returned values such that the first or last element in the array is chosen much less often than all of the others. Now, that error is obvious enough it would probably have been discovered by now, but there are other more subtle errors that wouldn't be.

The bottom line is that in one scenario, the paper magic scenario, the player is randomizing their deck, while in the second, a computer algorithm outside the player's control is. 
you win just as many matches as you lose to mana screw assuming both players dont mulligan aggresively.
you win just as many matches as you lose to mana screw assuming both players dont mulligan aggresively.



That's not very helpful if you're shooting for a win percentage of over 50%. Having games won or lost random just moves bad players up and good players down.
If you shuffle in paper and think you can "blame yourself" for getting 6 lands in a row, then this implies you think you are meant to have some degree of control of how your cards get shuffled. If you are doing this, then you are outright CHEATING. The rules state that the result of your shuffles must be completely random, that is, you have to shuffle until there's absolutely no trace of your original "stacking" that could possibly be left in the order of the cards.

Also: it's ridiculous that we can discuss paper shuffling, but are forbidden from comparing that to the online implementation. Highlighting the differences between these is the entire point of the discussion!



The illustration is how through bad paper magic shuffling, you can saddle yourself with more mana/non-mana clumps than you would expect through random chance. Taking all the cards that were used in the previous game and putting them back into the same spot in the deck led to a number of clumps, because putting them back in that fashion created a run of mana and non-mana cards. The other piece of that is that if the online shuffler has any errors of that nature, the players cannot correct them. For example, a simple numerical rounding error can cause an RNG to skew the range of returned values such that the first or last element in the array is chosen much less often than all of the others. Now, that error is obvious enough it would probably have been discovered by now, but there are other more subtle errors that wouldn't be.

The bottom line is that in one scenario, the paper magic scenario, the player is randomizing their deck, while in the second, a computer algorithm outside the player's control is. 

Yeah, but people are really really stupid, leaving it a player's hands is never the right move :P

I'll trust a maching over my PTQ opponent any day

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
I would just like to point people to MaRo's article today where he says mana screw is a necessary evil and is therefore part of the game.
www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...
Basically if you want all the other good things mana gives us you have to be willing to occasionally lose to (or win due to) random bad luck.

I've bought the cards and made a deck Now how do I win at this?

Ppl complaining that their deck "isn't random enough" are actually saying "my lands aren't spread evenly enough through my deck". In paper, it is quite common to spread your lands around in your deck before shuffling halfheartedly for a bit. The goal is obviously to make sure your land STAYS spread throughout your deck. Doesn't sound random at all, does it? If you think that is what random means, you are using the word "random" wrong.

Random means "there are no patterns" or at least not consistently (a pattern can always randomly occur of course). Random does not mean "homogeneous" or "evenly distributed". Those two ARE patterns. Or to look at it differently, if you can reasonably predict what you will draw (as in, "it's about time for a land"), your deck IS NOT random. The whole point is that ANY draw is possible at any time.

Most ppl who move from paper to online actually discover that their paper shuffling wasn't randomizing their deck at all. (That the online shuffler truly randomizes is a mathematical certainty, not up for discussion. Simply trust that smarter ppl than you have proven it.)

"Pile shuffling" is VERY bad shuffling. Itleads to resonating. This is especially obvious if the number of piles you use is a divisor of your deck size. You are actually kinda sorting your deck. Riffle shuffling if done often enough is a good randomizing method, provided you do it right. (A WRONG riffle shuffle is where the cards perfectly alternate from the two separate piles). It is usually best to just spread the cards on the table in a shallow pile and stir them (observe the dealer in a poker game at a casino, this is how they shuffle).
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(That the online shuffler truly randomizes is a mathematical certainty, not up for discussion. Simply trust that smarter ppl than you have proven it.)



You haven't read the shuffler thread have you. There is no mention of physical random number generation, no mention of quantum computing. Instead there is a reference to an algorithm that was written in 1958 that uses modular arithmetic and was chosen mainly for processing speed (this is a pattern for early computing, computers were many orders of magnitude slower than they are today, so most algorithms were chosen for efficency) In addition, this particular algorithm has several possible errors. For example, from the wikipedia article:

"A common error when implementing the Fisher–Yates shuffle is to pick the random numbers from the wrong range. The resulting algorithm may appear to work, but will produce biased results. For example, a common off-by-one error would be choosing the index j of the entry to swap in the example above to be always strictly less than the index i of the entry it will be swapped with. This turns the Fisher–Yates shuffle into Sattolo's algorithm, which produces only permutations consisting of a single cycle involving all elements: in particular with this modification no element of the array can ever end up in its original position."

"A related problem occurs with implementations that first generate a random floating-point number—usually in the range [0,1)—and then multiply it by the size of the desired range and round down. The problem here is that random floating-point numbers, however carefully generated, always have only finite precision. This means that there are only a finite number of possible floating point values in any given range, and if the range is divided into a number of segments that doesn't divide this number evenly, some segments will end up with more possible values than others. While the resulting bias will not show the same systematic downward trend as in the previous case, it will still be there."

There are many more possible issues, and all of them would help to explain why scenarios that should happen less than 1 in 10,000 times occur with regularity. We already know that the interface takes shortcuts. For example, during the initial die roll, there are never ties.
You haven't read the shuffler thread have you. There is no mention of physical random number generation, no mention of quantum computing. Instead there is a reference to an algorithm that was written in 1958 that uses modular arithmetic and was chosen mainly for processing speed (this is a pattern for early computing, computers were many orders of magnitude slower than they are today, so most algorithms were chosen for efficency) In addition, this particular algorithm has several possible errors. For example, from the wikipedia article:



There are many more possible issues, and all of them would help to explain why scenarios that should happen less than 1 in 10,000 times occur with regularity. We already know that the interface takes shortcuts. For example, during the initial die roll, there are never ties.



So basically, your argument boils down to an assumption that they've implemented the algorithm incorrectly, which you have zero supporting (non-anecdotal) evidence for?  Also, not seeing a die roll tie doesn't mean it never happened - it could be only showing the last die roll generated, what with how that's the only one that's relevant.
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We already know that the interface takes shortcuts. For example, during the initial die roll, there are never ties.


Except there are ties. They just aren't shown.

You're also misinterpreting the potential issues with Fisher-Yates. It's analogous to saying a satellite can't maintain an orbit because if you use the wrong units it will crash into the planet.

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You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


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General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

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Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

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Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
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"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
I'm really surprised that at sanctioned DCI events they don't require players to use automatic shufflers like they do in most major casinos.  Then again, I am not sure if those machines can handle cards with protective sleeves.
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You haven't read the shuffler thread have you. There is no mention of physical random number generation, no mention of quantum computing. Instead there is a reference to an algorithm that was written in 1958 that uses modular arithmetic and was chosen mainly for processing speed (this is a pattern for early computing, computers were many orders of magnitude slower than they are today, so most algorithms were chosen for efficency) In addition, this particular algorithm has several possible errors. For example, from the wikipedia article:



There are many more possible issues, and all of them would help to explain why scenarios that should happen less than 1 in 10,000 times occur with regularity. We already know that the interface takes shortcuts. For example, during the initial die roll, there are never ties.



So basically, your argument boils down to an assumption that they've implemented the algorithm incorrectly, which you have zero supporting (non-anecdotal) evidence for?  Also, not seeing a die roll tie doesn't mean it never happened - it could be only showing the last die roll generated, what with how that's the only one that's relevant.



I have the 1000 game log of starting hands, in which the number of starting hands with 0 lands came up more than twice as often than would be predicted by chance. I started a new log of the number of ties a land is drawn as the first card after the deal, based on the number of lands in the starting hand, but that log is not complete yet.
I have the 1000 game log of starting hands, in which the number of starting hands with 0 lands came up more than twice as often than would be predicted by chance. I started a new log of the number of ties a land is drawn as the first card after the deal, based on the number of lands in the starting hand, but that log is not complete yet.

So? If you roll a D6, and it comes up a 5 seven times in a row, thats not what SHOULD happen, according to ANY predictions. But it CAN happen. And if you're rolling hundreds of thousands of dice in an hour, it's going to happen a LOT. I think much of this talk of mana screw is human nature. A person tends to remember when he gets screwed, but will forget about all the times he drew the "great opening hand". 

I did the same thing a few months back, with keeping a pad of paper handy and keeping track. Albeit, my sample wasn't as large as your (professed) sample, but I still only recorded (7/200 0 mana, 2/200 1 mana) hands for opening hand. I recorded MANY more "great openers" (57/200) than screws. So about 1/4 of the time I can expect to draw into a "great hand". I believe much of this is due to deck construction.

Random is random. Deal with it.

I do not wish to participate in this Community Site.

Repeating warning to keep this away from discussion of whether the MTGO shuffler is random, including at myself. Move it to the Shuffler Thread.

Magic and Magic Online Volunteer Community Lead. On Strike

I'm trying to make my official VCL posts in purple.

You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


Show
Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
Quotables

Show
"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
We already know that the interface takes shortcuts. For example, during the initial die roll, there are never ties.


Except there are ties. They just aren't shown.

You're also misinterpreting the potential issues with Fisher-Yates. It's analogous to saying a satellite can't maintain an orbit because if you use the wrong units it will crash into the planet.



What I am saying is that I've been writing code for the past ten years, and I can't believe the number of errors I have seen. It's amazing how many obvious errors get past programmers and even signed off by the testers. And then, when a defect presents itself in the production environment everyone is always mystified as to how it got there. I have seen an update stored procedure that didn't actually update a record in the table, and that got signed off on. When I first started working at my current job, the SP template read:

SELECT @err = @@ERROR
SELECT @row = @@ROWCOUNT
SELECT @id = @@IDENTITY

Which the previous writers apparently thought was the equivalent of "assign the error number to @err, the rowcount to @row and the inserted identity value to @id." What it actually says is "assign the error number to @err, assign 1 to @row, and assign the most recently generated identity value, in any scope, to @id." This was a huge error that was somehow never caught, because in most instances, @@ROWCOUNT will be 1 anyway, and the @@IDENTITY error wasn't caught until people started using the system concurrently.

So, having a tested RNG isn't very compelling to me unless I can see the source code.

As for the whole no ties on the interface bit, it's not unrealistic that the interface would just reroll until no tie occured, and show the final result. But then, why not just pick a floating point number between 0 and 1, and assign first play to player 1, if the number is less than 0.5, and assign it to player 2 if the number is greater than 0.5? After first player was determined you could generate a die roll that was consistant with the first RNG generated. The second algorithm could even be preferrable to the first, since it has a finite execution time, wheras the first method could potentially be infinite (with an infinite number of ties)

The point isn't which algorithm is actually being used, the point is that because the interface does not show ties, either algorithm described above, or another one entirely could be used. From the users perspective, they cannot know for sure, since either of the above implementations would look the same to them. If it were an errant implmentation, that was more likely to assign first player to player 1 than player 2, there would be no way to determine it.
I believe I said NOT up for discussion, ya buncha illiterates!
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I believe I said NOT up for discussion, ya buncha illiterates!



To be fair, they're not discussing it so much as putting pots and pans on their heads and running into it at full speed.
I suppose the rules of Magic could always be changed to let you put three basic lands of your choice in your starting hand. This should address most complaints about mana screw. I'll remember to sell all of my Hasbro stock if this happens Smile
Well pcjr, that is an interesting line of discussion.  Magic Online kinda sucks compared to paper magic for a lot of aspects of the game, but there are some things it does better.  Shuffling is one of them, the Momir basic format is another.  Another one could, hypothetically, be a reduction of mana screw.

MTGO could shuffle with some sort of mana weaving algorithm but it's really hard for me to conceive of one that would be fair for all decks and not warp the metagame.  What if, though, MTGO would look at your hand and just reshuffle any hand that had exactly zero or seven (basic?) lands.  This would at least cut down on mana screw with out being so drastic that it might cause players to cheat on the land count.

It wouldn't work with Vintage or Legacy what with there being viable one land/no land decks but it might work well enough for standard.  Or if its too much for any constructed format it could apply only to limited where you can't really build a deck around this shuffler.  You might be able to let it throw back one and six land hands as well without damaging the quality of play, which would practically eliminate mana screw (but not flood).

Or, with limited espcecially, you could have the shuffler look at your deck and if it sees any mana clumps of, say, 5ish or more it just re shuffles.

The moral of the story is if you eliminate the mana screw/flood scenarios that are endemic even with smart/reasonable deck construction you might be able to achieve the same level of play but with a bit less frustration.


Of course mana screw is part of magic and it rewards players that build good decks and mulligan correctly.  Also these sort of ideas can't sync up with paper so they will (or at least should) never happen.  But it is interesting to think about.
i'd like the option to mulligan 0 or 7 land hands for another 7 cards, not 6
that would solve most issues
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Or, with limited espcecially, you could have the shuffler look at your deck and if it sees any mana clumps of, say, 5ish or more it just re shuffles.



So.. you want the shuffler to cheat on your behalf?  No.  This will never happen.

The shuffler will never ever be made less random on purpose.  Why on earth would they do that? 

There is very little left to be said on this topic except "suck it up".  Mana screw happens.  It happens to everyone.  The only things that you can do to prevent it are to build your decks with corrent mana bases.  You'll still get screwed sometimes.  So will everyone else.  If you believe that occasionally losing a game because of random chance in shuffling is an unfavorable state of the game, then Magic may not be the game for you.  There is nothing else to it.  This is the way the game is, the way it always has been, and the way it always will be.

So.. you want the shuffler to cheat on your behalf?  No.  This will never happen.

The shuffler will never ever be made less random on purpose.  Why on earth would they do that? 




Oh come now be reasonable.  Firstly I don't want this change to happen, I want to talk about it because it may have merit.  Secondly what I was proposing was not cheating, but changing the rules.


There is very little left to be said on this topic except "suck it up". ...  There is nothing else to it.  This is the way the game is, the way it always has been, and the way it always will be.



Right, unless the rules were changed, which is what I am talking about.  I disagree with the premise that the rules can never change.

Magic is a game that combines luck with skill.  This is a good thing, I would never have luck taken out completely.   But the luck we're talking about here is not your opponent topdecking the card he needs, its not not hitting everyone of your land drops perfectly, what it is is Mulliganing to four cards just to see your first land and never seeing a second one.  Or keeping a three or four card hand and subsequently drawing eight more.  What I am talking about is cases where you don't get to play Magic. 

These are corner cases and they don't happen that often.  But when they do it is extremely frustrating for the player it happens to and equally not fun for the opponent.  It is my opinion that if God came down from the heavens and decreed that the worse and most unfun types of mana screw would just happen to never occur again Magic players would, incidentally, have more fun playing the game.  The phrase deus ex macchina comes into my mind.


Moral of the story:  Eliminating the most frustrating and unfun aspect of Magic in a way that minimally (if at all) affects game play is worth discussing.

Now because it can't sync up with paper I am not advocating this happen anytime soon.  But I would like to discus it.



P.S.  The first Pro Tour allowed no land mulligans to seven cards, so it has not always been the way of the Paris.
I always thought that having 1 free mulligan per game would be a good idea. They used this for the prismatic format online a few years ago and it was excellent. I wondered why they wouldn't consider implementing this in regular matches.

Also another idea I may or may not have come up with (I may have read it somewhere but i am not sure). Is if you mulligan to 6 you can look at the top card of your library before deciding to mulligan again, if you mulligan to 5 you can look at the top 2 cards etc. I liked this idea as well, as although you still start behind on cards, it does not punish you as much for mulliganing since you can see how well those otherwise missing cards would have sculpted your hand. 
I always thought that having 1 free mulligan per game would be a good idea. They used this for the prismatic format online a few years ago and it was excellent. I wondered why they wouldn't consider implementing this in regular matches. 

Gives combo decks a greater advantage than 'normal' decks

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
I always thought that having 1 free mulligan per game would be a good idea. They used this for the prismatic format online a few years ago and it was excellent. I wondered why they wouldn't consider implementing this in regular matches. 

Gives combo decks a greater advantage than 'normal' decks

You could keep it limited only then. Mulliganning is a much different beast in constructed formats (especially as you tackle the ones with a bigger card pool), where as in limited there is rarely a case where an extra mulligan would provide a much bigger advantage to one deck over another.
It seems that people who are experiencing mana screw more than usual are either very unlucky or are very bad players.

If it is the former, then no rules changes will help you with that.  If it is because you're a bad player, then fix it!  Play more lands in your deck!  Most of the standard decks play 26-27 lands!!!  And even they get land screwed from time to time, showing that it is part of the game.  If you're suffering from mana problems in limited, then start playing on the draw and see if that extra card helps.  It just boggles my mind when players complain about mana screw.  You never hear of a good player complaining about constant mana screw and that the mulligan rules need to be changed.  Everyone suffers from Mana Screw or Mana Food, and we just deal with it.
I always thought that having 1 free mulligan per game would be a good idea. They used this for the prismatic format online a few years ago and it was excellent. I wondered why they wouldn't consider implementing this in regular matches.

Also another idea I may or may not have come up with (I may have read it somewhere but i am not sure). Is if you mulligan to 6 you can look at the top card of your library before deciding to mulligan again, if you mulligan to 5 you can look at the top 2 cards etc. I liked this idea as well, as although you still start behind on cards, it does not punish you as much for mulliganing since you can see how well those otherwise missing cards would have sculpted your hand. 



I was just about to say that the one free muligan would skew things towards Splitter Twin decks, but it appears like someone has beaten me to it. But I really like the second idea. It makes sense and it would be really easy to implement. I'm certainly in favor of anything that makes the game more about skill than about luck.

Speaking of which, I read an article about Magic a long time ago, and the stated purpose of mana screw was to allow poor players to occasionally beat good ones, to increase their interest in the game. This was back when most people played for ante, which means that the players with poor decks were more likely to win a good card when they did win (their opponent being mana screwed was one of the few situations this could actually happen) So my thoughts on this are:

1) No one plays for ante anymore
2) Do we really need to keep a system in place that allows poor players to win occasionally for tournaments? I mean I can understand it for casual play, but aren't most tournament players already sufficently interested in Magic?
3) There must be a better system for muliganing than the one we are currently using. When I first started playing magic, there was only the all land/non land muligan. It took years to get to the current Paris muliganing. 
Speaking of which, I read an article about Magic a long time ago, and the stated purpose of mana screw was to allow poor players to occasionally beat good ones, to increase their interest in the game.



Cite?  I've been reading every official article about Magic's genesis for 18 years, and I've never heard this.  It doesn't even make sense.  New players get mana screwed more often than veteran players (because they have less understanding of how to build their deck).  It's hard to believe that Richard Garfield decided that suckering people in by giving them free wins against better players was a good thing.

In fact, I'm going to just say that this is completely false. 

Mana screw doesn't have a "purpose".  It's not like summoning sickness or the untap step or other rules that were specifically written.  Mana screw is a phenomenon created by randomization.  The other option would have been that players could just stack their decks however they wanted when the game began.  Since that's incredibly broken and would have caused Magic to die in its infancy, it seems like allowing random to be random was the better choice.