8/14/2012 SF: "The Eight Rules for Multiplayer"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Serious Fun, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
How come so many professional writers still write "dominate" when they mean "dominant"? Come on..."dominate", long a, is the verb, "dominant" is the adjective.

Sheesh.
How come you didn't mention the book?  The movie and the book are both excellent (and the book came first).
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Probably the most important rule for multiplayer (aside from being somewhat manipulative and trying to off the players with a clue ASAP) is simply to play far more threats than answers. Many people will feel disinclined to help other players ("because they're your enemies after all") and will sit idly by while you gain tons of life, get plenty of tokens and whatnot. Try to figure out who these players are fast. They're reliable in the sense that they won't harm you in so far as you ignore them, which allows you to build up a strong board position while they've got plenty of counters and removal yet find themselves unable to control four or five opponents at the same time.

In multiplayer, your allies are resources too and can help round out the flaws of your deck. If you don't have any enchantment removal and the dominant player has several big, threatening enchantments in play, don't just stand by while the green players get stomped on. The same holds true for other permanent types your deck may have no answer for, but a (temporary) ally might very well have. Most of the time, a big splashy threat that's bothering you, is bothering the other players as well.

Working together, even if only temporarily, is important. You'll win far more often by taking a few risks and making pragmatic alliances than by refusing to cooperate with anyone out of fear you'll get backstabbed. The lone wolf dies alone, and all.

Multiplayer is often derided as a random, skill-less format, but time and again I find it's the same people who win them, and it's the same people who always lose.
I'd dispute that you need dice. We have glass beads of a few different colours, which serve handily for +1/+1 counters, -1/-1 counters, tokens of a couple of different sizes (turn them over if they're tapped), and life total (black for 5, white for 1: so 3 black 3 white means 18 life). 

It also helps that I have a big stack of token creatures from boosters and proxy tokens I've printed out over the years, but really, just five colours of glass bead provides more than enough for two or three kinds of counter, a handful of tokens (easier to track how many are attacking who than dice), and life totals that don't get jogged when someone bumps the table.
here's an idea for tracking life that would probably never work: just write it down
here's an idea for tracking life that would probably never work: just write it down

Tracking life by writing it down is simple and easy.  The biggest problem is that it consumes paper, ink, and requires a larger space than a die does.  If you have a life total that goes up and down often (I'm looking at you Sundroplet, but your friends do it too), it can quickly eat up a lot of paper-space.



I'd dispute that you need dice. We have glass beads of a few different colours, which serve handily for +1/+1 counters, -1/-1 counters, tokens of a couple of different sizes (turn them over if they're tapped), and life total (black for 5, white for 1: so 3 black 3 white means 18 life). 

It also helps that I have a big stack of token creatures from boosters and proxy tokens I've printed out over the years, but really, just five colours of glass bead provides more than enough for two or three kinds of counter, a handful of tokens (easier to track how many are attacking who than dice), and life totals that don't get jogged when someone bumps the table.



Beads can sometimes work, and for impromptu tokens they're servicable.  But usually, you know you're going to be playing Magic when you show up, and you know if you brought a token deck.  If the table is long and the game big (6+ people) telling whether a bead is upside down or not can be difficult.  One person tried to argue that you can always ask if you're not sure, but if your opponent has to ask questions about the game state then your tokens aren't doing their job.  Cards are hard enough to see once 100+ of them are on the table and the art is too far away to make out.  Beads are usually fine for groups of four or less, though.


For counters, beads are better, but they suffer from a "counting" problem.  Humans can only count at a glance up to about 7.  If you have 13 +1/+1 counters, it gets tricky to keep track of it.  That many counters also obscures the visibility of the card, making it even harder to keep track of what's what (as if multiplayer didn't have enough of that already).  Dice don't have that problem.


The beads sound pretty handy for life totals, though, so I might adopt that.  It's nice to tell at a glance whether somebody is at 9 or 18, and having two colors makes the counting easier.  Dice can be hard to read from so far away.



Sometimes, it's not a question of "does it work" but "is it best".  Nobody is going to tell you that you can't use paper to track your life total unless your scroll starts getting in their space.  Beads will usually work, but they're not ideal unless you're using only a few at a time.

For some reason it sends me into fits whenever someone mentions how original the movie was (not that Adam did this per se).

Hellooooo guys, it was a damned good book before it was ever a movie. I highly recommend to anyone that enjoyed the movie and also enjoys reading.

Be forwarded though, if the movie kept you off balanced and confused the book does a much better job of this.

Good article Adam, always enjoy your take on multiplayer.
Probably the most important rule for multiplayer (aside from being somewhat manipulative and trying to off the players with a clue ASAP) is simply to play far more threats than answers.



Maybe this is just my group's playstyle talking, but how many threats you play isn't as important as when you play them.  If you lay too many down too early, the game devolves into an Archenemy match pretty fast.  Sometimes it's best to sit back and bide your time (disclaimer: this doesn't always work, especially after game one).



Regarding tracking life totals...

My playgroup has been using "life cards" to track our life totals for almost as long as we've been playing (ten-ish years?).  They're cheap and easy to make: take a receipe card or piece of cardboard and mark 20 squares on it in a 5 x 4 grid (squares should be big enough to have a bead placed in them).



If you happen to have more than 20 life, just put a counter above the card.  Your life total can be easily calculated by other players since your life total is just "(# of counters above life card x 20) + (amount marked on card)".  Seems to work faster than dice too (though this may just be because I've been using a life card for such a long time).

YMMV

My EDH decks:

Erebos ()

Damia ()

Ghave ()

Sliver Overlord ()

here's an idea for tracking life that would probably never work: just write it down



I find that in multiplayer, writing down life totals generally doesn't work. Either every player is keeping track of everyone else's life total (they aren't), or one player is keeping score and has to give out constant 'life roundups'. We use poker chips in stacks of five. It's easily readable from across the table, everyone gets to see the maths is done right and stealing life is extra satisfying.
I find that in multiplayer, writing down life totals generally doesn't work. Either every player is keeping track of everyone else's life total (they aren't), or one player is keeping score and has to give out constant 'life roundups'. We use poker chips in stacks of five. It's easily readable from across the table, everyone gets to see the maths is done right and stealing life is extra satisfying.



My group started using paper, we had the most experienced player have everyone's life total (it was me for the tables I sat at). It worked pretty well. We never had problems of not knowing life totals because I announced the new total for a player every time their life changed. Having one sheet works much better than everyone having a sheet. 

Face it, you're pretty much here as a meat shield.

 

If you are at Georgian Court Univeristy or Monmouth Univeristy PM me. If you are out by York College of PA, I can help you reach the group there.

The real Rules for Multiplayer:


  1. You are not going to win with a burn deck.

  2. Aggro is not going to work.

  3. Mill is not going to work, unless it's a "everyone loses" combo.

  4. Combo must kill everyone else at the table, at the same time.

  5. Counterspells and removal are for win-denial, not lockdown control.

  6. Armageddon and Wrath just make you a target.

  7. Stasis will make the game last about seventeen hours.  Just don't.

  8. Do not overextend.

The real Rules for Multiplayer:


  1. You are not going to win with a burn deck.

  2. Aggro is not going to work.

  3. Mill is not going to work, unless it's a "everyone loses" combo.

  4. Combo must kill everyone else at the table, at the same time.

  5. Counterspells and removal are for win-denial, not lockdown control.

  6. Armageddon and Wrath just make you a target.

  7. Stasis will make the game last about seventeen hours.  Just don't.

  8. Do not overextend.




LOL

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
I just found the link to this from todays Serious Fun article.

I had a conversation with a friend about "bad players" in multiplayer.  A few of his concerns I think are pretty legitamate and would make the basis for a good article on multiplayer deckbuilding and etiquite.

Here are the highlights


  • Every deck should have a certain amount of spot removal (usually 4+)


    • (including ways to handle artifacts, enchantments, etc.)

    • essentially everyone drops huge threats in multiplayer.  bargaining power goes to the person able to take care of the scariest threat on the board


  • Every deck should run more than one board-wipe (for when your opponents overwhelm you, or the game needs a reset because everyone has too many blockers/potential attackers)

  • Cards that lock down the game tend to suck the fun out of the game, while strong finishers are respected.  I'll give 2 examples:


    • Glare of Subdual in a Token heavy Selesnya: Tapping your opponents creatures is great for slowing their attack and oppening them for you, but locking the game down for 6-7 turns is bad for the game as a whole.  It's fine when you can drop it and finish the game (or you think you can) in 2-3 turns, but otherwise it tends to slow things down.

    • Savra & Jarad with Bloodghast(s):  I tried this out the other night and while its a crushing combo when you're lucky no one has removal- it does nothing but simplify the game.  Everyone loses creatures, you gain them back (landfall) and end it when they have no creatures. THe combo takes off and ends the game.  Folks who are upset about the loss quickly get over it since a new game is starting- very different than folks upset about a loss that is 6-7 turns in the making but feels inevitable.


  • Never concede someone is going to win and continue the game.  Games with a clear victor are better ended so a new game can begin.  I've played with new players who have said "Oh he's going to win anyway, I'll come in second if I kill you"  And hey, maybe that is fun for some people- but the majority of players I've gamed with are baffled by the concept of second place- which brings me to the next point:

  • Always put pressure on the top threat.  If there is a sizable number of strong creatures under one player and 3 medicore ones under another- unless you know some crazy combo is coming- take out some from the guy with the army.  Try to rationalize your choices of using removal or burn on any player.  If they're in last place, and you're not in first- you're just pissing off a potential ally.



Anyway i think it'd make a good article- Hope someone takes a look =)
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