Are people playing 8-4s really better drafters/players than Swiss?

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
Because I play both and I just don't see it. The last 8-4 deck I drafted was just as good as the last Swiss deck I drafted (better even, due to pulling Thragtusk and Lilliana as rares) And when it lost it lost due to mana issues (two consecutive 2 land hands I kept, both missed their third land drop, one even failed to draw another land period) My opponents in 8-4 played exactly as my last Swiss opponents did.

Anyone who plays Swiss and 8-4 have strong feelings on this? Excluding the people you get to play in the Swiss rounds if you lose round 1, are the players really better on average? Do they generally draft better decks? 
Because I play both and I just don't see it. The last 8-4 deck I drafted was just as good as the last Swiss deck I drafted (better even, due to pulling Thragtusk and Lilliana as rares) And when it lost it lost due to mana issues (two consecutive 2 land hands I kept, both missed their third land drop, one even failed to draw another land period) My opponents in 8-4 played exactly as my last Swiss opponents did.

Anyone who plays Swiss and 8-4 have strong feelings on this? Excluding the people you get to play in the Swiss rounds if you lose round 1, are the players really better on average? Do they generally draft better decks? 




Some players jump in whatever queue is closest to firing.  However, the best players online are all playing 8-4s.  You are not going to run into the best drafters in a swiss queue.
Because I play both and I just don't see it. The last 8-4 deck I drafted was just as good as the last Swiss deck I drafted (better even, due to pulling Thragtusk and Lilliana as rares) And when it lost it lost due to mana issues (two consecutive 2 land hands I kept, both missed their third land drop, one even failed to draw another land period) My opponents in 8-4 played exactly as my last Swiss opponents did.

Anyone who plays Swiss and 8-4 have strong feelings on this? Excluding the people you get to play in the Swiss rounds if you lose round 1, are the players really better on average? Do they generally draft better decks? 




Some players jump in whatever queue is closest to firing.  However, the best players online are all playing 8-4s.  You are not going to run into the best drafters in a swiss queue.



I've been as high as 1875 and I generally prefer Swiss unless it looks like it is a long way from firing. The person that I know who writes the best online articles and is a 1850+ player also plays Swiss almost exclusively.

From personal play I see the same level of play in the second and third rounds of Swiss (provided I won the 1st/2nd) as I do in 8-4. Which only leaves rounds 1 and any Swiss rounds following losses where the 8-4 players are better. In terms of decks, I get slightly better decks in Swiss, due to people passing sure bet cards like Stuffy Doll and Sands of Delirium but in general the decks are of equal quality.
I often draft winning decks that don't want to include stupid doll or sands of delerium.

Apart from that, I don't draft enough to be able to base any conclusions on my personal experience, but I used to religiously watch each and every LSV, Conley or Ochoa video before their horrendous incapable videoplayer and ad policy made that a no-no (now I only watch LSV ones, because he is just the best at doing draft video's)

Based on hundreds of 8-4s watch over the years I would say, the level of play in the 8-4 room is pretty low and undistinguishable of the other rooms.  I guess their are just not enough pro kalibre drafters  to really make a difference on the whole.

I've been as high as 1875 and I generally prefer Swiss unless it looks like it is a long way from firing. The person that I know who writes the best online articles and is a 1850+ player also plays Swiss almost exclusively.


With the win percentage needed to achieve an 1850+, you would earn more profit playing 8-4's than swiss.  This would only be untrue if the competition in 8-4 queues was harder than swiss, thus lowering your win percentage.  You seem to think that the competition isn't any harder.  So either you're wrong about the competition being the same or dumb for not playing 8-4's.

Btw, the fact that said person plays swiss queues exclusively isn't proof that he thinks the competition level is the same.  I would say it's proof that he either believes competition is softer in swiss queues or that he's also dumb for not playing 8-4's.
I hover between 1800 and 1900 and also play mainly Swiss.  I also keep detailed records of all packs in and out of events and Swiss is slighlty better then 4-3-2-2, but 8-4 is much worse.  This is because 8-4 I am much more likely to play more skilled opponents.  Some good people play Swiss, but most play 8-4.

I choose Swiss for this reason partialy, but mostly because I want to play all 3 rounds. 
Btw, the fact that said person plays swiss queues exclusively isn't proof that he thinks the competition level is the same.  I would say it's proof that he either believes competition is softer in swiss queues or that he's also dumb for not playing 8-4's.

Or, maybe they just feel like playing 3 rounds of draft, win or lose? Not making EV your top priority isn't a sign that you are stupid.

They have already proved that they are not stupid because they managed to avoid playing the 4-3-2..
One man's stupid is another man's kimchi?

Winter.Wolf (ugh at this new forum with the ridiculous double login)

Btw, the fact that said person plays swiss queues exclusively isn't proof that he thinks the competition level is the same.  I would say it's proof that he either believes competition is softer in swiss queues or that he's also dumb for not playing 8-4's.

Or, maybe they just feel like playing 3 rounds of draft, win or lose? Not making EV your top priority isn't a sign that you are stupid.




No, but as you say, it shows that you have different priorities.  "Play as much as you can" and "win as many packs as you can" are two different priorities, and one of which is more common amongst better players.  There's no hard and fast rule here.  Good players play all the queues and "less good" players play all the queues.  We're talking about a matter of percentages here, not wholes. 
I've been infinite playing limited almost exclusively since the first day of 1.0 release, and I've gone through phases where I played all queue types. In my experience the quality of drafters/players between 8-4 and 4-3-2-2 is noticeable but not as extreme as one might think. The difference between 8-4 and swiss is more noticeable.

The variation isn't really in the top drafters. There are good drafters and players who play all of the queue types and the best players in the swiss and 4-3-2-2 queues are about as good as the best players in the 8-4 queues. That said, I think the quality of the average player in the swiss and 4-3-2-2 queues is lower than in the 8-4 queues, and there is a low caliber of player that sometimes shows up in the swiss queues that rarely shows up in the 4-3-2-2 queues and almost never shows up in 8-4 -- these are the people who are truly new to limited or are just really bad at drafting and often come to the table with decks featuring 15%+ cards that most successful drafters would consider unplayable.

So in sum, if you rate drafters on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best:

Typical high end player (84): 8
Typical high end player (4322): 8
Typical high end player (swiss): 8

Typical average player (84): 6
Typical average player (4322): 5
Typical average player (swiss): 4.5

Typical low end player (84): 5
Typical low end player (4322): 4
Typical low end player (swiss): 2


The variance is a lot higher in the swiss and 4322 queues, but there are plenty of sharks in all of em.
Yes.
On average, yes, they are. 

Guess what? Chicken butt.

4-3-2-2 is the worst value.  However, I've found it's a lot easier to go infinite/gain rating in 4-3 than it is 8-4.  With 4-3-2-2 you can win or make finals every time while in 8-4 first or second round losses are common.  In swiss it's a lot more of a joke and winning every time is pretty easy but not really worth it due to the low profit and time consumption.


Edit: I'll add, I would take a 1770 8-4 drafter over a 1850 swiss drafter any day of the week.  I guarantee if you had both of them play 8-4s exclusive the 1770 drafter would maintain a higher rating over time.  
They may or may not be better, I'd say that most 8-4 opponents are better than most swiss opponents. However, I think we can all agree the 8-4 players are surely smarter than the swiss players.
They may or may not be better, I'd say that most 8-4 opponents are better than most swiss opponents. However, I think we can all agree the 8-4 players are surely smarter than the swiss players.



I dispute this claim entirely. It is not smarter to play 8-4s if your ev is lower and you want to play more games. It is also not smarter if you enjoy being the shark vs the minnows. I think what you meant is 8-4s make you FEEL smarter when you win them.

Winter.Wolf (ugh at this new forum with the ridiculous double login)

I only play AVR 8-4 and you'd think that this was the place with the best players, but while there certainly are good players there are also tons of scrubs where you go "wtf" because they play a lot of cards you'd never ever consider playing.

Then again there is a ton of variance in drafting so I think it's very difficult to tell. For example if you only do tournament play in poker and you multitable 6 tables for 8 hours a day for 1 month, you still wouldnt have a big enough sample to tell wether or not you were good enough to turn a profit.
It IS a better idea to play 8-4s than swiss, the payout difference by itself is enough incentive. And to say it isn't smart if you don't have a high enough EV? Your just holding yourself back. Real competitive players who WANT to win will play 8-4s, not low self esteem "sharks" that have to troll a 4-3-2-2 because they think they aren't good enough to take down an 8-4. Nothing but lost value. Better players give a better play experience. I can learn alot more in an 8-4 Q playing half decent opponents keeping me on my toes than I ever can in a swiss Q playing people who play last pick cards and yawning throughout the match. Now, I understand everyone is not competitive, which is fine, and if that is your reason for running a swiss draft that is also fine, but def not smart.
4-3-2-2 is the worst value.  However, I've found it's a lot easier to go infinite/gain rating in 4-3 than it is 8-4.  With 4-3-2-2 you can win or make finals every time while in 8-4 first or second round losses are common.  In swiss it's a lot more of a joke and winning every time is pretty easy but not really worth it due to the low profit and time consumption.


Edit: I'll add, I would take a 1770 8-4 drafter over an 1850 swiss drafter any day of the week.  I guarantee if you had both of them play 8-4s exclusive the 1770 drafter would maintain a higher rating over time.  



Actually, I believe you have that backwards. It takes incredible skill to maintain a high rating in Swiss once you've gone past the point where finishing 2-1 means your rating goes down, rather than up. A person able to maintain an 1850 rating in Swiss under the current rating system would be more skilled than a person able to maintain an 1850 rating playing 8-4.

As for the assertion that top players should play 8-4 based on the payout structure, that is incorrect as well. In the classic game theory sense no one should be playing 8-4 or 4-3-2-2 for payout reasons once Swiss is available. Swiss has a better EV than 4-3-2-2 and an equal EV to 8-4. And a lower variance in payout than both Swiss and 4-3-2-2.

Perhaps the easiest way to conceptualize this is to imagine an experiment where 10 people are given a playing card and $10 going into the experiment and are told that they can either keep their $10, or put their $10 into a pool which the person with the highest card wins. While it seems like the people with the higher cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack) would be better served by gambling for the pool, that is not actually the case. Anyone with King, Queen or Jack risks that a person in the group has a higher card than them, and to win any money over the $10 there must be someone in the pool with a comparatively low card willing to risk their $10 incorrectly. If you follow this logic the final position is that everyone with an Ace takes the pool, which is of no risk to them. But because everyone else takes the flat $10 there is no one remaining in the pool whose money the Aces can take.

Similarly, while it appears that 8-4 is a better EV once your winning percentage reaches a certain point, that is not the case once everyone plays in their correct queue.
4-3-2-2 is the worst value.  However, I've found it's a lot easier to go infinite/gain rating in 4-3 than it is 8-4.  With 4-3-2-2 you can win or make finals every time while in 8-4 first or second round losses are common.  In swiss it's a lot more of a joke and winning every time is pretty easy but not really worth it due to the low profit and time consumption.


Edit: I'll add, I would take a 1770 8-4 drafter over an 1850 swiss drafter any day of the week.  I guarantee if you had both of them play 8-4s exclusive the 1770 drafter would maintain a higher rating over time.  



Actually, I believe you have that backwards. It takes incredible skill to maintain a high rating in Swiss once you've gone past the point where finishing 2-1 means your rating goes down, rather than up. A person able to maintain an 1850 rating in Swiss under the current rating system would be more skilled than a person able to maintain an 1850 rating playing 8-4.

As for the assertion that top players should play 8-4 based on the payout structure, that is incorrect as well. In the classic game theory sense no one should be playing 8-4 or 4-3-2-2 for payout reasons once Swiss is available. Swiss has a better EV than 4-3-2-2 and an equal EV to 8-4. And a lower variance in payout than both Swiss and 4-3-2-2.

Perhaps the easiest way to conceptualize this is to imagine an experiment where 10 people are given a playing card and $10 going into the experiment and are told that they can either keep their $10, or put their $10 into a pool which the person with the highest card wins. While it seems like the people with the higher cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack) would be better served by gambling for the pool, that is not actually the case. Anyone with King, Queen or Jack risks that a person in the group has a higher card than them, and to win any money over the $10 there must be someone in the pool with a comparatively low card willing to risk their $10 incorrectly. If you follow this logic the final position is that everyone with an Ace takes the pool, which is of no risk to them. But because everyone else takes the flat $10 there is no one remaining in the pool whose money the Aces can take.

Similarly, while it appears that 8-4 is a better EV once your winning percentage reaches a certain point, that is not the case once everyone plays in their correct queue.



Love the analogy and I think in someways I agree with you except as follows: I have no idea about who is right in the current paradigm (people playing in the wrong queues) but 8-4s are recommended by most pros I know over swiss. They feel (justified by their pro ranking) that they should always be in the finals at the least. 4 being greater than 3 makes their ev better in the 8-4s and if you happen to lose as a pro well it saves time on a lesser stake. They know that despite the fact people should play to their strength many underwhelming players are the minnows to their shark.

As much as I admire people who are into Swiss for the fun of it I think fun and winning are sometimes exclusive in mtg. That is to say the fun must come from winning instead of the other sources people are deriving from swiss. (Companionship, casual laidbackness, time spent learning or just enjoying durdling with combos, etc) Also swiss is basically a safety net if you are usually a decent drafter but have bad nights. While this is good if you know you are going to have randomly bad nights and such it seems like a crutch if you could be gaining more for your buck. Again this goes to what you define as value/fun/worth your entry tix.

Winter.Wolf (ugh at this new forum with the ridiculous double login)

It IS a better idea to play 8-4s than swiss, the payout difference by itself is enough incentive. And to say it isn't smart if you don't have a high enough EV? Your just holding yourself back. Real competitive players who WANT to win will play 8-4s, not low self esteem "sharks" that have to troll a 4-3-2-2 because they think they aren't good enough to take down an 8-4. Nothing but lost value. Better players give a better play experience. I can learn alot more in an 8-4 Q playing half decent opponents keeping me on my toes than I ever can in a swiss Q playing people who play last pick cards and yawning throughout the match. Now, I understand everyone is not competitive, which is fine, and if that is your reason for running a swiss draft that is also fine, but def not smart.



So, 100% of the time for 100% of the people, 8-4 is the smartest choice, always? That is clearly false. There are new players who will not learn much from 8-4s while they could learn much more from swiss and seeing their deck in action quite a bit more. So even in that situation if you account for the value of learning, their EV is gonna be higher swiss from the learning process.

How about someone who has 3.5 hours, and wants to play as much draft as possible in that time? So, even with a ridiculous win rate of 65% (some of the best barely break 60% over the long term) if filling time with magic play is your primary purpose, the 8-4 would be wrong over 50% of the time.

What if you want to try and flesh out a draft strategy that is somewhat off the wall, or using an odd combo? In swiss you would have at least 6 chances to try it out versus a minimum of 2 for 8-4.

I know it is shocking for some, but this game is not always about winning to everyone. Sometimes it is just about having fun.

Another fun fact: If everyone in an 8-4 has a "55%" or "60%" win rate or whatever the magic number is, how do all them maintain that win ratio? 3 rounds, 7 matches, 7 wins, 7 losses. The numbers just don't add to have everyone continually getting a 50+% win ratio.

So no it is not always 'smarter' to play 8-4 for everyone. I think that scale of 1-10 that was posted shows pretty well the difference.

Myths of Theros: Part 1, Part 2, Born of the Gods Myths

Beta Client, "Shiny", V4.0 tutorial

Momir Basic Primer

Sign In to post comments