Creator of the Multiverse database for custom sets, the Magic Turing machine (proving Magic Turing-complete) and the random Magic card generator.
The only thing wrong with Bruce's theory of dealing with MAD players is the assumption that their main goal is to win, rather than simply take down another player before they go out. As the great Michael Caine said in The Dark Knight, "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
My preferred method of dealing with this is to not create the incentive in the first place, by playing team or team-ish formats (e.g. 2HG for 4 players, Star for 5/7, Emperor for 6/8, 3-way Emperor for 9). The real problem is inherent in the chaos format, and asking players to deliberately play "suboptimally" by abandoning MAD might not be as fun for them. If you just change the format instead, then everyone can still try their best to win without creating these sorts of distortions, or at least without having them be as big.This was a good article, beacuse the approach of "just ask them to stop" is certainly more effective than people give it credit for. Still, I would rather have seen some suggestions for alternative formats as well, since that's the solution my group has been using for many years and we have found it to be very effective and fun.
I definitely agree with the format change approach. 95% of the games that my group plays are essentially FFA but with the add-on rule of only being able to attack or burn highest life (can attack a planeswalker regardless of its controller’s life total). We have found that this almost completely eliminates MAD. This also limits the Gang Tackle shenanigans; as such we also ban infinite combos. We find that this format allows anyone to play any type of deck and still stand a chance at winning. This also lessens the chance of someone having to sit around for longer than 30 minutes just because they were the first one to die. All of this tied together means that almost everyone has fun in every game and we eliminate the need to “have a talk” with a problematic player. All in all, we find this the holy grail of play formats. We often get new people showing up and they almost all universally love the format as well.
Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!
I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.
I don't like the argument that the least threatening player shouldn't be attacked. That's the best argument FOR attacking them. You want to get rid of them before they become a threat so you have less work to do later on. Plus, if you just attack the most threatening player at the table, there's a good chance they'll knock you out before you get a chance to set up and take over the table. So quit throwing fits about people attacking you and either build a better deck or form an alliance for protection.