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Switch to Forum Live View For Discussion: Manaweaving before shuffling should be explicitly banned
2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 3:58PM #1
dlthe
Date Joined: Jan 6, 2009
Posts: 4,295

Idea/proposal: manaweaving should be banned.

Current situation: Manaweaving is legal, as long as you shuffle afterwards.

From the Infraction Procedure Guide (IPG), on insufficient shuffling: Show

A player should shuffle his or her deck using multiple methods. Patterned pile-shuffling alone is not sufficient. Any manipulation, weaving, or stacking prior to randomization is acceptable, as long as the deck is thoroughly shuffled afterwards. Intentionally stacking a deck with the intent to take advantage of an insufficient shuffle is defined as Cheating — Manipulation of Game Materials.

What does "sufficiently shuffled" mean, in a game of Magic?
From the Magic Tournament Rules (MTR): Show

3.8 Card Shuffling
Decks must be randomized at the start of every game and whenever an instruction requires it. Randomization is defined as bringing the deck to a state where no player can have any information regarding the order or position of cards in any portion of the deck. Pile shuffling alone is not sufficiently random.

A number of people cited the mathematically proven statement that between 7 - 9 riffle shuffles are required to genuinely randomize a 60-card deck of cards in the thread linked at the top.
I note that:
* the shuffling rules don't specify this - they establish a different, lower standard for randomization; and
* the shuffling rules allow for (and actually encourage) multiple methods - so riffles alone could potentially be considered insuffient in any case.

Therefore, under the rules as they currently stand, it is possible to employ a manaweaving technique, then shuffle 3 or 4 times - enough that you no longer know any specifics of the location or distribution of cards within your deck (thus satisfying the Magic rules definition of randomness), while at the same time being reasonably confident that you will avoid extended all-land or no-land runs in your deck after manaweaving.

This potentially gives a non-trivial advantage to those who employ this manaweaving-then-shuffle technique compared to those who do not.

If a deck is shuffled enough to make the order of the cards genuinely random (or close to), the order the deck is in before shuffling commences should be irrelevant.

Therefore, allowing manaweaving in the rules serves no purpose.
At best, allowing it means that the shuffling process before games (and potentially during games as well) takes slightly longer than it needs to. At worst, it is codifying a practice that amounts to a very subtle and hard-to-detect form of Manipulation of Game materials.

Proposed changes:
* Given that it either serves no purpose or is a subtle form of cheating via manipulation, manaweaving in between the games of a match should be explicitly banned in the MTR and IPG.
* Additionally, the MTR should give as a guideline that in order to achieve "sufficient randomisation", a deck should be riffle-shuffled at least 7 times before being presented to one's opponent.

And for completeness:
From the IPG, on Manipulation of Game Materials: Show

6.4. Cheating — Manipulation of Game Materials
Penalty: Disqualification

Definition
A player physically manipulates game materials (cards, dice, sleeves, etc.) illegally to try to gain an advantage.
Examples
A. A player orders some cards in his deck during a search and does not sufficiently randomize afterwards.
B. A player marks all of her Islands with a thumbnail mark on the corner of the sleeve.
C. A player draws extra cards when his opponent is not looking.
D. A player in a sealed deck tournament adds cards to his card pool.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 7:33PM #2
zammm
Date Joined: Jul 3, 2003
Posts: 27,218
Banning mana weaving is completely unenforceable. We cannot control what players do with their decks before they sit down and start shuffling, and we should not try.

Therefore, under the rules as they currently stand, it is possible to employ a manaweaving technique, then shuffle 3 or 4 times - enough that you no longer know any specifics of the location or distribution of cards within your deck (thus satisfying the Magic rules definition of randomness), while at the same time being reasonably confident that you will avoid extended all-land or no-land runs in your deck after manaweaving.

No, it's not--that doesn't satisfy the rules definition of randomness. You cannot have any information about the ordering or position of the cards within your deck. General I-won't-get-manascrewed information is just as banned as specific this-card-is-here information.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 7:35PM #3
Argus_Panoptes
• Trumps Judges
Date Joined: Sep 17, 2004
Posts: 5,192
Some notes:

Any "anti-random" influences in an allegedly shuffled deck are already forbidden (with a penalty that potentially goes up to DQ).

A sufficient randomization removes any "anti-random" influences.

If you want to talk about an "anti-random" influence, how about sideboarding?  That's not even arranging cards by category, that is specifically adding or removing individual cards.  If someone is allowed to start shuffling with a deck that they have just sideboarded, it seems silly to prohibit proper shuffling of a deck that has merely been woven.
No, I am not a judge.  That's why I like to quote sources such as the rules that trump judges.
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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 7:59PM #4
Skibo_the_first
• Forum Guide
Date Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 11,640
I'd much rather see a minimum number of shuffles needed for a deck to be "randomzied" but given the different ways to shuffle, comming up with standard might be difficult.

* The rules don't need to be changed. No one with a rules background has ever argued that manaweaving is legal.
… and then, the squirrels came.
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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 8:02PM #5
dlthe
Date Joined: Jan 6, 2009
Posts: 4,295

Nov 15, 2011 -- 7:33PM, zammm wrote:

Banning mana weaving is completely unenforceable.

/snip

General I-won't-get-manascrewed information is just as banned as specific this-card-is-here information.

I understand that we cannot regulate what goes on at home. However, you can regulate what goes on at a tournament, specifically during a match, hence why I have suggested that manaweaving between games is what is banned. Assuming the player intends to "sufficiently randomize", on what grounds should manaweaving be allowed between games? i.e. why allow something which, although may not be cheating in and of itself, it is easy to see how someone might be able to easily use it to cheat?

If it is an issue of enforcement, well, if you read the other thread I think it's fairly clear that some degree of insufficient randomisation after manaweaving occurs, and is not being punished. So I can only conclude that the current rule is ineffective in allowing judges to enforce against cheating in this manner.

And it's not absolute information on the part of the manaweaving player. The player would be in a position to guess on the balance of probability that in all likelihood there will be no extended land or non-land runs, but they have no way of knowing for sure. Having a general expectation of what your deck might serve up cannot be enforced any more than a ban on manweaving at home might be.

Argus: This isn't about prohibiting shuffling. This is about prohibiting a certain behaviour which may or may not be a factor in cheating, before a player starts shuffling. I don't understand what sideboarding has to do with it.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 8:14PM #6
Argus_Panoptes
• Trumps Judges
Date Joined: Sep 17, 2004
Posts: 5,192

Nov 15, 2011 -- 8:02PM, dlthe wrote:

Argus: This isn't about prohibiting shuffling. This is about prohibiting a certain behaviour which may or may not be a factor in cheating, before a player starts shuffling. I don't understand what sideboarding has to do with it.

Because compared to the placement of individual cards selected from the sideboard, mana weaving is nothing.

Let me try a different way to explain this:

Which is further from properly randomized, a manawoven deck or a deck that the player added and removed individual cards from while it was face up (i.e., sideboarded)?  Clearly the latter.  Now, what about "manawoven then properly shuffled" versus "sideboarded then properly shuffled"?  If the latter is absolutely legal, then it now seems silly to try to ban the former.

No, I am not a judge.  That's why I like to quote sources such as the rules that trump judges.
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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 8:15PM #7
rudolf
Date Joined: Sep 17, 2005
Posts: 16,187

Nov 15, 2011 -- 3:58PM, dlthe wrote:

If a deck is shuffled enough to make the order of the cards genuinely random (or close to), the order the deck is in before shuffling commences should be irrelevant.

True.

Therefore, allowing manaweaving in the rules serves no purpose.

You could also say that banning it serves no purpose.  If the state of a deck before it is shuffled does not matter after it is shuffled, then there is no reason to stop manaweaving or creatureweaving or alphabatizing the deck.

You want to ban something that might cause someone to cheat.  Isn't the list of non-cheating things that can lead to cheating more-or-less endless?

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 8:23PM #8
Fallingman
Date Joined: Feb 16, 2007
Posts: 7,455

Nov 15, 2011 -- 8:02PM, dlthe wrote:

Nov 15, 2011 -- 7:33PM, zammm wrote:

Banning mana weaving is completely unenforceable.

/snip

General I-won't-get-manascrewed information is just as banned as specific this-card-is-here information.

I understand that we cannot regulate what goes on at home. However, you can regulate what goes on at a tournament, specifically during a match, hence why I have suggested that manaweaving between games is what is banned. Assuming the player intends to "sufficiently randomize", on what grounds should manaweaving be allowed between games? i.e. why allow something which, although may not be cheating in and of itself, it is easy to see how someone might be able to easily use it to cheat?

I think the enforceability issue has nothing to do with tournament vs. casual play, it's more to do with finding an acceptable definition of what mana-weaving specifically IS.

It's sort of like banning "camping" in a competitive FPS game.  Most players have a basic understanding of what camping is, but to ban the practice means defining one sort of standing-in-place as acceptable and another sort of standing-in-place as illegal.  Same thing with mana-weaving.  It means one specific form of looking at your library and rearranging things is a rules violation, and other forms of looking at your library and rearranging things (like sideboarding, which I hadn't even thought of at first) would have to be legal.
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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 9:16PM #9
dlthe
Date Joined: Jan 6, 2009
Posts: 4,295

Nov 15, 2011 -- 8:23PM, Fallingman wrote:

I think the enforceability issue has nothing to do with tournament vs. casual play, it's more to do with finding an acceptable definition of what mana-weaving specifically IS.

well, for casual play, players within the play group should do what they want.

And if someone is being a jerk, don't play with them.

I'm not suggesting that casuals don't matter, but... well, the Magic Tournament Rules are for... erm... Tournaments.

And fair point on defining manaweaving. However, if it is outlawed in the rulebook, a judge can watch a player do it and say "Busted". As you point out, it involves looking at aprticular cards and rearranging them in your library. If the outcome of a ban on pre-shuffle weaving techniques is that players mash their cards randomly into a pile, and/or simply put their sideboard cards on top then start shuffling, how is that a bad outcome? No player wants their lands / sideboard cards to be all clumped together, so, if anything, they will be likely to shuffle more, not less.

Within the current rules, it is far less clear at what point, and on what basis, a judge can DQ someone. "Insufficient shuffling", i.e. yes, you shuffled your deck, but I didnt think you shuffled it enough, so here's a warning.
I'm not suggesting that judges abuse power in this way, but it does show that this is a grey area, and I believe that giving it some greater definition will actually help judges to enforce the rules. And if someone is actually cheating, then why gift them the rules text they need to get out of the DQ they genuinely deserve?

In particular, if the rules explicitly said "7 or 8 riffles is generally considered to be the minimum to achieve a state approximating genuine randomization" - would greatly remove any appeal on the grounds of judge bias and would also give judges something more specific on which to base their rulings.

Yes, there is certainly a place for judge discretion, but if it means that a rule cannot be enforced in practice, then IMO that seems to suggest that too much room for discretion has been given.

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2 years ago  ::  Nov 15, 2011 - 9:44PM #10
zammm
Date Joined: Jul 3, 2003
Posts: 27,218
Fallingman and Argus have it right.

How do you even define "mana weaving"? Deliberately arranging the lands in your deck in a specific order pre-shuffling? That's what you do when you scoop your permanents from the table and put them back into your library. Pulling cards out of your deck and then putting cards back into your deck in a specific pattern before shuffling? That's sideboarding. (And pile shuffling.)

And what about combo-piece-weaving or threat-weaving or any of the myriad other possible forms of pre-shuffle deck manipulation?
 Level 2 Magic Judge ~ ~ ~ ~ Knowledge knows no bounds.Magic Area FAQ & Index | Magic General FAQ | Card Comparisons | The Wording ClinicRules Q&A FAQ | Cards & Combos FAQ | Keyword FAQ | Returning Player Rules Primer | My Trade BinderJoin the Wizards Community Marketplace group today!

And so people say to me, "How do I know if a word is real?" You know, anyone who's read a children's book knows that love makes things real. If you love a word, use it! That makes it real. Being in the dictionary is an artificial distinction; it doesn't make the word any more real than any other word. If you love a word, it becomes real.
--Erin McKean, Redefining the Dictionary