A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Magic the Gathering: Worst Game Ever?

Its so popular you say. It makes Wizards of the Coast money hand over fist you say.

Well, its extreme popularity has done massive damage to the gaming industry as a whole, but that sort of discussion can wait till when I rag on Dungeons & Dragons.

Its the game design itself that is incredibly broken.

Quick answer: You can go infinite.
Long answer: Magic's whole game design is based around utterly crippling, demolishing, destroying, and ruining the other player. The best decks and the whole point of deck design is to make the most unstoppable deck possible, rendering the other player helpless.

No tactics or luck can save them. A good Magic deck is like playing the original Quake where you have an aimbot, noclip, quad damage, 200 health, and the rocket launcher, and your opponent has: the axe.

The game design is not about skill, talent, or luck. Its about grabbing the most effective deck design you can off the net, wasting piles of money to get the cards of which you should always pull the same combo every time, or mulligan until you get it.

If both players have megadecks its more like a solo game where you have to wait for the other side. Eventually one side pulls their I win setting and takes it all.

Magic is effectively broken. Why do you think they have to keep coming up with shit like Type X, leagues, and drafting? (Which means all those cards you bought beforehand cannot be used. FORK OVER THE CREDIT CARD FOOLS!)
Because playing it as it was originally designed pretty much failed about 6 hours after its debut at Gencon. (Another topic I need to get into one of these days. Gencon and how overrated and irrelevant it really is to tabletop gaming.) About 16 years of cards and its all pointless.

Its not balanced, its not skill based. Its MONEY based. Which makes the above gameflaws even worse. And its main draw is tournament play, which sucks whatever possible fun is there out in a flurry of powergamer hell.

I have rarely if ever felt I lost a Magic game due to playing poorly or bad luck. Its always due to the other player having some unstoppable combo.

If a starter deck doesn't stand a chance against beating a tournament deck, even if its just a 1 in 5 chance (and they don't!), its not a good game design.

Its a game designed to suck money out of people and make socially inept retards feel better by "pwning" people who don't feel like dropping 100s of bucks every quarter to stay current. Or spend less but effectively get 1-2 months of use from their existing cards before the current draft cycle is up.

A GOOD game design should always have victory be 2/3rds strategy, 1/3rds luck. A new player should have a chance against a veteran, especially if the vet underestimates the newbie and that newbie plays it smart. Most likely the new player is gonna lose, but see what he or she did wrong and want a rematch. The newbie will feel it was her fault for making a bad move or that his victory was due to some really shoddy rolls on the veteran's part.

Either way, they will want to give it another go.

Many Eurogames have such philosophies behind them. A casual player can beat an experienced one. I rarely if ever win Settlers of Catan, but I was either outplayed because I wasn't paying attention to what the victor did, too busy getting vengeance on whoever slighted me in game (politics is HUGE in Catan), I had a poor initial setup, or the dice just weren't with me. Maybe it was a mix.

But I ALWAYS feel like I have a chance to win.

In Magic and most CCGs after a certain point, that feeling of "If this had only happened I coulda been a contendah!" goes away. Because you know your deck never had a chance because you didn't spend enough money or copied some deck design.

Collectible games companies know there are enough dupes who will just spend more to try to catch up as opposed to realizing they shouldn't even had bothered in the first place.

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