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posted in Vintage Strategy

There's a kind of playful teasing that feel really welcoming and inclusive in person. At my local card shop I might crack jokes at a friend's misplay and they might make fun of some ridiculous pet card I'm running. This serves as a kind of play, a way of pushing your friends to be better while letting them know it's no big deal. It can work to break down prestige-hierarchies, so Andy doesn't get a big head because he published an article on SCG, it flattens the hierarchy and keeps people equal, it comes from a place a love, it's a way of saying "I see you as part of a community that we're building together."

There are two very common ways this can break down.

One is that people have trouble reading the room. When a new player shows up and they feel like an outsider, that same joke might make them feel less included, being laughed-at instead of laughed-with. When a player identifies very deeply with a particular card or archetype, or identifies very deeply with their results, a joke at the expense of a card or play mistake can be felt as a personal attack. The recipient isn't wrong for "not getting the joke." Rather, developing a shared sense of humor is a protracted, interactive process that involves an initial stance of welcoming/inclusivity, and all parties gently pushing on the edges of the relationship until boundaries and norms are established. This process requires a great deal of empathy, to notice which actions hurt rather than harm people.

Of course, empathy is very difficult online. Even giving your best effort, asynchronous text without physical cues can be interpreted in so many ways. On a forum there's pressure to gather your thoughts into a cohesive narrative, to make your /ideas/ more structured and understandable, which means consciously stripping away a lot of the cues and context that would be used to facilitate mutual understanding of someone's emotional state. As methods of communication get less formal, more realtime, you get more and more of this feedback. (think about what it even /means/ for communication to be informal, those "um"s and "ahh"s are loaded with metadata about your relationship with the words you're saying). From your best friends playtesting, to your local card shop, to a live-chat discord server, to a local informal facebook/reddit group, to a global forum, it gets harder and harder to recognize when what you say isn't landing.

It gets harder to notice when you're being shitty.

And think about your close group of playtest buddies. I bet one of them tends to go a bit too far with their humor, and you all just kind of roll your eyes and think "oh that's just Andy, he means well." Empathy isn't something everyone's good at. Not even in the best conditions. An asynchronous global online forum might be literally the worst conditions for empathy most of us will ever deal with (It's a bigger challenge in completely one-sided communication like professional writing). That means if you place any value on not being a shitty person, you have to be more gentle, more careful, in a forum like this, when you're dealing with people you don't know from other, more empathy-friendly environments.

The second way it breaks down is a second-order consequence of the first. Maybe I crack a friendly joke about your deck, but my lack of tact makes the joke hurt, and my lack of empathy means I don't notice your reaction. If Andy goes on being a well-liked member of the community and you still feel excluded, you're going to learn a different lesson. You're going to think that Andy is well-liked despite, or because-of, the fact that he makes fun of people. Maybe you're the target of the joke, or maybe you just see observe and misinterpret the dynamic happening between two other people. But you learn something else. Now humor isn't seen as a tool to flatten prestige hierarchies, but a strategy to improve your place within them, by proving how clever you are. Maybe you start to see humor as revealing a dominance hierarchy - A can make fun of B, but B can't make fun of A. In this case cruelty is is a virtue, the more cruel someone can be without retribution, the firmer their position in the dominance hierarchy must be. This may not be a misinterpretation because there are absolutely communities that operate on these rules, and someone who has been stuck in these communities might adopt this mindset as their default behavior as a completely rational strategy.

I'm strongly against this kind of community norm in person, but online it's completely broken. When people get a whiff of a dominance hierarchy they react by trying to climb on top, or by leaving. In an online hobby community the cost of leaving is very low, and it creates a vicious/virtuous cycle. People who don't like playing that game leave, constricting the community. Now people in the middle of the dominance hierarchy have fewer people beneath them and have to spend more of their time on maneuvering than community-building. That means the fighting gets more vicious, the hierarchy becomes more obvious, and the value provided by the community constricts, which makes the community less valuable for people outside of the dominance game, who migrate somewhere else, constricting and amplifying things further. People motivated by altruism or prestige hierarchies have no one to help or show off to. The whole process spirals and spirals until novices are afraid to ask questions and experts don't post ideas because ideas just get attacked.

This attractor-state isn't inevitable, but an online forum is more susceptible to it than other sorts of communities. So I, as the admin, and you, as members of the community, need to be a little more careful (with humor especially), and keep in mind that play is supposed to unify us, not stratify us.

If you're making fun of somebody online and you don't know how they're going to emotionally respond, try and dial it back until you really get a better sense of them. Yeah it can feel dry and sterile sometimes, but you can get to that playful relationship, you just have to build up trust and empathy and earn it first.

But this is me being charitable, and assuming that your actual goal is to have a good time with the person you're joking with. Consider that trolling is, by definition, an attempt to get a negative reaction out of someone.

If you're writing a post and you think "hey, is this trolling?". Just don't fucking post it.

If you're reading this and you're thinking "but trolling is funny!". Just fucking leave.

posted in Vintage Strategy

@lienielsen said in [LEG] Greed:

Not one of you has ever resolved Greed in a game of magic and it shows. Sad.

This seems like an unnecessary attack. I've definitely resolved my fair share of Greeds in my day. I just don't think it's a relevant card in Vintage these days. I'd love to be proven wrong though. No one's stopping you from sketching out a list, testing it, and sharing your results.

posted in Vintage Community

@moorebrother1 said in Will there be paper Vintage?:

This is just the reality of where we are today and this has prompted me to ask - what does paper Vintage look like now? I play cards to play with people. MTGO and digital play does not work for me.

It doesn't exist at the moment to my knowledge, at least as far as in-person paper Vintage in the US is concerned. There's still a pandemic on, after all.

I play webcam magic but I want in person card play. If Vintage is only proxy will people show up to play? The number of people playing Vintage on MTGO is going down not up based on number of people in leagues.

Will people show up to play? Maybe, if you work with your local shop to promote it and get people excited to play the format. Maybe bring some extra decks for people to try so they can join the first event or two with no investment. Legacy players should be the easiest to attract since they have a lot of the staples already, but I wouldn't limit myself to just that audience.

Are new players entering the format in digital? Would this players play paper using proxies?

I think you answered this question in your prior question - league numbers are down. I would also not expect digital Vintage players to be easily converted into paper for a variety of reasons:

  • Digital Vintage is really cheap to play overall relative to paper, even if you consider the impact of 10-15 proxies on the paper price
  • Card rental services make it a lot easier to dip your toe in and back out again in digital. I'm not aware of anything similar for paper Magic, and understandably so
  • Lack of events reduces the incentive to acquire paper cards

I'm just interested in honest thoughts.

I think we all just have to face facts that we're playing a dying format. We might have small local resurgences if passionate players fight to build a community and keep it alive, but overall I'd be surprised if the number of people playing Vintage didn't continue to dwindle over time. Just one person's perspective, so take it for what it's worth.

posted in Vintage Strategy

@lienielsen said in [LEG] Greed:

You should at least be able to see the fact that if you untap with Greed in play, you’re probably going to win the game because of Greed. I mean “EoT Draw 7” is nothing to scoff at. Cannot say the same thing for Divination, Fact or Fiction, or whatever else you want to talk about. Especially when considering immunity to the most popular counterspells

I mean, this is all true, but you're making some pretty hefty assumptions in that "EoT Draw 7" example - namely, this implies that you have 7 black mana and 14 life to spare. A lot of cards would win you the game in that situation, including some mentioned previously (Bargain, Citadel).

posted in TheManaDrain Metadiscussion

@thecravenone haha yeah, really perfect validation is sort of a gordian knot. Kind of like Datetimes and Telephone numbers where the full set of rules is vastly more complicated than people assume. Luckily the problem TMD would have to solve is much easier than that. In theory I don't really care whether someone is able to type in a valid email or not, I care that people are only using email addresses that they have access to. I don't need any clientside validation to confirm that, I need to send an email to that address and it's up to the user to confirm receipt. There's still a few issues there though:

  • the emailer on the site is broken. As in, the server software that runs TMD is supposed to send out emails and it just doesn't. I don't know why. It could end up being a very simple server-configuration problem, or it could be bugs deep in code I've never seen, it requires investigation

  • confirming emails doesn't do anything to stop bots with access to email addresses, and I suspect most of them do. Email verification is probably more of a hassle to humans than it is to bots.

Honestly out of principle I'd rather not collect any information I don't actually use or need, and since right now TMD doesn't send emails, I don't have any reason to collect or require email addresses. As a webdev, every site I've professionally worked for collects a bunch of data they don't use, and passes that data onto Google and Facebook for free (I think often without realizing or caring that they're doing it). It annoys me when other sites do it so I'd rather not do it myself.

Of course that's no reason for me not to fix the emailer, if people WANT to get notifications or account recovery emails I should give them that option, but not require it.

I think this is all separate from the spambot issue which is probably best solved by some MTG-Related Captcha (like "name this mox") on login. This is still not something I have as a priority to implement but enough people keep talking about it I'll probably feel guilty and build it 😛

posted in Single-Card Discussion

@fsecco said in [STX] Strict Proctor:

@botvinik so I guess just Mystic Sanctuary then? So yeah, it's not worth it.

We could also evaluate a new card in the context of deck creation possibilities, rather than boxing it in to the current meta. Although new cards can be evaluated based on their effect on the current meta, that's not the only purpose of evaluating new cards.

For example, this also works with Phyrexian Dreadnought and Lotus Field. Now, would I create a deck with either card and play it in vintage? Lotus Field probably not, Phyrexian Dreadnought maybe (I've always liked the card.) The point is that I picked two random cards outside of the current vintage "meta" that have interesting synergy with this newly spoiled card.

There are hundreds of cards with ETB triggers. Most of those probably aren't going to appear in Top 8 decks, but I think it's worthwhile (at least for deck creators,) to see what's within the realm of possibility.

posted in TheManaDrain Metadiscussion

I appreciate the concern for the wellbeing of the site. True email verification is non-trivial for me to implement (all email-related functionality has been broken for some time, I'd have to dig into the site's software and likely update software versions before redeploying, which could break existing theming and plugins so I'd have to fix those, too, etc etc). That might be worth doing, and the site is probably overdue for a software update, but I'm not convinced it'll have any impact on spambots, which are more likely to use real email addresses than a human is. Looking at the last few spambots who registered or posted, I don't have any reason to think they wouldn't have passed email verification

A magic-themed security question would probably help, but I'd still need to implement it. I won't say I'll never do it, but it's been hard to find time to put into TMD development. If any technical-minded TMD'ers want to reduce the effort necessary, that'd certainly make me more likely to add it. The forum runs on NodeBB software and there might already be a plugin that handles this. I can add arbitrary scripts to the page if someone wants to take a crack at solving the problem entirely with clientside js.

posted in Vintage Strategy

That wording you have isn't entirely accurate. The second ability only lets you exile one of the cards:
Whenever you discard one or more nonland cards, you may exile one of them. If you do, you may cast that card this turn.

posted in Single-Card Discussion

@botvinik Yeah, and hardly anyone plays the FKZ kill any more anyway.