[Podcast] SMIP Podcast # 53: Mid-May Vintage Metagame Update

To what extent is one allowed to use prepared notes in a paper magic tourney? To what extent is one allowed to ask players questions between rounds or between games? Are there hard and fast rules for this?

@Topical_Island No notes during games but can use previously made notes between games. (There's a soft limit to the amount of notes you can have.) You can't ask questions related to the tournament except from your opponent or a judge between games. You can do anything you want besides insulting, colluding and similar stuff between rounds.

@Smmenen

Thanks, and I probably characterized your view a bit harshly. I understood that you didn't think it was worth pursuing deeply because of a lack of enforcability which is likely not exactly what you intended, but you were hightlighting the largest problem and a historical lesson.

I agree that I presupposed an ideal MTG match that maybe has never existed, but in my mind, has been the goal of the rule set. And I'm not confident that we can make rules inside the actual judge administered rules to handle the technology.

What I would consider though, if as a community it became desirable to put technological limitations on ourselves so that we move toward "an ideal MTG match" (definition pending), is that the community comes out with guidelines on what is too far, what feels wrong, write those down and try to encourage and create a culture of that.

Here are the Mana Drain, there has always been a culture of respect to other members and providing reasoning behind what you say. That's not true at other forums, and when membership at TMD changes, reminders become necessary. At the beginning of competitive Magic, cheating was a part of the culture and Pikula and others spearheaded charges to change the culture. So MTG cultures can be changed and shaped to match what the community wants.

A guideline that I would start from would be something like "golf culture" where people remain silent during the swing, to include the set up, the execution, and a bit after. Once a MTG match has started, stop using outside information, the same as if you were in a tournament hall. Between, do whatever you want.

The problem with this is that goes nearly directly against Twitch tactics to monetize your stream, grow a community, grow a fanbase and so on. How can you interact with a Twitch chat like an entertaining streamer and also avoid listening to them?

If the Vintage community wants something like a removal of outside influence to happen, then I think it has to be a part of the culture of the Vintage community and can't be a codified ruleset as much of some guidelines and examples. And while TMD is the home of the Vintage community, I'm certain that there are a significant number of Vintage MTGO only players who don't come here - how would those people get bought in, or would the Vintage community always hamper itself?

However, we maybe happy with online Magic testing different skills, such as how strong (ELO-wise, I assume they're willing to help) is your network, how available are they when you play, how intelligent is your twitch chat and suggestions (which could be seen as: how well have you educated your twitch chat), how well organized is your information, do you maintain a significantly broad and deep collection of MTG reference materials, and how do you deal with information overload, which are all valid skills and interesting in their own right.

last edited by boxian

@boxian I'm fine with assuming an idea situation... generally speaking, that's pretty much all rules are - an assumed ideal, and usually an associated punishment when someone deviates too far or extremely from the ideal... (Does everyone go 35 in the 35 zone... But if you go 70 a visit to county court is quite likely in your future.)

I agree that enforceability is a concern, but since a perfectly enforceable rule has never been created in the history of humanity, it seems like that shouldn't be a deal breaker. It seems like delaying streaming by a few minutes is a good practice for players. It seems like a mild punishment just put on the books, one enough to create a social stigma, might not be a terrible idea either.

Rules are creatures born of theory, but they're decided ultimately in the practical realm. Everything has a fail rate, including enforcement for everything. I don't think that imperfect enforcement is that great a reason for not outlawing something. So long as it passes a cost benefit test... seems good to me. Ultimately rules are a collective voice saying, "Hey, don't do that." I'd be fine with being a part of that chorus... even if some people are going to ignore me anyway. At least they'd reduced to being "that guy who won't quite doing that thing." Which would probably reduce the practice a lot.

@varal What if I ran basic Island in my sideboard, but had the original artist alter it so that it had a probability chart on it, then just looked at my SB whenever I wanted... (But if I brought it in against Shops I'd have to crack a fetch and go find it...) legal? Alter-art Show and Tell so there's some sweet info in the back on the chalk board? Menendian's entire Gush book written in microfiche?

@Topical_Island There's actually a rule against alters containing significant strategic information.

@varal awesome.... now THAT is a rule. Wizards should print an actual card with a probability chart... 1U... Mathematical Tutor?

I find nothing unethical about engaging with a twitch chat about plays or strategy. That's the counterbalance to the EXTREME disadvantage a streamer gets by having their hand/strategy completely open for any opponent to look at.

MTGO ethics has always interested me. Interestingly, back in the day, the TOS had a clause about not using outside help to play. Anyone know if its still there? When streaming first took off, I noticed some people doing it and asked. The general response from the streamers was, "Yeah I talk about plays and ask chat what they think but my decisions are my own and I won't change lines just cuz LSV is in my chat telling me I'm wrong."

Even more interesting, at one point a streamer (maybe Kenji?) told me WotC had actually contacted him to "verify that his decisions were his own and that nothing unfair was going on." I have no idea how true it is or if WotC ever has/still does care, but at the outset, it was something that was curtailed by the rules of MTGO, even if it wasn't enforceable at all. Has anyone ever been banned from MTGO for getting outside help?

All in all, I fully agree with the * by MTGO players' skill. Its not that MTGO is a worse way to play Magic, it just tests different things; things that are not tested by our long-held, historical understanding of 'sitting down to play a game of Magic.'

last edited by McAra

@ajfirecracker said:

@smmenen You obliterated the meaning of the word "unfairness" in using it to refer to both defects in the thing being tested by a process (ex: skill in Magic, due to inexperience for example) as well as defects in the testing process (ex: one player has a room full of professional players giving them advice)

It's correct and wise to say that a court where you can't face your accuser is unfair

It's incorrect and foolish to say that a court where overwhelming evidence of your guilt is presented is also unfair

Your post suggests that fairness is a black/white or objective idea, when it fact, it has subjective elements. Think about trades - some trades people think are fair, and others inequitable.

Is it unfair that some people have larger collections or more money for cards to enjoy a strategic advantage over their opponents? Probably. Is it unethical? No.

Is it unfair that some basketball players have height advantages? Possibly. But is it unethical? Definitely not.

Even ethics, a branch of philosophy, depends upon premises and values, which people disagree on (see, for example, how Rawls constructs starting principles in Justice as Fairness).

I don't pretend to have an answer here, but I felt my role in the podcast was to complicate the issue a bit by introducing elements that could be seen as unfair from some perspectives.

I think Boxian gets it right or close to right when he says that twitch has the capacity to exacerbate existing unfairnesses, but I don't necessarily see that as unethical.

I think we were talking about ethics in the podcast, and you are talking about fairness.
Let's not confuse fairness with ethics.

I agree that enforceability is a concern, but since a perfectly enforceable rule has never been created in the history of humanity,

Yeah - but rules that inherently unenforceable are especially problematic because they foster disrespect for other rules. If people feel they can violate one rule with impunity, then it undermines a culture of rule following. See Wall Street.

last edited by Smmenen

What a bait-and-switch... you use the word "unfairness" over and over and then when I say you were being overbroad and destroying important distinctions I've somehow improperly identified the topic

Well, Kevin framed the issue in terms of ethics, IIRC, but I spoke at times about fairness, which is a different but related issue. In either case, my point is that neither are black and white. They depend upon starting premises or values. You spoke in terms of one being "correct" or "incorrect."

@Smmenen Semantics aside, are you simply content to just shrug and say that it's all relative? Do you have an opinion with a practical application? (I understand the role of broadening discussion as per the pod cast... I really am asking if you have a feeling about this.)

@Topical_Island said:

@Smmenen Semantics aside, are you simply content to just shrug and say that it's all relative? Do you have an opinion with a practical application? (I understand the role of broadening discussion as per the pod cast... I really am asking if you have a feeling about this.)

I feel like there may be valid ethical issues here, but that this is a huge can of worms, and to resolve it requires careful consideration of the merits on all sides. In short, I don't have a strong opinion at all.

I am, however, enjoying the discussion here.

I gave a black-and-white example to illustrate my point, obviously you can make finer distinctions in areas where it's not as clear

@Smmenen I can honestly say that I enjoy the way you seem to enjoy these discussions. (My brain, which looks for etymological relationships all day long at work, has begun to process a perceived link between Smmenen and Semantic... also Probasco and Proboscis is happening.)

last edited by Topical_Island

Personally I have never ghosted a stream or sought outside assistance for a match on MTGO.
I would rather lose with dignity than win by exploiting an unfair advantage

I don't think it's right to assume that someone who primarily plays magic online is not as skilled as a paper player simply due to the way they experience the game.

@Islandswamp said:

I don't think it's right to assume that someone who primarily plays magic online is not as skilled as a paper player simply due to the way they experience the game.

I do not think anyone has said this. The point made originally, the way I saw it, is that we have a concept of a set of skills that allows one to succeed at paper magic. We have spent over 20 years dicussing, praising, and learning these skills, and when we display them, somone sees that and says, "Now she/he is playing some good magic!"

MtGO tests some of the same skills, and some very different skills. Neither type of player is worse, but they are honing a different skillset so it isn't right to say that a good MTGO player has the same skills as a good paper tournament player, or vice versa. Though, some people value one skillset more than the other.

last edited by McAra

There was a time I thought it curious that folks would live stream MODO tournaments while actively participating in a Chat where others were weighing in on decisions mid-match...sort of airing yourselves out to be accused of cheating, in a way. Despite the fact that your opponent could easily be "ghosting" you, if your opponent doesn't recognize your MODO handle, how would they ever find your stream. If someone was caught with an earpiece in a paper event being given lines of play I would suspect there would be pretty serious consequences to that. There is, of course a middle ground...players delay stream their events, talk about all the decision making they want (no live chats) and then post on twitch later.

That being said, there is value to the community in being able to watch some of the top tier players in the format play the game, explain their decision making, card choices ect...I have personally learned a good deal about proper timing, sequencing, when to play certain cards, when to sit back..all great stuff.

@Islandswamp I agree with that. I do think that MTGO is easier to play though, mainly because all the housekeeping activities are done for you and you don't have to do as much mental upkeep as you do in paper.

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