July 19, 2018, 10:05:12 PM

Author Topic: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion  (Read 399 times)

Sailor Vulcan

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So I've noticed that Arena's metagame isn't as diverse as it seems like it ought to be given the size of the card pool and the sheer modularity of the game. A lot of competitive books I face on OCTGN feel a bit samey, and that's something I've noticed for a long time. When the wizard was errrated that increased deck building innovation quite a bit, and there seemed to be so many possibilities. As we got more expansions, mages got more options and more ways to play, and yet the total variety of the metagame doesn't feel like it's increased all that much correspondingly. Somehow as more tools became available to our toolboxes, the total number and uniqueness of the different possible toolboxes we could make went down.

When people on the forums talk about tiers they never talk about particular deck archetypes like Falcon swarm, or Forge and Galvitar Rush. Instead they always talk about the Mage classes. This seems to me to be a symptom of the greater problem of insufficient variety in the metagame. Individual spellbooks aren't standing out enough. Rather than seeing a falcon swarm straywood beastmaster and a grizzly buddy straywood beastmaster and a so on and so forth, people just see the straywood beastmaster.

While mages are creatures with their own power levels like any other card, there's a lot more to a deck than which mage is used in it.

So why is there such insufficient variety in the metagame, and how could that problem be resolved? Discuss.
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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2018, 02:35:44 AM »
I think that in all building games, competitive players will focus on a few decks that seem to be the bests until the next expansion, adding only a few personal modifications... i would add to that that some players like playing the game but not so much building (and will copy one of the few competitive decks), you ha.
to make the metagame vary, you have to wait a bored player has a new idea, or the next expansion/errata!

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2018, 03:31:48 AM »
Maybe at least some of the problem comes down to the number of players you encounter.

Most individuals lean towards one style over another, even across different mage types (see SirJasonCrage's recent thread about his base card catalogue that he basically does not change, ever, as an example of what I mean). When you combine this with a low number of players encountered on octgn, then it would not be surprising to see similar things over and over again.

And then of course there is the group-think effect. I am part of a group of 4, and when no.4 first joined all of a sudden the three older players suddenly encountered new things that we had not thought of.


So: there is a massive variety in this game, it just needs 1) individual players to try more things and 2) infusions of fresh blood to shake up local metas.   
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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2018, 03:41:13 AM »
As we got more expansions, mages got more options and more ways to play, and yet the total variety of the metagame doesn't feel like it's increased all that much correspondingly. Somehow as more tools became available to our toolboxes, the total number and uniqueness of the different possible toolboxes we could make went down.

I agree completely.

The reason for this negative development is 120 starting sbp's. 120 sbp's is simply too much as it leaves far too many sbp's to work with after you've chosen your base strategy cards.
Result : every new "power card" that gets released simply finds its way into nearly every competitive spellbook.

I also tried to explain this in "The book" thread.
I'll copy/paste my post from that threat :

The point of releasing new expansions is, among other things:
- fleshing out certain schools
- balancing out schools
- providing new strategies for different mages.
- other goals ...

HOWEVER, if the starting sbp's total is so high that EVERY mage can simply afford to include every power card, no matter what school it comes from and how much the cost then these expansions increase a certain problem : the new cards then don't simply strengthen a certain school type but rather strengthen EVERY mage from ANY SCHOOL.
Thus the number of staples for every mage simply increases with every expansion which is a bad effect imo.

This is a clear indication imo that there is a balance issue between individual card sbp cost and total sbp's available.
The school cost ( single/double/triple) is not impactful enough and does not work as restricting as it should imo.
The result is : every spellbook looks mostly the same and there's actually only 1 type of book successful : the "toolbox" book. There should be more viable archetypes than that ( cfr aggro vs control vs combo in MtG ).
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 03:44:41 AM by Borg »
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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2018, 05:18:34 AM »
Quote
So I've noticed that Arena's metagame isn't as diverse as it seems

Easy to agree or disagree with such a vague statement.



I'll do some interpreting and judging by the 3 people who posted already they did interpret this statement as the following:

There isn't enough diversity in MW and all the decks are far too similar. That appear to be what we are arguing about here.


If that is the intended statement I do not agree with it at all. And the sentiment that too many sbps might be the reason for that is inexplicable.

I think what Sailor Vulcan would like to see are beastmasters who use the lair to get a Wychwood Hound   swarm? Instead of always doing the same like every beastmaster: falcon swarm.
Or use the lair to get a timberwolf "swarm" out, happens all the time. 
Or maybe they use the lair to get some small creatures likes asps and then 1-2 big grizzlies?
Now that I think about it, the last games I played against beastmaster they did not use their lair at all. Some used a battleforge with a pet, mostly a timberwolf and then they went meele. I played a beastmaster who is useing a pet and elemental wand plus some falcons. And I have also seen beastmaster who use fellella and go heavy enchantment with wychwood faerie.
When you play against juli you'll see that you can even play him successfully without a spawnpoint alltogether. Using the crocodile to grapple. Other players don't use fellella, bf or the lair either and they bring some lvl 1 animals whom you can quickcast and try to rush you.


Hope you get the point. But somehow I think all those different strategies and playing-styles are "the same" for you because 60-90% of the cards in the deck are the same.  And of course the 120 sbp's are at fault because if you only had 100 sbp's you would on purpose suddenly start to include inefficient cards!
(hope my sarcasm isn't lost on you and neither are the implications)


---


You are "bored" that always "the same cards" are being used. But it's neither the fault of the 120 spbs nor is it the lack of imagination.

Did you ever see a Razortusk in MW? EVER? Why is that, because are haven't seen the value? Because we have no imagination? Because we "haven't figured out how to use the card"?
No, because if you pay 1 more mana you get a timberwolf who has the exact same stats with 3 more life (behind 2 armor). And everyone who compares those 2 cards comes to the same conclusion, that this one mana is worth spending. (Bull endurance costs 5 mana and gives a creature 4 more life)

My point is that you can divide every single card into 3 categories - same with the mages.
Powerlevel above average
Average powerlevel
Powerlevel below average

So this card pool is not nearly as big as you think it is because when you play "competitively" you'll always go for the strongest cards, and you will not on purpose take a weaker card if there is a stronger card available. And you will not change that by reducing the available spellpoints, of the contrary. That'll lead to even fewer "experiments" and you'll see even fewer average-powerlevel cards.
For example who has points for "combat tricks" like stumble if you have to cut 20 points from your books. If you want more variety you have to increase the sbp limit so that we can include more than the bare minimum of "core cards". Because those core-cards are the best cards you can get, but there aren't that many available.. but they are obviously the first ones to include.

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2018, 09:17:02 AM »
Quote
So I've noticed that Arena's metagame isn't as diverse as it seems

Easy to agree or disagree with such a vague statement.



I'll do some interpreting and judging by the 3 people who posted already they did interpret this statement as the following:

There isn't enough diversity in MW and all the decks are far too similar. That appear to be what we are arguing about here.


If that is the intended statement I do not agree with it at all. And the sentiment that too many sbps might be the reason for that is inexplicable.

I think what Sailor Vulcan would like to see are beastmasters who use the lair to get a Wychwood Houndswarm? Instead of always doing the same like every beastmaster: falcon swarm.
Or use the lair to get a timberwolf "swarm" out, happens all the time. 
Or maybe they use the lair to get some small creatures likes asps and then 1-2 big grizzlies?
Now that I think about it, the last games I played against beastmaster they did not use their lair at all. Some used a battleforge with a pet, mostly a timberwolf and then they went meele. I played a beastmaster who is useing a pet and elemental wand plus some falcons. And I have also seen beastmaster who use fellella and go heavy enchantment with wychwood faerie.
When you play against juli you'll see that you can even play him successfully without a spawnpoint alltogether. Using the crocodile to grapple. Other players don't use fellella, bf or the lair either and they bring some lvl 1 animals whom you can quickcast and try to rush you.


Hope you get the point. But somehow I think all those different strategies and playing-styles are "the same" for you because 60-90% of the cards in the deck are the same.  And of course the 120 sbp's are at fault because if you only had 100 sbp's you would on purpose suddenly start to include inefficient cards!
(hope my sarcasm isn't lost on you and neither are the implications)


---


You are "bored" that always "the same cards" are being used. But it's neither the fault of the 120 spbs nor is it the lack of imagination.

Did you ever see a Razortusk in MW? EVER? Why is that, because are haven't seen the value? Because we have no imagination? Because we "haven't figured out how to use the card"?
No, because if you pay 1 more mana you get a timberwolf who has the exact same stats with 3 more life (behind 2 armor). And everyone who compares those 2 cards comes to the same conclusion, that this one mana is worth spending. (Bull endurance costs 5 mana and gives a creature 4 more life)

My point is that you can divide every single card into 3 categories - same with the mages.
Powerlevel above average
Average powerlevel
Powerlevel below average

So this card pool is not nearly as big as you think it is because when you play "competitively" you'll always go for the strongest cards, and you will not on purpose take a weaker card if there is a stronger card available. And you will not change that by reducing the available spellpoints, of the contrary. That'll lead to even fewer "experiments" and you'll see even fewer average-powerlevel cards.
For example who has points for "combat tricks" like stumble if you have to cut 20 points from your books. If you want more variety you have to increase the sbp limit so that we can include more than the bare minimum of "core cards". Because those core-cards are the best cards you can get, but there aren't that many available.. but they are obviously the first ones to include.

I wasn't saying that there was no diversity in mage wars, just not as much as would be ideal or as much as you'd expect given the size of the card pool and the extreme amount of customizability. I didn't say I was completely bored, but I do get a little bit bored of Arena sometimes because of not facing a wide enough variety of decks. I didn't think any of what I said was vague, but hopefully this clarifies what I meant.

Also, I HIGHLY DOUBT that changing the starting spell points would help. You're putting words in my mouth there dude.

Maybe at least some of the problem comes down to the number of players you encounter.

Most individuals lean towards one style over another, even across different mage types (see SirJasonCrage's recent thread about his base card catalogue that he basically does not change, ever, as an example of what I mean). When you combine this with a low number of players encountered on octgn, then it would not be surprising to see similar things over and over again.

And then of course there is the group-think effect. I am part of a group of 4, and when no.4 first joined all of a sudden the three older players suddenly encountered new things that we had not thought of.


So: there is a massive variety in this game, it just needs 1) individual players to try more things and 2) infusions of fresh blood to shake up local metas.

This is a very interesting point. So then the next question would be how big would a local playgroup or the online community have to be to increase the strategic variety to the point where people start talking about tiers for deck archetypes rather than just mage classes?

Then again, now I'm wondering if that whole "mage class tiers instead of deck archetype tiers" thing might be because there are so many possible deck archetypes that no one is ever sure whether a new one could still pop out of the woodwork and change the meta without adding any new cards, so deck archetype tiers would be even harder to identify than mage class tiers...

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2018, 10:40:00 AM »
This is a very interesting point. So then the next question would be how big would a local playgroup or the online community have to be to increase the strategic variety to the point where people start talking about tiers for deck archetypes rather than just mage classes?

Then again, now I'm wondering if that whole "mage class tiers instead of deck archetype tiers" thing might be because there are so many possible deck archetypes that no one is ever sure whether a new one could still pop out of the woodwork and change the meta without adding any new cards, so deck archetype tiers would be even harder to identify than mage class tiers...

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I think it is much more interesting to organize the conversation around Mages rather than individual decks. I also feel that this is an easier way for the broad set of players to think about the game rather than to consider individual deck types and discuss these differences among other players. The game design itself feels built around the idea of summarizing deck construction into Mage spellbooks.

What does "change the meta" mean to you?

It seems like you are interesting in facing different spellbooks and styles of play among the set of players you face on the OCTGN platform. If so, then here are two approaches to consider.

1. One approach is to find different venues and groups of opponents. As others have mentioned on these forums, the local meta of players can be extremely varied due to the large number of design options available to any mage (spellbook). So the easiest way for an individual to "change the meta" is to find new groups of players and learn from their meta.

2. Another option is to provide a draft 'thought piece' around these 'deck archetype tiers' that other players could use to analyze and discuss as a method for the group to "change the meta". This might start with each Mage listed along with a set of bullet points for each style of play at a deck level that you wish to include. The result might provide a long list under some mages and fewer bullets under others. However, as you point out the list of possible deck archetypes is large and their is no solid evaluating criteria that can be commonly applied to rule out viable versus unviable options for each mage.

Interesting discussion in any event. Thanks for starting the topic.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 10:42:31 AM by wtcannonjr »
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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2018, 12:41:07 PM »
For example who has points for "combat tricks" like stumble if you have to cut 20 points from your books. If you want more variety you have to increase the sbp limit so that we can include more than the bare minimum of "core cards". Because those core-cards are the best cards you can get, but there aren't that many available.. but they are obviously the first ones to include.

I totally agree with this part. Very situational cards that is not marked as my 911 for a specific lineup are the first to get cut after after i build my books. I usually land on around 140-160 Sbp after the initial draft.

If sbp was increased it would actually not make my books more different from each other. because it would be alot of the same situational cards that all books could suddenly afford... but it would make my games see more different spells than they do now.

The way i see it, increased sbp by 20~ish:

Would make undo vs undo take longer and be more boring. Because basically they wouldn't increase types of spells, just copies in order to fare well vs another 'hardcore' undo book.

It would potentially not make defensive control spawnpoint books more interesting either because they kinda face same dilemma as above... When facing another *i stay in corner with my spawnpoint book* - who invested the most in creatures to make the biggest army.

Any other medium to fast books would (imo) benefit greatly from increased sbp. And i think it could open for the possibility of properly having 2 main strategies in your book.
(for instance an air wizard with 1 focus on poison direct damage and as an alternative run teleport pit with few bigs - right now this is not really viable because you dont have the sbp to have both strategies in your book.)

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2018, 02:20:38 PM »
Good points Enti and jacksmack!
But what do you think, how would 100 or even less sbp books look like?

I think increasing sbp would allow every mage to carry every standard answer and still have room for the more creative less-power-cards. Also 2 Strategies could possibly fit in a book.

Decreasing sbp would force you to decide what to not include. There would be less till no room to go out of school making books more different from mage to mage. But every card that is not powerful will get cut as well. Also it could absolutely be that for each mage there will be less diverse books, since there is no room for tricks, bluffs and possibly weak creativity.

After reading this all and rethinking I end up with the feeling that 120 may simply be a pretty good amount of sbp....

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2018, 02:34:11 PM »
This is a very interesting point. So then the next question would be how big would a local playgroup or the online community have to be to increase the strategic variety to the point where people start talking about tiers for deck archetypes rather than just mage classes?

Then again, now I'm wondering if that whole "mage class tiers instead of deck archetype tiers" thing might be because there are so many possible deck archetypes that no one is ever sure whether a new one could still pop out of the woodwork and change the meta without adding any new cards, so deck archetype tiers would be even harder to identify than mage class tiers...

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I think it is much more interesting to organize the conversation around Mages rather than individual decks. I also feel that this is an easier way for the broad set of players to think about the game rather than to consider individual deck types and discuss these differences among other players. The game design itself feels built around the idea of summarizing deck construction into Mage spellbooks.

What does "change the meta" mean to you?

It seems like you are interesting in facing different spellbooks and styles of play among the set of players you face on the OCTGN platform. If so, then here are two approaches to consider.

1. One approach is to find different venues and groups of opponents. As others have mentioned on these forums, the local meta of players can be extremely varied due to the large number of design options available to any mage (spellbook). So the easiest way for an individual to "change the meta" is to find new groups of players and learn from their meta.

2. Another option is to provide a draft 'thought piece' around these 'deck archetype tiers' that other players could use to analyze and discuss as a method for the group to "change the meta". This might start with each Mage listed along with a set of bullet points for each style of play at a deck level that you wish to include. The result might provide a long list under some mages and fewer bullets under others. However, as you point out the list of possible deck archetypes is large and their is no solid evaluating criteria that can be commonly applied to rule out viable versus unviable options for each mage.

Interesting discussion in any event. Thanks for starting the topic.
Now that I think of it, part of the problem might also be not enough viable decks are posted on the forums, so the sizable number of players who netdeck don't have as many options. Someone was supposed to be maintaining the library of Sistarra threads, but I don't think they've been updated in a while...

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2018, 11:23:45 AM »
You were just complaining that there is not enough diversity in this game and now you want to encourage people to use a deck from the forum instead of building their own and using their own imagination, reducing the potential diversity further.
I do not understand you, Sir.

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2018, 01:22:22 PM »
You were just complaining that there is not enough diversity in this game and now you want to encourage people to use a deck from the forum instead of building their own and using their own imagination, reducing the potential diversity further.
I do not understand you, Sir.
It's really simple. Those people who weren't going to build their own decks much in the first place, those who were *already* relying almost exclusively on netdecking need more variety. I'm not encouraging more people to netdeck more often. I'm encouraging people to post more decks so that those who already prefer netdecking or who don't enjoy deck building quite as often as I do will have more options.

Also, I suspect there are a lot of older deck archetypes that would be nice to see again but aren't being played because those who designed them moved on to other new ideas.

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2018, 01:30:04 PM »
Fact is folks, i take pride in my books and spend a considerable amount of time constructing and then perfecting each one to do exactly what i want it to do and when. Many of us feel the same pride in our creations. So let me use a parallel from my mtg days. If a friend of mine wanted to play some magic but didn't have his or her decks with them, or had none at all, i would of course allow them to play using one of mine. But those games are always more oinds sided then they needed to be imo, as i knew what possible in each situation leaving me more likely to win, amd that's less fun for both players. Win or lose i receive no satisfaction from either game because im nor surprised by anything and am essentially matching wits against myself. This removes much of my fun.
In mage wars (or really any other competitive game) i tend to keep my secrets to myself or close friends, as i for one can't stand losing to my own book.
To some netdecking is a way to get new ideas and improve upon them, to others a way to get into the mind of the creator and discover new interactions. But to many its just a way to not think hard enough to build a book, and i dont wanna add to the fuel for any of those fires. That may make me selfish, and i understand that, but its just how i feel.

 I heartily enjoy the act of book building. And for what it's worth i often begin with the same template of my power cards before a mage is even choosen. It helps me not forget them while diving into combos and combat tricks later, and i am pretty much always satisfied when i have the teleport i need when i need it. 100 Sp would not change the number of cards in the template, though the number of copies each would rise and fall witg the sp gap for sure.
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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2018, 02:18:22 PM »


Fact is folks, i take pride in my books and spend a considerable amount of time constructing and then perfecting each one to do exactly what i want it to do and when. Many of us feel the same pride in our creations. So let me use a parallel from my mtg days. If a friend of mine wanted to play some magic but didn't have his or her decks with them, or had none at all, i would of course allow them to play using one of mine. But those games are always more oinds sided then they needed to be imo, as i knew what possible in each situation leaving me more likely to win, amd that's less fun for both players. Win or lose i receive no satisfaction from either game because im nor surprised by anything and am essentially matching wits against myself. This removes much of my fun.
In mage wars (or really any other competitive game) i tend to keep my secrets to myself or close friends, as i for one can't stand losing to my own book.
To some netdecking is a way to get new ideas and improve upon them, to others a way to get into the mind of the creator and discover new interactions. But to many its just a way to not think hard enough to build a book, and i dont wanna add to the fuel for any of those fires. That may make me selfish, and i understand that, but its just how i feel.

 I heartily enjoy the act of book building. And for what it's worth i often begin with the same template of my power cards before a mage is even choosen. It helps me not forget them while diving into combos and combat tricks later, and i am pretty much always satisfied when i have the teleport i need when i need it. 100 Sp would not change the number of cards in the template, though the number of copies each would rise and fall witg the sp gap for sure.

Nobody's forcing you to share decks if you don't want to. If you don't want to share your decks, don't.

And for the record I will point out that mage wars is NOT mtg. In mtg most of the skill involved is in building a deck rather than in playing the game. And in mtg building new decks is hella expensive, and not everyone likes to play online, and that's the only way to test a deck before you buy the cards, short of using tons of paper and ink to print proxies.

Mage Wars is not like that. In mage wars cards are much more affordable and there is a lot of skill involved in the gameplay rather than just deck building.
Unlike in mtg, increasing the number of decks available to netdeck in mage wars likely will not eliminate and might not even reduce the amount of creative spellbook building overall. Those who prefer to build their own decks will continue to do so regardless. Because you see, netdecking in mage wars isn't like netdecking in mtg.

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Re: Strategic Variety in the Mage Wars Arena metagame Discussion
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2018, 09:56:50 PM »
  I agree with everything romeo said because it is exactly how I feel, with the exception that I did not lend my mtg decks to anyone including friends for the reasons he stated. i am the same with mw. i will not contribute my hard earned time devoted to deck building for someone else to stand on my shoulders and play my decks.  i know you are not forcing anyone to post decks. but for some who do want to see them, or do not have any such concerns, you will get new books for the library.

   the original premise for the thread indicated boredom with the meta. i think the real issue for you specifically is that you have played so many games, like somewhere over 1000. and have seen so many things and it is bound to repeat often for you. whereas many folks here have played under 100. not all to be sure, but many. so they do not feel the same as you regarding the meta.

   i do like the suggestion of going to find new local areas to play and see what kind of meta they have. which brings me to another suggestion of how about you creating some change by building and fielding new strategies in your own games. field them and see how they do. tweak them and play again. then add them to the library for players to review. if they end up awful, you can always remove them from the shelf, or skip adding them in the first place.

   i think what will bring players the most fun from your perspective will be to play casual mage wars. not competition mw. maybe some fun build rules, like the higher or lower limits on sbp. maybe no level 3 or higher creatures. maybe no level 2 or higher attack spells. whatever you can come up with. i had power cards for mtg, but never played competitive because i did not care for the players, their attitudes, or all of the netdecking that went into it. i of course had all of the cards to build any deck i wanted, and did. just did not build or play in competitions. just not my thing. i did play casual mtg and played with all the subefficient cards in my collection ( i was an avid collector rather then comp player). had a blast. no reason why same cannot work in mw. create some build rules folks can agree on for casual mw. no spawnpoints, or whatever. then build and play. you may have such fun as a result. i would enjoy such a thing too. and play ankladon, or titanadon etc. when i first came onto octgn, i was trying to learn the interface and built horrible decks. but with a point to having fun. i did not care if i won or not. i was playing for fun, to help others do some deck testing, playing against new players for mw and help them learn things. we did something similar (my buddy and i) when we were playing dnd miniatures. we created weenie armies. lower points and specific rules, some banned minis, or modified how some worked. and it was a blast flailing at each other with small creatures trying to get in a simple few damage on an enemy crappy creature. we had done all the hard competition and the casual side was an outlet much like what you are lamenting. and we played all kinds of things that never would be included in any army, or mtg deck etc.

casual mw is the answer you are searching for. much like the domination craze that is going on currently. folks are wanting an outlet for something different. not to escape arena competition, but something else they can do with their mw collection.




« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 11:46:33 PM by zot »