|Philosophy: Magic as a Professional Game
With the beginning of year 2000, Magic: The Gathering (M:TG) faces its
future with new spectations. Changes in the rules during the last year
clarified very much the game procedures, and in spite of what many
competitors had said, Magic is neither dead nor ill. But there are still
some aspects that can be improved. The goal of this document is the
following: What can we do for Magic?, or in this case, for professional
I have been playing Magic since "Fallen Empires" -a long time ago- and
one thing I liked very much about Magic was its pure strategy: it was
always possible to improve your current gaming/deck designing strategy.
You have new decks, new ways of playing old decks, and old decks with new
cards. You can find all these items in a championship.
Let's think we are playing chess and not magic. There are some obvious
differences: when playing chess all players use the same resources, their
pieces in the chessboard and when playing ANY kind of championship they
take notes, full notes, all movements are recorded. Why? The reason is
obvious: players want to learn more about chess strategy. Wining or Losing
is not important after the championship, the only important thing is to
improve their skills, to learn from his/her or opponent's errors. This is
the main difference between chess and professional M:TG. In M:TG players
are only allowed to take notes for the control of the game: played lands,
remaining life, life variations (and reason) but none of this notes can
help the player to improve his/her strategy.
There should be many reasons for this rule, but they can be discussed.
Taking notes allows you to publish opponent's deck. This is true, but as
we all know, all wining decks of every championship are published,
Wizards, The Dojo, and many others do the same, so it is not a problem.
But you can do it between rounds, so it will affect your opponent next
matches. Again true, but it will happen even if you don't take notes. If
you are playing a championship with some friends, you would tell them how
you did last round and the problems you encountered beating/being defeated
by your opponent. Taking notes will not change this. If there were any
problem the solution should be enforcing tournament rules, not restricting
player's strategy improvement.
Players will waste much time taking notes. That might be true but it is
not an unsolvable problem. Taking notes in chess is not: "He moved the
knight from A2 to B4, taking black bishop", that is something like "A2xB4"
(I guess, I don't know the exact syntax). We can reduce time (necessary
for) taking notes by simple statements: L: Played land, example L: Dual
UB, or C:2/2 flying, casted creature 2/2 with flying. This solution is
something for thinking about, there will not be easy to find something
like a standard notation. Maybe the use of template sheets with the usual
actions (draws, playing lands, etc) could make the notation easier.
Another reasons? I don't know, probably yes but I'm sure that all of them
can be discussed, and the problems can be solved.
Can we face this challenge? I hope we can. First of all, we need a
notation. This is a hard work in which I'd like to help if anyone is
interested. Second it will require a long play testing, qualified players
at selected tournaments. And third, the final approval from DCI.
At least, if you have read this document, you can have your own opinion
in favour or against. Anyway, I think it would be 'a big step' for Magic.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Juan F. Tavira firstname.lastname@example.org