Anything But: Announcing Something Different

For some regular readers this article might be something of an irritation, so let us address this right away. This is not your typical edition of Anything But. While we are at a point in time where things are wild and exciting in Pauper, a few considerations have to be made known. First, and perhaps most important, is the fact that there is a lag of a few days between writing an article and you guys getting a chance to read it. Where this article falls in our timeline for tracking the metagame is between old and new, so any data I complied for the week would be irrelevant as half of it would include decks with Cloudpost and Temporal Fissure, which is of no help to anyone at this point. The other thing to keep in mind, and you’ll hear this from me at least once more in this series, is that whenever a new ban comes into play and a new metagame is formed, the first two to three weeks worth of results are unstable and unreliable at best while people try to understand what works and what doesn’t. I think Alex Ullman put it best when he noted that just about every past strategy needs to be re-evaluated to see if it has become any more playable. While I won’t stop tracking the metagame because of this, I will continue to emphasize that it should be taken with a grain of salt. Keeping these issues in mind seemed like the perfect time to step outside of our usual format and take a minute to discuss a few things.

Let’s start with some of the more mundane, paperwork-like parts of our discussion and then we’ll move onto the fun stuff. For the past few weeks, anyone who has followed me anywhere would have seen me discussing a few updates I wanted to make in order to improve the quality of my series and to better benefit the Pauper community. Whether or not you choice to believe me when I say it, my first concern is doing what I feel is best for the community and do whatever I can to provide people with the proper resources for them to succeed in this format. Some of that does come down to shameless self-promotion, but I do hope, when people see things like my Introduction to Competitive Pauper, that they get something out of it. I continue to say that the Competitive Corner is the most flexible part of my series, and throughout the years of writing it, I’ve made several changes based on the input and concerns of the community in an attempt to maintain usefulness. In some cases this came down to naming and classification of decks to much larger changes like alterations in how some numbers were crunched. I want to emphasize that I want to continue having people give input so that this section becomes what you want it to be.

Not that long ago I announced my first change to the Competitive Corner as I got feedback from some readers indicating that the length of my articles sometimes made them hard to get through, and I found some of what I was saying was being misunderstood. In addition to a conscious effort to try and be more concise, I also decided to remove the deck and game spotlights. With all I have going on, the game spotlight was something that I was rarely finding time for anyway. When it came to the deck spotlight, I found that as the metagame became established, as should be expected, fewer new/interesting decks were making the scene, so I had nothing to really talk about. What I decided was a better option was to remove this section, and if I found a new deck that I wanted to showcase, then I would use an entire article to talk about it, which would give readers a better look at the deck as well as keep the average article size down a bit.

After some thinking over another section of possible improvement, I’ve decided upon another change to the Competitive Corner that I’m hoping will increase its value to the Pauper Community. Hopefully players have not forgotten that not long ago Wizards decided that the number of results that are posted on a regular basis would be limited to one Daily Event per day per format. This was met with a lot of unhappiness by myself and fellow stat followers. I will always remember that this came about just as I was first starting to write here and was worried because such a large portion of my articles is based upon tracking the metagame. After the input of readers it seemed worthwhile to just move forward and continue to provide the information with a global understanding of the fact that it would be incomplete, but would still provide a bit of guidance as to what was being played. It has been awhile since this occurred, so it was somewhat understandable when criticism was pointed at the information provided. The information was incomplete, but I stand by the decision to continue to provide it and even wrote an article discussing the misleading nature of statistics. After much debate, I would like to announce that starting with the next edition of Anything But, the metagame information tracked in the Competitive Corner will include ALL Daily Event results.

While Wizards only provides us with one list of results daily, I am going to devote a significant amount of time in game to go through every Pauper Daily Event in order to track all placing decks. This means that all provided information on the metagame in the Competitive Corner will be a complete look at the metagame and no longer be restricted to what Wizards decides should be seen in detail. I will also strongly encourage you to follow me on Twitter because I will be posting thoughts and comments about what I’m seeing as I go through Daily Events. This will give you a chance to hear quick bits about some deck type someone attempted, for example. I am still putting in a bit of consideration, but with the increased number of results I am considering changing the “rogue” line, which currently sits at fewer than seven showings. This section remains flexible, and I will do whatever is in my ability in order to optimize it.

There may still be changes made to our Competitive Corner, but we’ll take them one at a time and discuss them as they come up, if they come up. So with that all in mind, I’d like to take a minute to make two semi-related announcements.

Those who follow me on Twitter will have heard me talking about this, as it is something that has been in the works for a little while now as I continued to work out how it would be put together. Announcing JustSin’s Team League!

Quick Summary:
Four teams of three will sign up for the league with set decklists. Each round your team will play one other team until you’ve played each other team. Rounds are a best of five matches, all-kill format with one round per week. After three weeks of “regular season”, teams will be ranked and play on a set finals weekend. Prizes will be awarded for the top three teams.

Registering:

  • Registration will be limited to four teams on a first come first served basis. Registration will take place on MTG Salvation, where I will make a post once registration opens on 10/14. (NOTE: The MTG Salvation registration post can be found here, and the Wizards’ forums post can be found here.)
  • Registration can be made via other methods (Twitter/MTGO/Email MTGOJustSin[at]yahoo.com), but the official list and rules will be posted on the forums and time stamps will be taken into account for order.
  • Registration must include team name (keep it appropriate please, or your team may be skipped), screen names of three team members and stand-in if desired, indication of team captain, deck selection including decklist. The email address of the team captain must be included as well, but can be sent privately if desired. This will be used to help team captains coordinate a time to play the round.

 

Cost to Enter:
This event is entirely free to enter; however, it is exclusive entry for four teams. Because entrance is limited, DO NOT join if you cannot devote the time required to coordinate rounds or make the final event.

Scheduling Rounds:

  • It is up to team captains to coordinate appropriate times within each round/week.
  • Each round runs Monday to Sunday, which provides a large window of opportunity. Please do not wait to make contact. I realize people are busy and it may require a bit of negotiating, but the earlier you get in contact, the better it will be.
  • Failure to coordinate or complete rounds will be taken very seriously, as it ruins things for everyone else. This will include banning from future events. If you know you’ll have a hard time coordinating this, then I ask you leave the spot for someone else.
  • Once a round is scheduled, the date and time must be emailed to MTGOJustSin@yahoo.com or sent via Twitter so that the round can be verified. Be sure to be clear on time zones!
  • Matches are to be played in the Play > Anything Goes (v3) or Constructed Open Play > Getting Serious (beta).
  • Individual matches are set up in usual style 30 Minutes (25 on Beta), Watchable, Labeled as “JSTL Round __”, Best 2 of 3.
  • The finals matches must be played on November 16th (lower bracket) and November 17th (upper bracket).

 

Official Schedule:

  • Round 1: October 21st – 27th
  • Round 2: October 28th – November 3rd
  • Round 3: November 4th – 10th
  • Lower Bracket Finals – November 16th
  • Upper Bracket Finals – November 17th

 

Prizes:

  • Standings at the end of the three weeks will determine whether teams will compete in the upper or lower brackets. The teams in first and second place play in the upper bracket for first and second place final positions, while the teams in third and fourth compete in the lower bracket to determine third place.
  • First place will receive 60 tickets (20 per player), Second place will receive 30 tickets (10 per player), and Third place will receive 15 tickets (5 per player).
  • Prizes will be paid out to players individually in game in order to prevent any issues.

 

I shouldn’t have to say it, but…
Players are expected to conduct themselves respectfully. Any uncalled for behaviors will result in disqualifications and banning from future events.

Can I make deck changes after registration?
After a decklist has been submitted when your team is registered, you have until the first day of the first round (October 21st) to change that deck by notifying me. After that point you must use the same deck for the entire league. This includes changing decks entirely as well as making changes to card choices. If a player is found using cards that are not in their locked-in decklist, they will be given a loss. Continued use of cards outside of the submitted list will result in further punishment.

What do you mean, ‘Three players plus stand-in’?
Each team must register three players to their team. Because this league is played out over a period of a month, I am allowing teams to use a fourth “stand-in” player who can be used to fill a slot for a teammate who couldn’t attend the round. Teams are limited to only this one stand-in for the whole event and the stand-in player must play the decklist of the player they are standing in for.

There is a finals date, but no time. Why?
The finals for this event are on separate days so that I can record the matches to share with others who want to watch it. While the days are set, the times are flexible so that we can better accommodate players’ schedules. We all have lives and committing this time isn’t always easy, so we do what we can to help out.

Will there be weekly coverage? If so, will it conflict with Anything But?
Each week I will be posting part of a mini-series covering the results for each round. There will also be special coverage of the finals matches live and recorded. All video coverage will be found on the MTGO Academy YouTube page. Each other week here on MTGO Academy my Anything But series covers a lot of material. We talk about the current metagame and whatever is on my mind at the time. As my regular readers know (if you couldn’t tell just from this article), these can already get a bit long and therefore I decided that I won’t be making them worse by adding in this information. My mini-series report on the league can be found on Casting Commons, which is a new site devoted to specifically the competitive side of Pauper.

My team didn’t get in. Will you do this again?
Well, that’s mostly up to all of you. The reason I’m running this with such a limited entry is because it is something that hasn’t been done before. Going in with a new format and a large number of teams leaves a lot of room to fail. If people like the idea, have fun playing in it, and enjoy the content, then be loud! Let us know by Tweeting @MTGOAcademy, spread the word, or if you’re in and want to play again then make sure you show up every week. If the format takes off and people find it enjoyable, we can definitely look into spreading it into Standard, Modern, or other formats. If you want to offer feedback, feel free.

What about…?
If you have further questions, want clarification, or just want to chat, feel free to comment below. I’m sure somewhere here I probably forgot something so feel free to point that out. Also, if you haven’t realized by my constant plugging, the best way to reach me is often Twitter. The bottom line is no one wants this to succeed more than me, so if there is anything I can do to help, ask.

What do you mean “All-Kill Format”?
Now some people might be familiar with how most leagues work; over a period of weeks players are matched up and play a game to create rankings. We’re going to be doing things a little bit differently here. In this league, teams of three will lock in decks for the league and then compete each week in a best of five, all-kill format until one stands above the rest. Now those of you who follow Starcraft 2 may be familiar with the concept of an “all-kill” format, but for those who don’t, allow me to explain how it works…

Each team starts by having one of their players compete in a typical, best-of-three-games match. The winner of that match then plays the next player on the opposing team’s roster. Now let’s say that player wins his/her second match as well, and then they would stay on to play the last player from the opposing team. If the player wins this third match as well, then it is called an all-kill, as they’ve beaten all of the opposing teammates.

This also leads to what is known as a “reverse all-kill”. This occurs when a player from one team defeats the first two players and then his last opponent not only defeats him, but his two teammates as well, winning three matches in a row and saving his team from losing the round.

This type of format becomes different from your typical league because it requires a specific order for who plays whom. While it would have been perhaps easier to simply have players compete and use individual results to rank teams, this type of format does more to encourage the interaction of teams. While there is a level of strategy obviously found in each match, an all-kill format creates another level of strategy, as you can metagame your matchups. Teams have to carefully consider who to send out as their first player; do you send your strongest? Or do you send the player whose deck has fewer bad matches? Do you save your best player for the third game in case he has to reverse an all-kill? Because you’ve locked in your decks for the event, players can determine where they think better matches can be had. Lost to DelverBlue in the first match? Well, you think deck XXX has a great match against it, so you send out that player or maybe you want to save that player for later because he has better matches against the remaining opposing players. Do you get where I’m going with this? By using an all-kill format, it reinforces the actual need for teams and team strategies.

This sound a little confusing to you? Don’t worry because we’re going to show you how it works before the league gets underway! This leads me into our next announcement…

This is as much an announcement as it is a declaration of war… a protest against the norm. Have you ever played in a Player-Run Event? Daily Event? It’s the same thing. Bring a deck, attempt to win at least three round, rinse and repeat. It’s boring. It’s uninspired. It makes competitive Magic seem more like a job than like a hobby or like the fun activity it should be. Formats are just as boring as well. Standard, Modern, Pauper… all well and good, but when is there anything else? Sure there are a few other formats out there, but nothing against them I don’t want to read through a guide of cards that are currently under a dollar or have art that when turned sideways looks like a bird or some other overly complicated deckbuilding strategy on a weekly basis. Can these types of formats be fun? Absolutely! I just don’t want to do it on a weekly basis because what it does is encourage lazy brewers like myself to simply look at past results and ride someone else’s idea into a prize.

I’m tired of it and I know I’m not alone. Thanks to the support of the guys behind MTGO Academy I’ll be bringing you the Academy Showcase once a month! What does this mean? Each month the showcase will run small, exclusive events in various formats so we can try and have a bit of fun again. Sometimes these will just be one-time events, for example, one will probably be a first come first serve 8-man Pauper event since (despite the fact it is one of the more popular formats online) Wizards does not offer it beyond Daily Events or 2-man queues. I also want to emphasize to any non-Pauper readers here that the Academy Showcase will not be restricted to only the Pauper format despite the fact it is the focus of my series here on MTGO Academy. Other times the showcase will be a platform to promote a larger Player-Run Event such as my team league. This team league is a first attempt at doing something new. While it is small now, it has plenty of room to grow if it gets the support of players. The point behind all of this is that change doesn’t occur if no one tries! Whether or not events I run through the Academy Showcase become more than a one-time thing is secondary to the fact that together with your input, we’re going to work on finding fun new things to do. I already have some ideas, but will be fielding more if people have something they want to see.

The Academy Showcase will be live streamed over on MTGO Academy’s Twitch page, but if you aren’t around to watch it, don’t worry! Even if I’m sitting there talking to myself, the main point is that the Academy Showcase will be recorded so you can check it out over on the MTGO Academy YouTube page. There won’t be any articles posted, so if you want to check it out, you’ll have to find it there! If you’re looking for updates and announcements about the Academy Showcase for the month follow me on Twitter. This month’s showcase will be a show match to help people see how the all-kill format will work for my Pauper league. We’re going to have six volunteers join in to play an example round with prizes going to both teams as a thank you for participating. This will take place live on October 13th at 1pm EST and videos will go up as soon as possible, again over at the MTGO Academy YouTube page.

It’s all about change for the better in the end. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity that Magic Online, whether you like the client or not, grants all of us when it comes to flexibility to play the game we love. I see a lot of opportunity and room for growth and I think there are fun things that can be tried. If I fail to do this, I plan on failing miraculously and hope you’ll join me as I go down swinging. Big thanks have to go out to MTGO Academy’s A.J. and Chris, who, from behind the scenes, have pledged their support to my cause and provided encouragement at every turn. For one last time I’m going to encourage you to follow me on Twitter, comment below, and hopefully you’re as excited for what’s to come as I am!

(NOTE: The first Academy Showcase is now viewable in two parts on MTGO Academy or as a playlist on Youtube.)

 
  1. Love the league idea, but the all-kill format means much more stringent scheduling and a larger time commitment, so I won’t be able to participate. Best of luck to the teams with more open schedules.

    If you do another one of these, I’d participate in a more standard league format. :)

  2. It’s a really interesting set up of the league. Maybe you will make your mind to organize something for STD pauper also:) would be nice!

  3. @bava: thanks for your reply! If I can offer I think you’re mistaken on the time commitment. If you consider a typical DE/PRE that is four rounds of Swiss you’re playing four matches. In this format the most that it will go to is five rounds, which is only one more than the norm and you’re not playing in all of those games yourself. The format also allows an entire week to set up the match, so I consider it like a normal PRE, but without a set date and time. I believe most won’t go to five matches, but there’s a chance I’ll be proven wrong :P If I ran it as a typical league format that kind of debunks the idea of trying something new :)

    @MyGalaxy: glad the idea intrigues you :) at this time I have no plans to jump into Std Pauper; however as I said if people like the idea it is easily open to be used in other formats :)

  4. hey avery thanks for joining us today, glad you had fun and hope to maybe see you join the league :)

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