The growth of other strategy games

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Alex Holowczak
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The growth of other strategy games

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:45 pm

A friend who plays a popular card game, Magic: The Gathering, has posted a link on his Facebook page about problems they're having at the moment.

The big problem appears to be that they have too many people playing! Attendance of over 400 at a recent event near London caused havoc in terms of fitting players in and delaying the tournament. Playing conditions were apparently a little cosy.

So we have 400 people my kind of age turning up to play in these tournaments. We can count the number 1-day chess tournaments with 400 players turning up and paying £25 (!) to enter in the UK on the fingers of one hand with all the fingers cut off. Are games like this the reason that people my age no longer take up chess?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:54 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote: Are games like this the reason that people my age no longer take up chess?
You may have a point, although that particular game has been around for at least twenty years, so I don't think formal competitions are anything new. Do you have to be a member of any organisation to take part?

For those unfamiliar with it, Magic the Gathering is, or was, a game where you purchase sets of cards. These cards have a mixture of high and low combat values and you put together a deck that you then battle with other people according to any number of complicated and obscure rules. So it's got both strategy and tactics. Strategy in selecting your deck and tactics in how you play it.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:58 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:You may have a point, although that particular game has been around for at least twenty years, so I don't think formal competitions are anything new.
You clearly know more about the game than I do! However, formal competitions appear to be increasing in size quite rapidly and suddenly.
Roger de Coverly wrote:Do you have to be a member of any organisation to take part?
Oh, Roger. :(

I don't know enough to know the answer to that question. I don't even know if there is such a thing as a National Governing Body, but judging by the posts, there appears to be some kind of structure in place for players of different abilities.

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:02 pm

If find interesting how a "strategy game" can reach that level of popularity despite being quite absent from the media. I wonder if we are just over-estimating the "Carlsen effect" on chess popularity.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:07 pm

What are the age ranges at Magic: The Gathering? If they are all your kind of age, maybe that is part of the attraction? It appeals to the young and is seen as a 'young' event?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectible_card_game

It is driven more by commercial interests than by national organisations and structures. I believe it is patented.

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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by David Robertson » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:17 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:a popular card game, Magic: The Gathering...400 people my kind of age turning up to play in these tournaments...paying £25 (!) to enter...Are games like this the reason that people my age no longer take up chess?
Possibly. But some questions:

* where would these people "take up chess"? If they're among the 7% who've attended fee-paying schools or the 4% who've attended the remaining Grammar schools, they might have had some recent exposure. Otherwise, 89% of young people who've attended neither kind of secondary school will be half their life removed from the game at the very least.

* do you expect "people (your current) age" to be playing Magic: the Gathering in 500 years time, the game by then to have evolved exponentially in complexity underpinned by a vast literature and research base?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:20 pm

David Robertson wrote:do you expect "people (your current) age" to be playing Magic: the Gathering in 500 years time, the game by then to have evolved exponentially in complexity underpinned by a vast research base?
Not unless they are immortal. (Oh, you mean people aged Alex's age in 500 years time? Being too literal there. Well, everyone will presumably have better things to do then, and chess may be just as irrelevant then as well).

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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:24 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: It is driven more by commercial interests ....
One thing about chess: once you’ve bought your set (pieces, board and bag = £10 give or take) then you don’t have to buy anything else for the rest of your life. Sure you can waste half your income on books and DVDs if you want - like I do - but you don’t have to.

Games like those collectable card games there’s obvious money to be made selling booster packs, special cards and whatnot. Which equals a budget for advertising and exposure which chess doesn’t have.

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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:26 pm

David Robertson wrote:* where would these people "take up chess"? If they're among the 7% who've attended fee-paying schools or the 4% who've attended the remaining Grammar schools, they might have had some recent exposure. Otherwise, 89% of young people who've attended neither kind of secondary school will be half their life removed from the game at the very least.
I don't know how prevalent these games are at schools or secondary schools. I would have thought there was more national oomph on putting together chess clubs in schools than Magic clubs, yet the latter is more popular with people my age. Magic players don't seem to pick it up via school clubs, but they have some in-built desire to learn and play the game themselves that isn't true in the same numbers as chess.
David Robertson wrote:* do you expect "people (your current) age" to be playing Magic: the Gathering in 500 years time, the game by then to have evolved exponentially in complexity underpinned by a vast literature and research base?
It would be interesting to know, but why do you think this is relevant to the people taking it up? Do you think that the age of chess is something preventing people from taking it up?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:36 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
David Robertson wrote:* where would these people "take up chess"? If they're among the 7% who've attended fee-paying schools or the 4% who've attended the remaining Grammar schools, they might have had some recent exposure. Otherwise, 89% of young people who've attended neither kind of secondary school will be half their life removed from the game at the very least.
I don't know how prevalent these games are at schools or secondary schools. I would have thought there was more national oomph on putting together chess clubs in schools than Magic clubs, yet the latter is more popular with people my age. Magic players don't seem to pick it up via school clubs, but they have some in-built desire to learn and play the game themselves that isn't true in the same numbers as chess.
Er, isn't this basic psychology and human nature? Organised sports have a different (and sometimes lesser) attraction to those sports/games 'discovered' and taken up by you and your friends. Did you never invent or play a game with friends in the playground with your own rules? That was part of the appeal of such games, that they were not organised by authority figures, but something you could do yourselves.
Alex Holowczak wrote:
David Robertson wrote:* do you expect "people (your current) age" to be playing Magic: the Gathering in 500 years time, the game by then to have evolved exponentially in complexity underpinned by a vast literature and research base?
It would be interesting to know, but why do you think this is relevant to the people taking it up? Do you think that the age of chess is something preventing people from taking it up?
Interesting question. If chess as it currently stands was invented tomorrow and everyone was playing it for the first time, how popular would it be? Ditto for if it had been invented 20-30 years ago. How long would it take to catch on, and it is only the long history that gives it the mystique and prestige and popularity it currently has (to some degree and with some people at least)?
Last edited by Christopher Kreuzer on Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:40 pm

My local board game club, where I was playing Pandemic, Battlestar Galactica and Tokkaido yesterday, probably has a weekly attendance of around 15-20 or so. No expenditure necessary if all you want to do is turn up to the club and play games once a week; there's a cupboard full of games there that are there for people to come along and play.

(This is, you understand, in the context of the club's being in a board games shop: the manager is effectively putting his games in the shop window by having those games playable for free.)

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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:52 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote: (This is, you understand, in the context of the club's being in a board games shop: the manager is effectively putting his games in the shop window by having those games playable for free.)
That would be one direction where the support and promotion of Magic: The Gathering comes from. Selling card sets is part of the shop's turnover. It's certainly been available as a computer game and probably on-line as well. If you read up about tournaments, they use what they describe as a Swiss system for pairing, although which of the many rule sets isn't stated.

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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:01 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:If you read up about tournaments, they use what they describe as a Swiss system for pairing, although which of the many rule sets isn't stated.
I asked about this.

One tournament format was a 9-round Swiss, but each round was best-of-3. Draws appear to be possible, so your score for the round was anything between 0 and 3, and the sum of points for that round was not necessarily 3. At the end of those rounds, the 8 with the top score out of 27 would go into knockout QF, SF and F, until you had a winner.

Everything has to be run by computer using specific software (which is not entirely bug-free), so the extent of the Swiss pairing knowledge of their equivalents of arbiters is probably limited to pressing the button that does the pairings. Given that a certain piece of software has to be used, I guess players can't really complain about the pairings.

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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:32 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote: I guess players can't really complain about the pairings.
That would never happen with chess :roll:
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Simon Ansell
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Re: The growth of other strategy games

Post by Simon Ansell » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:34 pm

Magic is strongly linked to poker, which might have something to do with it. Numerous online poker players, some quite high profile, started out playing Magic.

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