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Kennon

2 Champs and a Chump- Episode 103: What's the Shakedown?

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Join us for a special early release of this week's podcast. We're so worked up about the changes in the game, we just couldn't resist putting out the next part of our talk a little early!

 

Episode 103- Cast: Will and Greg. The FAQ and Restricted List analysis continues. We discuss the value of Jaime/Shagga archetypes and take a look at where the houses stand now. Josh Woodward, Celestial Aeon Project, and Manuel Gertrudix

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With regards to the "ideology" section of the cast, I'm going to have to agree with Greg on several counts:

Creativity *is* limited by competitivness. You build a deck with the goal of reaching a win condition. You can build your shagga deck ignoring the restricted list, if your only goal isn't competitive play - but the minute you enter competitive play ("organized play"), you're acknowledging a desire to win which constrains deck building. I do think you're right in saying the restricted list won't spur a great deal of creativity; people are equating a little more variety at the competitive level (at least until the waters settle) with creativity.

I also prefer using the Restricted List to errata. I follow your argument, but I dislike anything about a card I have to remember that isn't printed specifically on the cards. I think that's a burden (especially to the new player). Restricted lists are information outside the cards, but they're at the deck-building point when you have time to double-check, and not "on the table", mid-game information you need to remember.

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Also, I apologize, I'd been trying to not the relative SFW to NSFW scale of the episodes, and I let that slip. This episode should be SFW aside from one brief Shagga/manhood exchange during the creativity debate.

 

Yup, I'd go ahead and build awesome Shagga decks ignoring the Restricted List if the people I play with would let me. Unfortunately, they keep crimping my style by catching me when I play two restricted cards and then complaining pretty loudly, so your mileage may very on that one. Of course, if you follow along with Greg's logic, you could play LotR solo and be as Shagga as you want because you don't have the opponents to worry about. Of course, I can attest that the temptation to cheat is pretty huge there. I could be wrong here, but I think that part of the appeal to doing these crazy things as a Shagga player is that you're pulling off something cool/amazing/pointlessly repetitive within the rules rather than breaking them. Since the Restricted List is a part of the official rules, I think even most of us Shagga players feel a certain compulsion to comply with those rules. If we ignore any, why not ignore them all? Sure, that starts getting a bit tangential, but where would we end up drawing the line?

 

As for remembering errata/restricted list, I'm probably just biased due to personal circumstances.  I can't ever recall not knowing an erratum screwing up a deck or game that I played, but I can recall times that I goofed on restricted cards. It was only by sure dumb luck that I wasn't disqualified from the event entirely.

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-Istaril said:

With regards to the "ideology" section of the cast, I'm going to have to agree with Greg on several counts:

Creativity *is* limited by competitivness. You build a deck with the goal of reaching a win condition. You can build your shagga deck ignoring the restricted list, if your only goal isn't competitive play - but the minute you enter competitive play ("organized play"), you're acknowledging a desire to win which constrains deck building. I do think you're right in saying the restricted list won't spur a great deal of creativity; people are equating a little more variety at the competitive level (at least until the waters settle) with creativity.

I also prefer using the Restricted List to errata. I follow your argument, but I dislike anything about a card I have to remember that isn't printed specifically on the cards. I think that's a burden (especially to the new player). Restricted lists are information outside the cards, but they're at the deck-building point when you have time to double-check, and not "on the table", mid-game information you need to remember.

100% Agree.  I think my own play-style exempifies this.  I would often play Ned decks or some new/different theme deck, but, they wouldn't do well.  Then, eventually I'd get tired of the smackdowns, and build a deck that conformed more with the 'hot'/dominant cards or deck types of the period, and start winning a lot.  But, I often really didn't/don't like the play styles of the Jaime decks as much, and then wander back to Ned/Shagga decks - & then the losing starts again until I get tired of the smack downs, & go back to Jaime style decks.  It's a giant circle.  

 

First podcast I've listened to in a long time.  Interesting take on everything - especially the point regarding Winter/Summer agendas possibly getting better by being restricted.  

 

Best comment - "Maybe all agendas should be restricted".  

Now we're talking sense.  

 

 

 

 

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Re: creativity…

Here's how I see it. Merriam-Webster defines creativity as "the quality of being creative," whereas creative is defined as "marked by the power or ability to create," and create is further defined as "to bring into existence" or "to invest with a new form." So it logically follows that any parameters that facilitate the "bringing into existence" or "investing with new forms" are boons to creativity.

As applied to the competitive AGOT environment, inclusive of the meta game, creativity refers to that which stimulates new forms. In this case, I would personally add as clarification that "new forms" can refer both to new, competitive deck builds and new ways to play old cards, AKA innovative gameplay.

I would make one final assumption: since we are talking about competitive play, I am assuming that the players are attempting to compete in order to win. This is not to say they will compete at all costs, but that they will make some sacrifices to win. In other words, the player I imagine will frquently opt to play a card that is popularly considered to be powerful above another card that has less versatility and is generally considered less powerful. (I realize we can debate whether popularity of a card makes it more powerful, and no doubt there are some hidden gems that are underplayed, but humor me on this point.) I suspect that this assumption is where Greg and I agree and Will and I disagree. In short, I believe competitive players on some level want to win and tailor their decks in order to do so.

With all that said, the reason I believe that limits on card pool may lead to more creativity in the game is that new limits reduce the efficiency of decks. This (a) spurs the use of alternative cards or old cards played in new ways to substitute for the more efficient versions that were restricted, and (b) forces players to reevaluate the meta as a whole, thereby stimulating new strategies and tactics into existence. The old recipes are out, and for the time being, players search for the new "optimal builds."

i freely admit that once new "optimal builds" ate discovered and shared (net-decked), creativity will plateau once again. But for the time being, and for the immediate and unforeseeable future, the restricted list is resulting in new ideas and innovation. 

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By the way, interesting episode guys. Nice to have Greg on the show and hear different perspectives. (Bret is great too, but frequently when it's just Bret and Will you guys agree more than disagree, and the counter points made sometimes feel a bit like straw man arguments.)

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Agreed about having Greg on the show. Zeiler and I agree on this more often than not, and so it can be a little difficult to have as stimulating of a discusion.

Aside from that though, I think the argument is largely just one of semantics due to what I find to be an error in terminology. Here's a copy and paste of most of my comments from a recent CGDB reply so that I don't have to type the same idea out again in a different way:

 

"I think that the issue is really just one of terminology. I would argue that creativity is increased by an expanded card pool due to the additional possible permutations of card combinations. There's not really any way to argue against the math of the greater numbers.

The issue then is what the FAQ expands. Now that I've had a little more time to articulate in my head, I would argue that what the FAQ expands is efficiency variety. While the total number of permutations has gone down, the number of permutations that have a roughly equivalent efficiency has gone up. This creates greater variety at a tournament level due to more similar levels of options but doesn't inherently mean that more creative builds are possible.

This is due largely to the fact that no single player is 100% any of the established player archetypes (Ned, Shagga, Jaime). If you're bothering to play in a tournament at all, you've got at least some quotient of Jaime in you, or you wouldn't be worried about the event at all. If you have some Jaime, then efficiency starts entering into the equation.

The interesting things is that once you have a greater variety of efficiency some of the creative builds have a greater relative efficiency compared to their standing previously. This gives the appearance of greater creativity, but is in reality Jaime competitiveness rather than Shagga ingenuity."

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There we go! That's some terminology that I can get behind.

 

Sure, FAQ/Restricted List/Tournament Rules updates are really only for the Jaime players, so I don't really expect them to cater to Shaggas. New cards cater to Shagga. Good thing we didn't see a huge and unreasonable delay in new cards.

 

 

Oh wait…..

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Kennon said:

"I think that the issue is really just one of terminology. I would argue that creativity is increased by an expanded card pool due to the additional possible permutations of card combinations. There's not really any way to argue against the math of the greater numbers.

The issue then is what the FAQ expands. Now that I've had a little more time to articulate in my head, I would argue that what the FAQ expands is efficiency variety. While the total number of permutations has gone down, the number of permutations that have a roughly equivalent efficiency has gone up. This creates greater variety at a tournament level due to more similar levels of options but doesn't inherently mean that more creative builds are possible.

This is due largely to the fact that no single player is 100% any of the established player archetypes (Ned, Shagga, Jaime). If you're bothering to play in a tournament at all, you've got at least some quotient of Jaime in you, or you wouldn't be worried about the event at all. If you have some Jaime, then efficiency starts entering into the equation.

The interesting things is that once you have a greater variety of efficiency some of the creative builds have a greater relative efficiency compared to their standing previously. This gives the appearance of greater creativity, but is in reality Jaime competitiveness rather than Shagga ingenuity."

+1

This is pretty **** spot on.

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Kennon said:

I think that the issue is really just one of terminology. I would argue that creativity is increased by an expanded card pool due to the additional possible permutations of card combinations. There's not really any way to argue against the math of the greater numbers.

It is one of terminology but not the way you think. Greater number of permutations is not the same thing as creativity. Any half decent composer can tell you that learning how to create and be creative within a restrictive form like blues form or waltz form forces you to find new ways of doing things, of challenging assumptions to get what you want out of it while having no restrictions can frequently lead people to just putting down notes on the page. Listen to some of the avant-garde or free jazz and you'll get what I'm talking about.

More options != Creativity.

I'm not saying they are mutually exclusive, just they are not equal. The question is one of degrees also. How many restrictions are there? In Star Wars your restrictions in the Core Set are huge. The resourcing mechanic as well as the pack style of deck building and the limited number of packs all create an enviornment that is almost hostile to building unique decks. This will change greatly in a couple years. I expect to see Star Wars deck building to show some very interesting elements. I also expect it to reveal that the game is much more about play ability than deck building ability (assuming the packs continue to show a reasonable balance).

Another nail in the coffin of this debate is the difference between restricted and banned. People seem to be focusing on the idea of "soft-banned" rather than at it as the use of this card gives me these options rather than removing the others. This is of course perfectly understandable, we've been taught to build from a very large pool of powerful and efficient cards. We are now being challenged to build with a pool every bit as large, but with more delineated choices. 

To show what I mean about this, how many people complain about not being able to have three of a specific plot in their deck? What about two? One is the norm and that means when we get an opportunity to run two we view it as a positive. Every time we select a plot we chop down the number of other pltos that can go into our deck and there is rarely complaint about this.

 

That said. Why isn't KotHH on the restricted list? And I'm thinking all agendas on the restricted list might be a **** good idea.

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Penfold said:

 

Kennon said:

I think that the issue is really just one of terminology. I would argue that creativity is increased by an expanded card pool due to the additional possible permutations of card combinations. There's not really any way to argue against the math of the greater numbers.

 

It is one of terminology but not the way you think. Greater number of permutations is not the same thing as creativity. Any half decent composer can tell you that learning how to create and be creative within a restrictive form like blues form or waltz form forces you to find new ways of doing things, of challenging assumptions to get what you want out of it while having no restrictions can frequently lead people to just putting down notes on the page. Listen to some of the avant-garde or free jazz and you'll get what I'm talking about.

More options != Creativity.

I'm not saying they are mutually exclusive, just they are not equal. The question is one of degrees also. How many restrictions are there? In Star Wars your restrictions in the Core Set are huge. The resourcing mechanic as well as the pack style of deck building and the limited number of packs all create an enviornment that is almost hostile to building unique decks. This will change greatly in a couple years. I expect to see Star Wars deck building to show some very interesting elements. I also expect it to reveal that the game is much more about play ability than deck building ability (assuming the packs continue to show a reasonable balance).

Another nail in the coffin of this debate is the difference between restricted and banned. People seem to be focusing on the idea of "soft-banned" rather than at it as the use of this card gives me these options rather than removing the others. This is of course perfectly understandable, we've been taught to build from a very large pool of powerful and efficient cards. We are now being challenged to build with a pool every bit as large, but with more delineated choices. 

To show what I mean about this, how many people complain about not being able to have three of a specific plot in their deck? What about two? One is the norm and that means when we get an opportunity to run two we view it as a positive. Every time we select a plot we chop down the number of other pltos that can go into our deck and there is rarely complaint about this.

 

That said. Why isn't KotHH on the restricted list? And I'm thinking all agendas on the restricted list might be a **** good idea.

 

 

I'm not sure this metaphor works, because it just leads to arbitrary analogies for what "restricted cards," "deckbuilding," and in-house" mean, for example. But let's talk through it a little. The game already has deckbuilding restrictions, just as music theory is applied so that we have common chord progressions, so for example you'll hear a I-V-I progression in a waltz, just as you'll hear it in blues. This is like saying that any deck can only have 3 copies of the same card. So it would make more sense to say that avant-garde would be me throwing my card collection on the floor of my apartment, shuffling them with my feet, grabbing a few handfuls and making a deck out of it. It certain would be "creative," but also most-likely nonsensical. A trained player can look at it and say, "Oh, I see what he's doing there. He put in FOUR copies as a commentary on the strictures of classical deckbuilding forms. Oh, look! He's added in an allusion to mill decks by including Corpse Lake, but comments on how it's meaningless because there aren't other discard effects in his deck." It might be nice for novelty, but it isn't tournament-legal, and certainly not competitive. It will never make it "to the top of the charts" so to speak. 

Let's tease out another example: Let's take your analogy of the restricted list as being like composing music in certain forms. Waltz is to Viennese Waltz as Greyjoy choke is to Greyjoy Winter choke. I can compose Viennese waltz in 3/4 and 6/8 time, but because of its tempo, it's sometimes much more efficient to do so in 6/8.  It's as if you're saying that because we can no longer compose waltzes in 6/8 time, we should be thankful we can compose more regular waltzes, when there's some poor composer out there whose ability to compose sea chanties was greatly diminished. But let's ground this analogy a little: The Winter agenda allowed houses weak in card advantage to shore up that hole. That combined with the watershed of winter effects in GJ and Stark is why it was popular in those houses, and why they became T1. However, card advantage is also a problem in Targ, so restricting the agenda across the board also had relatively more impact on the possibility for a Targ player to use the winter agenda as a means to shore up that weakness.

But this whole anaolgy is tired. Bottom line is that this does indeed limit creativity because any player remotely concerned about efficiency must pass up less likely, more creative options for answers to his deck's problems, simply because they happen to be mainstays in power-decks. 

Your point arguing the difference between banned and soft-banned is essentially one of semantics and not practicality. Competitive players will almost always choose the most efficient card. While a card does have more or less relative efficiency based on which deck you put it in, some cards are just flat-out better, and so by choosing the best choice to the exclusion of the others, you have a smaller card pool. It is not "every bit as large" by definition. It seems more likely that the enemy to creativity is efficiency itself - which goes back to play-style - and has little bearing to the size of the card pool. Limiting options is limiting options. And the design team by expanding the restricted list is merely readjusting relative efficiency, which in the short term feels like creativity, but it's not.

Lastly, people don't complain about not being able to use 3 plots because it's been a part of the rules for forever (it's part of the accepted forms, if you will). There probably were such complaints back in the early CCG days when you could use 2 plots in the plot deck, and then it transitioned to only 1. 

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Too much text going on in here. I will say this and I think I agree with the direction of the new restricted list for the most part because I agree with the developers that you can limit the decision-space (i.e., limit the total number of card choices one can make for a 60 card deck) to increase the total possible of tier-1 deck-space.

For a sufficiently large decision-space:  As [decision-space] decreases, [Total number of possible tier-1 decks] increases.

I hope this is true heading into regionals--we will find out.

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This is an interesting theory, but how can you determine if there are more tier-1 decks than any other time, let alone if the restricted list had anything to do with it (vs. merely expanding the card-pool, for example)?

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Danigral said:

This is an interesting theory, but how can you determine if there are more tier-1 decks than any other time, let alone if the restricted list had anything to do with it (vs. merely expanding the card-pool, for example)?

Count the different deck archetypes that win or place second in regionals?

@restricting all agendas - Doesn't make sense for an appropriately balanced agenda. For example Siege of Winterfell will probably never need to be restricted (but cards that give multiple Mil challenges might cause it to be). It takes away 3 opportunities to gain 1 power (3 total) and changes it to 1 opportunity to gain 3 power and 1 to gain 2 power (5 total, one of which is dictated by your opponent). If an agenda is appropriately balanced and zero sum (or close), it would probably never need restriction.

Now with that being said, there aren't many zero sum agendas. Hah!

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Counting 1st and 2nd decks is one way, but there are many more regionals events this year, and they will potentially be smaller events as well, so how can you effectively compare it to the meta from last year or even from the time around Worlds, since there will be quantitately more "tier-1" decks this way?

Some more questions though: does restriction decrease an agenda's value? Are the sum of cards excluded in your deck because of the inclusion of a restricted agenda worth more than running an agenda that isn't restricted? Wouldn't that then increase the relative value of a "balanced" agenda in the meta? What would be lost/gained by restricting agendas like the Treaties and Alliance, for example?

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I think the original definition of Tier 1 decks (MtG) stems from ability of a deck to have a consistent average win rate of 50% or higher against other decks. So you just wait for a few Regionals to finish and you have yourself candidates for T1 (my favourite example being Maesters as an archetype that had 63% win rate in good old times based on ..don't even remember what. I either crunched data from Regionals or Regionals + Spanish tourneys). With second option being to play all decks with all decks and find one that outperforms.

PS. Related but almost never discussed question is whether AGoT has rock-paper-scissors situation.

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Danigral said:

Counting 1st and 2nd decks is one way, but there are many more regionals events this year, and they will potentially be smaller events as well, so how can you effectively compare it to the meta from last year or even from the time around Worlds, since there will be quantitately more "tier-1" decks this way?

Some more questions though: does restriction decrease an agenda's value? Are the sum of cards excluded in your deck because of the inclusion of a restricted agenda worth more than running an agenda that isn't restricted? Wouldn't that then increase the relative value of a "balanced" agenda in the meta? What would be lost/gained by restricting agendas like the Treaties and Alliance, for example?

Not sure if this was directed at me.

Does restriction decrease an agenda's value? Inherently yes. It removes cards from your available card pool. If Siege is restricted, you can't play Bear Island, Meera Reed, or No Quarter. They are some of the best Stark cards. Same for Martell. You can't play Viper's Bannerman, etc.

Is an agendaless build better than an agenda build? There's no way to actually determine this without empirical evidence. I don't have that, lol.

Wouldn't that increase the value of a "balanced" agenda? In theory, yes.

What would be lost/gained by restricting Treaties and Alliance? It might increase the design space for cards. It might be determined that a build out of Treaty or Alliance is improperly balanced under the new restricted list. It would reduce the number of possible builds. Currently, decks with these agendas appear to not be very good and so, without evidence to the contrary, there isn't apparent benefit with regards to the game's balance in restricting them.

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mdc273 said:

Danigral said:

 

Counting 1st and 2nd decks is one way, but there are many more regionals events this year, and they will potentially be smaller events as well, so how can you effectively compare it to the meta from last year or even from the time around Worlds, since there will be quantitately more "tier-1" decks this way?

Some more questions though: does restriction decrease an agenda's value? Are the sum of cards excluded in your deck because of the inclusion of a restricted agenda worth more than running an agenda that isn't restricted? Wouldn't that then increase the relative value of a "balanced" agenda in the meta? What would be lost/gained by restricting agendas like the Treaties and Alliance, for example?

 

 

Not sure if this was directed at me.

Does restriction decrease an agenda's value? Inherently yes. It removes cards from your available card pool. If Siege is restricted, you can't play Bear Island, Meera Reed, or No Quarter. They are some of the best Stark cards. Same for Martell. You can't play Viper's Bannerman, etc.

Is an agendaless build better than an agenda build? There's no way to actually determine this without empirical evidence. I don't have that, lol.

Wouldn't that increase the value of a "balanced" agenda? In theory, yes.

What would be lost/gained by restricting Treaties and Alliance? It might increase the design space for cards. It might be determined that a build out of Treaty or Alliance is improperly balanced under the new restricted list. It would reduce the number of possible builds. Currently, decks with these agendas appear to not be very good and so, without evidence to the contrary, there isn't apparent benefit with regards to the game's balance in restricting them.

Thanks to the Socratic method, I have obtained the answer I wanted: that restricting all agendas would be a bad decision because it would reduce the number of possible builds (not merely permutations). Despite being a part of the DC meta, I am actually more of a Shagga at heart, so seeing possible options lost is rather upsetting. Restricting several cards that are OP in certain builds may curb their power level, but the collateral damage is decimating creative builds that would be elevated to viability by running those particular cards (or even just one of them). That's why I wish that restricted cards were more selectively restricted by house, but hey, what can you do.

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