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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Jun 16 2008 2:32am
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2 Man Queues




History: The concept of the two man queue has been around for a while on the WotC message boards.  Essentially the premise is that a two man queue would allow for quick turn around for games as well as a way for a couple of players to 'put their money where their mouth is' if they have a debate on which deck is better.  Do you think your Thresh deck can beat a typical RDW deck?  Do you want to put your friend in his place?  Challenge him to a 1v1 sanctioned match!  The proposed setup would be that each player provides two tickets, plays one match, and the winner gets a booster.  Simple, fast, and easy.  I would like to see this implement as both a 1v1 queue where I can wait for a random stranger to join, or as a player to player challenge.  Yes, I know that the later is unlikely to ever materialize, and I'll speak more to that a bit further down in the article.


What's in it for the players?: 
How does this format benefit the players?  Anything that makes constructed more appealing should be lauded by all players who own more than 32 cards as it means that the ripple effect of singles demand will hit them.  Drafters get more for their cards since more people want the singles.  People with big collections get to see the value of their collections increase, and depending on the implementation, casual players can play get started on the exhilration that is competitive play.  It also allows players to pay as they go, and as long as they win on occasion they'll continue to break even.  Even winning every other game puts you ahead, and anything better than that is just awesome.  But I think the main thrust for the players is that it's a quick, low cost, low risk outlet for competition.  I'd love to see a queue for each format from Prismatic to Singleton, Classic to Block.  It also allows you to test your deck out, change it, test it, change it, for a much lower up front cost than joining a Constructed queue or a PE (when we get them back).  Think of it as sort of a bridge between the Tournament Practice room and the Constructed queues, if you will.

What's in it for WotC?:
I can see WotC not implementing this in the exact same way that the players might want.  Having anything other than a blind queue encourages manipulation and collusion.  However, I think that even a blind queue would work for many players.  "What's in it for WotC?" is a phrase that's thrown around a lot on the WotC boards.  Essentially it asks the pertinent question of: "Why should WotC spend money and time working on this?".  At first glance, the tix:prize ratio is about the same as any other constructed queue, so what's so special about this one?  In essence it allows for faster results.  In our instant gratification society this cannot be ignored.  It also gives a cheaper, less risky way to get into the world of competitive Magic.  Once you start down that path it's very addictive, so to speak.  Opening that up to less bold players would very likely be a good thing.  Also, it allows people who don't have three hours to still feed that competitive drive.  Many older players will likely have lots of engagements and/or pre-scheduled life items.  For them, a five hour Premier Event may not be feasible.  But an hour here, and an hour there?  That is much easier to make happen, and  I would imagine that anything that gets tickets from the stores to be used in events is gold in WotC's eyes.


2 Man Queues give faster turn around while simultaneously reducing the risk and cost associated with testing a deck or breaking into the scene.  WotC gets an increased demand for Singles, which benefits drafters and collectors indirectly.




3-2-1 Swiss

History: What is 3-2-1 Swiss?  Besides the most boring and smelliest game of hide and seek ever?  It's a Draft format pays out in a flat structure but allows for much more play time if you would be eliminated.  In essence, it's a three round draft that doesn't drop you after you lose (hence the 'Swiss' in the name).  You get to play all three rounds and you are rewarded one pack per match win.  So, win all three matches and get three packs, win two matches, get two packs, win one match get one pack, for example:

Eight players start, four win round one, and four lose round one +4 Packs, or as depicted by my awesome Paint skills:

Sway of the Stars

Round 1 Results

Then in round two the people with the same win:loss ratio get paired and we end up with:

1-0 vs 1-0, 1-0 vs 1-0 (two win, two lose) +2 Packs

0-1 vs 0-1, 0-1 vs 0-1 (two win, two lose) +2 Packs

1-0 Table

0-1 Table

Lastly we have round three:

2-0 vs 2-0 (one wins, one loses) +1 Packs
1-1 vs 1-1, 1-1 vs 1-1 (two win, two lose) + 2 Packs
0-2 vs 0-2 (one wins, one loses) +1 Packs

2-0 Table Results

1-1 Table Results

0-2 Table Results

So essentially everyone but the 0-3 player gets at least a pack back.  No one can really  'go infinite' in this arrangement either since the winner gets three packs and would have to sell the cards for two tickets every time.   So why would anyone want to do this, and didn't I just say that people want instant gratification?  I'll touch on this a bit more in a moment.

What's in it for the players?: I know that I said in the 2 Man Queues that many players want instant gratification, and that's true.  But they also don't want to drop $14.00US for 45 minutes of drafting to get blown out of the first round.  The reduced risk makes up for a lot of the delayed finish.  For $14.00US you still get the same drafting, but you get a sure thing of three rounds of play, and a very likely sure thing of a pack back for your trouble.  This is a great way for players to dip their toes into a format like drafting which currently has a very high risk factor coupled with a steep learning curve.  And MTGO isn't really very friendly with 'learning to draft' stuff.

What's in it for WotC?:  At first glance it seems as if WotC would oppose this, since it means that the players who will just join another draft are tied up for a guaranteed three hours.  However, that doesn't take into account the number of players that would play more often, or start in the first place, if this was an option.  Having a low risk point of entry is a great thing for WotC to do, even if it just exists for the first month/weeks of a release to allow drafters to ease into the set in a low pressure, low stakes mode.  Many players dislike the feeling of spending so much for so little potential game time.  Decreasing the worry and increasing the exposure would have many positive aspects for WotC, both in the long term and in the short term if 3-2-1 Swiss were brought online.

3-2-1 Swiss gives WotC a way to introduce drafting to more players by reducing the risk associated with the format.  It also helps WotC by providing a queue which never allows players to truly go infinite.  Even the best 3-2-1 Swiss drafter will have to buy something eventually.  It also benefits the players by giving them an opportunity to get their feet wet with drafting, but not doing so by dropping them in the ocean.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these formats, and to discuss them, support them or critique them please go to the WotC Message Boards!  The 3-2-1 Swiss Draft discussion can be seen here, and the 2 Man Queues can be discussed here

Until next time!

Erik, aka hamtastic


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 06/22/2008 - 22:33
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I think the 2 man events would be a bad idea. For all the sellers, they have guarunteed 4 tix packs. Set up two accounts, concede to the other, then sell the packs at 1 for 5, 2 for 9, 3 for 13, whatever. Its extremely easy profit for them. It would force the market for packs down to 4 tix = 1 pack.

Cool ideas by vaarsuvius at Sat, 06/21/2008 - 07:38
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I like both ideas.


I am drafter, skilled enough to draft cheap. I also draft at FNM once a week.  It's always 321 swiss at my location, exact with this price structure, one pack for each win and on top of that the 3-0 guy gets a Foil and other foils are given away randomly, or sometimes to a new player as encouragement. All are happy with this and bad players come back and learn and get better.

 I see one big problem online.  Dropping.  People still might drop after going 0-1 for various reasons.  let's say you draft are really bad deck and go 0-1.  You just know the chances that you win the next 2 are minuscule and you hate your deck..  So you drop.  Now somebody will get a bye and a free pack.  7 people left.  The 3rd round another guy will get  a bye and a free pack.

 Or maybe you thought you had 3 hours, but during round 1 your mum / girlfriend/ boss  calls..... you have to go.  



right on by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 06/19/2008 - 08:37
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I suck at Magic, so I think these are really ideas (opinions may vary among better players).  3-2-1 Swiss would have me drafting a lot more frequently, I usually just get blown out in one round of 4-3-2-2, and it's a very steep curve to climb at $14/match.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 06/18/2008 - 14:36
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I'm onboard with 2man and 4 man queues.  My main concern there is that the 8 man queues might not fire, however, if thats the case then its probably because people like 2 and 4 man queues better.  So screw the minority.


321 Swiss.  I don't like it.  I don't believe that a player should be rewarded for going 1-2.  Winning a pack for losing more than you won just doesn't feel right.  Secondly, I hate the reverse inflation that we have seen in the MTGO world.  It sucks.  Winning a Premier event used to mean 100's of packs.  I can't remember if drafting has ever been more than 8-4.  But i'll tell you this, now that 4-3-22 exists, I never play 8-4 because I can't win.  Its basic pot odds.  The best of the best play 8-4 because they are the only people where the payout structure makes it worth it.  For average drafters like me that have to pray on the bad drafters on the 4-3-22 queue to win, we get screwed.  Either make the 8-4 queue payout dramatically better so that you are approriately rewarded for beating the best magic players in the world OR add the pack back in to the 4322 queue.

by hamtastic at Tue, 06/17/2008 - 10:05
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From the article, and where I think some of your reservations stem from:

the proposed setup would be that each player provides two tickets, plays one match, and the winner gets a booster.

So it wouldn't be a 6 tix for three boosters setup, it's a much lower buy in for a much shorter experience.  Six tix for 20 minutes is steep. Two tickets is a paltry sum for most constructed players, hence the small buy in, small reward.  Bigger rewards take bigger buy ins and more people (con8's, then PE's).

by DRAGONDUNG at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 14:23
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bring on the two man que that would rock some days i just dont have the time to do an 8 man and for formats with out alot people be nice to test a deck say singleton, classic, EDH?, and what ever it may be this may help increase support for those formats.

by hamtastic at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 17:43
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To be honest, I think the world of MTGO is changing.  I think what used to be the norm (plugging away for hours in an event) is no longer as easily accepted.  People want quick events with a fast return on their time and money when it comes to certain events.  I think the 2 man queue or 4 man queue helps a lot.  I know that as I've gotten older I've had less and less time to set aside for *anything* and even three hours is getting tough to swing in the summer months.

Of course I'm not advocating getting rid of any other queues to make way for this one.  I think that an option for quick turn around play would be beneficial as another addition to the MTGO experience.

by iceage4life at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 18:20
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Well half the reasons you mention are about "testing."  I think they would be awful for testing.  First off, you play against one random person.  Their playskill and deck are random.  How does this help you test?  Other issue at 6 tix with 3 pack payout seems like they would be super easy to rig for profit if packs were over 4 tix (say Shadowmoor during release.)

I don't see how this helps testing.  I guess it would sometimes be nice if you had 45 minutes to spend but not 2-3 hours.

2MQ seem to me like ante games, I'll play you one match for all the marbles.  I'd maybe be intrested in real ante matches, but don't think WOTC will ever allow it.  6 tix to play a random dude for 3 packs doesn't float my boat.

by hamtastic at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 13:55
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Some question for ya IA4L:

What does having a paper mirror have anything to do with the validity of an idea? 

Does anything get hurt having a 2 Man Queue?

Does anything get better having a 2 Man Queue?

Does having a 2 Man Queue make it easier/harder to test a deck?

Does having a 2 man queue make it faster/slower to test a deck?

I can't think of anyone who gets hurt by having a 2 man queue, really.  It's not a replacement for a PE.  And it's certainly not a replacement for the con8's, for that matter.  They payout completely differently.  For six tix you can win three packs in the 2MQ's, whereas for that same six tix in an 8MQ you win 5 packs if you go 3-0.  The tradeoff is the faster turnaround for less overall prizes.  In a hurry but want to see if your deck tweaks are working?  Hop in the small queue.  Got a couple hours to burn?  Hop in the 8MQ.

I guess I'm just curious to your reasons as to why it's 'stupid'.  The only one you listed is that it's not mimicked in Paper, which doesn't really seem like that much of a problem now-a-days.

by Raddman (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 14:13
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I like the 2man idea.  I have also thought a 4 man constructed would be great as well.  The time it takes to complete drafts, PE's and 8-mans is a huge issue for me.  I would spend more money on this game from a competitive standpoint if it wasn't for the huge time comittment.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 12:46
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i would like to see 2HG PEs

by iceage4life at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 13:06
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Cube drafting is the format I want!  Stack would also be nice.  I have no intrest in playing 3-2-1 swiss but seems like it would be good to add to the client.

2 man queues on the other hand seem really, really stupid.  They have NO parallel in paper magic and just seem silly.

It wasn't impossible by dangerlinto at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 10:02
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It made my eyes hurt. So I abused some of my priveledges here and skirted work for a bit and made you some nicer ones.

by JMason (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 10:09
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Draft to me is all about playing, and nothing to do with prizes. Right now I wouldn't ever pay to draft on MTGO (I got in many drafts during free beta of course). I FNM magic draft from time to time when the format is swiss, and would do the same in MTGO. Even better for me would be swiss draft with no entry cost, just bring 3 boosters, and no prize payout, or maybe premium card prizes. In essence that's what I get at FNM (at FNM the boosters are also subsidised below retail price).

Similarly I'd love to be able to play no tix, rated, constructed matches. Right now there's nothing for me between casual and full PE.

 Let's see some love for competitive budget and time challenged players.

by hamtastic at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 10:20
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Tamayto/tomahto!  :D

/me bows to DL's Mad Photoshop Skillz!  Thanks for those!

Photoshop - drop me a line by dangerlinto at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 09:09
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First of all, the article is short fare. There are more "formats" that MTGO needs (Reject Rare draft, anyone).

But really Hammy, whatever you do for your day job, please don't switch to graphic designer! :) LOL.. Drop me a line instead and I'll get something done for you quick.

by hamtastic at Mon, 06/16/2008 - 09:58
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What?  You don't like the Mr Happy Face vs Mr. Frowny Face?  *sob* and I spent HOURS working on getting them 'just right'...


... Okay, maybe I didn't, but, c'mon how can you not look at them and chuckle?  It's impossible I say!

There are dozens and dozens of formats that I'd love to see on MTGO.  However I was mostly aiming at ones that can be financially justified (one of the biggest needs for anything to be done by a company).  This is why I left out formats like PDC, Reject Rare Draft and Pack Wars.  There are plenty of good formats that would be awesome to have but have a very difficult sell as 'profitable' for WotC.

Something I should add is that this was wrtiten well before the Casual PE's were announced, which have a very similar payout as the 321 swiss.  I think that the creation of the Casual PE's is a great sign that WotC may be okay with a Swiss Draft at somepoint as well.

They should generalize these by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 04/08/2009 - 17:32
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They should generalize these event queues. I know for a fact that almost all Magic players in all card shops have their own rules for drafting, sealed, or constructed. MTGO should just make a special "Custom queue". Someone sets up a draft queue with special rules like "winner of draft queue gets all foils and picks 4 rares" or "winner takes all" or "winner gets 8 packs, second place gets 4 packs, and semi-finalists get 2 packs if everyone agrees to put in an extra tix" etc etc etc. This is how the game is played in shops across the world. Wizards just forcing their draft/constructed/sealed queues on us isn't what we really want. Every locality is different. People even have different ways of drafting like "you get 2 picks from each pack you open" etc etc. MTGO really does restrict us in this way.