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By: Javasci, Robert Johnson
Jan 10 2008 12:13pm
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Many times, this card has been requested to be banned in every format.  However, it was only ever banned in one: Tribal Wars Standard.  Why is this?  Many people said that Jitte was not fun to play against.  Others said that fun did not matter.  Apparently, the others won.
Umezawa


Not much fun!

 

Trinisphere

 

Also not fun!

This card was restricted in Vintage.  The reasoning, to quote Aaron Forsythe, was, "One of the most damning statements that can be made about a game is that it is not fun....  While it does serve a role of keeping combo decks in check, it also randomly destroys people on turn one, with little recourse other than Force of Will. And those games end up labeled with that heinous word—unfun. Not just “I lost” unfun, but “Why did I even come here to play?” unfun."  (The first sentence in the quote was introducing the Ravager Affinity bannings, banned on the same principle.)

Jitte was not banned despite being not fun.  Trinisphere was restricted and Raffinity banned because they were not fun.  Where is the difference?  I conjecture that the difference is this: Cards are banned when a tournament player building a deck that beats them is not having fun, and no other time.

 Obviously I'm not going to toss a conjecture at you and not support it.

Bannings cater to tournament players.

This topic will be obvious to some people.  Bannings cater to tournament players because bannings only necessarily take effect in tournaments.  Although casual players may choose to play by bannings, they have the option to ignore bannings or impose extra bannings by mutual consent within a playgroup.  (Magic Online players, unfortunately, do not have the first option, but that's all the more reason to be careful what you ban.)  Thus, if casual players find Umezawa's Jitte unfun, they can ban it without consulting Wizards of the Coast.  In fact, that's what many of them did.  Tournament players, on the other hand, must play by Wizards' chosen bans and restrictions.  Thus, since tournament players are the only ones truly affected by the ban, they should be the only ones who cause the ban.

Just because you can't beat it doesn't mean it's unbeatable.

This was and is my argument against the nerfing of Flash in Classic.  Although many players cannot build or play a deck that beats Flash, that doesn't mean that Flash is broken, that means that Classic is not right for them.  Many other players can build and/or play a deck that beats Flash, and many do.  Thus, Flash is not broken.  However, why in that case was Flash restricted, Trinisphere restricted, and Raffinity banned out of existence?

Winning should be fun.

While many of us (myself not included) like to picture Spikes as heartless netdecking machines (and that's a topic for another article), Spikes do have fun.  Spikes have fun when they win.  Aaron Forsythe, earlier in the article I referenced, said,


"Was Standard that bad? Was the format actually not diverse enough, and not solvable enough?
Looked at purely analytically, the format probably wasn't that bad. Decks emerged that could
beat Affinity. You could play something other than Affinity or Tooth and Nail and have a decent
chance to succeed....  The best deck only won X% of the time, was beaten by the second-best
deck Y% of the time, and decks #3, 4, and 5 were all played in reasonable numbers. If we like
the math, no problem." 

This was followed by the first sentence of the quote from above.

The point of all this is that yes, you could win by playing something other than Affinity, or even something other than Affinity or Tooth and Nail.  However, was it fun to win that way?  Forsythe, and apparently the DCI, said no, it wasn't fun.  When winning is no longer fun, why play anymore?  That is when people leave, and that is when cards need to get banned.

Losing does not need to be fun.

As a corollary to the above, losing does not need to be fun.  If you're not having fun even though you're winning, then cards get banned.  However, if you're not having fun because you're losing, then there's not necessarily something wrong.  In a case where, if you played a deck that won, you would be having fun, then the format is fine.  If there is no deck that both wins and makes you have fun, then the format is broken.  However, if you are not having fun winning but other people are, then the problem is not the format but you.

I will conclude with examples to illustrate my point, drawn from the discussed topics above:

Playing against Ravager Affinity, there was no deck that people could play that would make winning fun.  Although you could play Affinity and win, it was a chore.  Although you could beat Affinity by loading up on hate, it was a chore.  Thus, Affinity was nerfed.

With Umezawa's Jitte, there were many ways to win.  The important thing was that those ways did not mean destroying your entire gameplan, they only meant adding one or two cards to your deck.  In addition, some decks were hardly if at all affected by Jitte.  While casual decks may have been hurt, casual players could and often did say "no jitte".  Thus, jitte was not banned except in Tribal Wars - Standard, where it hurt just about every deck around.

Playing against Flash and winning while having fun was possible, but not for long.  With the introduction of Force of Will to the Classic format, decks that you could have fun with would not be able to keep up with Flash.  Thanks to the restriction of Flash, the deck is still playable (thank you Mystical Tutor!) but it is beatable.

Winning should be fun, but as long as it's possible to win and have fun at the same time, losing doesn't have to be fun.

0 Comments

There are lots of unfun cards, really... by Livan (Unregistered) 72.83.217.146 (not verified) at Mon, 01/14/2008 - 01:21
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Bridge from Below.  Forced Fruition.  Shattering Spree with Mycosynth Lattice.  Heck, I could go on for a while - but you get the idea.

 Really, I'm getting tired of the unfun decks on the web.  It's basically a crock to even start a game most of the time; I've gone to playing some counterspells and I've only resisted that for about ten years. :)  I'm almost to the point where I'm only interested in playing tournaments.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 210.55.201.197 (not verified) at Sun, 01/13/2008 - 16:31
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Affinity wasn't banned because of power levels.  It was banned because people stopped attending tournaments in the biggest exodus away from tournament magic since Urza's block.

 It was banned for the very reason I disagree with you.  It was fun to win with, not fun to lose to.   

Wizards used your rationale to justify not banning Disciple of the Vault when they should have.  Then they had to nerf all the artifact lands as well as Disciple when they reaslised the scope of the disaffection with affinity. 

Affinity was banned because it does matter that losing be fun.  People will stop attending tournaments if it isn't fun.

by Javasci at Sat, 01/12/2008 - 18:21
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Affinity's power level was not the problem, it was the cause of the problem, which was an un-fun format.  If you read the quote, you'd see that it says that.

Affinity by iceage4life at Sat, 01/12/2008 - 11:52
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I don't know what to say if you think Affinity's power level was not the problem.  He is saying it was unfun because you played Affinity or you played 12 maindeck artifact removal spells.  Nice metagame.

FYI the 12 main deck artifact removal spells didn't always beat Affinity. 

by Javasci at Sat, 01/12/2008 - 09:44
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Kaxon and iceage: Forsythe said that affinity wasn't banned because of power level, because the power level was fine.  See the block-quote.

I believe I said this; as long as it's possible to win and still have fun, it doesn't matter if losing isn't fun.  That implies, however, that it must be possible to win.  If it's no longer possible to win, then it can't be possible to have fun while winning.

Where did I say losing should make you miserable?  All I said is that it doesn't have to be fun, not that it can't be fun or must be the opposite of fun.

Also, regarding iceage's last sentence, there are a lot of rules people live by that they aren't aware of.  I think if WotC was aware of this rule, they'd have said it by now, probably in Forsythe's article that I quoted.

Also, power level is very relevant to this point I'm making, because too high power level is what makes something un-fun to beat. 

by Kaxon (Unregistered) 65.205.207.145 (not verified) at Fri, 01/11/2008 - 21:06
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I think I disagree with your premise about fun.  Winning is almost always going to be more fun than losing, but that doesn't mean losing should make you feel miserable.  It's right there in that quite from Aaron Forsythe, actually: "One of the most damning statements that can be made about a game is that it is not fun. [...] Not just 'I lost' unfun, but 'Why did I even come here to play?' unfun."  It's basically a question of power level.  Against Trinisphere in Vintage, you could effectively lose the game on turn 1 before you'd had a chance to make a single play - that's extremely unfun.  Jitte never beat anyone on turn 1, and any reasonably built deck should have some kind of outs against it, so while it might be frustrating, you don't get the "why did I even bother to show up" feeling.  You could apply the same reasoning to creatures almost never getting banned while turn 1/2 combos always do.

Fun vs Power by iceage4life at Fri, 01/11/2008 - 11:46
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A word not mentioned in this article is "power."  Comparing Jitte to full on Affinity in terms of bans is silly.  Affinity warped the entire format around it.  The deck is very powerful and requires hate for a non-combo deck to beat it in Legacy or Classic.  Now think about the fact it was pretty much all Standard (and Block) legal.

 Jitte was a warping card, all aggro decks started with 4x Jitte.  That said Jittie didn't invalidate other decks, you could still play control or combo.

Trinisphere is another example of something that was banned due to fun and powerlevel.  An unanswered Trinisphere on turn one in Vintage was game over.  However it wasn't a turn on kill game over, it was lets play a long slow game and at some point I'll win game over. 

 

Also I don't know if WOTC ever thinks that winning must be fun but doesn't matter if loosing is. 

by largebrandon at Thu, 01/10/2008 - 22:17
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I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news, but flash made classic completely and utterly non-amusing.  Almost to the point that I was fed up with classic.  The two types of people were the ones playing flash and the anti-flash - that fact is without contestation.  Thus, by your definition of having a deck and an anti-deck, the meta and the format was completely rubbish in terms of entertaining myself.

by urzishra (Unregistered) 144.39.5.101 (not verified) at Thu, 01/10/2008 - 20:51
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The most fun I've ever had in a tournament was when I was playing in a Vintage Sanction event I had went 4-0 needed one more win for "T8" style prizes.. Had a guy drop all his money (IE couple moxes a lotus a birds and a forest) next turn I dropped a powder keg blew up all his power.. but anyways I had enough leathal damage the next turn and all he had to do was draw one card (he was playing MaskNaught) and he drew it..

 sometimes losing is fun.. some of the worst magic ever was when I played durring Ravager Affinity Standard (OLS - MD 8th) for reginals.. it just wasn't very fun.. even if you played a deck that beat affinity and you were playing affinity and you lost because of it.. it wasn't a very fun format.. even when you lost..

 epic games mean a lot to a lot of players but I can also see the advantage of fast win/not fun formats.. nothing right now in my opinion is completely unwinnable.. but losing has to be at least fun for the player that lost.. i love formats where i feel I have a chance till the very end.. i imagine my view is the majority of the magic playing community..lets face it no one wants to feel like they had no chance from the very beginning.

 

(EDIT for future reference my security code was 316 .. how cool is that!)

by Javasci at Thu, 01/10/2008 - 21:16
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Anonymous: I didn't mean losing/winning an entire tournament, I meant losing/winning an individual game.  (Actually I'm not sure what I meant, I just meant losing in the abstract, but I think now that individual games is what I was thinking.  Anyway, I'm confusing myself.)

As for what makes them (including me) keep coming back, it's the potential that they'll win. 

urzishra:  As long as there's a chance of winning and having fun, you don't need to have fun losing.  The connection you're not making is the difference between any given tournament and/or game and all tournaments and/or games.  That is, just because I lose and fail to have fun in rounds 3, 4, and 5 of a tournament doesn't mean I wasn't having fun winning rounds 1 and 2, and also doesn't mean I wasn't having fun when I made top 8 two tournaments ago.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 210.55.201.197 (not verified) at Thu, 01/10/2008 - 19:17
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I disagree with your last point.  I think that losing does need to be fun, and that's the secret to a healthy environment that people flock to.

 

In any tournament, there is only 1 winner (or 8, if you define T8 as a 'win'.  So why on earth would people who have never and perhaps will never keep coming back to lose again and again.  Clearly there is something about playing magic that does not 'win' that makes it worth it to them.