For this variants players will use pre-made decks. This variant is designed to be ran in a tournament style. Each table contains preset decks, stocked and set up at the pleasure and discretion of the Tournament Director. The decks stay with the table; the players move to a new table after each game. Play at each table once, against a different opponent each time. Choice of which of the two decks you play at each table is random.
Nobody gets eliminated! Everybody plays the same number of games. The winner is determined by adding up each player's scores from all games played. Highest total score wins the tournament.
Scoring for games at a given table is dependent on the number of games won by each deck at that table. Each winner at a table where N games were played receives N points minus one point for each other winner who played with the same deck! The number of winners per deck obviously is determined only at the completion of all rounds of play.
One possible objection to playing with someone else's cards is the possibility of getting stuck with something unplayable. Although, certainly, the Tournament Director should strive for play balance between each pair of decks, it is to be expected that (for whatever reasons) some decks will turn out to be fundamentally weaker than others. One hopes that the effect of such imbalances on the tournament results could be minimized. Indeed, Rule 3 specifies a scoring algorithm, which does just that.
If, say, there were ten games played at a table, and each deck won five games, that indicates the decks were balanced. Each of the 5 winners playing with, say, "Deck A" receives 6 points (10 - 4) for a total of 30 points. Also, 30 points go to the five winners with "Deck B", or 60 points total riding on this table: pretty important! Compare this to the unfortunate case where one deck wins all ten games. Those ten winners collect only 1 point each (10 - 9), or a total of 10 points won over this table: pretty darn insignificant! Thus we see that Duplicate Magic Scoring provides a safety factor for those cases where decks are not of comparable strength. The more balanced the two decks are, the more significant the games' outcomes will be in the tournament. The following table summarizes the possibilities, assuming 10 games (played amongst twenty contestants).
Note that the fundamental
operation of the scoring is to reward those players most, who won with a
"difficult" deck. This is as it should be!
Duplicate Magic is a half-round-robin event. As such, it is most appropriate for a smallish tournament. An eighteen-player event could be completed in three hours, assuming each round (plus administrative tasks like record keeping and shuffling) takes twenty minutes. Players of Bridge will recognize that Duplicate Magic is modeled on the popular Duplicate Bridge format.
The Tournament Director must provide pre-set pairs of decks that will play against each other. In the case of a Duplicate Doubles Tournament (teams of two competing against each other), four pre-set decks are needed per game. This may represent a significant one-time investment for the Director; however, modest entry fees cannot only cover the prizes but also can help recoup the setup cost.
It is recommended to play for pseudo-ante. Cards that affect ante should not be included in the card stock.
Other than the reasonable restrictions mentioned above, the Tournament Director should feel free to construct any type of decks he wants, of at least 40 cards each. No artificial limits on number of duplicate cards. No use of what is called the Limited List but what is really the Unlimited Argument List. The important deck design criteria are different when you must decide what is played by both sides. The Tournament Director takes on a role closely analogous to the Gamemaster in role-playing events. It is his role to entertain, and he does this by including cards or card-combos at each table, that will have interesting and entertaining interactions.
Each table may have a theme. It is even conceivable that the players may be able to discern such a theme during play and take advantage of such knowledge. To do so would be an excellent indicator of Magic skill. The sheer, raw quick-kill power of a deck is basically meaningless here; except occasionally perhaps, treating such as "thematic" content. It is also important that each deck should have a reasonable chance to win against its opposing deck. If a Tournament Director should set up the decks and tables poorly, such that there is a pervasive lack of balance, the players would reflect this fact in low overall scores. This would be seen as a clear and quantitative blow to the Tournament Director's reputation. However, this is not to say that the Director should not engage in experimentation. Some themes that are very interesting in theory just don't pan out over the board. Some of this is to be allowed and expected. The Director may or may not have the time and resources to playtest every table's decks. This is OK; the scoring function automatically de-emphasizes decks whose play results for the tournament are unbalanced.
Note in particular that there is no reason at all in Duplicate Magic for the Tournament Director to avoid designing multicolor, rainbow decks. If both decks at a table have a similar number of colors, both decks will be slowed by the same amount. Note that use of multiple colors greatly increases the possible interactions that the Director can design into his decks. This freedom translates into more interesting games.
You and your opponent come up to the table and two Stocks of cards are sitting there, face down. Flip a coin - the winner selects either "first turn" or "choice of Stock" (before looking at cards!). Browse your Stock and select any or all (minimum forty) as your Deck. There should be a time limit (five minutes) for this. Unselected cards are "outside of the game" Shuffle, cut, ante, deal, and play.
Conceivably, the Tournament Director can deliberately leave "too many" cards in some of the decks, e.g. cards in excess of the optimum strength or cards that potentially support more than one theme, depending on which of them are selected. The expectation is that the players will have to show their skill in deck setting by throwing out the right ones from the set offered up by the Director. Here is a major opportunity for the Director to set up tricks and traps, or insert powerful themes hidden in a noise of cards that are inferior, albeit attractive and obvious.
A caution: advising other contestants
about the contents of Stocks at tables they have not played yet is a
no-no; doing so in order to help your buddy will be considered
unsportsmanlike at least.
Letting the players cut out
cards they don't like is much akin to letting them make up their own
decks. It has the same flavor, in that they make design decisions; but
it is far, far safer.
Since they're the Tournament's cards anyway, cards won as antes are prizes and are removed forthwith, from the tournament into the winner's possession! Such winnings are not to be used by the winner, or anybody else, in subsequent rounds.
Yes, that means the Stocks might conceivably get stripped of valuable cards that the later contestants won't get to use. It also re-allows the ante cards - for example, the Director might want to run a Bonus Deck sometime, containing Demonic Attorneys and Contract from Belows in order to give the players a chance to award themselves bigger prizes!
The obvious problem here is
that people will toss Common cards from the Stock ruthlessly, down to a
bare-minimum forty-card deck, to enhance the Rarity value of their share
of the ante! Ugh! Even if you say that only the Opponent's antes are
awarded as the prize and not your own, there's the problem that the
players could collude to strip-mine their own Stocks, for the other
player's benefit. No, I'd say it's impractical unless this option is
played with one additional restriction: a preset limit on the number of
cards you may omit from the play deck.
This variant was created By Charles Poirier.