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Magic: The Statistical Gathering Essay

3579 words - 15 pages

Magic: The Statistical Gathering

Introduction
In this paper we will analyze the statistics involved in Magic: The Gathering through the use of Jon Prywes’s research paper, published in 1999, titled “The Mathematics of Magic: The Gathering.” We will be analyzing how he gathers data and compiles it in order to reach a statistical conclusion of our favorite card game. In his paper, Prywes discusses the elements of skill and probability and how much of a factor they each play in the outcome of a match. He also discusses game theory, the idea that a player can analyze different choices of decks to play with and determine which one will give him the best chance to win a match against whichever deck he is faced against. He goes on to explain that game theory plays a huge part in not just the deck building process, but almost the entire game of Magic. Using the data and theories that Prywes provides in his paper, we aim to determine if his ideas are statistically acceptable in the modern-day world of Magic.
Magic: The Gathering is a trading card game released by Wizards of the Coast in 1993, and is played by approximately twelve million people as of a 2011 census. It is based on the concept that there is a “Multiverse” with infinitely many universes inside. These universes can be traveled between by beings called “Planeswalkers.” The player himself is considered a Planeswalker, and uses “spells” which are represented by the playing cards themselves. Each year a new block is released, which usually signifies the Planeswalkers leaving the plane from the previous block to the new one. This concept of planes and Planeswalkers allows the developers to refresh their concepts and ideas for spells and locations by having themes with each of the planes. For example a “top-down” designed block, is a block created with a real world source. The Innistrad block was created based on the horror genre, with many cards involving humans fighting against the forces of evil, such as werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. The recently released Theros block is based on Greek mythology.
These players are much more than planeswalkers though, they are statisticians, calculating the chances of their and their opponents every move. Everything a player does is statistics whether they know it or not. Magic has two major factors in all of it: the player and chance. The player makes the decisions; chance gives them what to decide on. Being a card game, there is an inherent and irremovable amount of chance. Chance is what differentiates Magic from other classic games. In a game of Chess, the player and their opponent always will have the same pieces and the same number of them. Every game starts the same, and the only thing that changes are the plays. Everything is public information; nothing can be done without both players knowing about it.
Background and Review of Literature
In Magic there is mystery, each player is playing with different pieces in the form of decks....

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