The Future of the Gamer’s Gauntlet Commander League and You

I’m back from my honeymoon. My wife Jen and I had an amazing time in case you’re wondering, but it’s nice in some way to get back to the trappings of ‘normal’ life. It’s also awesome to get back to writing after a break. I genuinely missed this, even though often I feel I put forth unfinished or uninspired work. Perhaps it’s just the perfectionist in me saying that.

This week I’m going to use this blog as a bit of a platform to talk at length about the GG Commander League and it’s future. We are approaching our final week of the first season, and overall there have been mixed results regarding the use of a points system, the vaguely proposed payout after next week, and generally how much fun it is. After a high attendance of 24 at the start of the year, yesterday we only had 14. Still a respectable number, but I worry that people have stopped attending voluntarily because they either don’t like what’s going on or they feel that they aren’t going to get a payout because of their middle of the pack standing, which is far from accurate. I blame myself mostly for this mindset(if it’s true), because we were not forthcoming enough about the payout aside from repeating “It is NOT top heavy” like a weird mantra. Hell, some people might not even understand how to interpret that. For the quickly approaching change of Commander seasons, think of the first as sort of a beta, where things mean well, but don’t always work out the way you intended or have ‘bugs.’

Along with the input from several trusted minds, I’ve complied a small list of ways to improve the league in general. These are all macro level decisions, and although I may cite examples of how to implement the following changes, nothing is set in stone, and I will continue to polish the proposed alterations via input from those who matter most here, the players. In fact, if you’re attending next week, I may be handing out an actual survey to gauge overall interest in various ways to proceed, so give a little thought to what method(s) you like best.

First off, regardless of anything else that may happen, the most obvious thing to do is to change several of the individual points in the interest of diversification and ‘bug’ fixing. Several points are worded in such a way that people can take advantage of them. For example, ‘Outta Here,’ along with other points dealing with player elimination, all are written in a way that allows a player to kill himself for 2 or more points.  This sort of silliness will not be present in season 2. Also, to diversify the points that one can earn, we will likely be adding different ways to earn points to balance out the imbalance between the categories. For example, there are too many ways to earn points based on control of a spell or permanent changing control, and perhaps not enough dealing with the attributes of creatures.

Tweaking points isn’t the only thing that could be done, however. There are several paths we could pursue to make the points system more interesting and/or competitive. One is to create ‘tiers’ of similar accomplishments, similar to our current incarnations of ‘Attention’ and ‘Intention.’ The tiers would be exponential in nature, meaning that awarded points would go something like 1,3,6,10 for various levels of accomplishment. This would inflate the number of points going out, but encourage specialization in deckbuilding, and not ‘farmer’ decks that have five cards for each category that get to tier one in a bunch of categories.

A second large scale change that would cull the metagaming of the point system is to vastly simplify the static points that can be earned. For example, the only points that are awarded every week would be Outta Here, I’m Da Best, and Generalissimo(and perhaps a Bounty award we have been tossing about, but we’ll take some input on that before we do it). The remainder of the points would be divided into groups based on what style of point they are. For example, we could have Creature Stuff, Non-Creature Permanent Stuff, Players, End of Game State, and Wacky Stuff. From there, a number of them are picked at random from each column, making each week into an unknown set of variables by which players get points. This way, we could have a very large list of interesting ways to trigger points without the incredible burden of having to keep track of ALL of it every game.

Lastly, an alteration that would be very simple to enact is to make every point one can earn beyond killing someone be ‘The first player to…’ This sort of change makes for an endlessly changing dynamic of alliances, where the player ‘ahead’ in terms of earning a particular point is always the bad guy.  Games will go faster, as people will farm less since the available points will dry up rather fast, leading to perhaps the addition of a third round each week.

I know that is alot to take in, but please give it some thought if you enjoy the league. Your opinion does matter to those who run it, and we will continue to polish it until it is a product to be proud of. Note that in almost every case, a combination of these changes could happen. We could have Tiered points along with the randomness of Column picking AND ‘First To.’ wouldn’t THAT make for crazy games?

The point system isn’t the only thing up in the air. The payout hasn’t actually been announced yet, mainly because we didn’t know exactly how to design one that wasn’t top heavy, and secondarily because we weren’t sure if people wanted random prizes, or how much money we would have. I’m sure you all know by now, but I’ll reiterate: This is a 100% payout league, meaning GG doles out 100% of the cash taken in over the course of the season in store credit in both weekly prizes and final payout. We’ve decided that for this season, we would use a predetermined amount of money for the final payout, and anything we had in excess of that would be given out on the last week. Don’t take anything here as gospel, but the amount reserved for the final payout is likely $400, with the following payout schedule:

  • 1st: 16%
  • 2nd 12%
  • 3rd-4th: 8%
  • 5th-8th: 5%
  • 9th-12th: 4%
  • 13th-20th: 2.5%

I think that all adds up to 100%, but really the point is to show how level the payout actually is. Paying out to 20th place is paying just about the top 40% of players! $400 might not seem like a ton considering how much we’ve taken in, and you’d be right. However, we have given out a fair amount in weekly prizes using the formula of $10 + (x-12)*$2.50. Basically, the full $5 enters the final payout pool per player up to 12 players, where we begin using this formula, and for each player over 12, only $2.50 of their fee is reserved, with the other half given back that week.

The remaining money over the cap we set is all being doled out on the final week as well(as in, next Monday!). There will be probably between $125-$175 in additional prizes, and you must be present to win, so show up if you can! Our chosen method is weighted random draw, though after some thought, I really hate it. We are proceeding with it because that is how we said we would though. Expect small changes to the payout next season, including fun ways to dole out money that don’t involve randomness.

The weighted random payout is quite simple. For every player that attends Monday, they will get one entry into the  draw for each week they earned at least one point during the league. This might seem strange, but what we’re aiming at is rewarding players who had a bad season, but were also dedicated and showed up most weeks. If you just attended once or twice, you certainly have a good shot, and since the league payout is to 20th, you might have won something anyway! The exact amount of credit for each draw is TBA because we don’t know how much we will have in that pool until the day of, but there will likely be several draws for fair amounts of cash!

If there are any other changes you’d like to see for the next season, including things not mentioned here like length of league, time limits, or a second day(all things we are talking about as well), I encourage you to speak to either Dan or I about it. This is your Commander league, and we will shape it as you see fit. Questions about this post are also appreciated, either here on wordpress, my Facebook page@ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nigel-Higdons-MTG-Blog/169226936496423 , or in person. Thanks for reading!

Nigel

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Future of the Gamer’s Gauntlet Commander League and You

  1. Nice blog Nigel. I like the ideas you guys are throwing around for the League. I’ve been disappointed that I’ve had to miss the past few weeks due to work. I’ve really enjoyed the league since I started going back in early December.

    I posted a couple points suggestions on Gamer’s Gauntlet’s facebook page awhile back (I think it was on the post that they put up with the PDF of the points sheet) But what I wanted to run by you would be maybe considering a suggestion box or something we can have at the store for people to suggest new points and or rules changes each week. It’d be a good means to get feedback on how the points system was each week, which rules weren’t good, etc.

    All in all though, I’ve been very happy with the league. I have, unfortunately, been seeing more and more “point farming” decks as we’ve progressed, but I think the suggestions you mentioned to be considering will help to alleviate that problem.

    One of the biggest things I would suggest is this: Last week there was a table in which one player had the game 150% locked down, but was not ending the game. Instead, he dragged it out to try and score points. The table as a whole agreed to scoop because the game had become boring and stalled, and no one was enjoying themselves. They were all penalized per the rules. Personally, I don’t think that should happen. I understand the idea of scooping goes against the game, but I think also dragging a game out and making people angry and bored is not okay either. I was involved in a similar situation a few weeks back, but none of scooped as we did not want to lose points. We sat there bored, and frustrated with the player who had the game dominated. I think if a table collectively agrees that the game is out of control and should end, then it should be ended, but perhaps after being reviewed by you, or another judge figure at the event?

    Anyway, there’s my two cents. If you want to message me on facebook and talk about what I’ve mentioned, by all means. Keep up the great work!

    – Mike

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