On Magic and Anchoring 3
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“Magic the Gathering is not one game, but many. In the words of Mark Rosewater, the game’s head designer (and one of my favorite creative people):
Magic is really not one game but a series of different games connected by a shared rule set and game pieces.
The various sub-games that make up Magic are called formats.”
“What’s your favorite Magic the Gathering format?”
“What is Draft?”
“The formats fall into two main categories: Constructed and Limited.
In Constructed, you build your deck of cards ahead of time from a large pool of cards.
In Limited, you build your deck on the spot from a small pool of cards.
Draft is a Limited format.
Magic cards come in randomized 15-card packs called ‘booster packs‘. Draft is normally played with 8 players around a table. The players start with three booster packs in front of them. Each player opens one pack, picks a card from it, and passes the remaining cards to the player on their left. This process repeats around the table until all cards from the first pack are gone.
Then the players proceed to opening another pack, following the same process, then the third pack, until all cards are gone.
Finally, the players build a deck from the cards they drafted, and play against one another. It’s like a mini-tournament.
Draft is a very skill-intensive format that requires making the most from a limited set of resources. A bit like life.”
“You want to focus on the process, not the outcome, yet you are keeping track of your Draft games and winning ratio. Why?
“Unlike Chess, which is a game of perfect information, Magic is a game of imperfect information. In Chess, your skill as a player can be very precisely quantified. In Magic, no matter how good a player you are, you are going to lose many games due to factors outside your control.
The best way to quantify your skill as a player in Magic is as a win/loss ratio. As long as you consistently make good decisions in the face of uncertainty, you’re going to win more than you lose. The larger the sample-space, the more accurate the conclusion.
As a side note, my current sample-size is not large enough to draw an accurate conclusion.
This is an objective overview of how good you are as a player, which is a strategy for overcoming several cognitive biases.
It’s also a beautiful metaphor for life. We’re all imperfect beings, operating under conditions of uncertainty. We can never achieve a 100% win ratio. Even an 80% win ratio is a stretch. The best we can strive for is consistently maintaining our win ratio above 60%. This serves as a beautiful reminder for embracing Humility.
As another side note, this is just a model. To gain a better understanding you need to employ more than one model. For instance, a too high win ratio can signify that you’re not probing the limits of your comfort zone, hence you may be stagnating.”