We began the process with a simple goal in mind. We wanted to create a free, easy to join contest, run by judges. Our goal was to provide entertainment to the greek MtG community as well as exposure for the judges. Another goal was to elevate the feeling of a cohesive community between us!
The first thing that we needed to address was the game itself. So we set up the requirements. We needed something that was:
- Easy to join
- Not super complicated
- Playable over the internet
- Relatively simple to organize and run
After some discussion, we decided to use the model of 3-Card Blind. 3 Card Blind is a game where players choose a deck consisting of 3 MtG cards. They start the game with all 3 cards in their hand revealed and they don’t lose by having to draw a card out of an empty library. Also, since everyone has access to full information, the result of the game is deterministic, meaning players need not play the game out, since the result will always be the same (it is assumed that players will always choose the best action available to them).
We expanded on that concept and decided upon a variation: 5 Card Blind standard. As the name implies, the deck now consists of 5 cards (lands have to be included) and has to be standard legal. This was to lower the entrance barrier, since we did not want to intimidate newer players not familiar with older cards!
You can read the full game description of what we created here!
Our team consisted of 5 people. Two of us were actively involved in designing and running all aspects of the contest, while another two were mainly there to help with running the results. We also had an extra person available to provide help when/if needed.
The people involved with the project, along with their roles:
Since now we had our game, we needed to decide how to run it!
Means of communication?
We chose to use Facebook as our way to announce the game, since most greek MTG players already follow the main Facebook MtG groups for our country.
We decided on the prizes which were judge promos for the first and second place. We had also some random prizes, to encourage participation, and a prize for the player defeating the most judges, to battle the rumor that judges can’t play good MtG!
There was an effort to get some well known organizers to provide some extra prizes in exchange for exposure, but ultimately it didn’t work out, as they didn’t contact us within the scheduled timeframe.
How do you calculate 1800 matches?
Our final design step, was working out how to run the possibly big amount of games. The solution was to split players into 8 groups and run those instead. Then we would have a Top 8 that would also run as a group. Furthermore, in that step we decided the submission deadlines should be 3 weeks, which matched up nicely with the end of the month.
Before we were able to start the contest we needed some extra things:
- A Google Form as means to enter the contest.
- An article announcing the contest, shared through the MtG facebook groups.
- An article with F.A.Qs and answers that was linked to the announcement article.
The contest and the lessons learned
Overall, we had 78 players join our contest which was quite above expectations! We had a bit of trouble running that many games (even after the split to groups, we had about 90 games to play out, per team member) but in the end we managed. After a couple weeks, we published an article showcasing the top 8 and announcing the prizes.
One thing that we did not do correctly and actually hurt our time frame , was not asking people to submit their names/facebook along with their decks and e-mails. This meant that, when the time came to announce the results, we had to wait for 8 people to respond to their emails first. In the end it wasn’t quite bad in our case, but it’s definitely advisable to have all the information you will need about the players beforehand.
Another thing we learned in the process was that running perfect games of 5CB could be quite hard and we were bound to make mistakes. Verifying each others results and in general communicating with each other during the process of result-running is the key here. If possible, have each game verified by at least two people!
Community Reactions and feedback
We got a lot of positive feedback from the community. People messaged us excited about the contest, and we got people theorycrafting decks for our newly-invented format! While we intentionally made a very low barrier to entry, I can tell that some people spend hours upon hours to come up with a deck they liked.
Some minor negative feedback was that we took our time to run the results and announce the top 8. This was a fair assessment, and is something we can do better in the future.
While the contest is primarily run to provide benefit to your magic community there are major benefits for the judges involved as well.
- Running a team project with other judges.
This is a great opportunity for judges to work together in a team and get to know each other outside of Pro Tours / Grand Prixs
- Providing a project to new L1 Judges.
This is good, because they will have an opportunity to work in a project with others as well as being exposed somewhat to the community.
- Being the project manager.
It’s a great opportunity to work on your leading and coordinating skills.