Welcome back!

From the title, you can infer today’s article is going to be about a pretty subjective topic. How do we evaluate the enjoyment people are having during EDH games? There are many different ways to determine “fun” during games; for the competitive player, this often means playing as well as possible and winning.

For our purposes, we are aiming for more casual games where everyone enjoys themselves. This is a bit trickier to pin down and accurately assess; sure, if I could get my playgroup to cooperate, I could use Likert scales to properly assess how much fun my group is having, but of course, this would probably also directly stop fun from happening to begin with. What is a geek to do?

Aside from asking more rhetorical questions, I started trying to notice what changed during our new points league. Were the changes working? I saw a few things emerge:

  • People were playing more games
  • People were actually discussing how close someone was to an achievement and how awesome it would be to pull it off
  • People tell stories about their games

Let’s take a look at these one by one.

Playing More Games

Pretty straightforward here – we play more. I’m convinced I’m a rare breed of Magic player—I hate trading. It is tedious and boring. Before smartphones, it was, “I value these of yours at X, and you value this of mine at X…deal? Good. Handshake. Done!”

But now, it’s a freaking financial transaction, with everyone ensuring that no one gets the shaft on even minor value. (Now, I’m not advocating ripping each other off here, but just lamenting how little I like trading in this day and age.) Most importantly, though, it takes away from gaming. I can really only play Magic once a week; I’m hoping to adjust my schedule to increase that, but it seems unlikely right now. I used to cringe whenever people cracked open trade binders because it would be an hour before I could play again.

Now, people want to play! Trades get put on hold to get into a game. Imagine it – people putting down trade binders to actually play a beloved game. Take that, grumpy gamers!

Discussing Achievements

Honestly, this warmed my little gamer heart. I put a lot of time into the point system we are currently using (possibly too much time, but it was for SCIENCE!, right?), so hearing other players talking about how they can pull of a given award is just awesome. We also have people discussing different awards at the end of nearly every game. For me, this is evidence that the system is not a burden and the players are engaging with it.

Telling Stories

In the Twitterverse, I have stated a few times that EDH is about stories. Breaking the format is easy, but winning in a way that your buddies tell their friends about…that is the success story. We are now starting to get that more and more. Before the point system, the games were a little dry. Now, we have games more focused on keeping things moving and less on winning at all costs.

Getting to hear about other games and cool plays is a great social aspect of EDH. I really enjoy it, so this is excellent for me. I also am finding great success in how people are starting to tell their stories around the point system specifically. The best part? We haven’t even implemented it yet! We are still testing. How awesome am I?

…Okay, okay… toning it down.

Really, getting stories shared is wonderful. Prior to the point system, people would finish a game and then immediately begin trading again. Now, players are still watching their games when eliminated, discussing cool plays, and helping each other with deck suggestions. The store is moving in a very positive direction, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

The Next Stop

Thoughts, comments, criticisms? Do you have any similar experiences or things you enjoy seeing in your playgroup? Drop a comment. (Heck – let me know how self-indulgent this post was compared to previous ones before returning to more regularly scheduled programming.)

I am fairly certain the next Evolving a Playgroup post will be discussing the “Poker” section of the point system. There are a few awards named after Poker (and Blackjack) hands. These awards are more difficult to get, but create really awesome situations. Stay tuned while I go into a bit more detail on why I chose the ones we’re using, and the effect they’re having on the group.