Pattern Recognition #330 - Slow Grow Points Proposal, Part 2

Features Opinion Pattern Recognition


4 July 2024


Hello Everyone! My name is berryjon, and I welcome you all to Pattern Recognition, TappedOut.Net's longest running article series. Also the only one. I am a well deserved Old Fogey having started the game back in 1996. My experience in both Magic and Gaming is quite extensive, and I use this series to try and bring some of that to you. I dabble in deck construction, mechanics design, Magic's story and characters, as well as more abstract concepts. Or whatever happens to catch my fancy that week. Please, feel free to talk about each week's subject in the comments section at the bottom of the page, from corrections to suggested improvements or your own anecdotes. I won't bite. :) Now, on with the show!

So last week I talked about the core points I wanted to have for the next Slow Grow Tournament, and before I get to the real meat of my proposal, I want to address the importance of the scale of points and how they are achieved.

In the end, I respect that the end goal of the points system is to determine who wins the tournament and thus the prizing. But it should be more than just the most effective combos and who can get them off the fastest. We're slowly modifying preconstructed decks for Urza's sake! The idea is to get back to relative basics and improve from there. However, if the end result is just going to be more of the same deck designs and processes, then there needs to be an incentive to avoid just going for maximum efficiency.

There needs to be a reason to have fun. To do things you wouldn't ordinarily do. To be creative. Not linear.

That's where the points come in. With the stuff I'm going to talk about today, I hope to encourage players to stay playing in the tournament with the promise of a potential payout for a good fun event and not just feel-bads because they were stomped by someone running a deck that had more money spent on it.

One of the things I did do however, was carefully curate the points to be from +4 to -4 in terms of regular play. This means that there is a limited spread of points that can be earned via regular and repeatable methods. Every week, we players can enjoy knowing the core rules that makes the tournament work.

But you are all smart people. So you can tell what I'm saying without saying. What am I doing that are Variables? What am I proposing that we, we the players, can propose their own points to be earned by people in the tournament!

And how am I going to do that, you may ask? Well, feast your eyes on THIS!


The Dual Faced Substitute Card is a card that is printed in the 'promo' or 'advertisement' slot in a regular pack of cards. It was done for Ixalan, March of the Machines, Brothers War, Neon Dynasty, Crimson Vow, Midnight Hunt, Strixhaven, Kaldheim and Zendikar Resurgent. These were replacement cards for MDFCs that you would draft or were in your deck and you wanted to have a legitimate Magic card back to your cards while they were in your deck or hand. You could write in the details in the blank and empty spaces, and then shuffle them into your deck!

What I intend to do is have every player at Week 1 be given one of these cards and told "Write your own Rule, how it works, and the points gained or lost by it."

By the end of the day, everyone will hand them in to the Judge, and the Judge will review them and make edits to clarify them, reject them, return them for suggested improvements or accept them.

Then, at the beginning of each week - starting with the second - the Judge will shuffle all the cards together and draw five. Those will be the bonus rules for that week! And given that we regularly have 30+ people participating, five draws for five weeks gives 25 alternate rules that are player submitted and approved.

So here's how I'm hoping my (lack of) genius goes down. Every player will have some idea of how they want their deck to go, so it will only be natural that they will want to reward it. The Judge is there to put the breaks on excessive things like "Win with my Commander: +30 points" and to ensure that the proposals are fair, relatively balanced to the +/- 4 point scale and will be ready to get rulings and clarifications from the submitter and carry them forward to the rest of the players.

By doing this, I first intend to increase player investment. Sure, we're playing for a big prize at the end of it all, but when each player has a stake in the points, a way that they know about and are planning to put into their deck, why not keep going and push for it? And if someone else proposes a point card that you can score, why not go for that too?

So why not show you? I floated this idea with some people, and here are some suggestions I received to help prime the pump, so to speak.

Fuel for the Fire

So for example, this suggested rule would be from a player that is giving themselves a fail-safe in case they win but in the same action, also would lose the game. Things like combos with Phage the Untouchablefoil or just burning everyone to death with a City on Fire because of an Inferno while having the most life before the spell resolved. It would promote suicidal actions on the part of the player, and encourage more epic plays that players would normally avoid.

However, I would not accept this card as-is. It's a reward for coming in first, giving the player a larger lead on points. Rather, I would suggest reducing the points to +2, and making it so that anyone can get the points if they any other player while dying at the same time. That way, even if you come in last because you had 1 life total when you cast Acidic Soil, and you also kill the player with three life, you get the +2 even though you came in last on the life-totals when dying. A little more flexible while toning down the points just a little.

One Ring Around the Pod

A high point value card, this rule for a week rewards a player for living dangerously. Getting down to one life means a stiff breeze can kill you, or as just collateral damage. This implies that a player so imperiled needs to have a very active and comprehensive defense to hold out that long against anyone looking to cut them down to size - and out of the game - or can try to politic and negotiate their way through all of this to try and keep everyone focused on everyone else long enough to make it matter.

I like the idea, but I'm not sure about the points. It's extremely high to reflect just how hard it can be to get this set up and paid off, especially when it specifically calls out spells and effects like Teferi's Protection, or other 'Your Life Total doesn't change' effects. Otherwise, someone could burn themselves down with Necropotence, and peace out to collect the points.

On the other, other hand, this could be a pity play from the table for some player in a poor tournament position, giving them a nice boost as a pity before giving them the death and last place.

I like it, but it needs refinement.

Endless Hordes of Tokens

And lastly, this is a global point for all players if there are 100 or more tokens on the battlefield. A reward for go-wide strategies like Elfball or Treasures. Or Food. It also rewards stalling play as it takes time to build this all up. And of course, it goes to all players so that we don't have a situation where one player is so far ahead that they decide to get this point by styling all over everyone.

I think it's too much for too little. 100 tokens across four players is an average of 25 each, and outside of dedicated token strategies, that's never going to happen. And only being rewarded 1 point for it is a pittance. I would seriously consider making it so that... "When there are 40 (or 10x number of players) tokens on the board, each player gets a point. Then, the player (or players tied) with the most tokens gets an extra point."

10 tokens per player is a little more feasible, and rewards the player(s) actually putting effort into it. Yes, it requires constant vigilance, but when lots of tokens are in play, everyone can keep track of their own and add them up carefully

So there you have it. My grand and Brilliant idea.

Let the Players have a say in the Numbers. Within Reason of course. That's what the Judge is for, and everyone submits on Week 1, giving them a week to look over everything so that they're not under pressure.

I checked, and I've got over a hundred such cards in my stock, to say nothing of my FLGS's own token stock. So it's not like we're short for options to write everything down on.

What do you guys think? What sort of Variables would you suggest? Comment below!

I'll be tidying all this up and making a formal submission to the guy who runs the Tournament soon-ish, so I'll see how that goes.

Thank you all for reading! Please leave your comments below, and I look forward to talking with you about my subject matter. I'll see you next week with something. I'm not sure yet, but we'll see.

Until then, please consider donating to my Pattern Recognition Patreon. Yeah, I have a job (now), but more income is always better, and I can use it to buy cards! I still have plans to do a audio Pattern Recognition at some point, or perhaps a Twitch stream. And you can bribe your way to the front of the line to have your questions, comments and observations answered!

This article is a follow-up to Pattern Recognition #329 - Slow Grow Points Proposal, Part 1 The next article in this series is Pattern Recognition #331 - Exploit

legendofa says... #1

If two people have the same or very similar suggestions, is one person (probably the second submitter) asked to change theirs, is it removed, or do both get shuffled into the rule pile?

Probably not super likely to get a perfect match, but with enough people, a couple are going to get close to each other.

July 4, 2024 12:17 p.m.

xram666 says... #2

Another thought:

The proposed procedure with 5 randomly drawn cards reminds me - at least - of Planechase. In Planechase, I had the feeling that a game with a certain amount of luck became even more random with more random decisions (does a plane come up that supports my deck/strategy, what do I roll with the dice, etc.). Personally, I find Magic games that are at worst decided by a dice roll demotivating. In the case of last week's Slow-Grow tournaments, where two players started with the same score and one won because he was lucky enough to get his rule draw for the week, this might not be received well.

July 5, 2024 2:52 a.m.

legendofa says... #3

This rule might be too random and luck-based, but how about

Color Wheel: At the start of the match, all players get +1 if all five colors are represented, or +2 if all five colors are represented equally.

This comes down to who ends up where, which the players don't influence, but it might slightly encourage starting with more multicolor decks.

July 6, 2024 12:28 p.m.

berryjon says... #4

Thank you all for your feedback!

Sadly, due the heatwave that I'm suffering under, I haven't had the motivation to finish off this week's article. It's too friggen hot! And I hope the rest of you are safe and cool.

See you all next week.

July 10, 2024 9:41 p.m.

legendofa says... #5

Heat waves are the worst. Today's high temperature locally was 108 (42 for the Fahrenheit-challenged), and that's the lowest it's been all week. Miserable.

July 10, 2024 10:30 p.m.

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