Preparing For GP New Jersey 2020

Published: 1/22/2020

I made the decision to play this event on the 14th, just 10 days before the Friday PTQ. I didn't know when GP NJ was or what format it was until then. Allen tweeted that he intended to host a $100 buy in pioneer tournament the weekend of release so I was online rallying the ancestor's with my friend Alejandro's pet deck. It was pretty sweet. The subject of the GP came up when he tried to recruit Duan to sleep on his couch for the event. Duan turned him down, but I got in on that. Also much money was put down on Predictit on the question of how many democratic candidates would say the word impeachment during the debate. I believe all of them did.

Anyway, I pivoted from trying to figure out pioneer to studying up on THD sealed. Because of the proximity of the event and my crunch for time I adopted a different approach to preparation. Instead of actually playing the game, I would study up and try to understand what was good from first principles. As a mathematician my primary method by which I try to understand the world is thinking really hard. And mtg is a domain where I feel there is too much of an emphasis on results, playtesting and statistics. I think playing is a good way to get better but a bad way to understand. I get the sense I have a long blogpost within me railing against statistics, machine learning, science and experimentation. All these words which distract from an actual understanding of the world and replace it with mere prediction.

Back to my methods. Luckily for my analysis, last sealed format, ELD, I had made a script, you can see here, which imported all the cards into a google sheet. I made it in order to do some analysis of archetypes but at that time I used up all my preparation time just making the script. This time I was ready to roll. If you're interested in doing similar analysis yourself you can copy the script to a blank spreadsheet and change the three character theros code to the code for any set. You can find my analysis spread sheet here. Feel free to leave comments about your opinions of cards. In fact feel more than free. I feed on your opinions. Share them with me.

The first thing I did is reorder the commons in order of my perception of their quality. The primary benefit of this isn't to actually build a pick order. It's just to think in terms of comparisons and to help me actually learn what the cards do. Another benefit of interacting on this at the level of spreadsheets is I suspect actually looking at the art biases my perception of card quality. The next thing I did was to actually produce some analysis. You can see this in the archetypes tab. I computed the as fans for various effects. Often I look at the uncommons and rares for the limited themes but this is a big mistake because what actually determines the themes are the commons. This is my first time doing this more quantitative approach. Some issues are:

Even with those caveats there are some observations one can make:

I've done a few other things to prepare:

That's it for things I have to say about NJ preparation. There's too much magical content in the world already so I don't expect to write anything about the event itself unless something really interesting happens. Wish me luck!