(Metagame Archive) On The Horizon: Team Formats

Justin Gary

In my last article, I talked briefly about all of the exciting things we’re planning for season two of the Pro Circuit. On July 1 we will begin announcing some of these features, but today we want to give our players a chance to influence the future of competitive Vs. play.

We introduced the Marvel Modern Age format this season, and the DC Modern Age format will kick off season two at PC Indy. We have received a lot of positive feedback from players regarding these new formats. They encourage new decks and allow players to compete without having to get out of print cards from the earliest sets. We are constantly reviewing the quality of our formats and looking for new ones that will continue to expand the Vs. community and the experiences available to players.

Today, we are looking for feedback on a new way to play wherein you and your friends can compete together for fun and profit—team formats. Initially, we plan to introduce team formats at the $10K and PC levels. A new team format would work like this:

Step 1: Find two friends. Each team will consist of three players labeled Player A, Player B, and Player C. You will want to make sure you have a cool name for your team.*
Step 2: Sign up for the event. We are considering introducing a team format for $10K events and the Pro Circuit. Under our current plan, the $10K format will be Team Sealed Pack with a cut to Team Booster Draft for the top 4 teams. The Pro Circuit will have Team Constructed for Day 1, a cut to Team Booster Draft on Day 2, and Team Constructed again for the Top 4.

Step 3: Figure out how to play. For all Team formats, each player will play an individual game against the corresponding member of the opposing team (so Player A from the “Super-Best-Friends” team will play against Player A from the “I Hate Humpherys” team, and likewise for the B and C players). Whichever Team wins two out of the three games wins the round.

Here are some more details on the different formats:

Team Sealed Pack

Each team will open ten packs of product and divide those cards to make one deck for each player. Players will not be allowed to trade decks or cards after the deck building period.

This format would be used for $10K events and possibly PCQs (if there is enough interest).

Team Booster Draft

Two teams will draft at a table of six with the following configurations (players with the same number next to their names are on the same team).

The draft will proceed as normal, but players will only play against the person sitting directly across from him or her (A1 vs. A2, B1 vs. B2, C1 vs. C2). Teams cannot communicate verbally during the draft, but there will be some opportunity for nonverbal communication between teammates.

This format would be used for Day 2 of the Pro Circuit and the Top 4 of $10K events.

Team Constructed

This event will have each team member playing a Constructed deck from a different format. Player A would play a Golden Age deck, Player B would play a Marvel Modern Age deck, and Player C would play a DC Modern Age deck.

This format would be used for Day 1 of the Pro Circuit.

Advantages of a Team Format

One of the potential obstacles for casual players at the Pro Circuit is the perception that it is too competitive. We work very hard to try to make sure that the Pro Circuit is fun for everyone—both the competitive player and the casual enthusiast. Team events are a great way to promote camaraderie and fun competition. There is nothing cooler than losing a game but having your friends pull you through the round by winning theirs. Well, there is one thing cooler: winning the deciding game yourself and pulling your friends through the round!
Even the best Pro Circuit teams up until now have had to leave their friendships at the door when the Pro Circuit started. They may have tested together and may be rooting for each other, but the Pro Circuit is, to quote Hobbes, “A war of all against all.”** If you face your friend in a round while vying for Top 8, you may not be rooting for your friend so strongly anymore. A team event allows you and your buddies to succeed or fail together. It’s just a lot of fun to have people to root for who are always on your side.

Practicing for team events is also a ton of fun. Doing a Team Booster Draft with friends is a great way to spend a few hours (I’ll admit that I’ve spent quite a few that way myself, even without an event to prepare for).

Another advantage is that team formats tend to be very skill testing. It can be very frustrating to lose a match due to a bad draw or an amazingly lucky draw from your opponent. In a team format, the fact that you play three separate games to determine the match result increases the likelihood that skill will determine the outcome. Also, Team Sealed and Team Booster Draft add new layers of strategy to the already skill intensive Sealed Pack formats. When building sealed decks, do you take a powerful plot twist for yourself or give it to a teammate? When drafting, do you try to cut off good cards from the other team or just focus on building the best deck you can? These decisions make for some fascinating game play.

Disadvantages of a Team Format

The biggest obstacle to running team events is the difficulty of forming teams in the first place. Even if you have a local group that you playtest with, finding groups of three for everyone to play in can be difficult. To help mitigate this difficulty, team events could have a time and location set aside before the event for individuals to meet up and form teams. Ideally, we could also have online resources available to help players form teams for events. Nonetheless, there is some concern that players will be discouraged from attending events because of this difficulty.

Another concern with the team Pro Circuit format is that it will require a lot of preparation. Each player will need to prepare for a different Constructed format and still be ready to draft as a team on Day 2. On the other hand, we would have only one type of Draft on Day 2 (as opposed to the two Draft formats at most Pro Circuits). But again, we want to make sure that players will not be turned off by this requirement.

Tell Us What You Want!

This is the part where you get to decide whether we introduce this format or not. We want to keep our player base happy and we will always try to think outside the box for new ways to make Vs. and the Pro Circuit even better than they already are. I encourage all the fan sites out there to post this article and start discussing the pros and cons of team formats in the forums. Let us know if you want to have team formats, and if so, how you like the ones we have suggested. If you think that there are ways to improve on the ideas above, let us know! If you want to give us your input directly, send an email to UDE@upperdeck.com with the subject line “Team Format.” We will read all of your input from emails and the message boards and then make our decision based on what we hear from you. This is your chance to shape the game you love. Let your voice be heard!

*Sorry, “The Avengers” is taken.

** That is Thomas Hobbes the philosopher, not Hobbes the stuffed animal friend of Calvin, who is also eminently quotable.

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