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Software engineer and long-time dabbler in mathematics; 11th in the Putnams forever ago but I've long since atrophied.


Aug
27
comment Is the “snake” turn order for Blokus fairer than the traditional turn order?
@Zach Unfortunately, I don't have a good enough feel for Blokus to understand the specific implications of snaking in the context of this game specifically, which is why I haven't answered. :-) As for Thue-Morse, have a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thue–Morse_sequence#Equitable_sequencing for some explanation of why it's considered to make for a 'fair' turn order.
Aug
26
comment Is the “snake” turn order for Blokus fairer than the traditional turn order?
@GendoIkari Short version: rather than taking turns 123412341234 etc., the turn order goes 123443211234 etc. The idea is to even out positions so that moving first isn't the permanent advantage that it often is. (Snake isn't perfect either, but trying to use something like a Thue-Morse sequence to determine play order is going awfully deep.)
Aug
22
comment Settlers Of Catan - discarding cards when rolling 7
+1 for providing reference in an implementation - I haven't played the online versions in a long time and didn't know how they handle it, which is why I left my note as a comment rather than a proper answer.
Aug
22
comment Settlers Of Catan - discarding cards when rolling 7
Amazingly, I can't find any references on the net as to how this should be resolved! I would be inclined to handle it as a simultaneous action; that is, all players set aside (face down) the cards they'll be discarding, and once that's done, players reveal and discard those piles.
Aug
21
comment Are the odds of drawing mythics greater when purchasing individually packaged boosters over booster boxes?
It would be very hard to extract cards from one of WotC's 'individually wrapped' boosters of the sort shown in the photo, re-seal the foil booster wrapper, reseal the cardboard, and return it to Wal-Mart. I can't imagine this is a positive-value proposition.
Aug
17
comment Is there an easy way I can tell if a MTG card is “rare” just by looking at it?
@GendoIkari There's really no such thing as an 'oracle rarity'. Rarity is a property of a printing of a card, not an innate property of the card itself. A couple of formats (e.g. Pauper) may care if a card has ever been printed at common, but AFAIK that's not an "Oracle property" of the card; it's in no way, shape or form part of card text.
Jul
12
comment How Is the Magic Core Set 2015 “Deck Builder's Toolkit” Different From Other Core Set Offerings With Respect To Cards?
This is a little sparse to be a proper answer, but the Deck Builder's Toolkit is substantially less random than the Fat Pack (which is AFAIK just a collection of boosters with some accessories). Wizards calls the Toolkit's contents 'semi-randomized', which I believe means you can expect to get particular combinations of cards out of it. Unfortunately, neither is likely to get you particularly close to a competitive level in and of themselves - it will take quite a bit more to muster that.
Jun
25
comment What's the name of the theory that the player with the most options has the advantage?
This is in fact a well-established theorem in Conbinatorial Game Theory; it's a piece of proving the so-called Simplest Form Theorem. If I remember when I get home I can chase down proper references, but the canonical source is the book Winning Ways For Your Mathematical Plays.
Jun
12
comment When do transformed creatures go back to their original forms?
Since this subsumes just about everything I was going to say (and says it better), I'll add one tiny note from my answer: this is implicit (but could be much better spelled out) in the informal article pointed to: "not all double-faced cards transform in both directions."
Jun
4
comment How do you run a short multiplayer Conspiracy draft tournament?
@AlexP I'm pretty certain that Conspiracy will not be available as an FNM format precisely because of the issues around making suitable multiplayer tournaments; WotC might have suggestions as to how stores can run Conspiracy drafts on their own, but FNM tends to be a 'grinder format' and I wouldn't expect them to turn it over to the politics of multiplayer.
May
29
comment Why is Sword of Body and Mind regarded as the weakest of the Swords?
Oh, I agree - when you have a creature to fetch back, that ability is clearly better; any guy in your deck is likely to trump a 2/2 Wolf. It's just that in my experience the Raise Dead ability is moot often enough (either because the Sword is on the first creature you've played, or the opponent has something like a Scavenging Ooze active) that I feel like it's mostly a wash vs. SoBaM. I can't argue that LaS gets a lot more play, though.
May
29
comment Why is Sword of Body and Mind regarded as the weakest of the Swords?
@BrianS In the case where you have some Kitchen Finks-level creature in your yard, that's definitely so - but I would argue that the 2/2 dork is more unconditionally useful than a Raise Dead, since outside of going the dedicated route it's difficult to guarantee that there will be creatures in your GY when you get to trigger the Sword's ability.
May
24
comment What does Will of the Council do with 2 Players?
Why the downvotes? This question has an easy answer, but it doesn't seem like a bad question...
May
22
comment Improve the Power of creatures in the graveyard?
For the 'high-power creatures' section, while it's rolled out of Standard now I feel obliged to mention Death's Shadow ( gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/… ), which has actually seen some fringe competitive play in Modern for just this purpose.
May
19
comment Are there 5/5 Beast Token cards?
I would rather say that it's only with (roughly) Tenth Edition that Wizards started making tokens for all cards that produced token creatures; while the ones before that were promos, there really were quite a few of them (as they were used for player rewards promos). For instance, I have several of the 4/4 beast token from Odyssey. Mirrodin more falls in the 'dead zone' in between the two different styles of token production.
May
19
comment Are there 5/5 Beast Token cards?
I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one wondering about this! I was looking for a 5/5 beast token for my cube, and while I suspected there wasn't one I wasn't 100% sure.
May
8
comment Could an actual mono black storm (Tendril of agony) deck be viable for Legacy?
Ahhh, that's a fair point. I should probably mention ANT in this answer for completeness' sake; the deck usually really wants its cantrips, but it can certainly ostensibly play without.
May
8
comment Could an actual mono black storm (Tendril of agony) deck be viable for Legacy?
@Cruncher In Legacy? What do you use for a YawgWill effect, or do you even have one?
May
2
comment Gods have summon sickness?
@Rusher But that's my point exactly: when you say 'all permanents are affected by summoning sickness' it's easy for someone new to the game to infer incorrectly that 'no permanents may tap to activate abilities', since one of the elements of summoning sickness is exactly that.
May
2
comment Gods have summon sickness?
I agree that this is actively confusing; in particular, one aspect of summoning sickness is 'this permanent cannot tap to activate an ability', which is patently false for non-creature permanents.