As I understand bridge, you form teams with four players even though only two play at a table. The idea is that there are two identical hands. Two players in your team play North-South with one of the hands, and the other two players play East-West. This removes luck as a factor because if you are very lucky with one hand, opponents will be equally lucky on that hand. Both you and the opponents are going to win the hand, but if your team are the better players, then you should on average win the hand by a larger margin than opponents.
Will this work for Magic: the Gathering and other CCGs? Here's a sketch of how it might work:
- You register for a tournament with two players and two copies of the same deck. For Magic, this would be 150 cards (60 cards + 15 sideboard per deck).
- The cards are numbered and shuffled by a computer, resulting in a random sequence of 75 numbers. Then an arbiter manually stacks the decks, removing cards that are in the sideboard.
- One of your team exchanges decks with the opponents. Now you have the exact same match playing out for both players on the team.
- To deal with cards that shuffle the deck, each time the deck is shuffled, have the computer generate another random sequence, and remove the first card that is searched for. For example if I have four copies of Steam Vents and I search for one of them, the first copy is removed in the random sequence generated by the computer, and the rest of the deck is stacked following the sequence. The sequences are shared in both matches to make sure both decks are still stacked in the same way.
- In the same way, we remove all numbers corresponding to cards not in the deck from the random sequence. This handles sideboarding even if both players don't sideboard the same way.
- Absolutely no communication with teammate once the match starts, since it can reveal which cards are in opponent's hand.
- This can provide some way to tiebreak draws. For example if our team's deck has a strong matchup against opponent's deck, and I win 2-0 while my teammate loses 1-2. We win the match because the net score is 3-2. Alternatively, if I win 2-0 and my teammate loses 0-2, but I win in 10 turns (summed across both games) while my teammate loses in 7 turns, then we lose the match since opponents arguably played better (not ideal since one can reasonably decline to win to play around certain cards, but it is a way to break ties).
Some obvious consequences for this could be:
- Deckbuilding is less important since the effect of a good deck is washed out. One could show up with a deck of 60 Plains for example and still play an equal match against the opponent. However in this scenario you will need to pilot the opponent's deck as well as they can, and presumably they are going to be more practiced with their deck, putting you at a disadvantage.
- You need to learn more than one deck, since you'll need to play with more than one deck in a tournament. However this doesn't seem fatal: it's arguable the most skillful player is the one that can play most decks at high level.
- This might not work in limited, unless teams draft together and then acquires a second copy of the same deck from somewhere.
Presumably if this works it'd work best for digital tournaments since it removes a lot of manual work. On the other hand, perhaps it won't work at all because there's some fatal flaw in the setup. Can anyone see anything that might go wrong?