[Retros] Ch5: Place of the Retro Logics

Andrew Buchanan andrew at anselan.com
Sat Jun 21 11:20:15 EDT 2014



You are still missing my intended point completely, despite the numerous emails you have sent back on the subject today.


I am not interested in assessing whether Chess (game or problem world) is “superior” to Magic. I am not interested in judging the moral rectitude of companies who manufacture Magic, Harry Potter, or for that matter World or Warcraft or League of Legends.


So let me restate my point for clarity. It’s about the challenge presented by the maturing of the chess problemist population. We might learn from another commercial organization dealing with a recreational artefact of comparable complexity to chess problems. After a decade of decline, they have reaped new success in the last 4-5 years. They came to understand through reflection and experimentation that new players are critical to the game, and now ensure that barriers to entry and retention are as low as possible. In particular, they have taken a lot of care to craft their rules very thoroughly, and put in place a smooth learning curve with no bumps.


Enough already with this particular rabbit-hole - it’s getting boring.





From: Retros [mailto:retros-bounces at janko.at] On Behalf Of Kevin Begley
Sent: 21 June 2014 16:40
To: The Retrograde Analysis Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Retros] Ch5: Place of the Retro Logics


final point: 


The Phenix of mythology is a story that was freely shared, for generations, for some mutually beneficial (generally moral) purpose.  

The fantasy creature contained in the volumes of Harry Potter is something that was sold to you, repeatedly, for profit. 


If you don't already know which of these must continue to endure, at least one card in your deck must have expired.


On Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 1:24 AM, Kevin Begley <kevinjbegley at gmail.com> wrote:

Speaking of timestamps... do you know why MtG cards expire, Andrew? 

I think you'll discover the reason, if you read carefully the information contained in the link I suggested -- but, you really needn't read that, to know... 

The answer is plainly obvious: the only expire because those who manufacturer cards (and sell licenses) want players to keep purchasing cards... even in vast excess of their needs, for the game!  


No such analogy exists with Problem Chess. 

Fairy units do not expire, and nobody wants to profit selling you a new fairy element. 

We have not profit motivation to timestamp our rules. 


So please, think more carefully before you suggest we take a MtG approach to problem chess. 


I actually do value your opinions about problem chess, Andrew, and it pains me to see you frequently offering suggestions from MtG, without understanding the damage they would do to problem chess. 


There are profound differences. 

I think it would do your analogies some good if you learn to see MtG from the "Intellectual Property" perspective -- I assure you, this is how it is seen by the folks who sold you every card you paid to add to your deck... and every card you paid to remove. 


MtG players never want to admit to having been commercially exploited... and pretty soon, the fish loses all sight of its own bowl... suddenly, their choices begin to be influenced by a need to obscure reality... they believe that the expiration rules of MtG are natural, for any game... why not put a timestamp on Dawson's grasshoppers, too?  


No license is required to enjoy problems in the Circe form. 

And, until you can claim the same about MtG, you should look carefully in the place you dare not look, and see the capitalists staring back from your every analogy. 



On Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 12:41 AM, Kevin Begley <kevinjbegley at gmail.com> wrote:

I will say this... 


I wish Problem Chess had the same focus for creating a basic orthodoxy (a clear set of fundamental rules, which govern all types of variants, unless expressly altered). 

Hmm, if only WFCC could find a way to profit by peddling a fairy codex to children... 

Maybe WFCC should put a dragon on the cover... 


Regardless, you would expect that even the MtG pushers would know better than to litter their own cards with a profoundly absurd timestamp rule-mechanism. 

It should be self-evident that the rules governing an object (whether a pokemon card, a aMtG card, or even a variant chess game) should not be hidden in a timestamp.  





On Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 12:30 AM, Kevin Begley <kevinjbegley at gmail.com> wrote:

ps: in problem chess, we need not buy our pieces. 


Good luck selling Hasbro on the potential revenues in the MtG Problem market. 

You should read this: http://www.superdataresearch.com/content/uploads/2009/08/TCG2010.pdf


The first thing you should note (if you don't already know): revenue was always the primary motivation for MtG.

The second thing you should note:  the folks who have been playing MtG enthusiasts for suckers are actively seeking some means to draw revenue from solitary enthusiasts. 


Read that last statement carefully... 

The primary limitation on sales projections:  the suckers who purchase MtG can not find anyone to engage in active play. 

As a result, they discontinue the endless purchase of what are essentially pokemon cards. 


You want to know the only reason why MtG can not compete with chess problems?  Because Habro has found no way to make money selling takebacks! 


Do not make the mistake of comparing problem chess with such an absurd commercial endeavor, -- it only erodes your own credibility to profess to have been taken by their fantasy marketing pitch. 




On Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:50 PM, Kevin Begley <kevinjbegley at gmail.com> wrote:



Magic (the Gathering) is, like FIDE chess, a game. 

If you want to compare the success of MtG, compare it with another game. 


Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLPiJHGZkJ0

By comparison, MtG doesn't even have a decent parody.


If you want to draw comparisons with problem chess, you must draw references to the problem form of MtG (which, I presume, you have yet to invent).  Good luck with that (I think you'll find that MtG doesn't much care for problems, as they do not represent an especially purchase-driven enterprise). 


I do sympathize with your enthusiasm for MtG. 

I will even concede that MtG may be wrongly perceived by popular culture (in all the same ways that Fairy Chess can be). 


But, the analogies you make, between MtG and Chess (or Problem Chess) are, well, a backfire of careless wizardry. 


As I understand it, the ratio of rules to cards, in MtG, is only compensated by a profound excess of cards. 

Its selling point is not even the game itself, it is in fact a misadventure of a game, which must masquerade as a dungeons and dragons fantasy, for the purpose of sales. 


You'll not find anybody seriously advocating for the benefits of teaching MtG in our schools. 

But, you'll find plenty of studies which suggest that there are benefits to chess problems.  


The best anyone can say about MtG:  children could be doing worse things...






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