4-3-2-2 or 8-4?

  • #1
    Apologies if there's a thread for this already -- I couldn't find it in search.

    I've been having great success in 4-3-2-2 RTR draft on MTGO until I become more familiar with the cards. My question is: is it possible to become successful and chain these types of drafts, even though the payout is much less than 8-4?

    I have a first place and a fourth place finish so far ... paid in 3 packs and paid out 6. That's only -2 on a first and fourth place finish in 8-4 draft.

    The quality of play seems to be much weaker in 4-3 draft, and therefore it's much easier to shark them, whereas in 8-4 draft you're much more likely to be sharked.

    What do you think?
  • #2
    4322 is the worst type of draft. If you want to maximise your play, do swiss. If you want the challenge, do 84.

    http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/print.php?Article=23102

    Take a look at the first graph. At no point in your skill level is it worthwhile to play 4322.
    magicmerls ~440 card powered cube, 180 card Winston stack, guild precons and girly pics

    let me state something - the things I tell you will not be wrong. It is you who will be wrong if you try arguing with me.
  • #3
    If you don't think you are ready for 8-4, Swiss is a better option than 4-3-2-2. If you lose round 1 you still have a chance to get 2 packs. If you want to get better, Swiss has better players than 4-3-2-2 and you get to play more games. You don't have the chance to gain packs if you win, but it does help you learn the format better than 4-3-2-2.
  • #4
    The two most important factors for making this decision are how your match win percentage changes from 8-4 to 4322 (and swiss) and how much money you can expect to open.

    That scg article is simplifying the problem too much. It does not respect the fact that a player who wins 65% of the time in 8-4s may automatically jump to a 75% win rate in 4322s. It also leaves out the particulars about how much value you really expect to open. Calculating the cold expected value of your rares does not account for getting salable cards passed to you. This actually happens in the real world. So maybe instead of expecting to get 3 tix value on average, it might be closer to 5 tix.

    When you do some math and assume that you're getting 5 tix out of every draft and that pack prices are somewhere between 4 and 3.5 tix, you find that you need an overall win percentage of around 70-73%. This is fairly difficult to manage but non-notable people have achieved it.

    Knowing this, it's up to you to determine how much you can win in each format. If you win 58% of the matches in 8-4s but 70% of them in 4322s, and you are getting a bit of money, AND let's not forget that you should also be checking how much you win and how much you get passed in swiss queues, it's theoretically possible that 4322s are right for you.
  • #5
    Also, Swiss and 8-4 both pay out 12 packs. 4-3-2-2 only pays out 11 packs, so it's actually just throwing money away.

    Also, what are your goals? getting better at magic, having fun, or losing money as slowly as possible. Even if you could finals every time in 4-3-2-2, is 2 hours of boring magic really worth it (assuming it is as that easy). Either way, swiss is just straight up better than 4-3-2-2, but people avoid it because they have dreams of going big. If you consider a 4th place finish (going 1-1) 'doing well' then I'd be inclined to believe you are not yet ready for 8-4s.
  • #6
    Quote from magicmerl
    4322 is the worst type of draft. If you want to maximise your play, do swiss. If you want the challenge, do 84.

    http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/print.php?Article=23102

    Take a look at the first graph. At no point in your skill level is it worthwhile to play 4322.


    That article is based on one premise which I do question: that the level of competition is the same between queues. I really do believe that the 8-4 queues have stronger players in them. The suggestion from the article is that the queues even out because if one queue like the 8-4 really does have a higher level of competition, then there will be a proportional movement into other queues until the EV balances out.

    I think that the 8-4 queues have the best players willing to compete hardest for the best payouts. It also has alot of hopefuls and some number of clueless drafters who follow the advice of articles like the above and join those queues because they have the best supposed EV, even though that discounts the skill levels involved.

    I have sensed a very palpable difference in how the drafts play out in the 8-4 queues vs. 4-3-2-2 and swiss. In the 8-4 queues, by the time the 5th or 6th pick goes by, one is left with a distinct feeling of "where did all of the good stuff go"? In the other queues, lots of gems get missed. Additionally, I have been completely stomped by decks that curved out perfectly with threats that paired well together in novel ways and were played with great skill in 8-4 queues, much, much more often than in the other queues.

    In fact the only real conclusion I can draw from the article is that there is no best queue; the 'sharks' will simply move around to wherever the EV is currently the highest, feeding off of the hopefuls. Except that, because of the omission of the skill level differences between the queues that persist because of the payouts (driven I believe by the fact that while you cannot know which queue currently has the toughest players, you can know which queue has the highest payouts, so if you believe you can compete with anyone, you join the queue with the highest payout), there really is a best queue to join depending on your skill level.

    All that being said, I do agree with the advice that you should play either 8-4 or swiss. And I do think that if they changed it to 5-3-2-2 from 4-3-2-2, it would be much more compelling.
  • #7
    Quote from bji
    That article is based on one premise which I do question: that the level of competition is the same between queues. I really do believe that the 8-4 queues have stronger players in them. The suggestion from the article is that the queues even out because if one queue like the 8-4 really does have a higher level of competition, then there will be a proportional movement into other queues until the EV balances out.

    I think that the 8-4 queues have the best players willing to compete hardest for the best payouts. It also has alot of hopefuls and some number of clueless drafters who follow the advice of articles like the above and join those queues because they have the best supposed EV, even though that discounts the skill levels involved.

    For sure, the article is an oversimplification. But the basic point stands. When you feel that you are winning consisitently enough at swiss, you should step up and play in the 84s.

    Quote from bji
    In fact the only real conclusion I can draw from the article is that there is no best queue; the 'sharks' will simply move around to wherever the EV is currently the highest, feeding off of the hopefuls.

    No, the sharks stay in the 84.

    Quote from bji
    And I do think that if they changed it to 5-3-2-2 from 4-3-2-2, it would be much more compelling.

    Except that the 4322 is a stupid option to choose almost by design. So that players who don't know better can play against other players who don't know better, who are of similar caliber.

    Simply because the OP is thinking in terms of EV, he's graduated from the 4322 pool of player.
    magicmerls ~440 card powered cube, 180 card Winston stack, guild precons and girly pics

    let me state something - the things I tell you will not be wrong. It is you who will be wrong if you try arguing with me.
  • #8
    It used to be 5-3-2-2. They removed the pack to encourage better players to play 8-4s. What they really should have done is changed it to 4-3-2-2-1, where the two people who lose round 1, compete against each other for 1 pack (I know of local game stores that use this model). This makes the payout structure fair again, but disincentivises good players, who'd rather get rewarded when they do well, than hedge against losses.

    If we assume that a closed pack of cards is 4 tickets, and an open pack is 2 (probably a bit high), then you need a 66% win ratio in swiss to break even, assuming you rare draft aggressively. It's hard to do, but if you can't average 66% in swiss, you shouldn't be attempting 8-4s. 4-3-2-2s are garbage though. Unless it's a 20 minute wait for swiss queues to fill up, no reason to play them.
  • #9
    Also, I think that in 8-4 queues, if you get to the finals, 75% of time people split and it's 6-6. I wonder what the charts would look like assuming that you did the 6-6 split most of the time. The payouts are then:

    0-0-6

    With both players getting to the final round get 6 ...
  • #10
    personally, I don't think 8-4s make sense under any circumstances unless you're simply trying to grind as many drafts in as short a time as possible (which is a good way to lose money). It's imo just naive to think that you have enough of an edge against the field to consistently win the first two games in a row in an 8-4, especially with the luck element in magic, and even on paper the EV of a swiss draft is EXACTLY the same as from an 8-4. But we all know that in reality it's higher because the relatively strength of the field is lower in swiss queues (imo likely to irrational prestige factors and also posisbly because competitive mtg players are at heart gamblers and the prospect of a 'free draft' payout is attractive to a gambler). I'm sure someone will say 'but it's not possible to go infinite in swiss' - barring lucky pulling of mythic foils or a lucky streak, it's effectively not possible in 8-4 either and as I said, on paper the EV is the same in swiss and 8-4 assuming equal skill of players. The edge you would need to have over the 8-4 field to be able to consistently win is just too great to be plausible imo.

    also, if you're just interested in having fun and playing draft, swiss is obviously so much better becuase you don't spend 20min drafting then match 1 mana screw, mull to 5, drop and you're down 14 tix which is pretty much the worst feeling in the world.
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  • #11
    Quote from bji
    Also, I think that in 8-4 queues, if you get to the finals, 75% of time people split and it's 6-6. I wonder what the charts would look like assuming that you did the 6-6 split most of the time. The payouts are then:

    0-0-6

    With both players getting to the final round get 6 ...


    The finals split doesn't really change anything. If you think your chance of winning finals is 50%, it's exactly the same as if it was 6-6. If you think it's better than that, you never split, and nothing changes.

    Quote from Psychobabble
    The edge you would need to have over the 8-4 field to be able to consistently win is just too great to be plausible imo.


    It may be hard to believe, but this is verifiably incorrect. People do go infinite in 8-4s (you open the same foils and rares you would in swiss). It's very hard to do, but ... people do it. However, I think many many more people overrate their own ability and try lump themselves into a very small camp of people.

    There is a large luck element in magic. However, i think you underrate how big a differece skill can have, especially in limited. Even with equal skilled players, a player who has drafted a better deck can actually have a massive advantage over an opponent. In constructed, playing a deck that's 50-50 to the field, the only thing you can leverage is game skill. In limited, games are often won and lost before you've drawn your starting hand. (In constructed too if you some how 'broke' the format)

    People get mana screwed or flooded. But even those things are not completly out of a players control. Correct mulliganing is a huge part of why people win or lose. Also, i think people underrate the importance of mana sinks in limited. That's why levelers and multi-kicker spells are so powerful. If i have 3 or 4 levelers, i can run 18 land in my deck. That way, it's harder to get mana screwed, and being mana flooded is less damaging. Land fall had a similar effect. It's a really good thing if you can build your deck so that both drawing a land and drawing a spell is desirable.

    One last place play skill, in limited, really underrate is the importance of sideboarding. I lost a game to an opponent who had 2 thrill-kill assasins. After the game, I realised that I had 2 selsnya sentries in the sideboard that hadn't made the cut. My deck lacked cheap creatures with 3 power, and I did nothing to rememdy the situation. Sure, sometimes you need disenchants to win a match. But sometiems, you really just need to bring in goblin pathfinders.

    also, if you're just interested in having fun and playing draft, swiss is obviously so much better becuase you don't spend 20min drafting then match 1 mana screw, mull to 5, drop and you're down 14 tix which is pretty much the worst feeling in the world

    The worst! I hate that feeling of being SO pumped about a deck you drafted, then never even playing a real game...
    Last edited by psymunn: 10/18/2012 6:49:13 PM
  • #12
    Quote from psymunn
    The finals split doesn't really change anything. If you think your chance of winning finals is 50%, it's exactly the same as if it was 6-6. If you think it's better than that, you never split, and nothing changes.



    It may be hard to believe, but this is verifiably incorrect. People do go infinite in 8-4s (you open the same foils and rares you would in swiss). It's very hard to do, but ... people do it. However, I think many many more people overrate their own ability and try lump themselves into a very small camp of people.


    For the purposes of 'going infinite', the value of cards needs to be removed from the equation. If people playing 8-4s only go infinite because of selling cards for tix (ie if they didn't, they would have lost money) then it doesn't prove anything about whether it's easier to go infinite in 8-4s than swiss drafts because you would also have got card value from playing in swisses. It's theoretically possible to go infinite in swiss if you take card value into account too.

    There is a large luck element in magic. However, i think you underrate how big a differece skill can have, especially in limited. Even with equal skilled players, a player who has drafted a better deck can actually have a massive advantage over an opponent. In constructed, playing a deck that's 50-50 to the field, the only thing you can leverage is game skill. In limited, games are often won and lost before you've drawn your starting hand. (In constructed too if you some how 'broke' the format)

    I don't disagree with this at all, I'm not saying that MTG is an absolute crapshoot. I certainly agree that a skilled player will have a substantial edge against a random player. I just disagree that the people playing 8-4s, and spending good money to do so, are likely to have sufficient variance in skill level to be able to make 8-4s profitable over a swiss draft. In order to do so, you need to have something like a 60/40 edge over the 8-4 field (to be able to consistently win 2/3 of your games) which is simply implausible imo. This isn't like poker where even a 1% or a 2% edge will give you big value over the long term. Because the payout structure is stepped the way it is, you need to have a very large edge to be able to turn a consistent profit. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be surprised if there were really very many people who were able to go infinite in draft WITHOUT taking card value into account.
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  • #13
    I guess then we both had a different base set of assumptions. I don't think it is possible to go infinite, withot selling cards you draft either, but i don't think that really matters. The 'rake' in magic is HUGE compared to poker, (instead of 10% rake, we're paying 600% rake, on a 2 ticket entry). If anything, 8-4 is harder than swiss to raredraft because, if you assume 8-4 player skill is higher, you'll be penalised more for picking a 4 ticket unplayable rare over a high removal pick. Also, in swiss, going 2-1 because you rare drafted 3 times is a lot less punishing than in an 8-4, where that can actually mean a difference of making finals or not (or winning finals).

    In the end, even the person i know who is most successful, is only like +300 tickets a year. His magic earnings are less than 50 cents an hour. He could make more money selling WoW gold. In magic, you play to lose less. no one is winning, at least not by any large margin

    Also, in poker, there are people now who only turn a profit because of rake back promotions. But they are still making money. Rare drafting is no different. Even if it's more of a 'meta-game,' it still ends up in the 'earnings' collumn.

    EDIT: i meant harder to raredraft in 8-4.
    Last edited by psymunn: 10/18/2012 7:24:36 PM
  • #14
    Quote from psymunn
    I guess then we both had a different base set of assumptions. I don't think it is possible to go infinite, withot selling cards you draft either, but i don't think that really matters. The 'rake' in magic is HUGE compared to poker, (instead of 10% rake, we're paying 600% rake, on a 2 ticket entry). If anything, swiss is harder than 8-4 to raredraft because, if you assume 8-4 player skill is higher, you'll be penalised more for picking a 4 ticket unplayable rare over a high removal pick. Also, in swiss, going 2-1 because you rare drafted 3 times is a lot less punishing than in an 8-4, where that can actually mean a difference of making finals or not (or winning finals).

    In the end, even the person i know who is most successful, is only like +300 tickets a year. His magic earnings are less than 50 cents an hour. He could make more money selling WoW gold. In magic, you play to lose less. no one is winning, at least not by any large margin


    I agree with you overall. It's realistically about losing less not actually making a profit. I'm curious why you think rare drafting is less punishing in an 8-4 though? I was actually going to say the opposite as another reason to do swiss but i'd already written a wall of text. If you rare draft in an 8-4 and it costs you match 2, you've lost 4 packs. If you do the same in a swiss it costs you one pack, plus if the player skill really is lower then you're less likely to be punished for your sub-optimum pick. In a steam i was watching recently (on mtgoacademy I think?), the drafter mentioned that he felt better about a bad raredraft because he was doing a release swiss queue not his usual 8-4, so I thought it was generally accepted that it's better to raredraft in a swiss. And if most of any real 'profit' from drafts comes from selling cards, then that's another factor in swiss' favour...
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  • #15
    I don't. That'd be crazy. For some reason i typed it backwards...
    Though, people do pass more valuable cards in 8-4s... there's no good way of quantifying that though...
    Last edited by psymunn: 10/18/2012 7:28:57 PM
  • #17
    I know I'm in the minority with my view but I personally don't think in general there is that much difference between the skill level of players in Swiss and 8/4s. There does seem to be a difference in drafting though but I sometimes think its easier to make a "better" deck in 8/4s than it is in Swiss because people seem to read signals better and are less likely to chop and change because, say, they open an off color rare.

    I do play more Swiss because I like to play as many games as possible. I think you learn more about the cards. If you bomb out round 1 of an 8/4 you can never really be 100% sure if it was because your deck was terrible or you were just unlucky. If you 0-3 a Swiss then its generally alot stronger indication that the draft didnt go so well :D.

    One things for sure though, its much harder to maintain a good limited ranking playing Swiss (if that matters too you). You get to a point where the only way to stay ranking positive is to 3/0 a draft, and if you have a bad draft and go 1-2, or god forbid 0-3, then you end up dropping about 30-45 ranking points. At least in 8/4 if you have a terrible draft you only lose 1 match.
  • #18
    As a sequel to the OP, I tried an 8-4 draft just now and lost the first match with a great draft deck. Never got land or color screwed; my opponent seemed to have drafted better as he had better stuff. Both games were close, though.

    Perhaps I should move to swiss for awhile.

    So for my initial 3 pack, 2 tix investment, I got to play in three drafts. (I sold two rares along the way for the other 4 tix.) It was fun, but I would have liked to have done better.

    As for what I want out of drafting? To be able to keep playing without spending more money.
  • #19
    I know i sound like a broken record but if your goal us to 'keep playing without spending more money' then go swiss. The chances of you going infinite barring lucky card pulls (which can happen in either format) are reallt low. So given that a swiss draft will always give you ~2hrs of gaming but an 8-4 can force you to rebuy every half hour, Swiss is the better bet.

    The only genuine reason I can see for doing 8-4s is top level competitive practice or a desire to do as many drafts as possible in a short amount of time.
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  • #20
    Quote from psymunn

    The worst! I hate that feeling of being SO pumped about a deck you drafted, then never even playing a real game...


    It really sucked back when the only draft queues were 4-3-2-2 and 8-4. I was one of the people on the forums back in the day constantly complaining that there needed to be a swiss option. Kind of ironic that when I came back years later and there was one, I neglected it in favor of 4-3-2-2. But no more; I'm a strictly swiss player now!
  • #21
    Quote from Owl
    I know I'm in the minority with my view but I personally don't think in general there is that much difference between the skill level of players in Swiss and 8/4s.

    The issue is more complex than discussions like this generally make it seem. My experience has been roughly as follows:

    * The very best players mostly play 8-4s. But they aren't very numerous.
    * The best players in Swiss queues are about as good as the average players in 8-4s.
    * The worse players in Swiss queues are sometimes bad and occasionally very bad.
    * Random variation occasionally results in Swiss queues full of bad players.
    * All these effects vary with time of day. If you want an easy match, pick a time when the more casual players in the US are online. (If you're in Europe, this means the middle of the night.)
    * Bear in mind also that Swiss queues are innately more swingy because if I have two weaker players to my right they may pass me an insane deck. Then when you play me in the finals, I'll crush you as a result.
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  • #22
    Quote from bateleur
    The issue is more complex than discussions like this generally make it seem. My experience has been roughly as follows:

    * The very best players mostly play 8-4s. But they aren't very numerous.
    * The best players in Swiss queues are about as good as the average players in 8-4s.
    * The worse players in Swiss queues are sometimes bad and occasionally very bad.
    * Random variation occasionally results in Swiss queues full of bad players.
    * All these effects vary with time of day. If you want an easy match, pick a time when the more casual players in the US are online. (If you're in Europe, this means the middle of the night.)
    * Bear in mind also that Swiss queues are innately more swingy because if I have two weaker players to my right they may pass me an insane deck. Then when you play me in the finals, I'll crush you as a result.


    It's basically the same principles you always have in magic. Good players generally are pretty "tight," while bad players are extremely unpredictable. In an 8-4, you're a lot more likely to have people drafting appropriately, so you're not likely going to wheel everything or have some insane deck. However, you're also probably not going to get cut out of a color out of nowhere or get bizarre signals that are impossible to read.

    I don't really find one all that much different than the other. 8-4s are probably "better," but the best EV on magic online for limited is sealed. I have gone "infinite" on drafts, but the sealeds are just waaaaay better.
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  • #23
    There's also a very helpful economic decision that you can make during a Swiss draft that you can't make in an 8-4 or even a 4-3-2-2: because every match win will only net you one pack, if you are faced with a decision between a good card for your deck and a money rare, you can often just grab the rare if it's resale value is >4 tix (the price of a RtR pack). You are eschewing a good card for your deck (which would increase the odds of winning a match) in favor of a guaranteed 'pack'.

    Swiss is where it's at. This is coming from a guy who usually does 4-3-2-2s because of time constraints, but it's absolutely true that Swiss is better for you long term.

    Although recently I've heard a lot of people championing 4 pack Sealed as a good means of going 'infinite'. I'd look into that too.
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  • #24
    I'm planning to play three to four 8-4 drafts (and EDH) at SCG Indy this weekend. Should I expect the caliber of player to be higher or lower than the typical 8-4 draft on MTGO?

    I tend to perform better in IRL drafts, for some reason. Also, the goal is different: cards for EDH (and fun).
  • #25
    I play 4-3-2-2s and swiss. Swiss if I have 2 hours to burn and just wanna get some experience in, 4-3-2-2s if I'm stapped for time. Swiss would be much easier for me to reign in my costs, but sometimes I just don't want to wait for people's games to end.

    Swiss rounds generally go A LOT longer than any other queue, because there's usually 1 person whose new, or bad, or whatever that slows the entire thing down. That includes the actual draft as well.

    I rarely do 8-4s (they're a bonus if I've done well in other drafts), because honestly I only make it to the finals sometimes. I make it to the 2nd round a good amount. I don't need to make *all* my money back. If I pay 14 tix, and walk out with 2 packs I'm happy.

    The return overall is better for me as follows:
    swiss > 4-3-2-2 > 8-4
    I'm not good enough to consistently get to the finals for 8-4, and I *hate* the 2 hour drafts for swiss, so 4-3-2-2 it is.

    Two last points:
    1) If I'm playing MTGO to make money, then I'm doing it wrong. You *could* make money, but you could also make money playing the lottery.
    2) Limited is strictly for fun. If you wanted to maximize the return on your investment take control of anything you can, which means limiting luck, which means constructed.
  • #26
    Quote from sonofstev
    I'm planning to play three to four 8-4 drafts (and EDH) at SCG Indy this weekend. Should I expect the caliber of player to be higher or lower than the typical 8-4 draft on MTGO?


    8-4 online will be quite a bit higher. I assume it's just people side drafting at SCG. Eitherway, i've heard people say 8-4s are comparable to day 2 grand prix drafts, which is believable.

    Quote from cerrian
    Limited is strictly for fun. If you wanted to maximize the return on your investment take control of anything you can, which means limiting luck, which means constructed.


    That's true. However, if you are a very good player, you look for the most opportunities to leverage skill. I personally believe a skilled limited player has a higher edge than a skilled constructed player has, because he has more opportunity to leverage his skill. However, the second factor is, limit cost of entry... constructed has a fixed cost of entry. limited does not...
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