I'm mythicFOX a UK Malifaux Henchman, tournament regular, film nut, and all round geek.
Also the Malifaux devil, apparently.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Cutting our decks

So there was a recent debate on twitter about cutting your opponents deck. Coming from many years of playing poker and Magic; the Gathering this is something that I have a firm opinion about. To be clear I believe a player must always offer the cut the their opponent, and cut their opponents deck in turn.

Two reasons are commonly given when players explain why they don't cut, and I want to answer these in turn;

1) I trust my opponent not to cheat.
I trust my neighbours, but I still lock my front door. That being said trust almost isn't the issue. If you only cut the decks of the people you don't trust then wanting to cut someone's deck becomes an accusation.  Which is how some players behave now, people almost seem to assume that the desire to cut their deck is an accusation.  If everybody cuts it becomes automatic and there's no emotion attached to the act.

What if you feel everyone is trustworthy? Well there's still a value in cutting. Just because someone isn't trying to cheat doesn't mean they're shuffling their deck properly. You'd be surprised how many players mash their discard pile into the top of their deck and call it a day. The quick cut at least lets you put the recycled discard pile full of severe cards to the bottom of their deck.

This leads on to the second common argument...

 2) If someone's good enough to mechanic their deck then cutting won't help. 

I've met people who can manipulate decks of cards to the point they can deal a poker table full of players whatever cards they want, or shake the deck and have all the aces fall out.  In practice cutting wont stop someone with that degree of skill, however such men are very rare.

The greater threat is the casual cheat, someone steering their black joker to the bottom of their deck as they shuffle. People may even do this subconsciously without even realising their doing it. This requires next to no level of skill to do but is very effectively countered by a quick cut. How can someone steer a card to the bottom of the deck if they don't know where that is?

Cutting acts as a barrier to entry for the would be cheat. Locking your front door doesn't prevent a determined burglar getting in, they can just break through a window, but I suspect that if no one ever locked their front door we'd see far more burglaries than we do today. This small barrier to entry is a big step forward in securing our game.

So I hope that counters some of the common arguments against cutting so let me make a quick case for cutting.

Why cut?
This really is about defending the game as a whole. Cutting costs nothing and even if you're never cheated as a result of failing to cut, by creating an atmosphere where every door is unlocked you increase the likely hood someone will be cheated.

The last thing any community wants is a cheating scandal for their chosen game. While we continue with almost no one cutting I firmly believe it is only a matter of time before something happens, especially as the game and our community grows in size and strength.  Imagine in a few years time when/if Malifaux is as big as Fantasy or Warmachine, will you still trust everyone in the community then?  This is something that's best started now, while it's not a major adjustment.

So please please offer and cut each others decks. Let's make it part of the ritual of the game.

1 comment:

Craig said...

When I started playing this game a few months ago, I made sure to explain why I wanted to cut, even though I'm playing with friends with whom I've played hundreds of different games over the years.

It's because I noticed myself doing that subconscious thing you said. When doing an overhand shuffle, sometimes you see a card. Sometimes it's a face card that you just put on the bottom...so just do another overhand, and it's not on the bottom anymore. WHOOPS YOU JUST CHEATED. Slippery. Or you see a low card on the bottom and decide to stop. Or anything, once you accidentally see a card, you're going to cheat, even if you aren't try to.

So now I just do riffle shuffle. :P Rathnard showed me stats on it's randomness anyway.

And I ask that we cut every time. Because I don't trust myself to make the right decision.