Another Kind of Line
We talked recently about the line between good leadership and bad attitudes. In thinking about lines while doing my pet battles and playing Card Hunter, I noticed that there’s another very fine line related to those: a line of tolerance.
I already sort of knew about this line from playing Magic: The Gathering with my buddy. We’d both occasionally go on win streaks that were simply improbable, and often the improbability was helped along by “Mark Wahlberg” hands (a perfect storm of cards coming together, or because the hand needs to “PUT ON A F’ING SHIRT!”). In either of those cases, there was always long silence and sullen acceptance of the improbability, but not far underneath, a deeper seething rage lingered.
You see, dear reader, my buddy and I aren’t going to be mad at each other when our decks perform improbably well or improbably poorly. Those moments, particularly the latter, are precisely why we don’t play magic seriously. We’ve had many, many occasions where we mulliganed several times and never drew more than one mana, or when we started with three mana, but never drew another (this is using decks of between 20 an 24 mana, depending on deck comp).
This sort of nonsensical thing happens. We get it. But when playing alone, I get far more irritated when I improbably screwed by games. In both pet battles and Card Hunter, it seems at times that the improbable is probable, and in those cases, I have no reason not to vent my rage at the screen.
Here’s a few examples. Several pets have the ability to hit between 1 and 3 times. I’ve twice in the last week had a streak of seven of those attacks all hitting once. Now I admit I don’t know that each outcome is evenly likely, but there’s nothing to suggest it’s not. Given a 33% chance of hitting one time seven times in a row, we end up with… well, it’s small. It’s pretty improbable.
If it happened once and not again, I wouldn’t sweat it. But often these are coupled within repeated missed by attacks with an 80%+ chance to hit. When four of those miss during a battle, it can be a little frustrating.
Card Hunter suffers from the same problem. I don’t know what it is, but in the last 48 hours or so, I’ve had my decks turn up nothing but move cards probably ten times. Bear in mind in a 5 card hand, you’re guaranteed one move card, but the premise is that you’ve got other things to do. My decks in total only have maybe 5 or 6 “extra” move cards in them, so to turn them all up at once is, again, pretty improbable.
In both of these cases, there’s not much of a penalty for failure, so while no one likes to fail, I don’t think that’s what drives me so crazy about it. Instead, I suspect the reality-jarring improbability of some of these outcomes really just offends my brain in a way that triggers a lot of powerful irritation, like a flashbang with numbers.
Of course, in the end, there is a simple solution; stop playing the game for a while to let the dust of unlikely outcomes settle. I don’t grind pet battles for this reason; I might once or twice a week do the whole circuit, but that’s it. Card Hunter, too, is played in moderation, so when I wait until the enemy mob has used 3 moves on his turn and THEN lay down a ground effect that will kill him – and then he moves again! – I won’t be too upset.
So there, then, is another line; the line of tolerance of improbability. It’s a fine one, too, but at least it’s a lot easier to see.