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How to Win At 20 Questions
3/12/2011

draak111
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How to win at 20 questions.

Ok I’m writing this because I enjoy playing the 20 questions game, but I hate seeing people ask irrelevant, redundant, or just plain stupid questions.
Just so you don’t think I’m some 12 year old kid that has no idea what I’m talking about here is a little bit about me. I’ve been playing magic on and off again for about 16 years now. I don’t want to sound like I’m some master 20 questions guy, or super genius (because I’m FAR from that), but I have won the 20 questions game several times and my work has me dealing with problem solving a lot. So let’s cut to the chase.

First off, I like to break my questions down into three phases, in the beginning, mid way, and the final run.

In the beginning you need to take your time, ask broad questions that eliminate very large sections of cards and be conservative in your questions. I usually use only one or two of my questions in the first 10 questions asked. Stick with the basics. Some sample questions:
Is it rare, (this eliminates Rare and Mythic Rare) common or uncommon, ask one of these.
Does it have the new (post 8th edition) border? This narrows down about half the sets.
Is it a permanent? This narrows it down to about half.
Next start narrowing down what you know.
If it’s a permanent ask if it’s a creature, than artifact, than enchantment. If it’s not permanent you can ask if it’s a sorcery or an instant. Either question works at this point.
If it’s not the rareness that you asked, ask if it’s one of the others, by now you should know if it’s rare, uncommon, or common.
Start to narrow down the color. When you do this you don’t want to ask each color one at a time. That will take 6 questions if the last one you ask is the right one. (Red, Black, Blue, White, Green, Colorless). If you start with three colors, like “is it red, black or blue” than you can narrow it down from there. It should take no more than three questions to guess the color this way. Don’t forget to ask if it’s multicolor also. You can also phrase it as “is it a Jund color” or something like that but I find that not everyone will know what you’re talking about. Its best to keep it simple so there is less confusion.
By this point you should know what color or colors it is, its rarity, its type and whether or not its pre or post 8th edition.

Now were at the Mid way point.
This is the point I start to make a list of what meets the criteria. I like to use either MTG Fanatics advanced search or Wizards of the Coast “Gatherer” advanced search function. Both of these are good but realize these search engines are not perfect. Ill usually do a search and then copy all the entry’s and past them into a word document. This way I can start eliminating cards as I go.
Good questions to start asking here are:
Is the CMC 3 or less. Majority of MTG cards are. If yes, you can narrow it down more with, is it 1 or less. If not, you can narrow it down more with is it 5 or more.
If it’s most recent release is post 8th edition, ask if it’s extended legal. This narrows it down, or eliminates about 10 sets that it could be in. if its pre 8th edition I like to ask if it was originally printed in a core set. You can also ask if it was printed in more than one set.
You can eliminate a large portion of cards by asking if it starts with the letters A-M.
Really look at the list and try to find large groups of cards that all have something in common. Too often I see a person ask questions at this point that eliminates only one or two cards when there are hundreds of cards to choose from.

Now you’re in the final run. I call it this because you have to be quick but you also have to really be paying attention.
You need to make sure to ask questions that really eliminate large chunks of cards. Look at the list you have made and see groups of cards that match.
At this point you can start asking more precise questions. If it’s a green creature, you may have lots of one type of creature on your list (elf, beast, spider…etc). You may have lots of cards that do the same thing, (interacts with creatures, destroys permanents, heals damage). You may have lots of cards with activated abilities (tap to do stuff), or other types of abilities. Be precise. As you narrow it down you should be able to find the exact card it is. You can ask if its power or toughness is higher than the other, or if they are both the same.

My final word on the Game. The biggest thing that annoys me, is watching people get in a hurry. Too often I see people ask the same question that was asked several minutes before. Before you post your questions, make sure you know what you’re going to ask and what card you’re going to pick. Make sure you refresh your page right before you insert your choice that way you know if someone else asked the same stuff recently. Also really look at what has already been asked. If someone has already asked if it’s a permanent, if it hasn’t been answered yet, don’t ask if it’s a sorcery or creature, because you don’t know yet so you may be wasting a question. Look at your list, if you know it’s a black, rare, creature, in ice age and the only things left all have some type of ability, don’t ask if it has an ability. I know some of this all seems so basic, but every game I sit at my computer and wonder why someone asked such a dumb question. I hope this helps every one win. And remember, you’re not only trying to win, but you’re trying to win in the least amount of questions necessary to get the most points possible. Any card can be guessed in 20 questions as long as you use your head and choose good questions.

If I have missed any really good questions, or if you have suggestions to help out other players, please reply to this post.

3/12/2011

EllE
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Well, minor detail
"if its pre 8th edition I like to ask if it was originally printed in a core set."
That question only cuts out Alpha/Beta cards. Before M10, core sets were ONLY reprints as far as I know. Meaning no cards were originally printed in them

Anyways, I agree. I often facepalm when I see question that does nothing at all emoticon. Think what you're asking!

3/12/2011

humantragedy
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EIIE, that is entirely correct. With M10, not only do core sets roll out 1 time per year, but they started making originals for the sets (Titans, anyone?)
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3/12/2011

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How to not sound like a jerk!

First off, so you don't think I'm someone completely bad at this game, let me lay it down for you. The first time I discovered this game I won. I then played my card as Nameless Race and, although there were no wasted guesses, I won when on the 20th question it was narrowed down to two cards and the last guesser guessed the wrong card.
I'm 19 years old, had my own car, job, and apartment at 17. My job involves a lot of problem solving in many categories and managing over a moderately large group of individuals who don't necessarily know what they're doing all of the time.
I've been playing Magic since around the Tempest days and, although I don't know everything about every card, I do know more about it all than the average player. That being said, I'm not a super-genius with an IQ of 125 and I don't always rock at every game I try.

I like to break this down into three parts; obvious, under your nose, and duhh categories.

First off, we get the obvious. As you know, Magic: the Gathering is a game. Granted, it is a collectible card game with a huge money pool and large following of dedicated players, but a game nonetheless. A game created with the idea of fun and entertainment in mind. Within the same respect, the 20 questions game was a game created to be based off of the vast collection of cards available in the previously mentioned game. It is a gaming perfect square, if you will. Don't take it too seriously. The world's not going to end if someone does something stupid. Your wife/boyfriend/whatever isn't going to leave you just because you guessed a less-than-optimal question. It's intended for fun, and stressing and obsessing about something out of your control is ruining the fun aspect of it for me and I'm sure others. I've seen you post in the thread multiple times complaining about exactly that and it just ruined the flow. Let us play how we want to play and revel in the chance of stupidity to come out on top once again instead of getting irritated that we're not all up to your level.

Right under your nose, you have, at many different locations on this site, the disclaimer that children browse these forums also. Children means usually, though not always, immaturity and less-than-adult-level-intelligence. That should make it perfectly obvious that some of the players don't know any better than guessing what they guess. Although you may not like it, you learn through doing much better than you can ever learn through listening (or, in this case, reading). If it's already been asked that it's a permanent, then they ask if it's an instant, then they can come back and see either 1: "Ooh, sweet, I was right! It IS an instant!" or, more than likely 2: "Ooh, it's a permanent, so it can't be an instant regardless.... Well, now I know." (In not so many words, necessarily.) You also have to accept the fact that if the people aren't going to be foresighted enough to ask the more well though out questions, that they probably aren't going to read this and take your advice either. Which brings me back to the "it's a game, just let them play how they want to play" topic.

Finally, we have the Durr category. I shouldn't even have to say this, but I will just in case. This category is just a miscellaneous list of things that should be obvious at this point. First off, we have the fact that with great risk comes great opportunity. If it's already been established that it's a creature, then someone asks if it's a land, 99 times out of 100 it's going to be a facepalm moment. But on that momentous occasion that the answer is yes, then congratulations, it is Dryad Arbor 13 questions earlier than we would have figured it out earlier. Also consider that people are creatures of habit. If the card-chooser is someone who has publicly admitted that they are a new player and don't know any cards older than the Alara block, then you can pretty much already eliminate anything much older. Thus, asking "is it standard legal" will eliminate half of the card pool we're working with and give us much better odds. There is the fact that there were no colorless spells prior to future sight's Ghostfire or colored artifacts prior to the Alara block. If we've established it's older than that and not an artifact, then we've eliminated colorless as a choice, and it's an artifact, then we've eliminated all other colors already. You should know than one totally unrelated question can eliminate possibilities on multiple fronts and therefor even a question that looks wasteful on the surface (like Abyssal Persecutor looks bad but is awesome) isn't necessarily. Don't just use a precisely calculated process of elimination, but use common sense and all resources available to you to get the job done and get it done quickly and efficiently.


All that being said, I completely agree. Sometimes people make completely useless guesses, but given the same respect, the card-choosers have been known to be just as bad, answering wrongly to questions and even skipping some on accident. I've also seen older players, without knowing some of the new errata and judges rulings, answer as it would have been instead of how it is. Unless you're going to start with a perfect system, then fixing the inputs is still only going to create incorrect outputs. Just play the game to the best of your ability and enjoy it how it is.

PS: Sorry if that seemed like a jerkish response. But that was kind of the point; to show you how off putting something such as this could seem if read through the intended audiences' eyes.
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3/12/2011

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I don't mean to sound like a jerk, and I appreciate the time you took to write this, but putting up something like this automatically says "I'm much better than you at this, you can never be as good as me". Which, well, makes the poster seem like a jerk. Especially when you add in the whole "I've won X amount of games already" while continuing on, it just adds to it. And, for the love of god NEVER, when you write any guide for magic, put how many years YOU have been playing. That just tops it off, and all the readers are gonna get the automatic response of "this guy is a jerk", regardless of how much you try to convince them otherwise

For future tips, use a much more laid back "So, I notice the 20 questions game has gotten alot of attention, but I see some people struggling with finding the right questions. I am posting this guide purely to offer help to anybody who wants it." It makes you seem like your actually trying to help the player, rather than rub in there face the "I'm better than you" mojo.

Again, I will say, this isn't me being a jerk, this is just a mini-guide on how to make yourself not sound like a jerk.
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3/12/2011

draak111
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Trust me, there are no hard feelings. I learned along time ago, you can't please all of the people all of the time. And as far as your responce I'd simple like to say :P Take what I wrote any way you want. I still hope it helps you win more, and get those forum points, and get money off your next purchase.

P.S. I hope you have a nice day emoticon

3/12/2011

draak111
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Gamerguy, I really do appreciate what you wrote, and you are completly right. I didnt intend to come off as a jerk, but obviously i did. I do appologize for that. Thank you

3/12/2011

Gamerguy
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Personally, I didn't find it too jerkish, but when writing for a crowd of people you want to try an reduce that as much as possible, those were just tips on how to do it.
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3/12/2011

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Haha, good job Gamerguy. You summarized the point of my post and made it more direct instead of an implied meaning. I guess it's better worded that way anyway. =D

The writer in me... just loves to hide true meanings. I can't help myself! =O
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3/12/2011

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I think this whole debate made my day. Well this and the convention I'm at. Some guy dressed as an umbrella Corp costly was dancing to Tunak Tunak Tum. Thought you all would like to know that.
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3/12/2011

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we were debating?
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3/12/2011

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It was a nicer term for argument....I just felt like adding something...although it really wasn't much of an argument
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3/13/2011

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No, Conditioner is better! "I leave the hair silky and smooth".